I’ve often thought the human body could use a 2.0 version – an upgrade. That spine seems to be a trouble spot for a lot of people, and a stronger system for vertebra alignment seems indicated.
Skin would be better if it could resist solar radiation better. Fat storage in an era of plenty turns out to have more negatives than positives…
…so there are lots of things I thought could do with a redesign.
Then I discovered not one but TWO things about my own body that I never knew before. It’s like I’ve been redesigned and made better!
First, did you know that your lungs push the ribs out along your BACK as well as along your front??
I didn’t. I believed that the back was supposed to be strong – muscle-bound – stalwartly firm. The lungs went out the front because the back ribs were nailed down by muscle and shoulder bones and iron and John Wayne-like true grit. So if I was, just as an idle example, gasping for air while jogging along next to Barbara, I thought all the expansion I needed to suck in more oxygen was going to come from the front.
“Why have your ribs popped up so much?” asked Barbara reasonably. She can ask reasonable questions while I’m jogging because she’s practically walking next to me. For the 10K she ran a few weekends ago, she averaged about seven minutes per mile; it took me 15 minutes to do ONE mile today – so she’s having a pleasant stroll while I’m forcing myself through an oxygen-deficient hellscape.
“So I can suck in some air, of course.” (What I actually said was “AIR,” but she understood what I meant.)
“So relax your shoulders.”
“Your shoulders are back and down.”
“KEEP… BACK… LONG.”
“Well, don’t. How can your ribs move if your back muscles are locking them into place?”
“Yes, back. Your lungs need to inflate to the back as well as the front.”
“ ‘S’true. Breathe into the back of your lungs, and let your back and shoulders be easy.”
This is the sort of physical, muscular puzzle that can totally distract me from my oxygen-less state, and I actually made it a few feet further at my graceless jog.
Lungs expanding to the back?? The mind boggles. Okay – that’s something I can work on.
Once we’d arrived back at Body Dynamics and I’d stopped gasping, we talked about it. “So really, all the power of running comes from below the waist. Above the waist is just for oxygen, huh?”
Barbara made a considering face and shifted her arms back and forth. “Well, you get a little momentum from the arms…”
“Yeah, but really, running is all below the waist, huh?”
“Okay. You can think of it that way.”
(I’ve been an above-the-waist mover forever. Hence the remedial exercises needed to find my low abs and my glutes. I think and move with the brain-side of the body; meeting up with the lower half has been revelatory. Like meeting relatives from the Old Country because DNA tests suggested we were family. Cool – but you’re not coming to Christmas, are you?? Oh, you ARE? Huh.)
I was thinking about that when Barbara noted that I tend to bounce up and down when I run.
“I’m popping up to give those muscles a little break. I’m not strong enough to run in a permanent crouch.”
“What? What permanent crouch?”
“Well, to move without bobbing up and down, don’t you have to crouch down a little?”
I could see Barbara attempting to translate such an odd question into English; it was rough going. My concept was so far away from reality that she decided to break down the action of running in super-slo-mo.
And guess what? SHE powers her run off her back foot, kicking away from the earth as she moves. And *I* power my run off my front foot, pulling my body forward from the grounding of the leading foot. So I bob up and down and she runs like she’s on rails.
It was like staring into a hypno-drawing; my brain couldn’t hold the two opposing concepts together. I was partially paralyzed and was slo-mo running around the big room at Body Dynamics, trying to figure it out. “Wait,” said Barbara.
She got a long strap with rubber tubes strung on it. We put the tubes across my hips and she held the end of the strap behind me like a farmer working a plough horse. “Run to the far wall,” she said.
I ran forward, with Barbara (who is lean but very strong) pulling me back. There was no way to move forward without kicking from the back foot; the front foot became entirely about prepping for the next push. It was exhausting. We did that twice, across the long length of the big room. Then she took away the strap and said “Run to the far wall. Don’t think about it – just do it.”
I flew across the room like I’d been shot from a cannon; it was actually scary. I felt out of control and like a car whose brakes had gone out. “What the hell?!”
“Better!” crowed Barbara. “Did you feel it?”
“Feel like a pinball being shot out of the tube? Hell yes, I did!”
“Let’s do it again.” Back I went into the plough position and I dragged Barbara across the room a few more times (thinking – damn, I just ran a mile! Why am I running again??), and then I ran again unencumbered, so powerful I couldn’t believe it.
Jeez. Is THAT how you’re supposed to run?? How do I reproduce that without forcing Barbara to allow me to drag her around before I run anywhere?
The point is – I thought the body needed a redesign; now I find the problem was user error. Typical.
Hypno-pattern. This is me trying to think about running, as opposed to just running.