When exercises are performed using underlying Backbone and Wingspan principles, including those for Foot Function for Spinal Support, the strength created using the integrated relationships within the systems of the body is exceptionally beneficial to postural support, any sport, and even artistic endeavors.
This is because the principles employed are accessed through the imagination, and induce fascination for the person using their own creative thought process while performing the movements, rather than the person mindlessly recalling each exercise's cues or having to remember the corrections given in prior sessions.
It's more about introducing images that have strong sensory connections which the person can then relate to their current or previous life's circumstances and experiences which deepens the realizations more personally and specifically.
Thus, there is less tension in struggling to adhere to rules - and changes in the body are easier to sustain. This is because of the positive effect that constant thought processes have on the strengthening of the support systems rather than the person having to exert constantly to build muscle tone.
There is more strength in affirming and utilizing the relationships within the body, such as gaining empowerment of the foot-leg-pelvis integration or understanding how the ankle-knee-hip system functions without muscle strain or stress on the joints. And of course, there is the ease in working from the power of the back body, particularly the heels-to-hamstrings-to hips connection. So it's about the back and the bones, just as the name suggests.
This fascination for the body becomes a fuel for the person to then play with the principles throughout the day whether walking to work, training for the marathon, drafting drawings for a building or sketching life drawing models.
Principles involve play, and thus are very different than rules that are adhered to. This is an important distinction for me to make, as I believe that what makes Backbone and Wingspan distinctive is the use of imagery to induce deep change.
I read in The New York Times years ago about a study on the reason why the twin towers didn't topple over. The reason is that there were core columns connected down into the depth of the foundation.
I passed the twin towers often on my way to work and was amazed that on very windy days they swayed. The skyscrapers were an exceptional feat of the interplay between stability and suspension.
Our own body's core is also grounded and rooted into its foundation - the foundation being everything in the body below the navel line. This includes the lumbar spine with the deep core muscles attached to the front of the vertebrae, called the psoas, the pelvis, the legs and lastly the feet from heels to soles.
The walls don't support the framework, but that's what's implied when people perceive attaining core support by shoving the abdominal wall towards the central structural framework of the spine.
That's also what's implied in using muscles - other than the abdominals - to attempt to hold the spine in place or position, which is what many people's idea of posture is - holding.
I had a great ballet teacher who used to say, even when we had to perform difficult balances on one foot:
"It's all about moving, not about holding."
But getting back to relating the construction of a building to how we build support in our bodies: the integrity of the framework, which relates to the skeleton, precedes the wall construction. Just as a contractor has all the underlying wooden supports fashioned together prior to bringing in the dry-wall, so it is with the creating the underlying integrity of the skeleton and spine - and how elements of the bones of the feet and legs and hips relate to the spine - prior to engaging muscular core support.
This is a concept not very prevalent in exercise methods: that the skeleton and spine can be directed with the mind and using gravity and suspension forces. People think of the bones as dead-weight and that the muscles have to shove the bones into place. This is not true of course, seeing as the bones, being porous, are actually less-dense than muscle, and also that the bones, being filled with marrow, are very much alive and able to be moved with the intention of our minds - subtly, but absolutely.
The deepest abdominal muscle called the transversus abdominis expands wide horizontally off of the back of the same lumbar vertebrae that the psoas is connected to in the front.
The transversus wraps from back to front to form a cylinder of support.
I find that in order to grant someone access to the deepest core support for the spine, both to access the rooting support of the psoas and the embracing wrap of the transversus, the stability of the femur bones must be employed by deepening the bones into the ball and socket joints of the hips.
It is helpful to point out the anatomical truth that the femurs are the largest single bones in the body.
I often say, "the femurs can be a burden or a boon." ..... Boon .... Bone
In relating the concept of the body's core through myth - myth being defined as using image and metaphor to convey a deep truth that eludes access through literal interpretations - I will attempt now to use architecture as a metaphor for an aspect of the the way that the human body is built and functions.
The femur bones could be considered core columns.
A couple of weeks before I posted a comment about the core in response to The New York Times article entitled "Core Myths," being inspired to include my impressions of the mythology of the core, a woman was referred to study me who is an architect.
I felt a little inhibited in her first lesson to speak about architectural images, but I said to her at one point while she was on the reformer, "The femur bones are 'columnar', if that is even a word, columnar."
She said, "It's a word."
Well, as the lesson progressed, and I assisted her in feeling the femurs deepen into the hip joints, I couldn't remember the name for what is at the top of a column, as in the columns that are named Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian.
"Capitals'" she reminded me.
Anyone who lives or works in Manhattan has no doubt been across the street from or next door to some building that has been torn down and then been subjected for weeks to endure the all-day jack-hammering down into bedrock.
This unnerving cacophony is necessary so that a developer can replace a four story building that once housed, say artists lofts, with a twenty-eight story high-rise hotel. The taller the building, the deeper the foundation.
The skeletal system is an amazing structural framework - an interplay of anchoring and stabilizing forces balanced with three-dimensional and bendable suspension.
Anchoring doesn't have to do with pulling in and
suspension doesn't have to do with pulling up or lifting.
When the femurs are utilized as columns with the hip sockets akin to capitals and the feet - with the heels expanding back and wide - as pedestals, then it is possible to use this underlying columnar support to gain access to the central core.
People also needlessly try to lift - ribs, shoulder girdle, head - parts of the inherently buoyant skeletal structure that is meant to be - and absolutely can be - directed in suspension.
No architect would devise a structure such as this - it could not withstand the elements or sustain itself over time.
Our bodies don't fall over with lack of footing or foundation - our bodies have muscles that have the capacity to hold and grip - and these muscles compensate for the lack of stability that could come from the intergration of the skeletal system, but since it is not the inherent function of muscles to hold bones in place, these muscles that compensate by straining to hold things in place cannot belie their nature, and they inform us of our faulty notions and usages by getting sore or eventually giving out.
One of the best ways I have found to pass on the principle of stability accessed through the femur bones being deepened into the hip joints is in a lunge on the Pilates reformer. This acquaints a person with the truth of that the body can be ascertained and efficiently and powerfully utilized as movable architecture.
Watch for a future blog posting for a continuation of this body-as-architecture mythology including a video of a lunging stretch on the Pilates reformer. You'll see still that the columnar femurs relate to the Corinthian capital-like hips and that the pedestal-like heels keep the woman balanced and grounded even with her one leg forward in the lunge and her other leg extended behind.
You will learn that both femurs need to have an equal deepening relationship to their respective hip joints in order to access and sustain core support for the spine.
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Backbone and Wingspan Foot Function for Spinal Support and Pain Relief
Integrated Back Strength and Spine Support
Herald, Backbone and Wingspan founder and owner and
author of Body Mind & Spine Align
can be reached at 212-647-8878 or
Backbone and Wingspan: Movement-Oriented Exercise and Posture
Free Your Spine & the Rest Will Follow
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