Weekly musings, 10/29/17: basic strength

Weekly musings, 10/29/17: basic strength
I was chatting with someone recently with a background in dance and yoga. She is a beautiful mover. She drops into the splits easily, can fold forward and place her head on her knees, and moves into poses like pigeon and camel with a sense of ease and grace.

Yet she has low back pain. She also lacks basic, integrated strength, despite being lean and muscular from years of manipulating her body into shapes.

The experience that comes from working with people of all different shapes and backgrounds has taught me there exists a Yin and a Yang when it comes to moving well without pain. The ability to breathe easily and move fluidly, without tensing or bracing is extremely powerful. It leads to mobility and a sense of embodiment.

However, basic strength, the kind that comes from moving an external load or pulling your body up to a bar, creates a coordination and sense of cohesiveness that just practicing softer forms of movement can’t really achieve. Creating total body tension and feeling your muscles work together allows stability from which ease can flow. 

If you strongly dislike strength training, once a week, commit to one set of push-ups, one set of bodyweight squats or a wall sit, one set of hanging from a bar, and one set of bridging, focusing on using your heels to press up so you feel the posterior leg muscles. Don’t make it complicated, and think of it as an experiment to see if it makes the other activities in your life feel a little bit better. Do it for 8 weeks. If, at the end of the eight weeks, you feel stronger, consider adding a set or progressing one of the exercises, doing single leg squats instead of double weight squats, perhaps. Be consistent, and think of basic strength as a fundamental aspect to moving well.