Monday, December 13, 2010

Protect you knees

Jogging is an excellent cardiovascular exercise as well as an excellent mental training for perseverance. For the middle-aged, jogging starts to become an enemy rather than a friend, in particular to our knee joints. During our daily lives, walking seems to be manageable, going up and down the stairs, in particular down, can cause instant pain to our knees.

What can be done? Answer: learn from the child.

When a child learns to walk, we witness him (or her) stumble a lot. The main reason is that he cannot isolate his muscles responsible for moving his leg forward. The result is that his whole body moves forward at the same time! And his centre of gravity tipped over as he falls. Gradually he learns to isolate his walking muscles and at the same time keeping a major part of his sense of muscles-as-one-unit (and in the process his leg muscles are also strengthened) and he begins to walk. Learning to walk down the steps without falling, of course, will take more practice, but the logic to success being the same.

When we turned middle-age, we started losing our sense of muscles-as-one-unit. We still have isolated walking muscles strong enough to carry on walking. But we step with our forward foot on the ground (worse when step on a lower step), the force can no longer to absorb by the muscles of the rest of the body. Unavoidably, the force acts on our joints, and in particular our knee joints, and we experience pain.

The standard medical advice is to strengthen our gluteus maximus (the main muscles of our buttocks). Which is exactly the right thing to do. But done alone, the issue of transmission of force cannot be addressed. An effective approach to both address the transmission problem and a strengthening of gluteus maximus is Zhan Zhuang. And the solution to the transmission problem in Zhan Zhuang is wholistic rather than localized. Through Zhan Zhuang, one can tune up one's body to being muscles-as-one (肌肉如一)

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