They all relate to the need to have a solid foundation, a sturdy base of some kind, before any action or movement can take place:
- Tyson has been able to build on the ‘base’ of countless explorers before him to be a conduit of knowledge to the public – his ‘movement.’
- Newton’s Third Law, the action-reaction law, says that if object A exerts a force on object B, that same force is also felt by object A (in equal measure and opposite in direction). It’s far harder to run with tennis shoes on ice – the movement – than on land, because there is much less friction and, thus, a less stable base.
- I was just recently able to stand up on my own, which is awesome, but I’m very unsteady and, if a force pushed me gently to the side, I wouldn’t be able to resist it to remain standing. For me to be able to take a step forward or lift a backpack off the ground – the movement – I must first be able to hold my body strongly in position – the stable base.
This sequence is meant to illustrate that, in many different forms, stability is always necessary for mobility, and that is what I have been working on for the past few weeks with a spinal cord injury specialist.
Ale has developed her own methods and procedures to help re-establish connections after SCI. She calls it “Neuro-Kinetic Pilates,” and it is based on the understanding that the body is united by multiple robust lines of fascia that surround and run through our muscles and connective tissue. Here are image examples of the front and back:
Ale has found a way to tap into the nerves that predictably run through this fascial webbing as a way to carry motor signals to other parts of my body, rather than just using the spinal cord to carry the messages farther down, which successfully happens continuously in an undamaged nervous system.
Our focus has been on strengthening a few critical muscle/fascial ‘chains’ (as seen in those images) to stabilize my trunk, so that I may better connect to the muscles in my legs and arms. I initially underestimated the need for them to have a very solid base before they can properly move. I now see that this stability must begin in the pelvis, and all of the work I have done to this point has prepared me well for this different style.
Now, I am not talking about the special strength and coordination needed for someone to do a standing front-flip, or to stay pinned to a granite cliff-face with just a few fingers. This is simply about being able to lean forward, even while sitting, and keep my abdominal muscles engaged while I use my back muscles to control the motion.
If you bend over to lift a heavy suitcase off the ground, your back muscles feel the strain, right? Well, if you engage the abdominal muscles (look at the layers!) more while lifting, you will better stabilize the hips and prevent excessive back-arching, and the motion will feel much easier.
This is because you are focusing on using the stabilizing muscle group, in the front, to put the moving muscle group, in the back, into a much stronger and more efficient position. Lifting the suitcase will not only feel easier, but over time it will be far healthier for your joints, too, which is a major issue for all of us as we live longer. Plus, since the hips, back, and neck are all connected, this benefit will be felt all over the body. (How many times have you heard someone complain about their knees or back after wearing a new pair of shoes all-day? It makes sense that a problem or discomfort in one place, the feet, would make its way up through the body.)
Call me unconventional for emphasizing the holistic approach – just like those yoga-obsessed, chiropractor-addicted friends we all have – but my body, and the compensations I’ve already developed, are proof that it’s not all bogus.
So again, where it might well be possible to bend forward safely using only my back, and not my front, I will be compensating by straining my back muscles and joints. If someone lifts a heavy suitcase improperly a few times a year, nothing in the body will get damaged much. But what if I’m stressing my body like that each time I take a step, or each time I stand up?!
Hopefully it’s now clear to the reader how important this balance is between stability and mobility, for everyone, but especially so for me.
Here are a few examples of the exercises we do. They're slow and deliberate, and are some of the most mentally exhausting ones I've done. To ensure that the body is in the proper position, the standard protocol is to be shirtless.