Saturday, December 24, 2005

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Dr. Mark Filippi
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Bob Fanelli, M.S.
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v-mail- (914)834-6802

The 8 Laws of Physical Health


The following is adapted from the work of Pete Egoscue, from his excellent books, Pain Free and Pain Free For Woman.

At one time I was the director of The Egoscue Method’s East Coast Flagship Therapy Center. During that time I was lucky enough to meet and work with Pete Egoscue, one of the countries leading exercise and rehab specialists and the creator of the Egoscue Method. Below are Pete’s thoughts on the nature of the human body and his poignant words that de-bunk some of the myths of aging and exercise.

We need a new definition of aging. The one we have now amounts to a self-fulfilling prophecy, to wit: as the years roll by, humans lose strength and physiological capabilities until they fall prey to disease, which hastens the decline and eventually kills them. Right on schedule, give or take a few years, we will all end up dead.

Presumably time is the enemy. But look at time from a different angle. What if, over the course of time, humans were gaining strength and physiological capabilities instead of losing them? What if, as hours, days, weeks, months, and years passed, they became ever more efficient, powerful and adept? What if the passage of time measured, not decline, but growth? Time, in that case, would be an ally. The more of it we had, the better off we’d be. Better? That’s an understatement---we’d be superhuman.

In fact, we are superhuman---until the age of about twenty-five or thirty. But time-related growth (as opposed to time-related illness) is intended to happen to us from birth onward for many, many decades---not for a mere two or three. We stop being superhuman because we start being mere adults. Our behavior settles into patterns that are not broken by youthful exuberance and unpredictability. The randomness goes out of our lives. We don’t have time to waste in frivolous things like dancing, running, jumping, ---playing.

The fact that the crossover into physiological decline occurs almost simultaneously with mounting career and family responsibilities is treated as a coincidence. But it’s not a coincidence. Apart from this pronounced change in lifestyle, from one that is rich in stimulus to one that is not, there are no apparent biological reasons why we humans shouldn’t continue to add to our physiological capabilities for many more years, or at least achieve a balance that makes full use of our innate potential commensurate with the amount of time and resources that have gone into creating it. Otherwise, given our complexity and relatively long maturation process, we are entirely overbuilt and front-loaded, all granite foundation and flimsy cardboard structure. Nature tends not to waste precious assets and effort that way. Or at least, if it does, it admits the mistakes and lets extinction erase them.
We may be headed for that fate, but if so, the mistake will be ours. We have taught ourselves how to prematurely age and die. To unlearn that lesson, it’s necessary only to look at young children. They don’t know any better---all they do is spend their waking hours push, push, pushing against their limits and limitations. Starting off virtually immobile and defenseless, they grasp, reach, roll over, crawl, stand, walk, climb stairs, run, and quickly gain an incredible array of physical skills and an elaborate inner support system to confront and master their environment.

Out of this need to overcome life-threatening limitations, they manufacture themselves. In a way, it’s pure negative capability: if you don’t crawl, you’ll never stand (or never stand with confidence, strength and stability); if you don’t stand, you’ll never walk; if you don’t walk, you’ll never run; if you don’t run, you’ll never be president of the United States. It’s a building process. The more they struggle and succeed, the more they are created. As with supply and demand, one feeds the other.

Humans produce trillions and trillions of cells, and kids start off producing them 24/7 to keep themselves healthy, happy and growing. But this vast output is not automatic, as is sadly demonstrated by the increasingly common interruptions in early childhood development. Cells, be they brain, muscle, blood, organ, or any tissue, are produced on demand. They are organized and set to function on demand as well. About the only thing that humans are hardwired for is to respond in this way to the varied stimuli of the environment. Without such stimuli, trapped in an unchallenging bubble where only a relatively few demands are made and those are repeated over and over again, the child’s physical and mental capabilities can never come close to full potential, and neither can yours.
The magic of our on demand development dynamic is that first we change ourselves in response to the environment: we get bigger, stronger, smarter. Then we change the environment. Push leads to shove---that’s why a once-lonely planet is now teeming with human life.

Most children are bombarded with environmental stimuli, and so they grow. Most modern adults are not, and so they stop growing and start aging long before their time. They quickly start to violate the 8 laws of physical health that are vital for all life;

1.) Vertical Loading: Gravity is necessary for health. In order for gravity to exert a positive and dynamic influence on the body it must be vertically aligned in its postures.

2.) Dynamic Tension: A state of constant tension exists between the front of the body and the back of the body. The posterior of the body is responsible for the erection of the body and the anterior of the body is responsible for the flexion, or bending of the body. Neither activity can take place without this action-taking place simultaneously.

3.) Form and Function: Simply stated, bones do what muscles tell them to do. All skeletal motion is initiated by muscular activity.

4.) Breathing: The body may not function without oxygen. So essential is the law that the body has redundant systems to ensure compliance.

5.) Motion: All of the body’s system, i.e. digestive, immune, and so on are interrelated. The common thread that binds them together is movement. The faster the molecules of the body move the higher the metabolic rate. The higher the metabolic rate the healthier the human being becomes. We are designed to run, jump, and climb, fall and skip and this activity is necessary not just for initial development but also for continued health throughout our lives. If these activities hurt or cause pain it is because we are violating some or all of the laws of physical health.

6.) Balance: In order for the law of motion to be effective and true the body must achieve balance, defined as muscle memory, necessary to constantly return the body to the first law of vertical load. In order for this to occur muscles must work in pairs and equally on both sides of the body. Being right or left-handed hinders this balance only when we violate the law of motion.

7.) Stimulus: The body reacts to all stimulus 24 hours per day regardless of the conscious state for health. Therefore, the law of motion constantly reinforces this law. If motion is deprived the law of stimulus becomes stressful to the body. The body absorbs pollutants and irritants rather than viewing them as of no consequence.

8.) Renewal: The body is organic, and therefore it is in a constant state of growth or rebirth. Muscles, bones, nerves, connective tissues, cartilage, etc. are all alive. If the body is not renewing it is because we are violating the laws of physical health.

The more laws we violate the faster we age and breakdown.

Violating the 8 Laws of Physical Health is a cause of aging. Aging is a loss of physical and physiological capability that stems from the body’s inability to replace damaged and destroyed cells (see laws 5, 7, and 8). The body, in other words, starts running a cellular deficit, by consuming more cells that it produces. It can happen at any age. Chronology is irrelevant. The shortfall adversely impacts every internal process, including metabolism (see law #5). As metabolism falters, the ability to build replacement cells declines notch by notch. The body simply doesn't have enough fuel and fire to drive its myriad biochemical reactions. When that happens, it doesn’t matter whether you’re four or forty; cell production is ready to go south. All to soon the planet is cold, dark, and empty.

Is it all doom and gloom? Of course not! There is a way to start the metabolic furnace burning! 2KNO Fitness will show you how!
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