Recently I was watching a show on TV about repairing a dry, cracked leather mouthpiece on an old meerschaum pipe. She spoke of how the fascial web becomes dry and cracks over time if it’s not regularly rubbed with some sort of oil or fat but can be repaired if not too far gone, by placing wet blotting paper over the cracks.
It reminded me of what happens to our body if it’s not regularly hydrated, it becomes dry, hard and brittle.
The hydration I refer to isn’t entirely about drinking water, it’s the fluid delivery system to our cells.
Our body is an entity in constant motion. Fluids, nutrients and waste are propelled into motion by our electrical system which activates the pumping action of the heart and muscles.
A few years ago, I made a study of BioMechanics with Katey Bowman from whom I learnt that our muscles are the body’s major fluid pump, this includes skeletal muscles as well as the heart.
A sarcomere is the basic contractile unit of muscle fibre. Two proteins, Actin and Myosin interact to create muscle contraction. Relaxation of the muscle happens when stimulation of the nerve ceases causing the proteins to return to their unbound state.
This amazing contract and release action works exactly like a pump. As the muscles move, their pumping action draws oxygenated blood from capillaries and moves lymph to nodes to be cleaned and reused.
Our body is conservative, if we don’t use parts of our body consistently the nerve pathway is disconnected. This means the nerve pulse generating a response in the sarcomeres stops and the nutrient enriched fluid delivery system comes to a halt.
The muscles become dry, often alternating between pain and numbness. The ability to spontaneously move these parts of the body is no longer possible.
What interests me is the nerve action. If the central nervous system stops sending and receiving messages to and from inactive muscles, the electrical activity of the brain is also reduced. I get an image of the lights of a great city being extinguished one by one.
I’ve often pondered on the possible connection between the quality of an individual’s movement patterns and Alzheimer’s disease, a progressive neurologic disorder that causes the brain to shrink and brain cells to die…. it’s a thought.
Just like the old leather on the pipe, muscles can be brought back to life by consciously connecting to these inactive areas with images then bringing motion back with slow, gentle micro movements. There’s usually a certain amount of free space even in these dead zones that can be accessed with awareness, the smallest of motions can restore fluid delivery.
I think the older we get, the more important it is to move more of the body. I don’t promote any special exercise routine.
An exercise routine can be repetitive, doing the same movements in the same way doesn’t improve whole body cellular hydration. It’s not what we do, it’s how we do it.
A different approach is to practice new movements on the floor then with awareness put them into motion in daily life, then we live it, we don’t leave it on the mat.
I encourage you to be a free thinker and take control of your body. Get to know the language of your body instead of trying to squash it into a culturally acceptable shape and way of moving.
Let fluid motion be your guide back to yourself. What is life but a chance to evolve and experience the lightness and joy of being a human being on this beautiful blue planet.