Stress-Free Posture and Body Mechanics. Part Four: Resilience




Health = Resilience

Resilience is the hallmark of health. It is compromised by a loss of health. You can increase your resilience with an increase of health. 

When health is the goal, rather than weight loss or an increase in body size, better choices are made, the health benefits are more comprehensive and sustainable, and include: beauty, weight loss, muscle development, and healthy aging. 

The healthy function of the matrix of cells that all of your body is made of, depends upon circulation, which hydrates, nourishes, oxygenates, and removes waste material. Structural support and function depends upon it. A sound foundation of basic health habits is the most dependable choice to achieve and maintain resilient health.



Muscles are built in your sleep
click to expand



Muscle is a High Performance Tissue

The human body is designed to move. It has the remarkable ability to be conditioned, and to rise to any physical challenge and demand. 

Skeletal muscle is the component of our soft tissues that we can directly influence for structural alignment, postural integrity, balance, improved body mechanics, and to protect our joints. A healthy muscle is both flexible and strong.



Muscle Food

Some of the essential nutrients required for healthy muscle and function include electrolytes for the proper hydration of muscle, carbohydrates for energy, protein for muscle growth and repair, omega 3 essential fatty acids for muscle function and health (prevents inflammation), and macronutrients: vitamin C, D and E, B vitamins, magnesium, calcium, iron, zinc and selenium. 

Protein
Muscle plays a central role in whole-body protein metabolism, which is particularly important in the response to stress. Abundant evidence points to altered muscle metabolism in the genesis, and therefore prevention, of many common pathologic conditions and chronic diseases.

Protein plays an essential role in most biological functions. Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. In the form of proteins, amino acids comprise the second-largest component (water is the largest) of human muscles, cells and other tissues. 

Amino acids give our cells their structure and play a role in all cellular functions. They play a key role in the transport and the storage of nutrients, and the removal of  waste products produced in the process of metabolic functions. Amino acids have an influence on the function of organs, glands, tendons and arteries. They are needed for wound healing and tissue repair.


Broadly, these twenty amino acids can be sorted into two groups: essential and non-essential. Non-essential amino acids are those which the human body is capable of synthesising, whereas essential amino acids must be obtained from the diet. The non-essential amino acids are alanine, arginine, asparagine, aspartate, cysteine, glutamic acid, glutamine, glycine, proline, serine and tyrosine; some of these can also be termed conditionally essential, meaning that they may be needed from the diet during illness or as a result of health problems. This sub-category includes arginine, glycine, cysteine, tyrosine, proline, and glutamine. The essential amino acids are histidine, isoleucine, leucine, lysine, methionine, phenylalanine, threonine, tryptophan and valine.

The amino acid pool describes the entire amount of available free amino acids in the human body. When we consume protein in the diet, the protein in the gastro-intestinal tract is broken down into the individual amino acids and then put back together again as new protein. This complex biological process is called protein biosynthesis. The entire amino acid pool is transformed, or exchanged three to four times a day. This requires the supply of more amino acids, partly by protein biosynthesis, and partly by the diet.

If the one or more amino acids are not available in sufficient quantities, the production of protein is weakened and metabolic function is impaired.

A limited supply of amino acid nutrients can contribute to weight complications, hair loss, skin problems, sleep disorders, mood swings, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, diabetes, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, or extreme menopausal symptoms.







Essential Amino Acids & Protein Rich 
Food Sources
click to expand



Plant Food Protein Sources


Superfood Protein Sources: sprouts, all vegetables and plant food, chia, hemp, spirulina, wild blue-green algae, seaweed, bee pollen, beans, tempeh, amaranth, buckwheat, quinoa, goji berries, barley, macs, and herbs.







Muscle Anatomy and Physiology

Muscles are made up of bundles of muscle cells, also known as muscle fibres, surrounded individually and grouped together by deep fascia into functional units with the related nerve tissue, lymph, and blood vessels in a honeycomb design. Thereby every cell is autonomous, yet united to create large tensile masses.


Muscle Anatomy
click to expand




Hypertrophy, Hyperplasia, or Microtrauma? 
What Really Happens When A Muscle Is Developed?


Each muscle cell has many nuclei and thousands of inner strands called myofibrils. The nucleus is the control centre of the cell. Inside the nucleus are forty-six threadlike structures known as chromosomes, and each one of these structures contain thousands of genes. 

Muscle contraction happens in the myofibrils in response to nerve impulses. A motor neuron controls, or innervates several thousands of muscle fibres. For fine motor control, when extreme precision is needed, one motor neuron controls only one or just a few muscle fibres

Linked along the length of a myofibril are smaller component units called sarcomeres, composed of filaments of two types of proteins, myosin and actin. It is the interaction of the actin filaments as they slide together along the myosin that cause the muscle to contract.

Muscle development is not caused by the production of new muscle cells (hyperplasia). A muscle increases in size only when its individual fibres become thicker (hypertrophy). This thickening or growth is the result of the creation of additional myofibrils

The mechanical stresses that exercise exerts on tendons and other structures connected to the muscle trigger signalling proteins that activate genes, causing the muscle fibres to make more contractile proteins. These proteins, chiefly myosin and actin, are needed as the muscle fibre produce great quanities of additional myofibrils


Muscle Physiology
click to expand



Exercise Unlocks Stem Cells in Muscles

The nuclei within the muscle fibre cannot divide, so the new nuclei are donated by satellite cells (also known as stem cells). Scattered among the many nuclei on the surface of a skeletal muscle fibre, satellite cells are largely separate from the muscle cell. The satellite cells have only one nucleus apiece and can replicate by dividing. After fusion with the muscle fibre, they serve as a source of new nuclei to supplement the growing fibre.



Microtrauma

Satellite cells proliferate in response to physical demand. One theory suggests that extreme exercise inflicts tiny micro tears in muscle fibres, and further theorizes that the damaged area attracts satellite cells, which incorporate themselves into the muscle tissue and begin producing proteins to fill the gap. 

The normal physiological response to damaged tissue is the repair by collagen fibres (scar tissue), arranged in a haphazard design, thereby limiting the health and the normal function of the repaired muscle tissue.



Aging Muscle

In North American studies, it has been observed that aging, muscle fibres change shape. The groupings of slow and fast twitch fibres are less evenly distributed, with the same types clustering together. This clustering or type grouping also occurs in younger people suffering from motor neuron related diseases. Nerve as well as muscle can atrophy. More atrophy in fast twitch fibre has been noted in aging muscle. Hybrid muscle fibres are predominant in the elderly.

I question the studies and I challenge our popular ideas about aging muscle health. If North America had an aging population of individuals that made health a priority, who practiced a lifelong, consistent regimen of basic health habits, we could better determine the normal behaviour of healthy aging muscle. 

Our conclusions must bear in mind that we are basing our calculations on an unhealthy, sedentary, aging population with a chronic unhealthy lifestyle, and bodies permanently altered by unhealthy habits, surgery, and pharmaceutical medications.

The results that are seen in studies concerning aging muscle, nerve atrophy, and abnormal tissue changes, all indicate a decrease in health, more than normal aging. 



Fast and Slow Twitch Muscles 

Muscle is made up of two very different types of fibres: slow twitch (I) and fast twitch fibres (IIa & IIx). Endurance events like long distance running and cross country skiing require slow-twitch fibres. The elite in these sports have between 65 and 80% slow twitch fibres in their muscle cells. 

Sprint runners need fast twitch fibres to excel and the top sprint runners will have around 55% fast-twitch fibres in their muscle cells. 

For the average person, the balance between fast and slow twitch is about 50/50. Genes are more important for endurance events than for short distance events since the world class sprinters don't really have that many more fast-twitch fibers than the average person. There are also race differences, with blacks having more fast-twitch fibres than Caucasians

Fast-twitch fibres can grow in size while slow-twitch fibres do not increase in size very much when the muscle is pushed to the limit. Slow-twitch fibres are very dependant upon oxygen (aerobic metabolism) while the fast-twitch fibres use mostly stored energy to do their thing (very quick response) but their recovery requires oxygen and glucose. Slow-twitch fibres use oxygen and glucose constantly. 






How Women Build Muscle

Women have less muscle fibers than men because their anabolic steroid and testosterone levels are lower. 

At puberty, women start producing large amounts of estrogen on a regular basis and this limits muscle growth and stimulates fat cell formation. Women have an average fat content of 20% by body weight while the average for men is 15% by body weight. Until puberty, there is not a lot of a difference between fat and muscle content in boys and girls.

Prior to about 20-25 years of age, when growth and development activity decrease, the action of testosterone in a male is to make his muscle cells form more actin and myosin, to form muscle fibers, and to stimulate muscle cell division to give the male more muscle cells.

Men have an advantage over women because of higher levels of testosterone and other anabolic steroids. Women tend to have slightly higher growth hormone levels in their blood than men. During periods of growth much more growth hormone is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. Most tissues in the body respond to the action of growth hormone causing cellular division.

Once growth stops, the only tissues in the body that show a response to physiologic levels of growth hormone are muscle and adipose tissue. Growth hormone protects muscle depletion during starvation. In adipose tissue, growth hormone indirectly promotes fat breakdown. 

In muscle, growth hormone acts to promote the uptake of all 20 different amino acids. This increased uptake can be used to build actin and myosin muscle fibers. 

Testosterone plays an important role in muscle development, but the answer to why some men and women increase in muscle size and others don’t lie within our DNA. 

We are predisposed to respond to exercise in a particular way, in large part because of our genetics. Our genetic makeup determines what types of muscle fibers we have and where they are distributed. It determines our ratio of testosterone to estrogen and where we store body fat. And it also determines our body type. 

All women fall under one of three body classifications, or are a combination of types. Mesomorphs tend to be muscular, endomorphs are more rounded and voluptuous and ectomorphs are slim or linear in shape. Mesomorphs respond to strength training by building muscle mass much faster than their ectomorphic counterparts, even though they may be following identical training regimens. 

Endomorphs generally need to lose body fat in order to see a change in size or shape as a result of strength training. Ectomorphs are less likely to build muscle mass, but will become stronger as a result of resistance training. 

When it comes to strength training, the old rule still applies: To get stronger, work with heavier weights and perform fewer repetitions. To promote endurance, use lighter weights and complete more repetitions. 

It is encouraging to note that just like men, most women will experience a 20 to 40 percent increase in muscle strength after several months of resistance training. The benefits of resistance training for women include strengthening and toning, fat reduction, improved fitness, elevated self esteem and mood, reduction of the risk of osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, back pain, and injury. Ace Fitness



STAY TUNED FOR Part Five:

DO YOU KNOW?

  • All About Soft Tissue Pain
  • Muscle Spasms and Cramps: What are they? Why do they happen? How to prevent and treat them.
  • Muscle Memory
  • Adhesions 
  • Myofascial Trigger Points 
  • Fibrositis Syndrome
  • Bladder Prolapse (cystocele)
  • Bone Spurs 
  • Meralgia Paresthetica or Bernhardt-Roth Syndrome
  • Alexander Technique, Feldankrais, Kinesiology, Qigong, Plyometrics, and Gyrokinesis
  • Body Language
  • Stress-Free Postural Guide: Walking 





Stress-Free Posture Guide

Flexibility, balance, and muscle strength are key indicators of longevity.

The Longevity Test

  • If you use your head, you don't have to hurt your body; educate yourself, make healthy choices, and enjoy resilient physical wellbeing.
  • We are often told we have bad posture, but rarely does anyone tell us what good posture is. It is not a tense, military posture. 
  • The following postural guide has been developed over the course of 28 years of clinical work helping people with physical stress and injury, combined with the study and application of the principles of Rolfing, NISA, Osteopathy, Yoga, Pilates, and The Alexander Technique. 
  • The following guidelines qualify as stress-free because they will allow you to reduce the harmful stress of sedentary postures. They provide a checklist of adjustments to improve your postural integrity. 
  • Posture is not just a position but a dynamic pattern of reflexes, habits, and adaptive responses to physical demands, stressors, anatomy, challenges, injury, and strain. 
  • Postural correction is unproductive without physical conditioning. Develop and condition the postural muscles for stress-free posture and body mechanics.


Postural Mechanics
click for enlarged view



Stress- Free Sitting Guide

  • Feet fully touching the floor, shoulder-width apart, feet under knees. Your knees should be below the level of your hips. When the knees are higher than the hips, the lower back tends to round. Knees and ankles uncrossed.
  • Sit evenly on both pelvic sitting bones. This allows your weight to be evenly distributed and supported. From this position your back is the most relaxed and flexible - able to tilt, bend, and turn with hardly any muscular effort.
  • Maintain the natural lumbar convex curve. Your pelvis supports your body effectively only when your lower back is slightly arched. If your chair does not have a lumbar curve, it is better to move forward in your chair, bending forward from the hips rather than hunching forward.
  • Arch your neck slightly, maintaing the natural convex cervical curve. Chin parallel to the ground. Stretch up through the crown. Sit close to desk/work and lean forward from the hips - not with the head and neck.
  • Change your position frequently.
  • Get up and move around routinely.
  • Breathe freely and easily, without unnecessary muscle effort or tension.
  • Walking is the antidote to sitting.
  • Yoga was created to condition the body for long days spent sitting in meditation.


Stress-Free Standing Guide

  • Stand comfortably with feet hip distance apart; feet directly under hips.
  • Feet are aligned parallel with large toes pointing straight ahead.
  • Where do you feel the weight of your body on your feet? It should not be on one foot more than the other, or on one side or part of the foot. Your weight should be balanced equally and evenly on both feet, in the centre of your foot.
  • These adjustments of the standing posture are conscious and deliberate.
  • Proper arch support will help to support the arch of your foot and distribute your body weight evenly over the entire foot. 
  • To align your hips in a neutral position, bend your knees and push or thrust forward with your pubic bone, engaging your abdominal and gluteal muscles; now straighten out your knees without changing the position of your hips.
  • When your hips are in an aligned neutral position, all of your hip muscles are in balance.
  • Stretching and toning exercises help to develop and condition your muscles so that they are better able to support your body in alignment and in balance. 
  • Well-conditioned muscles hold less stress, and are also able to recover from strain more quickly and easily.
  •  In this balanced and stable standing position, the spine is properly aligned and supported.
  • A natural posture for the head is with the chin parallel to the ground; this gives you an immediate reference and perspective. This brings the neck into a neutral, stress-free posture.  


Digital eye strain - click to expand




Four Key Principles of Stress-Free Body Mechanics 

1. Extend the spine. 
2. Use lower abdominal muscles to stabilize and to support the spine.
3. Use leg strength for heavy lifting.
4. Protect joints with healthy muscles.

Stay Tuned:
Stress-Free Postural Guide: Walking