Gymnastic rings held in hand

Don’t Neglect your Body

Each of us flows through life in this remarkable physical vessel. How our body functions influences how we feel, what activities we can partake in, and so much more. The state of our body shapes our life experience.

But as it currently stands, most of us neglect our bodies.

A state of neglect

These days we no longer view our body and our mind as equal. With the advent of technology, our society started to place more and more value on the pursuits of the mind. We celebrated thinking, and we left our physicality behind.

Just take a look at the educational system. Schooling forced us to stop being out-and-about, sat us down and made us focus on thinking only. How many “thinking” subjects did you have in comparison to the “physical” ones? And what was the quality of the “physical” ones anyway?

They weren’t educational, neither were they motivational. They were useless, at least here in Czech Republic. Usually it was an hour of some ball game, useful only to sweat and then stay sweaty for the rest of the school day (because there was neither time nor space to wash properly afterwards). No, thank you, we all thought.

Our environment as a whole doesn’t require us to move these days. Most of us work sitting down, we move from one place to another sitting down on the metro or in a car, we entertain ourselves, again, sitting in front of a TV or a computer. We are a sedentary culture.

The “Use it or Lose it” principle is at work here. We don’t use our bodies, so we start losing our bodies. And then we forget how great it was to have one that functioned well.

Story time

There are of course people that do take care of their body, albeit a minority. There are the fortunate ones that always recognized its importance. More commonly though, people had to lose something to be “woken up”.

I myself had the “blessing” of having my TFA ligament completely torn in the summer of 2011. Long story short: We were playing hide & seek… I had to have a plastic surgery and go through a lengthy rehabilitation process.

I say it’s a “blessing”, because when going through the rehabilitation I was informed of many things I was unaware of. How my arches were collapsed, my feet turned out, my knees were caving in, etc. This caused me to start researching the biomechanics of the feet and walking, to understand it and to be able to do something about it.

I didn’t stop there though, and my interest in how human body works kept expanding.

Sincere warning

Unfortunately, even losing it isn’t enough for most. The majority of people wouldn’t neglect their physical vessel otherwise.

I have a question for you: Can you sit down on the floor and stand back up? And how easy is it for you? Now, if you’re 20, you are probably laughing at me for asking this.

However, it breaks my heart to see a 50 year old struggle to do this incredibly basic movement. If they are struggling now, I ask myself, will they be able to stand up at all in 5-10 years? What if they won’t have anything to lean on, or a person to help them get up?

And don’t tell me this is called “aging”. Tell that to the elderly Asians you see moving in parks, still thriving even in their old age.

It’s sad for me to witness how far some people let themselves go. And the closer they are to me, the sadder it is…

Certainly it’s not like these people never tried to turn things around though. It’s hard work after all, and the results, unfortunately, aren’t instant. This is frustrating and often leads them to declare their state helpless, that they are beyond repair, and then… well… they give up hope.

A bit of motivation

Don’t give up on yourself! As long as we live, we can always improve!

I get it, perhaps not in every aspect, some things can really be too far gone, and some people unfortunately lost the genetic lottery and are dealing with crippling disabilities. But this isn’t the case for most. And there is always something you can work on and improve!

The internet is full of examples of people who turned things around. People who were paralyzed after some crash that persevered and regained their life back. People who lost incredible amounts of weight.

They show us it’s possible. They are the same as you or me, they all had the same doubts as you or me, only they chose to do the work regardless.

Building strength

You might expect that at this point I’d recommend a workout routine.

Obviously, if you do not have any, starting an exercise regimen will help tremendously! The older you are, the more beneficial it would be. The younger you are, the easier it will be to start.

If you’re clueless about exercise, I’d like to recommend you the excellent resource that is the Reddit’s Recommended Routine. It’s a great starting point when it comes to gaining strength, which is arguably the most important physical attribute.

But please, don’t stop there. I urge you to go deeper than just strengthening your body.

Start getting to know your body more.

How to go about it?

An introduction to yourself

I guess there are many ways to go about it. I’m going to propose that you start paying attention to your breath and your posture.

How do I breathe?

  • Is my breath shallow or deep?
  • What parts of my body expand and contract?

How do I sit?

  • How does my spine curve?
  • Where are my scapulae?

How do I stand?

  • Do I have my weight on heels or toes?
  • Is my weight shifted to one side?

How do I walk?

  • Where are my feet pointing?
  • What is my torso doing?
  • What are my arms doing?

Make a habit of asking yourself similar questions often. When you stand in line in a supermarket, when you sit on a bus, when you walk your dog, when you go to sleep…

Try to tune into your body. Inquire into how it feels, what feels stiff, what feels loose, and so on.

That is the first step, and that’s enough for now.

You should always observe things before you try to change them.