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The Direction Of The Body In Locomotion
Source: Power Through Repose
LIFTING brings us to the use of the entire body, which is considered
simply in the most common of all its movements,--that of walking.
The rhythm of a perfect walk is not only delightful, but restful; so
that having once gained a natural walk there is no pleasanter way to
rest from brain fatigue than by means of this muscle fatigue. And
yet we are constantly contradicting and interfering with Nature in
walking. Women--perhaps partly owing to their unfortunate style of
dress--seem to hold themselves together as if fearing that having
once given their muscles free play, they would fall to pieces
entirely. Rather than move easily forward, and for fear they might
tumble to pieces, they shake their shoulders and hips from side to
side, hold their arms perfectly rigid from the shoulders down, and
instead of the easy, natural swing that the motion of walking would
give the arms, they go forward and back with no regularity, but are
in a chronic state of jerk. The very force used in holding an arm as
stiff as the ordinary woman holds it, would be enough to give her an
extra mile in every five-mile walk. Then again, the muscles of the
throat must help, and more than anywhere else is force unnecessarily
expended in the waist muscles. They can be very soon felt, pushing
with all their might--and it is not a small might--officiously
trying to assist in the action of the legs; whereas if they would
only let go, mind their own business, and let the legs swing easily
as if from the shoulders, they might reflect the rhythmic motion,
and gain in a true freedom and power. Of course all this waste of
force comes from nervous strain and is nervous strain, and a long
walk in the open air, when so much of the new life gained is wrongly
expended, does not begin to do the good work that might be
accomplished. To walk with your muscles and not use superfluous
nervous force is the first thing to be learned, and after or at the
same time to direct your muscles as Nature meant they should be
directed,--indeed we might almost say to let Nature direct them
herself, without our interference. Hurry with your muscles and not
with your nerves. This tells especially in hurrying for a train,
where the nervous anxiety in the fear of losing it wakes all
possible unnecessary tension and often impedes the motion instead of
assisting it. The same law applies here that was mentioned before
with regard to the carriage,--only instead of being quiet and
letting the carriage take you, be quiet and let your walking machine
do its work. So in all hurrying, and the warning can hardly be given
too many times, we must use our nerves only as transmitters--calm,
well-balanced transmitters--that our muscles may be more efficient
and more able servants.
The same mistakes of unnecessary tension will be found in running,
and, indeed, in all bodily motion, where the machine is not trained
to do its work with only the nerves and muscles needed for the
purpose. We shall have opportunity to consider these motions in a
new light when we come to the directions for gaining a power of
natural motion; now we are dealing only with mistakes.
Next: Nervous Strain In Pain And Sickness
Previous: The Brain In Its Direction Of The Body