Advertising
Advertising

Treat the Person, Not the Body!

Treat the Person, Not the Body!

Have we Been Missing the Point?

    For all our research, resources, technology and collective intelligence there’s still way more that we don’t know about managing the human body, than we do. We like to think we’re more enlightened than ever but in many ways we’re still failing miserably when it comes to creating optimal health; just take a look around at our fat, stressed, addicted, depressed, unhealthy society. Could it be that we’ve been looking in the wrong place, using the wrong approach or maybe missing the point altogether?

    Stumbling in the Dark

    In the big wide world of health science (medicine, exercise, nutrition, disease prevention, immunology) we’re still in the dark about many things. While plenty of experts talk as though they have the final word on the human body and how to manage it (feed it, exercise it, treat it, heal it), the truth is we’re all still learning on the job; we’re students. Or at least, we should be. As an exercise scientist with vast practical experience, a reasonable academic background and a good aptitude for this stuff, my knowledge, understanding and skill level are constantly improving (because I work at it) and at the same time, my beliefs and thinking are always evolving because I’m learning (and un-learning) things daily. My thinking about what I do and how I do it, and my practical approach to my work have changed over the years because I have grown, adapted, learned by doing and made numerous mistakes. My “what I don’t know” list is still way bigger than my “what I do know” list. And always will be. I don’t aspire to know it all, just more.

    Advertising

    Knowing what we don’t Know

    Aside from what we know we don’t know about the human body (with me, here?), there’s also what we think we know but actually don’t. Then there’s the mountain of conflicting (research-based) information available to you and me, and last but not least, there’s the widespread professional and philosophical disagreement between not only the individual experts in each field, but also between the various professions. Ask the same question to ten experts and you’ll probably get ten different answers. And a headache.

    Scientific Embarrassment

    Some experts don’t want you to know that much of what was scientific ‘fact’ only decades ago is now scientific embarrassment. In the next few years we will discover that a percentage of what we currently consider to be ‘absolute’ is either partial truth or completely wrong. On many levels we assume, hypothesize and guess but we don’t know for certain. There is still much sickness and disease, and at the other end of the scale, health and healing, that doesn’t actually make ‘sense’ according to our current scientific knowledge. We all know stories of people (friends and family perhaps) who have recovered from an illness that they shouldn’t have. Or people with medical conditions that just don’t seem to make sense (within the confines of our walls of current understanding). Or the person given three months to live five years ago who is still living a functional, happy, healthy and productive life today.

    Choosing Health

    For the last few years I’ve worked with a lady who isn’t meant to be here – according to the doctors. All the ‘medical intelligence’ says she should have been dead years ago. Someone was wrong. And the science was wrong. Perhaps she determined her own destiny rather than having it forecast by a stranger or a set of mandatory rules that predicted her imminent death. Perhaps she chose to live and by making that choice something happened on a physiological level. Perhaps her psychology changed her physiology. And maybe her thinking produced biochemical changes which lead to changes in her immune system, improved health and ultimately, life not death.

    Advertising

    The area of Psychoneuroimmunology (PNI) is a relatively new field of study (born in the mid-seventies) which looks at how our thinking affects our immune system, how our mind affects our health. We now know that our mental and emotional states have a significant (and often under-estimated) impact on our physical health. Although other cultures have known and benefited from this understanding for centuries. People who dwell on the negative will have a suppressed immune system and will be more predisposed to illness, while their more positive counterparts will be less likely to fall ill. We know that prolonged mental and emotional stress (a form of illness) will invariably lead to physical disease just as we know that, happy people will typically outlive their stressed neighbours and have a better level of health doing it.

    “For this is the great error of our day, that the physicians separate the soul from the body” – Hippocrates

    Yep, an old Greek bloke figured this stuff out 2,500 years ago… Some of us are a little slow to catch on.

    Advertising

    Miracles

    The cool thing is that when we look beyond that ‘part’ of the person (in this case, the body) and start to treat the ‘whole’ of the person (body, mind, spirit) we begin to move beyond logic, science and our own understanding. That’s often where freedom is and where the miracles happen; a miracle being something that we can’t explain with our humanistic, Western, self-limiting mindset. Sometimes the very things which stand in the way of our health, healing and happiness are in fact science, logic and our erroneous beliefs and understanding of what’s possible for us. Sometimes what works for you won’t make sense in many people’s eyes and won’t be particularly scientific. And that’s okay. Your mind, body and spirit are in constant communication but the question is, are you paying attention?. When we step out of the “I am a body” mindset and into the “my body is not who I am, it’s where I live” paradigm, then the term complete health takes on a totally new meaning.

    Treating the Person, not the Body.

    By and large (whatever that means) Western medicine is the only medical system in the world which treats the body in isolation rather than treating the entire person as an integrated unit. In most non-Western medicines (for want of a better term) the person is treated as the multi-dimensional, amazing creature that they are, whereas in our culture we have traditionally treated the body, not the person. In many cultures (some would say, more evolved cultures), the mind, emotions, body and spirit are treated in unison because it is understood that when a part of the individual is unwell, the whole of the individual will be unwell. If not right now, soon.

    The Black Sheep of the Scientific Family

    I’ve just read what I’ve written so far and I guess this message could sound somewhat contradictory coming from a scientist (of sorts) and I can understand why many people would think that. On many levels I’m not very good at the ‘science thing’ because I find some of it to be limiting, wishy-washy and conflicting. Having said that, I still believe it should play (and continue to play) a role in the overall health management process, keeping in mind that it is constantly evolving and flawed; just like the people who create it and teach it. Including me. When we take away the scientific arrogance and the need to be right (we love being right in our culture because we have our ego attached to our triumphs), then we open our mind, body and spirit to a world of possibilities; a world of healing, happiness, harmony and health that lays beyond our understanding, logic and often beyond anything we’ve ever known or experienced.

    Advertising

    When we (you and I) stop treating the body (in isolation) and start treating the person, we begin the move towards enlightenment, a shift in consciousness and complete health. Health like we’ve never known.

    So my friend, look after not only your body, but your head, your heart and your spirit too.

    More by this author

    Why Is Goal Setting Important to a Truly Fulfilling Life? Do You Make These 10 Common Mistakes Before Weighing Yourself? If your Childhood Sucked – It’s Time to Stop Blaming Your Parents! Exploring Relationships with the Single Weirdo Education Should be More than Academic Basics

    Trending in Lifestyle

    17 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day 210 Surprising Benefits Of Dragon Fruit You Never Knew 311 Benefits of Almond Milk You Didn’t Know About 411 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits) 510 Benefits of Sleeping Naked You Probably Didn’t Know

    Read Next

    Advertising
    Advertising

    Last Updated on August 15, 2018

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    7 Amazing Things That Will Happen When You Do Plank Every Day

    Bodyweight exercises are gaining ground in the fitness world due to the practicality and simplicity of getting in shape using your own body weight. Planks are one form of bodyweight exercises that will never go out of fashion. Planks are one of the most effective exercises you can do. Why? Because they require a small time investment on your part, and offer the chance to achieve substantial results in a relatively short span of time.

    Video Summary

    Why is it important to train up our core strength?

    There are numerous sites and blogs which detail ways to build your core muscles or core strength. Often though, these sites neglect to explain what your core muscles actually are, and why building them is important.

    This is quite surprising, as core muscles are quite easy to explain. Your core muscles are a series of muscles in your midsection, and are used in most forms of movement. Though they aren’t housed in your arms or legs, your core muscles can help transfer force from one limb to another, or are used in addition to muscles in your arms or legs to increase their effectiveness. As such a strong core will make a big improvement on your ability to move and exercise further.

    Also they are great for helping other muscles in your midsection such as your abdominal muscles. Your abdominal muscles are important for supporting your back and spinal column, and as such are important aids in preventing injuries. However for them to be most effective you need to spend a lot of time developing your core muscles.

    In short, planking exercises can make a huge improvement in your muscles down your whole body. Making them a hugely effective exercise to perform.

    One Exercise, multiple benefits

    There are few forms of exercise as effective at building your core as planking exercises. However, planking exercises benefit far more than just your core strength.

    By holding yourself in the position for a planking exercise, you’ll notice that your biceps, neck, and shoulder muscles are also being tested and strained. This this encouraging their buildup and development. This is great news if you like to do press ups, developed shoulder muscles will have a big impact on your press up performance.

    Advertising

    When planking, you are holding yourself up through your arms and biceps and so by holding a planking position, your arm muscles are being toned and developed. Making planking a great alternative exercise to other forms of bicep developing exercises.

    Moving down your midsection, successful plank exercises actually develop the muscles in your butt! These muscles tend to be ignored by a lot of exercises, so this is another great benefit of plank exercises.

    In much the same way as you develop your biceps and arm muscles, holding the planking position helps develop the muscles in your thighs too.

    What is even better is that planking exercises don’t take much time at all. In fact you should probably only spend about ten minutes max per day in the planking exercise.

    What will happen when you start doing planks every day

      1. You’ll improve core definition and performance: 

      Planks are an ideal exercise for the abdominal muscles exactly because they engage all major core muscle groups including the transverse abdominus, the rectus abdominusthe external oblique muscle, and the glutes. The importance of strengthening each muscle group cannot be underestimated either, for all of these groups serve their own purpose. If you strengthen these muscle groups you will notice:

      • Transverse abdominis: increased ability to lift heavier weights.
      • Rectus adbominis: improved sports performance, particularly with jumping. This muscle group is also responsible for giving you the renowned six pack look.
      • Oblique muscles: improved capacity for stable side-bending and waist-twisting
      • Glutes: a supported back and a strong, shapely booty.

      2. You’ll decrease your risk of injury in the back and spinal column

      Advertising

        Doing planks is a type of exercise that allow you to build muscle while also making sure that you are not putting too much pressure on your spine or hips. According to the American Council on Exercise, doing planks regularly not only significantly reduces back pain but it also strengthens your muscles and ensures a strong support for your entire back, especially in the areas around your upper back.

        Check out this article if you would like to find out about how doing planks on different surfaces can impact the effectiveness of this exercise in strengthening your core.

        3. You’ll experience an increased boost to your overall metabolism

          Planking is an excellent way of challenging your entire body because doing them every day will burn more calories than other traditional abdominal exercises, such as crunches or sit-ups. The muscles you strengthen by doing this exercise on a day-to-day basis will ensure that you burn more energy even when sedentary. This is especially important if you are spending the majority of your day sitting in front of a computer. Also, making it a daily 10- to 1 minute home exercise before or after work will not only provide an enhanced metabolic rate but it will also ensure that that metabolic rate remains high all day long, (yes, even while you are asleep).

          4. You’ll significantly improve your posture

            Planking exercises have a great impact and improvement on your posture. This is great news as a strong posture brings with it a huge number of fantastic benefits .

            A good posture keeps your bones and joins in the correct alignment which means both your bones and joints will be better maintained and more healthy, but also means the overall effectiveness of your muscles will be improved.

            Advertising

            A good posture will ensure your back or spine is in the correct position and so you will suffer less back pain.

            On top of everything, someone with good posture looks better, healthier, and more confident.

            5. You’ll improve overall balance

              Have you ever felt that when you tried standing on one leg, you couldn’t stand up straight for more than a couple of seconds? It’s not because you were drunk- unless you happened to be at the time!-  but rather, it’s because your abdominal muscles weren’t strong enough to give you the balance you needed. Through improving your balance by doing side planks and planks with extensions you will boost your performance in every kind of sporting activity.

              6. You’ll become more flexible than ever before

                Flexibility is a key benefit of doing planks regularly, for this form of exercise expands and stretches all your posterior muscle groups – shouldersshoulder blades, and collarbone – while also stretching your hamstrings, arches of your feet, and toes. With a side plank added in to the mix, you can also work on your oblique muscles. This will provide you with further benefits when it comes to hyper-extending your toes, a movement that is crucial for supporting your body’s weight.

                7. You’ll witness mental benefits

                Advertising

                  Plank exercises have a particular effect on our nerves, making them an excellent means of improving overall mood. How? Well, they stretch out muscle groups that contribute to stress and tension in the body. Just think about it: you are sitting in your chair, at home or at work, all day long; your thigh muscles get tight, your legs get heavy due to being bent for several hours; and tension develops in your shoulders due to being forced to slump forward all day. These are all circumstances that put too stress on the muscles and nerves. The good news is that planks not only calm your brain, but they can also treat anxiety and symptoms of depression– but only if you make it part of your daily routine.

                  How to hold a plank position

                  1. Get into pushup position on the floor.
                  2. Now bend your elbows 90 degrees and rest your weight on your forearms.
                  3. Keep your torso straight and rigid and your body in a straight line from ears to toes with no sagging or bending.
                  4. Your head is relaxed and you should be looking at the floor.
                  5. Hold the position for as long as you can.
                  6. Remember to breathe. Inhale and exhale slowly and steadily.
                  7. When your form begins to suffer, pull the plug. You’re only benefiting from the plank by actually doing the plank.

                  Watch the video if you have any doubt!

                  Here is a great infographic that shows the best plank variation exercises to evenly target all abdominal muscle groups:

                    How to improve your plank time gradually

                    1. Start with the easier variation if needed. You can start with a bent-knee plank if you can’t perform a regular plank yet. If you can hold a plank for more than two minutes with ease, you can move on to these tougher variations.
                    2. Practise every day. Space your planking exercise throughout the day and do 3-4 times every day. Try to hold the position 10 seconds longer each time.
                    3. Perform other body-weight exercises at the same time. Push-up and squat will improve your core strength too.

                    Are you ready to devote 5-10 minutes of your day, every day, to stay fit, healthy and, most importantly, strong as a bull? Then jump in and make doing plank exercises a part of your life.

                    Who Should Be Cautious Doing The Plank?

                    You need to be cautious doing Planking exercises if any of these risks apply to you:

                    • Prolapse
                    • After prolapse surgery
                    • Pelvic pain conditions
                    • Weak or poorly functioning pelvic floor muscles
                    • Previous childbirth
                    • Overweight

                    Choose an alternative pelvic floor abdominal exercise or consult your doctor before performing plank regularly.

                    Read Next