body shape

A Smaller Waist? (it’s not about exercise!)

Are you losing your shapely body as you age? Is your waist disappearing as your torso becomes more ‘blocky’? Do you think the changes are happening because you are getting older? Lots of changes occur in our mind and body as we age but losing body shape is not entirely from getting older. The structure (skeleton) doesn’t change, the number of muscles doesn’t change, the only factor that does change is how we move.

Muscles, when optimally formed to support the skeletal structure to move as we evolved, enhances our body shape. For instance, when walking weight bearing should go through the center of the bones.

An example of weight passing through the center of the bones is evidenced by the legs to the left in the photo. The legs are of WWII pinup girl Betty Grable’s legs. Notice how evenly muscled they are around the structure which makes them symmetrical, attractive, and balanced.The legs on the right are overdeveloped on the outside and underdeveloped on the inside because of how this person walks. The pigeon-toed movement places all the pressure on the outside of the leg causing the calf muscles to develop on the outside. She will eventually look quite bow-legged as she gains weight.

Overdeveloped muscles in the shoulders can give a ‘hunched’ appearance. The person on the left shows how the muscles roll the shoulders forward¬†and sink the chest down. His neck is thick and way too connected to his shoulders. His belly is becoming compressed and already is beginning to protrude through the sides. The contrasting picture on the right is of Johnny Weismuller, five-time Olympic swimming medalist. His shoulders are upright, back, and resting on the shoulder girdle. His chest is lifted and his neck and head not constrained by overdeveloped muscles.

We have gotten used to certain looks and postures even to the degree that they are desirable. The drift into less organized patterns of movement is gradual enough that we have come to believe it is a natural part of getting older. Nothing is further from reality. The problem of poor movement patterns is because of fads, fashions, and a systematic disconnect from our body. We live in a society that teaches us from a very young age that the mind is superior to and controls the body. Science now knows this is wrong.

One part of the scientific puzzle is that the quality of our movements leads to optimal brain function. By moving as we evolved we maintain a shapely, well-formed body that optimally supports the skeletal structure, and we think better. Functioning well means you do not have limitations that increase over time and you maintain better health overall.

How do you transition back to moving as your structure evolved? One important element of the transition is how weight passes through the structure. Try the following to find out what you do:

  • Stand with your feet hip-distance apart. Notice where in your feet you feel most of the weight. Is it on the inside, outside, heel, or ball of the foot? Do you feel pressure on the inside, outside, or center of your hips? Do you feel any connection to your spine?
  • Slowly take a step, and as you place your foot on the ground notice how the pressure travels through the leg. Does it travel up the outside of the leg from the outside of the foot?
    Once it gets to the hips where do you feel pressure? Is it on the inside, center, or outside of the hip? Do you slightly lean to the side to transfer weight into the leading foot
  • With the leading leg on the ground notice where your pelvis is. Is it in front of the back foot or over the front foot? Where does the weight go through your foot as you put the leg down? Do you feel any effect on the spine? Do your muscles on the side of your waist contract as you put the leg down? Is your head leaning forward? Do you lock your knees or stiffen the ankles?

If weight is on the outside of your foot it must also be on the outside of your hip. There are no bones above the outside of your hip, so muscles must become weight bearing which causes your waist and torso to thicken. To be optimally weight bearing you must move through the center of your bones. My new book Getting Smarter – It’s Not What You Think shows you how to identify and change your movements to be weight bearing. The book is a practical guide that shows you how to integrate five essential elements into all functionality so that you can transition to your optimal body shape.

In addition to looking younger, all that you do feels effortless and easeful because, as science has shown, the better you move the better you think and function physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

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