Donna Eshelman: Seven Keys to Skilled Movement

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ACTING
COACH
THE
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alignment
strength
flexibility
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the nervous system
rest
STRENGTH
Stability with Mobility
This is an old key.


Strength training is probably the most well-known component of fitness. Thanks to the past several decades of aerobics classes, personal trainers, gym memberships, and the more recent boom of yoga studios and pilates classes, most fitness-minded people are squeezing strength training into their workout routine. However, in our culture where we often think "more is better," many people have strengthened so much that they have lost much of their flexibility, which creates other fitness problems. In addition to loss of mobility, over strengthening can undo the balance of a joint which pulls the body out of alignment. For example, excessive thigh strengthening shortens the front of the hip joint, creating an imbalance that may lead to painful compression of the lower spine. Strengthening and stretching ideally work together to keep joints in balance. Certain strength training modalities such as Pilates elongate muscles as you strengthen, facilitating both muscle and joint health.

Many popular strength training methods isolate one muscle of the body at a time in a two-dimensional path. For example, a bicep curl is simply bending and straightening the arm at the elbow joint to strengthen the bicep muscle. One gains the maximum skill advantage with strengthening exercises that move the body in all directions in a fluid manner. These more complicated movements improve not only muscle strength, but also develop flexibility and the entire body coordination of the physical activity. They more closely resemble the physical skill. With our movement, we want to have the choice. If we are doing a movement where we need stability, we have it. If we are later doing a movement that requires mobility, it comes naturally.

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