Appropriate Muscular Effort - An Energy Strategy

Our energy level is valuable. Why waste it?

Assuming good diet and digestion, most people generate an adequate energy level. But some people are tired and disengaged, and some are actively engaged. The difference is in energy utilization.

You can probably separate “tired” people from “active” people by observation. To save words below, Harry will be “tired”, and Sam will be “active”.

Harry leaks energy. Watch him pick up a one-pound glass of water. He squeezes the glass with his fingers. Muscular tension is seen in his fingers, wrist, forearm, upper arm and neck. If he squeezed much harder, the glass might break. The glass and hand shake. The path from the table to his mouth is jerky from tension.

Harry grits his teeth, and wears teeth protection at night. Tension in the jaw is palpable. At the dinner table, he eats like he was digging a hole.

Sam conserves energy. He picks up a glass of water with the minimum amount of force. Fingers lightly circle the glass. The forearm, upper arm and neck are relaxed; they seem like observers, rather than participants. The glass seems to float towards his mouth.

Sam has an easy smile. His jaw is relaxed, while he savors dinner.

How could Harry become more like Sam? He could start by changing his way of being. It’s a choice. Do things the hard way or do things the easy way. He can decide to use only the effort needed. Then previously wasted energy would be saved.

With his new mindset in place, Harry could start with awareness and then change effort level. Or he could practice less effort and change awareness. Either route will work. An iterative process of awareness and movement is best.

One observation exercise is simply lifting a glass of water with minimum effort. During repeated lifting, ask the question, “how light can I grip the glass?” Harry will quickly see that a 1-pound glass of water can be lifted with 1.1 pounds of force – not the 25 pounds. After a while, fingers should feel better as stiffness recedes. Results will come even faster if Harry visualizes that the finger tips guide the lifting, and the arms passively follow.

Tense muscles in the jaw can be released by rotating (circumduction) the chin. During circumduction, visualize that the chin is floating off the head and that the tip of the chin leads the motion. Jaw muscles in the cheeks and head seem to follow the chin passively. In addition, Harry can begin eating with awareness. Chewing doesn’t have to be intense.

If Harry does this, his life will be better in many ways as he applies this thinking to all movements. He’ll have more energy to enjoy life.


Jack Menear