Strength from the Bones - Elegant Maturity.

Outer strength comes from building the gross motor movers. You can see it as large biceps, shoulders, etc. Outer strength shows. Weight lifting builds outer strength.

Inner strength comes from deeper muscular levels. Some martial arts schools focus on this. This is harder to see. Movement originates close to the spine and entrains the larger outside muscles as a wave of movement flows out from the core. The whole body participates rather than depending on outer muscles. A person can develop tremendous power this way.

The Eastern view of inner strength translates as “strength from the bones”. Your vertebrae are connected by short and medium length muscles. The smallest traverse a single vertebral gap. It’s easy to forget them and use larger muscles instead. That’s a bad idea. But inner strength is more than strength and power. That same deep muscle development leads to coordination and graceful aging. Have you seen an 80-year-old person who moves smoothly and easily? That’s elegant maturity – a suggested goal for everyone. Deep muscle development was involved – whether that person was aware of it or not.

A fundamental healing principle is to use all of ourselves. The cumulative effect of using all the body’s muscles is preferable to over-developing a few. Gross motor movers are not designed for refined smooth movement. And, over-use may look like strength today, but it’s also the beginning of weakness.

There are multiple paths to develop inner muscles (Tai Chi, Qi Gong, yoga, etc). You can also do this yourself.

A good starting point is to pretend you can send your breath up and down the spine. Feel the breath at each vertebra. That starts the awareness and wakes up the deep spinal muscles. You may find that there are “dead” spaces, where you can’t feel the breath pass. They may feel like holes in your nervous system. Those are places to focus your attention. Don’t worry, feeling will come with practice and persistence.

Once you find the deep muscles, feel them initiating movement. Then keep that feeling. At this point, you own the fundamentals. With repetition, your understanding will continue to grow.

Imagine feeling better at 60 than you did at 40. It’s not uncommon. The jerky movements that we associate with old age are converted into smooth and fluid movements. Friends will notice that your movement seems effortless and that you don’t tire easily.

A person’s body contains about 650 muscles, and the typical person uses only 50. For health and wellness, more is better. Get acquainted with yourself.


Jack Menear