Tuesday, August 16, 2011

PHYSICAL TRAINING SIMPLIFIED - The Complete Science of Muscular Development - (circa 1930) - CHAPTER 18b - OVERCOMING YOUR DEFICIENCIES - By Mark H. Berry

Walking in sand in the bare feet has a very strengthening effect of the feet, ankles and calves, and if continued regularly for a summer, should serve to overcome any of the less serious conditions of weak arches. Low heeled shoes should also be worn by those who wish to strengthen the arches. However, do not make the foolish mistake of wearing low-heeled shoes one day and shoes with high heels another day, or as some women often do, wear both types on the same day. This advice may seem most applicable to women, but just the same, a man might wear tennis shoes or "sneakers" when taking it easy, and then walk all around the business part of town in shoes with heels of an inch or more. For one who has become accustomed to the practice of wearing shoes of various types and whose feet and ankles are in first class of doing things, as the muscles will become strengthened in one position is never wisest to allow the body to become accustomed to only one way of doing things, as the muscles will become strengthened in one position and if subjected to another position a strain may result. Along this line of reasoning, some criticism has at times been made concerning the training of track athletes to run under ideal conditions only, whereas physical training should prepare the man for any exceptional physical test. If the athlete is trained to run on a cinder path, he is likely to pull a tendon or sprain an ankle if circumstances should call for a life and death race over uneven ground. This argument was brought forth during the late war. Sprints were conducted in the training camps, with the contestants army shoes, pants and shirts rather than the spiked running shoes and track outfit, as it was reasoned to be a better preparation for physical efficiency to train the men to run fast in ordinary regalia.

If you have ever accustomed yourself to retiring at a certain hour and then circumstances should make it necessary to stay up later, you can appreciate the effect of habit upon the human system. Eating the meals too regularly at the same hours every day will produce the same habit effect on the system, which should be ideal for health purposes under ordinary conditions; but should you find it necessary to suddenly change your hours of eating the effect upon your system would not be so good. Returning to the subject of wearing shoes of different styles, we might mention that lifters have sometimes failed to make good in a public performance due to wearing shoes when they had been training in bare feet. Still, for general training purposes, it is best to change around once in a while. The developmental effect which results will be to your advantage.

If your physical defect happens to be an unevenness of the shoulders, that is, one shoulder is higher than the other, we must first of determine the reason. Scholars sometimes acquire such faulty posture through the habit of sitting at the desk with one arm resting on the desk, or by writing while sitting in a twisted position. Clerks and bookkeepers are also liable to be effected in the same way. Occupational postures may also result in a twisting or unevenness of the shoulders, as in carrying always with one hand, or in the use of one arm in the performance of daily tasks. Whatever the cause, we must first seek to overcome it if possible. Of course, if a man must swing a hammer, use a saw, or do some other task with one hand only, because his livelihood depends on the skill he has mastered with the one hand, we cannot very well ask him to attempt to hammer and saw equally well with each hand. In such a case, we must prescribe exercises for the other arm to overcome the unbalanced condition. If the condition is due entirely to posture, we may through suggestions and exercise change the postural habits. Some persons walk in a lop-sided manner, merely through habit; to overcome this we need to develop muscles which will create antagonistic muscle pulls and thus bring the body into a better position.

To suggest a few corrective measures, let us consider a few possible cases. If a person has been used to carrying a heavy pail or basket in the right hand only for a long time, the muscles on the left side of the body will developed more than those on the right side, as when a weight is carried in the right hand, the left side muscles must contract to hold the body from falling over to the right. When a person walks without a weight, the right shoulder is likely to he higher than the left, due to the pull exerted by the stronger left side muscles. A side exercise of holding a loaded dumb bell or kettle ball in the left hand and then practicing side bending exercises will tend to correct the unbalanced condition by strengthening the muscles on the right side. The rule to follow in these cases is to practice the exercise while holding the bell in the hand on the side having the lowest shoulder. However, if a side bending exercise is practiced while holding a bell overhead with one hand, the hand on the high shoulder side should hold the bell. Such an exercise would be performed by holding the bell overhead, say in the right, and with the feet fairly well apart to bend over to the left as far as possible and then come back to the erect position. It is necessary to bend the left knee to do the exercise properly.

The same principle should be followed in prescribing exercises for the correction of scoliosis or sidewise curve of the spine. When the spinal curvature is of long standing, quick results in correction must not be expected and a determined fight might have to be maintained for years with hope of nothing more than slight improvement. Here we are referring to serious curvature of long standing. With cases of slight curvature in growing children or youths, constant attention for a relatively short space of time will work wonders.

Hanging at arm's length on a horizontal bar or form of trapeze with a weight tied to the feet will also be beneficial in overcoming a condition of spinal curvature. At first very light weights should be used, say, 5 or 10 pounds, and it might be best to tie the weight between both feet. Hang in this position for about five minutes daily, and after the first month it may be repeated twice daily, adding considerably to the weight attached to the feet. As long as you are able comfortably to hold the position, there is no danger of using too much weight, though, of course, you will find it impossible to use anything very heavy. The best way of attaching weight to the feet would be to tie two loops to the weight, slipping one over each foot; in this way the weight would be suspended equally between the feet, and a center of balance would established by the body.

A physical defect consisting of nothing more than a state of unbalanced development or a lack of muscular development requires only developing exercises for the muscles in question. Where a lack of development exists as the result of infantile paralysis, or as the result of some other disease, improvement has sometimes been realized after following corrective measures without a let-up for periods varying from several months to a few years. As accessory measures to exercise, massage, electricity, and manual manipulations are all important.

Hiding the clavicles and the adams apple are two sources of worry to physical culturists upon whom these parts are prominent, and our reason for mentioning both at the same time is due to the fact that such attempts do not so often result successfully. The clavicles, or collar bones, may be covered on individuals who are rather generously endowed with fat, but practically every muscular man shows these bones rather prominently. Of course, it is possible to pose in such a position as to hid the collar bones momentarily, but we would suggest that you scrutinize the photographs of the leading examples of physical perfection, and you will notice how common it is to display them prominently. Even upon the illustrious Mr. Eugene Sandow a lack of clavicular covering is strongly evidenced. To all doubting skeptics we would say, look and be convinced.

On many men, particularly those the tall, raw boned and thoroughly masculine type ( if you know what is mean ) you will note an awfully prominent adams apple. My reason for referring to such men as being thoroughly masculine is that you would rarely associate the particular type with sissified tendencies. By no means do we mean that a man must show a prominent adams apple to prove masculinity, but on the other hand, rare indeed is it for a woman to show one prominently. The deep male voice is often closely associated with this prominence, but at the same time we aren't so sure that a weak or high pitched male voice is caused by a lack of the aforesaid apple. The queer combination of a weak voice on a strong man has sometimes been remarked as calling for some explanation. If there is any satisfactory explanation to be made we have formed a theory which when thoroughly investigated may mean nothing. It has seemed to us as though athletes with thick powerful necks may have choked the adams apple or the vocal cords with muscles. Wide observation will at least prove to you the lack of connection between strong muscles and a strong or deep voice. As a boy we shared the somewhat widespread belief that the two must go together. So common is this notion that you will notice how many would be toughs and "hard guys" purposely cultivate a low voiced manner of talking. We had our awakening when we grew older and had an opportunity to see great athletes at first hand. The fallacy of that particular popular notion dawned upon us. Our explanation is that many men cultivate or effect a low voice to impress people, while the fellow who is recognized or in the public eye has no need of a gruff voice to effect an impression. If your adams apple is prominent, forget it; you may succeed in building up the neck to such an extent as to make it less prominent, but there is no sense in worrying about it. Remember it is entirely masculine and for that reason should cause no concern to the manly fellow.

Our experience has proven that the majority of men who become interested in thoroughly practical mean of physical improvement, are not the ones who are overweight and wish to reduce. Obese, or plain fat men as a rule seemingly do not care to exert themselves strenuously enough to realize results. Of course, that is one reason they are fat, insufficient activity; whether or not they overeat, this is true. We would say it is far easier to reduce a man than to build up a thin, scrawny fellow into a Hercules. Yet, fat men will spend all imaginable sums of money for some magic formula, rather than to change their habits of inactivity. Truly, it is wise for the overweight individual to regulate his diet, just as it is essential for the thin fellow to eat the proper foods for gaining weight. Eliminate as much as possible foods from the diet, such as potatoes, spaghetti, macaroni, cereals, white bread, sweets and pastries. Plenty of liquid with the meals is advisable, as well as to drink copiously of water between meals. If soups are included with the meals, be sure they are of the thin or watery variety. Make up the bulk by eating good quantities of salads and greens. Also, lean meats in preference to fat varieties. Greens and leafy vegetables are especially beneficial in helping to remedy an excess adipose condition.

At first do not attempt to kill yourself by exercising too violently. No one gets fat overnight, nor within a couple of weeks, so don't try to lose your accumulation in such a short space of time. Start in easily, and be content to proceed cautiously till you have become thoroughly accustomed to the unusual activities. Regularly increase the amount of your exertions, keeping within your limit at all times, and perform the movements quickly and as steadily as possible. It is splendid to perspire very freely and no rest should be taken between exercises.

A very fat man shouldn't attempt a lot of bending movements at first, as due to the adiposity around his internal organs, they are greatly embarrassed, causing him great discomfort and little good. The general exercises given throughout this volume are to be recommended for reducing purposes; the bar bell course is given in one chapter, or the Lifting Motion exercises in another. Three periods of strenuous exercise (bar bell exercise) per week should be sufficient at first, though on the alternate days you should put in about ten minutes practicing free hand abdominal and leg raising movements. The man who is unable to sit up in an abdominal exercise should practice kicking his legs up in the air, both in a reclining and standing position; also bending the knees upon the abdomen, bending to the front and to the side; also stationary running, raising the knees to the maximum.

The secret to be observed in arranging a bar bell routine is to include a good number of abdominal and hip exercises. Practice a full set of these before and after the regular movements for the rest of the body. Keep moving and work up a sweat. If results aren't forthcoming to a noticeable degree, arrange to do more work; changing to four periods of strenuous work in each seven days. Just as any thin fellow may improve, any overweight fellow may trim himself down to the desired proportions. Anyone, in fact, may improve their physical condition. You must the necessary amount of work to accomplish your purpose. Wear woolen clothing to induce sweating if you care to, but don't wear rubber bandages or clothing as it is most unhealthful. Good hot and warm baths fine aids to the proper stimulation of skin elimination.

Various claims have been made at time relative to the value of exercise in curing or overcoming rupture. We would advise anyone who is ruptured to consult a physician as to the advisability of an operation or other corrective measures. Physicians in general have nothing favorable to say of exercising for rupture, and stress the point that the modern method of operating makes the part stronger than ever, by an overlapping of the structures. Regardless of this attitude, we have received numerous reports of effective corrections by means of proper exercise, even though we have never directly advised such measures.

Some individuals believe in the efficiency of exercise for the purpose, and either request information on the proper movements or set about to arrange the matter to suit themselves. It is for this class of individual especially that we give the following suggestions:

It us understood that exercise measures of correction should never be attempted unless the hernia is of an inconsequential nature. Sometimes a predisposition may exist, in which case exercises of the proper sort can so strengthen the parts as to prevent the possibility of an occurrence. Abdominal and leg raising movements are beneficial. Start in at first very easy, and be content to progress very slowly. After adding strength to the surrounding muscles in general, the inclined board may be put into use with great effectiveness: refer to the illustration of Klein on his "In-Klein Board." You may make a similar with no trouble out of an ironing board with one end placed on a chair or stairs; the feet strapped to the upper end for sit up exercises. Practice sitting up with no weight, assisting by extending the arms well forward. Do not use weights, nor hold the hands behind the head until you feel certain the parts are greatly strengthened.

Also, practice lying on the board in the reverse position, head up and feet down. At first, just raise the legs alone, then later you may fasten weights to the feet. Swing the legs sidewise in this position as well as straight up. These movements are splendid as abdominal developers.

Headaches-the bane of civilized mankind. Arguments persist, pro and con, as to the reasons for this efficiency destroying affliction. Many are the reasons advanced, and cures without number have been prescribed, but to no evident avail, as the average citizen continues to suffer. Let one who is free of headache tell you how to overcome the terrible plague. Why follow the advice of physicians who are unable to overcome the trouble themselves? Drugs, potions and various forms of nerve-deadening dope can do no better than temporarily relieve the pain, which later recurs with even greater ferocity. The writer can honestly claim that he hardly knows the meaning of such aches and pains. He has dim recollections of having at sometime or other experienced a headache. He forgets now whether it was malaria, influenza, or just a common cold which gave him a taste of this most common affliction. He also faintly remembers having had pains in the head after being hit with a missive of some sort. Still, it is doubtful if this form of pain was in reality any relation to the common headache.

My formula for the relief and cure of headache is - to become free of the terrible scourge of mankind - constipation: beware of eyestrain, and keep from worrying as much as possible. Many persons suffering a headache have in reality a diseased tooth condition, which must be overcome. Having been a physical culturist since the age of fourteen, his habits have been unusually regular; he has been fairly consistent over a long period of years in the matter of systematic physical exercise, and some degree of intelligence has been used in the selection of diet. In offering advice for my readers, I would make the following suggestions.

Establish the habit of performing systematic bodily exercise. It is better to keep in an active condition, rather than to force your physical powers by competitive games or athletics. Establish the habit of perfect elimination by thoroughly natural means, and without the aid of physics, laxatives, cathartics, purgatives, enemas, pills, powders, or proprietary water. Keep the body well flushed with healthful liquids, particularly pure water. Eat fruits, greens, and leafy vegetables in generous quantities. Stewed fruits, such as prunes, apricots peaches, and figs should be eaten at one meal every day. Take nothing in the form of medicine to regulate the bowels, and by no means take anything which is supposed to relieve or cure headache. Particularly must one be sure not to take aspirin. Those who use this preparation for headaches will never be free of the trouble. Temporarily the ache or pain is relieved only to come back with greater intensity. I have yet to hear of anyone who takes aspirin and knows what it is to be free of headache. The author never tasted aspirin, and does not wish to learn the flavor of any form of poison. Luckily, he was warned about this stuff when it first appeared on the market. If you, friend reader, have cultivated the habit of using this, or any other form of "dope," break yourself of the habit at all costs. Some wise person has said that a day is taken off your life for every aspirin tablet taken, and I am convinced they are right.

Only those who have exercised regularly over a period of years can fully understand what a feeling of perfect health means. Even after the really strenuous forms of activity have been neglected, the joys of continuous sound digestion, clock-work regularity of elimination, and consequent freedom of headaches can never be told in words. Internal muscular habits, when properly established by correct habits of life, become as certain as the heart beat and the function of breathing.

Iron Nation

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