Tree Of Life
The more specialised we get, the farther removed from basics we seem to drift. This is true of any field and fitness is no exception.
So maybe time for all to sit back, move from the front row and nestle in the last bench to get a wider angle of view.
Interacting with so many athletes, coaches, clients, friends, acquaintances – of all age groups and stationed differently on the health spectrum – this observation has only got reinforced.
Highlighting the cohesiveness of the human body, as a sum of its parts, and the body collectively being a part of the universe around has always fetched the same response. “Eureka!” moments. It’s not a new science that has been unveiled now. It’s not a modern phenomenon or paradigm. It’s a basic and ancient concept that has always existed through various cultures, that people have known but now lost intuition about.
I am sure (at least hope) that most have heard about the “The Tree of Life”. While the concept deals with the interrelatedness of the mental, physical and spiritual realms, you can apply the analogy to the human body to (re)facilitate understanding.
A tree is rooted in the ground through its roots, standing tall and upright on it’s trunk and the trunk in turn spawns several branches, each trying to reach up to the sky, bearing seeds and fruits. You can even view this tree upside down and still see the inter connections. The tree cannot survive well if any of the parts is compromised by disease or damage. Consider any part at random. Damage to the roots eventually impacts the leaves on the branches high above. Likewise, when a disease strikes the leaves, it has the potential to travel all the way down through the trunk to the roots. A problem in the trunk can generate havoc in either direction.
Your body is your tree of life. The feet plant you to the ground, the legs connect to your trunk (core) and the trunk is further connected to the upper part represented by the thoracic region, head, shoulders and arms. Every inch is connected at the cellular level. The nervous system connects your brain to the bottom of your feet and tips of your fingers on your hands. Blood flows through arteries and veins from top to bottom and back. So it should not elicit surprise or awe that an injury, disease, weakness or malfunction in any one part can negatively impact any or all links in the chain. Given, that at a very basic level, the body is a stack of bones, muscles and tissues resting upon one another, held in an intricate balance to allow movement – the dance of life – it is important not to forget it’s tree like attributes.
A strong, healthy body relies on this chain of links. (Strength is not to be confused with or restricted to hypertrophy). Strong , fluid movements rely on a strong body. The upper is counter balanced by the lower, the left by the right and the center (core) is the fulcrum. Your mind to a great extent is influenced by the state of your body.
Upper body strength derives from a sturdy lower. A weakness in the upper part can negatively impact movement generated by the lower part. A weak trunk can reduce power generation capacity of both the upper and lower, giving birth to chronic aches, pains and movement dysfunctions. Much like the tree.
The body is a complex mechanism, or organism if you choose to call it that. Even if you don’t understand technical terms like fascia, pathways, kinesiology, neurokinetics, tensioning and the likes, simply understand this basic interconnection intuitively. The need for integrated, symbiotic programming – active, preventive and curative (rehabilitative) becomes immensely apparent. Your tree, your life. Treat it with respect and nurture it well to stand ground. You never know which way the wind blows.