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I have a propensity for noticing and appreciating the smaller things in life, much more than the big. Big heads, big muscles, big egos turn me off faster than a light switch! Show me the journey of growing, transforming, enduring and honoring the small and simple steps in life and you’ve captured my heart! There are many things I am passionate about; including life itself, but transforming the fitness motives which start in the head to becoming a heart focus to heal through movement are at the top of my list! I believe great things come from small seeds nurtured over time, both well watered and pruned!

To train small muscles doesn’t seem so allustrious but it is brillant! I was working with a very strong and athletic man just a few days ago, whose very large muscles are evident but as I took him through his Pilates routine his muscles were shaking and quivering like he had never experienced. He was amazed and I said simply, “ Never before have you wanted small muscles till now”, we both laughed and he said you’re right this is the hardest thing I’ve done!

When we look at the complexity of the ball and socket joints of the hip and shoulder, it is obvious that the bigger muscles we see such as the gluteus maximus or the “bum” and the deltoid of the shoulder get the focus they deserve as the “show me off- see me now” muscles but what lies underneath the skin at the roots of the shoulder (deltoid- big) – lies the rotator cuff (smaller) is one of the most surgically repaired muscle in the body, along with the hip. The deltoid is rarely damaged most likely because it is so worked and thus stronger than the foundation underneath, much like a onion you really don’t see how bad it is from the first look until you cut into it and see the “rot” inside. The 5 rotator cuff muscles “whisper muscles” or local stabilizers lie deeply underneath which make up the integrity of the shoulder, are most often torn, damaged and unstable; causing a lot of pain. Very similarly the hip is held together by the deep 6 muscles that keep the hip held together underneath the larger gluteus maximus. Heavy squats,leg presses and lunges overtrain and compress the hip and gluteus maximus while leaving the smaller piriformis, gemellus and obturator externus/internus which actually hold the femur head in the bowel of the pelvis becomes weak and vulnerable to instability and injury. Today hip replacements are “one of the most commonly performed, elective surgical procedures in the United States, and the volume of primary and revision TJR procedures has risen continuously in recent decades.”

The surgeries we see at the hip and shoulder are not because the big muscles gave out, in fact it is because they have be over devoloped while the small muscles have been neglected and the small muscles tear and give out!

The answer is to work light load, smart and simple movements that strengthen the very deep supportive structures of the joint which are designed to only withstand light weight, in fact under heavy loads the do NOT assist they bow out, which in affect over the long haul of heavy lifting gives you a week foundation and an overdeveloped muscle(s) lying on top. Much like a house if the foundation is weak, when the storm comes (heavy weight/lot of reps) the small muscles tear and the joint needs replaced.

Most of us are not labor intensive workers who need to be able to stand up under heavy loads. Most people today spend most of the day sitting behind desks or standing for a long period of time in one place. The most functional movement we can do is developing strength and endurance in the simple movements we do all day. Sitting up from a chair and moving forward in a walking gait. Really all of movement is quite simple. Find length in your strength, move throughout your day, breath into your body and become mindful aware of the movement that starts front the inside out. Deep breath, connected brain, intentional body is where transformation starts, grows and is sustained.

Kelsey Mercer

Author Kelsey Mercer

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