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Triple Axel

skater.jpg
Push-ups Can Be Beautiful, Too!
Like the triple axel, a push-up has many moving parts. You're not spinning in the air and landing on a slick, friction-less surface, but doing a push-up correctly and effectively still requires a great deal of coordination. And, a well-executed push-up can be a thing of beauty.

Your hands are placed on the floor, separated by a distance only slightly greater than your shoulder width. Your feet are straight behind you, close together and flexed, with your toes on the floor. You support your weight on your hands and your toes. Your body is elevated, and you maintain a straight line from your head and neck, down through your back and legs, and to your ankles.
Importantly, you're helping to support your weight by activating your abdominal muscles. Your stomach should be firm, not loose and hanging down.

Using your abdominal muscles for support, lower yourself to the ground by bending your elbows and push-up back to the starting straight-line position. Do a few push-ups in good form to begin, and sequentially add push-ups every few days as you become more coordinated and stronger in this activity.

A push-up is a compound exercise and strengthens many major muscle groups.

Mao Asada, Silver Medalist in Ladies Figure Skating at the 2010 Winter Olympics, landed three triple axels in the competition, a feat no competitor had done before. There are no easy figure skating jumps, spins, or technical elements, but the triple axel is particularly difficult. This jump has many moving parts, all of which must be exquisitely coordinated in order to land safely on the ice with the specified number of turns in the air.

How does a person put together all the various pieces of this beautiful and daring feat? Certainly not by thinking about them. The timing of the triple axel, as with all figure skating "tricks", happen in a matter of seconds. The individual moving parts happen in split seconds. So thinking about what's coming next will cause the skater to fall and ignominiously sprawl on the ice.

Well-executed triple axels, triple flips, and triple salchows are things of beauty, grace, and athleticism. Double and single jumps are wondrous too, and require very high levels of skill and coordination.1,2 A skater learns how to do these things well by practicing, training, and developing a keen ability to focus. The hours, days, months, and years of training teach a skater's body how to do these jobs well. For the most part, thinking is not part of the process. Thinking gets in the way because we cannot think at skating speed.

How can we bring a skater's level of excellence to our own training? Whether we're lifting weights, doing yoga, riding a bike, walking, running, or swimming, a high level of commitment is needed in order to get the results we want.3 A half-hearted effort won't get the job done. If we truly want to be healthy and well, regular exercise is required. Our commitment involves planning our time efficiently so we can exercise at least 30 minutes each day.

Also, we need to be sure we're getting as much as we can out of our exercise time. We're exercising to train our heart, lungs, muscles, bones, and joints. If these various body parts and systems aren't communicating well, some or much of time spent exercising will be wasted. The best way to ensure optimal functioning of all our physiologic systems is to make sure our nerve system is operating at full capacity. Chiropractic health care is directed at fulfilling this need.

Regular chiropractic care restores and maintains full functioning of the nerve system. All body systems then function effectively and you're able to derive maximal benefit from your exercise. Your body becomes smarter and able to perform at high levels. You develop new physical skills and abilities. You may become more creative, you may sleep better, and you may have more fun in life.

1Tanguy SG, et al: Are otolithic inputs interpreted better in figure skaters? Neuroreport 19(5):565-568, 2008
2Lockwood KL, et al: Landing for success: a biomechanical and perceptual analysis of on-ice jumps in figure skating. Sports Biomech 5(2)231-241, 2006
3Rinne M, et al: Is Generic Physical Activity Or Specific Exercise Associated With Motor Abilities? Med Sci Sports Exerc February 13, 2010 (Epub ahead of print)

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