Chapter 15: Other Muscles
What accounts for 50% of the muscles in your body? You are probably sitting on it right now while reading this. It is the gluteus maximus muscle. 70% of our muscles are contained in our torso and below. This includes our legs, which contain layers of leg muscles.
For now, let’s focus on the gluteus maximus muscle (a.k.a., the butt). If our body is a ship, the butt is the anchor. It anchors all of the core muscles, as well as the spinal cord, thigh, knee, and ankle bones. It stabilizes the entire body, allowing us to move in various directions. It lets our bodies move like a pendulum, and permits the waist to move in all directions. It also helps the spine move, and anything from below the torso to function.
As we get older, the butt muscles receive less exercise and become flat. The butt sags toward the ground because there is less muscle. This means the pendulum action it is responsible for is lost. If this function is reduced, we have problems. When the butt is strong, we stand up straight, but when it is weak, we have to hunch. When we get middle aged and sit in the office all day, the muscle gets saggy. It is like your biceps. If you do a lot of curls, the muscle becomes hard and baseball shaped. If you stop working out for an extended period of time, the muscle is replaced by flab. As this muscle loss continues, it weakens. Therefore, if an elderly man falls down, his hip is more susceptible to breaking. If it breaks, then he will become bedridden and unable to exercise his other muscles. Eventually, his body becomes dry and cold; he will die.
When women are young, their gluteus maximus muscles are strong. The muscle is apple shaped, and is carried higher on the body. Why is this? Because the butt must be strong for pregnancy. When the baby is in the belly, the belly protrudes outward from the body. The butt and lower muscles are strong, and resist the weight of the fetus. This is how God made us. After menopause, women lose muscle quickly because they no longer need to have a strong butt for pregnancy. So, whether you are a man or a woman, after you become middle aged, you must be concerned with these muscles in order to maintain longevity.
The question becomes, do we need a big butt? Yes, but a muscular one, not a fat one. People who are overweight have larger bottoms to offset the weight of the stomach. Fat is important, and is needed to regenerate our cells, but too much or too little creates problems. We need a proper ratio. If we don’t have this ratio, we can get diabetes, cancer, etc. This ratio is important because our muscles preserve 70% of our bodies’ water and glycogen. Therefore, a strong and muscular butt is related to longevity. One way to develop butt muscles is by throwing back kicks in martial arts. Horses and giraffes are good at back kicks because of their strong butts. They are hard, strong, and shaped well.
There are three kinds of muscle. First, we have internal muscle, like that which controls the heart and stomach. Second, there are outside muscles, like the thighs and chest. Third, there is the core, or inner muscle. We can see and control the outside muscles ourselves. (e.g. flexing the biceps or triceps). On the other hand, internal organ muscles cannot be controlled by free will. The only one we can consciously develop is the heart, and that is through breathing and exercise.
How do we develop internal organ muscles, like the kidney, liver, and spleen? We can’t, because we don’t have the skill to do it. Therefore, if we want to maintain them, we must treat them well. We must eat proper amounts of good food. The best types of food are those that are cooked slowly (not fried). This helps our intestines absorb nutrients more easily, and also improves our immune systems. If we eat junk food, our organs must work harder due to the low food quality. Secondly, we must let our organs rest. To do this, you must maintain a regular eating schedule. Try to keep eating times constant every day, with little food in between them. If meal times differ, our digestive muscles have to work more, and they will wear out more quickly.
Let’s compare the upper body muscles to the lower body muscles. The muscles farther from the heart are the most important. Remember, our heart only acts to push blood through the body and into the cells. When it contracts, the arteries move, but the veins do not. Blood is not pumped back into the heart, is simply flows back in. Our lower body muscles play an important role in returning blood to the heart. Much like the heart moves the arteries, our muscles contract our veins. When we walk, our muscles flex, and “milk” the blood back to the center of the body. That is why the lower body muscles, when developed, are better for longevity. They improve circulation.
Many people want six packs, large biceps, and strong triceps. The abdominal muscles help maintain testosterone (the male hormone), but you need more than a six-pack in order to be healthy. Developed inner core muscles from deep breathing is what truly contributes to longevity.
Our goal should be to develop core muscles, in order to protect the organs that are not protected by bone, which would be the kidneys, spleen, stomach, and intestines. Think of a corset. One that is not too tight actually relieves lower back pain and tightens the abdomen. This is the effect our core muscles should have. By developing these inner muscles, our more vulnerable organs are better protected and our backs are stronger.
One way we can develop our core muscles is by doing breathing exercises. As I wrote before, your breathing must be deep and long. It must be done slowly, gently, and continuously practiced. While growing up, humans breathe from the diaphragm (the stomach area). As we age, we start the bad habit of breathing in the chest and shoulders. This is probably how you breathe today. When you take in a breath, your chest and shoulders rise vertically, toward the ceiling. When you are middle aged, you transition to solely shoulder breathing. Many senior citizens have moved into neck breathing. This is why breathing exercises are important. We must have breathing with full body movement. This is where Ki breathing training exercises come in. These exercises are the ones that are found in Taekwondo, tai chi, and other martial arts.
In women, menopause causes a reduction in the production of certain hormones which, in turn, decreases the body’s oxygen levels. Less oxygen causes an increase in fat and proteins. The extra fat migrates to the stomach, and the body’s metabolism function goes down. Our body metabolism takes the food we eat and converts it to energy. If the metabolism decreases, muscle mass decreases, which means there is less energy expenditure. Less energy expenditure further increases the fat that goes into the stomach. This fat makes triglycerides. If the triglycerides don’t go out of our bodies, they make the body susceptible to cancer. By improving the mass of your lower body, reducing the size of your waist, and having a higher body temperature, you will prevent cancer.
Females tend to have more fat than muscle, as compared to men. Therefore, they have to worry more than men about gaining weight. Fat cannot harmonize with water, because water is a polar molecule that sticks to itself. When fat mixes with water, the water repels it and the two molecules stay separate. Therefore, women cannot store as much water as men because they do not have as much muscle, leading to fat retention. Here is something interesting. Females have a nose size that is 10% smaller than a man’s. It is believed this is because the man has more muscle and, thus, needs more oxygen. Men need more oxygen to expend the energy they have in their muscles because they have more muscle mass than women.
We control aging and the accumulation of fat around the stomach by eating a proper amount of good food and exercising. The exercise must be in three states. One, there must be full body movement. Second, it must last for at least 30 minutes at a time. Third, it must elevate your heart rate enough to require an adjustment in your breathing, or it must cause you to deeply breathe. A good example of an activity that accomplishes all of these things is running. It gets the heart rate up and causes heavy breathing. The resulting body energy circulation helps reduce age related fat accumulation in the stomach.