Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Mighty Pinky Toe

Ah, the mighty pinky toe. You may be thinking already that I'm crazy; any Seinfield fan knows that the big toe is the captain of the toes. This may be true, but you cannot deny the importance of the mighty pinky toe. 

The pinky toe is a major player in the role of movement. In fact, a life without a cooperating pinky toe is a life of challenge. Don't believe me? Just break your pinky toe one time and you will quickly agree that the pinky toe is extremely valuable. If you are still in doubt, break your other one!

I did this. A few years ago, I broke my left pinky toe. That was back before I was so in tune with how my body moves and works. However, at the time, it hurt like a @#$%@# for days, even weeks. Last year, I broke my right pinky toe. It too hurt like a @#$%@#! This time, however, I learned all to well the value of a pinky toe. 

With my broke pinky toe, it was almost impossible for me to stand on one foot (the foot with the broke toe). You might be thinking "duh!", but think about it: if that little toe had hardly any value, I should still be able to stand on my foot with balance. But, I couldn't. I couldn't even perform symmetrical looking cross-crawls. I even had to "re-learn" the single leg deadlift on that leg. I certainly couldn't sprint while my pinky toe was injured. It took months before the pain subsided enough for me to sprint again. Having a broken pinky toe, took away many of the things I enjoyed to do as well as took for granted. The pinky toe, for me, is a mighty toe!

What is the point? Everything matters. The pinky toe is no less a toe, or appendage, than any other part of your body. It is extremely valuable. Every part of you works together to create the whole you - even the parts that you think don't do too much about. 

The body is so completely and well integrated that you cannot isolate one part from another. The notion of isolated joint mobility, or isolating muscle groups, is off the mark. You can't isolate the body apart from itself. Or, at least you shouldn't try. If you are successful, you are in a sense practicing dis-integration.  I don't think it is wise to practice dis-integration as the body is integrated - like it should be. 

The pinky toe is not an isolated toe, or island, all to itself. It contributes to all your proprioception, your balance, your movements. The pinky toe is just a highlighter to how the body is so amazingly designed. Every single cell in your body is connected to the whole of you. 

We are integrated; through and through. When we train, we should train with this integration in mind. We should train movements and patterns and not seek to isolate parts of our bodies from others. 

For example, crawling is a wonderful pattern that encourages wonderful changes throughout the whole body. It is a wonderful way to engage in "gentle strength training" as it builds reflexive strength = foundational strength, AND it even improves the health and STRUCTURE of the brain. 

It is crazy. A movement as simple as crawling can improve everything about you: how you move, how you feel, how you digest your food, even how you think! ONE reason this is so is because crawling practices and reinforces whole-body integration. It does not isolate joints, and yet it helps improve joint mobility. It does not isolate the "core" and yet it produces a bulletproof core. 

Crawling is much like the pinky toe. At first glance, it is easy to dismiss as something that is "cute" or not necessary. But that is simply not the case. As with the example of both crawling and the pinky toe, little things are not little things. Do not dismiss the simple or seemingly useless. 

EVERYTHING matters, and in more than you are often aware: The way you move effects the way you feel and think. The way you feel and think effects how you view yourself and how you interact with the world around you. Mind warp alert: Your pinky toe can effect how you move ----> your pinky toe can effect how you interact with the world! See why I say it is a mighty toe?

Anyway, we are completely integrated and we shouldn't seek to isolate ourselves in parts. As an aside, we shouldn't seek to isolate ourselves at all - even from the world. Wait for it....

The body is just a representation of how integrated the whole world is. What I mean is, even if you only see yourself as a pinky toe in a world full of chiseled abs, you are no less valuable than any of the rest of us. You matter. You effect the world around you. You effect the whole world. We all matter. Therefor, YOU are mighty, just like the pinky toe. ;) 

Randomly round-about post, I know! If you hung in there, you are awesome!

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