Friday, January 25, 2013

It's All in the Reflexes

Have you ever seen the movie Big Trouble in Little China? It is not a great movie, but it is amusing. In fact most of the Mortal Combat video game characters were probably inspired from this movie. Anyway, the main character, Jack Burton, has this line he likes to say: "It's all in the reflexes." In the movie, Jack's reflexes saved his butt and kept him alive quite a few times.

Jack was right. When it comes to living, it truly is all in the reflexes. Our reflexes  keep us healthy. They keep us "sharp". To live a resilient life, we need - we want - properly working, quick firing reflexes. Do you know the secret to having properly working, quick firing reflexes? Simply use them. Move, on purpose. Move, because you can. Move, because you were made to move. That sharpens your reflexes!

What? Reflexes happen automatically, right? Yes, reflexes are automatic responses to stimuli and require no thought or effort whatsoever. For example, if something comes flying at your head, you may duck and cover, close your eyes, maybe even drop to the ground. That an automatic response. Though if it is your response, you would still probably want all of that to happen as quick as possible. 

Reflexes are automatic and beyond your control. Well, no, not really. I would argue that all reflexes could be affected by our lifestyle choices and habits. That would put reflexes well in our control. But then, that is my argument. I don't know how many would agree with me on that. But anyway, look at breathing. It is a subconscious reflex that just happens. It keeps us alive. Yet many of us have trained ourselves to breathe with our emergency breathing muscles rather than our intended breathing muscles. We walk around breathing in our chest and neck rather than our abdomen. This is a "relfex" that we have a great deal of control over. We can learn and train how to breathe properly by using our diaphragm. This is the way we were born breathing. Just doing this alone can "fix" a host of movement and pain problems for people. It is amazing - in a simple way.

You might think that breathing is not a great example of a reflexive response due to a stimulous. Ok, but you might agree that the body is a "use it or lose it" body. Everything about you pretty much runs off of this principle. Reflexes fall under this rule, too. Things tend to get rusty, sloppy and weak when they are not used and kept in proper working order. Things like posture, core strength, balance - they all degrade from lack of use. They are all maintained through reflexes: reflexes that get used or reflexes that don't get used. If you want to be sharp, like Jack Burton was in Big Trouble in Little China, if you want your reflexes to keep you alive, you need to use them. You need to move. Moving keeps your reflexes sharpened, which keeps you strong. (ever hear of the term: reflexive strength? if not, check out Becoming Bulletproof!) Strength makes you resilient. Resiliency lends itself to enjoying life and living. 

Life! It is all in the reflexes. 

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