Friday, June 4, 2010

Relaxation secrets

Apart from the gym work I do on a regular basis, I also study martial arts (and specifically Kendo, which is the art of Japanese swordsmanship). Unfortunately though – and unexpectedly – these practices are somewhat incompatible.

This happens because the weights harden the body and slightly decrease the muscles’ range of motion, while martial arts require relaxation and flexibility. Besides, the gym teaches you to use your strength. Martial arts teach you mostly speed.

In fact, during my yesterday’s Kendo session, the sensei noticed that I was better and more relaxed at the end of the session – because my muscles were exhausted by then! I also know that many martial arts masters are against classic weight training, and suggest kettlebell work.

But I still consider the gym and the weights indispensable. However, it’s good to be aware of this “side effect” of theirs, and follow these guidelines to remedy it:

1. Stretch (but not exactly like you think – we will discuss the right way in the future).
2. Devote some sessions to lighter weights and higher reps. Do the reps faster too.
3. Start an activity that promotes relaxation: martial arts (my suggestion), yoga, meditation, massage. These activities will help you see the “problem” and have it in mind.
4. Avoid stress – in general.


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