USE YOUR BODY WISELY: What Is Structural Muscular Integration

The body’s musculoskeletal system acts as one entity in and of itself. When a quarterback in the NFL throws a football, their entire body acts to initiate the force which sends the ball into the air towards its projected target.  When a person goes for a run, there is an integrated system of movers that must move to mobilize all of the joints in the structure in order for proper motion to occur. There are no cases in nature where anything happens in isolation, and the musculoskeletal system is no exception.  

To think that you can merely separate it and train it in isolation will prove to be a dysfunctional application.  The purpose of functional training is to condition a human body to biologically adapt to natural law on planet earth. Therefore, physical exertion needs to be oriented around economic movement.  

Since you don’t isolate contractions while walking, or engaging in any other movement, we must orient our efforts towards conditioning a human body via muscular integration as a system. Although integration has always been important to the body biologically, the human body is currently more out of touch with integration relative to any other point in our species existence.  When searching for the answers to this problem, we must address the environment of which the human organism is now inhabiting.

As technology keeps advancing, people are starting to sit a lot more. Whether it is driving to work, then sitting at a desk, then driving back home, then sitting down for dinner, then playing video games. You can see that sitting is a big part of your life.  

Since sitting is not very strenuous, it does not seem to be so damaging.  However, over the course of thousands of hours it will be extremely destructive to the biomechanical structure of the human being.  For starters, the mechanical positioning of sitting will render tightness in certain places of the body that are hugely compromising to the musculature responsible for maintaining an upright position.  

When coupling the time we spend sitting with the stressful events we associate, we have a recipe for disaster.  As stress is experienced, the nervous system will stimulate musculature in closest proximity to a contraction to kick in the fight or flight movement responses wired into our DNA.  The problem is that responding to stress in stagnation from a seated position is not something humans wired in over the course of millions of years.  

Rather than having the stress in nature build a dynamic organism that moves upright on two feet, we instead have one that slouches every time it stands up.  We have an organism that does not want to move anymore as a result of developing internal restriction that inhibits its functional mechanical structure.  The cultural influence of sitting is at the root of why the human body today is incapable of making efficient structural movement integration habits.

To get a clearer understanding of sitting and how it influences our posture, we must begin to break down the muscular involvement when a person is seated.  Think of the muscles in your body acting similar to a rubber band.  When you have a brand new one, it is stretchy and snappy.  However if you grab a rubber band and stretch it out for 10,000 hours it will likely lose its snappy capabilities and mold into a new state with no tension wired into its structure. 

This is the exact problem that occurs when a person sits down for an extended period of time.  When the hip flexor musculature on the anterior portions of the pelvis is shortened while seated, there will be a reciprocal function from its counterpart.  If this is repeated over the course of thousands of hours, the hip flexor muscles will be directly inhibitory to the function of the most powerful muscle on the body: the Gluteus Maximus.  

Picture the Gluteus Maximus in this situation as the rubber band that has been stretched for too long.  It will no longer be capable initiating effective muscular recruitment, and this phenomenon will be the primary influence inhibiting optimal function within the rest of the body.  To compensate, the body will now associate a deficient path of structural integration and wire it in to the nervous system.  A problem of an associative neuromuscular inefficiency kicks into full gear, setting the stage for the dysfunctional movement patterns seen in the human organism today.  This is where Muscular Structural Integration will come to the rescue.