The Truth About Building Strength (PART 5)

Posted on 08. Aug, 2011 by in Injuries / Rehab, Mental Strength & Life, Motivation, Muscle Mass, Physiology, Strength & Power

The Truth About Building Strength (PART 5)

Field 3 is found at the absolute center of the body, just below the sternum, and is called the solar plexus.  It governs the diaphragm, stomach and the abdominal muscles.  It also deals with your self will and sense of personal power.

The solar plexus is often referred to as the “fire in your belly” and as such the quality of that fire bears greatly on your overall well being.  As you should realize by now optimal health is dependant on balance.  Regardless of how it’s phrased, “balance of the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems” or “balance of your catabolic and anabolic training” or “balance between activity and rest”.  It all comes down to finding that right place for you.

In terms of the solar plexus we see a great deal of imbalance in our world.  We see guys with great big, distended bellies who lord their egos about, literally “throwing their weight around.”  We see meek, meager people (we have to look for them because they don’t stand out) with caved in postures and equally hollow self images.  These are both examples of weak power in the solar plexus.  Weakness in this sense is the imbalance we are seeking to avoid and it can be manifested as either too much or too little.

Breathing problems are also associated with a weak solar plexus.  As I said before, the solar plexus is connected to your sense of self; your power and your ability to influence the world.  When we feel threatened our breathing becomes shallow or stops entirely.  We hold our breath hoping that whatever threat is at hand won’t notice us and will pass on.

The body cannot differentiate between real and received threats and so reacts the same to both.  Psychological threats are felt just as strongly by our bodies as physical threats are.  So, when a child grows up in a house full of loud arguments and the constant threat or fear of violence it should be of no surprise that he also exhibits asthma like symptoms, never fully getting his breath, nervous and unsure of himself.

A strong solar plexus exhibits a strong yet flexible core.  That mobile, agile quality we look for in athletics.  Along with that mobile core comes a healthy self esteem, a strong and flexible ego that need not be the center of attention yet can command a room when the need arises.  The essence of the healthy solar plexus is found in the phrase, “I can.”

Catabolically the solar plexus region may be one of the most trained parts in western culture.  As everyone in the West is obsessed with their mid sections, crunches and other abdominal exercises make up the vast majority of most people’s training regimens.  If your abs are weak, that is lax and not up to their job of stabilizing your spine, crunches can help.  I prefer med ball slams and cable crunches, myself.

Anabolically the solar plexus is best energized with the breath; slow, conscious breathing.  Filling your lungs completely with air and letting the diaphragm push down into your abdominal cavity energizes your entire system but is of special benefit to your solar plexus.  The massaging action of the diaphragm on your lower abdomen helps stimulate blood flow and regulate the vital transmission of wastes and hormones to and from your tissues.

Making this practice a habit can be of special benefit during times of stress.  Remember, what I said about fear and the breath?  By paying attention to your breathing, especially during times of stress you can give yourself an early warning system to identify just when you’re about to freak out.  By taking slow, controlled breaths you may even be able to avoid that freak out entirely.

By contrast when gearing up for a heavy lift I often approach the bar, take several large complete breaths and then end with a forceful shout.  By doing this I’ve just stoked the “fire in my belly” and gotten myself ready for a max effort.

The solar plexus is vital to your overall health.  A turn of the century text by Theron Q. Dumont goes as so far as to refer to it as the “abdominal brain” charging that the nervous complexity of the solar plexus ranks it as another brain.  This one is charged with regulating the sympathetic nervous system and the more automatic aspects of human function including emotions and other gut reactions.

If this interests you you can find the entire text here.  In addition to building his case for why the solar plexus should be considered an additional brain and explaining its function, Dumont goes on to illustrate how you can take control of this extra brain and harness it for your own benefit.  Self help is a lot older than Chicken Soup for the Soul, you know.

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