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ABDOMINAL EXERCISE FOR YOUNG AND OLD Sound Means of Maintaining Health and Avoiding Digestive Troubles
Exercises for avoiding or curing constipation, admittedly the largest single cause of civilized manís i: 1-health, must be devised with due consideration of the underlying physiological principles. The two sets given here, together with those under the heading Constipation, have been prepared to meet this fundamental principle.
The most important muscles in the maintenance of health are those which range from the lower part of the chest to the hips, correctly known as the abdominal muscles. These muscles should be developed by all who wish to ensure proper activity in the vital organs of the body. The exercises here given are of exceptional value for this particular purpose and have been designed to meet the needs of the average seeker after health. The necessity for continuing each movement until there is a feeling of slight fatigue must be emphasized. Many of these exercises are rather vigorous; in fact, it may be found impossible to perform some of them when they are tried for the first time. It is surprising, however, how speedily strength is improved by persistent practice.
Exercise just when you feel inclined for it, the first thing in the morning for prefer ence, but never too near a meal, and at least two hours after eating. Do not wear any tight, restricted clothing when exercising. Wear as little clothing as possible, and exer cise in a well-ventilated room.
In cases of rupture (hernia) it is, of course, essential that a truss or other proper support should be worn when performing all such exercises as those which follow.
EXERCISE 1: - Stand with feet twelve inches apart, hands at sides, and chin drawn in. Inhale slowly through the nostrils, at the same time bringing the arms forward and upward, palms inward, and hands width of the shoulders apart. Now bend forward from the hips, and endeavour to touch the ground in front of the toes with the finger tips, without bending the knees, at the same time breathing out through the closed lips. Return the arms above the head, and repeat the exercise six to eight times. These movements should be per formed slowly, and without a jerk. Through out the exercises the spine should be stretched as much as possible. When bending for ward the abdomen should be tucked in. Even if you cannot touch the ground at first, make the effort, and with practice it will be found possible to place the hands flat on the ground. This breathing and bending exercise is excellent for making the spine supple, and for the abdominal region, too.
EXERCISE 3 - Lie flat on the back with the arms extended above the head and in line with the body.

Flex the right leg and at the same time bring up the arms and grasp the knee, forcing it down on to the abdomen. Then lower the leg and the arms to the starting position. Repeat with the left leg, exhaling as the leg and arms are raised and inhaling deeply as the leg and arms are lowered. Raise each leg five times and then both legs together five times.

This exercise affects the abdominal muscles and the digestive organs, and should be performed slowly, emphasizing the breathing.

EXERCISE 4: - Lie flat on the back with the arms fully extended behind the head, legs together and knees rigid. Bring both legs right over the head and endeavour to touch the floor, at the same time bringing the arms to the sides of the body so as to maintain the balance.

Lower the legs to the floor and the arms to the starting position. Repeat exercise five to eight times.

Those who find the exercise difficult at first should simply bring the knees down as close to the face as possible. In some cases of weakness and delicacy it may be found too strenuous, causing a soreness of the recti, the flat muscles of the abdominal wall. For such persons easier forms of exercise are given below. All persons of normal physical con dition should be able to perform it. It is valuable for those who are inclined to constipation. It brings the abdominal muscles very strongly into action and causes an internal compression and relaxa tion of the viscera; it stimulates the action of the intestines and is a great help in keeping them in good working order.
EXERCISE 5: - Lie flat on the back with the arms by the sides of the body.

Raise the legs to an angle of about 30 degrees and stretch the legs apart. Then describe circles with the legs as wide as possible, bringing the legs together in the process. Repeat until slightly tired. This exercise affects the muscles of the lower part of the abdomen and also the back muscles.
EXERCISE 6: - Lie flat on the back with the arms extended behind the head, backs of the hands touching the floor.

Raise the arms and the upper part of the body and bend forward, touching the feet with the hands. Lower the body to starting position. Repeat the first movement but bring the hands so that the right hand is two inches to the left of the left foot. Lower the body to starting position, and repeat to the other side of the body. Perform exercise five times (ten bending movements in all). Those who find this exercise too difficult at first should get an assistant to grasp the ankles and hold the legs down.
EXERCISE 7: - Stand with feet apart, arms extended to the sides at shoulder height, palms downwards.

Bend the body forward from the hips until at right angles, keeping the knees stiff. Then bend down and touch the ground between the feet with the right hand, left arm vertical. Then assume a similar position on the other side, touching the ground with the left hand, right arm vertical, keeping the body bent the whole time. Repeat ten successive movements on each side.

This exercise is effective in what is often called, though not quite accurately, viscera massage. Digestion and bowel action are also stimulated by its performance, and the liver and kidneys toned up by using the back muscles.
EXERCISE 8: - Stand with feet apart, arms raised over head, width of shoulders apart and elbows rigid.

Bend forward and touch the toes, keeping the nees stiff. From this position, and starting to the right, describe the widest possible circle with the body and arms. Complete five circles in one direction and then repeat five in the opposite direction.

This is a twisting and twirling movement of the body, and during the circling the back should be bent as much as possible.
EXERCISE 9: - Sit on the floor, handson hips and feet held down by a partner or by some weight. Proceed to revolve the body from the hips so that as large a circle as possible is described, with the head held firm in the centre of the body. At first it may only be found possible to describe small circles, but as strength increases through practice larger circles can be managed. Describe five full circles to the right and five to the left. This exercise should be performed slowly and steadily and without jerking.
As a general instruction, do not hold the breath during any of the exercises, but breathe evenly and deeply throughout. After exercises 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 massage the entire abdominal region.
A very valuable system of exercises for promoting the development and tone of the abdominal muscles has been devised by Mr F. A. Hornibrook and published under the title" The Culture of the Abdomen," by Wm. Heinemann (Medical Books), Limited. This series of exercises is based upon the authorís observation of the abdominal dance movements practised by native communities. The principal and most characteristic move ments in these dances are those of the trunk below the waistline-mainly rotatory, undu latory and retractive movements of the hips and abdomen. The control which native dancers are able to exercise over the lower part of the trunk is astonishing to the Western observer.
Though the movements in the native abdominal dance have often been wrongly said to be purely sexual in their significance it is much more accurate to say that they have been evolved unconsciously because they tend to produce a feeling of general physical fitness and particularly to produce that free activity of the bowels to which the uncivilized native attaches such great importance. There is no doubt that the movements which these exercises encourage have very beneficial effects on bowel and digestive activity.
Prominent features of this system of exercise are the setting up of full voluntary control over the principal abdominal muscles and the establishment of correct posture of the body by the unconscious and habitual retraction of the abdominal wall. A great many people are quite unable voluntarily to contract and relax their abdominal wall except by violent efforts which involve a thrust outwards and forwards of the chest. One should be able to contract and relax the abdominal muscles while those of the upper part of the trunk remain completely relaxed and the breathing free. With the same perfect freedom of the upper trunk one should be able to tilt the pelvis forward on the trunk swing it from side to side and, with full con trol, rotate it.
Mr. Hornibrook points out that the abdominal wall can, and should be, retracted sufficiently often during the course of the day while sitting, stand ing and walking to make correct posture habitual and seem ingly effortless in a comparatively short time. The cultivation of this habitual posture (with its flat abdomen, slightly contracted buttock muscles and lessened anterior-posterior lumbar curvature or ëhollow back,í which accompanies the pendulous abdomen) makes for the free carriage and graceful poise so often found in members of native races.
The essential feature of these exercises is the development of free movement of the lower part of the trunk rotatory, undulating and retractive, rather than that of the whole body with rigid limbs which characterizes many systems of bodily culture.
The following three examples are selected from Mr. Series of exercises (by permission):
Hammock Swing: Place a folded blanket on floor. Lie flat on the blanket. Bend both knees, soles of feet on the floor; feet about 12 in. apart, and heels close to buttocks. It is advisable for a stout person and for elderly people to put a thick pillow under head (not under shoulders) to prevent rush of blood to head. Place both hands flat on floor. Now raise the hips from floor about 2 in. or 3 in. The body-weight will then rest on the head, shoulders and feet. Vigorously swing the body from side to side, keeping the shoulders flat on the floor, so as to tilt each hip upwards alternately.
Repeat 20 times-10 each side. Lower hips to floor. Rest for five seconds. This constitutes one complete cycle.

Rise again and continue six cycles of 20 beats each; that is, 120 swings with six rests.
This exercise from beginning to end will take about 10 minutes in all. At first it is best to make each of the cycles consist of six beats and gradually work up to 20 beats to each movement.
Tensing and Retracting: - Position as in preceding exercise. Place both hands under the small of back, palms downwards. Raise the head (chin well down), then raise the shoulders and the legs, keeping knees stiff, the feet coming up about 12 in. to 18 in. from floor. The body is balanced on buttocks and hands-the hands being placed backwards or forwards so as to regulate balance. Try to bring head and feet as near together as possible (keeping back round, not hollow) without jerking and without bending knees, until complete contraction of abdominal muscles is obtained. Then lower shoulders and feet simultaneously to the floor, keeping knees stiff on the downward movement. When body and feet are resting on floor retract the abdomen fully, contracting the buttocks.
Hip Roll: - Stand about 3 ft. from low chair, chin up, feet straight and about 12 in. apart, knees locked firmly, abdomen well drawn in. Place hands on back of chair, thumbs back; grasp chair firmly. Now swing hops to the left, forcing left hip well out. Reverse to right and continue movement. Try to keep knees stationary, or as near to being stationary, as possible. Get the swing from the hips with contracted abdomen, but donít let the legs follow the line of the hip roll. This exercise should be performed from the hips with the legs as a steady base, the muscles of the buttocks aiding in the swing from side to side. Don't bend elbows; keep head still.
Repeat the movement for some 30 or 40 seconds, at first very slowly, increasing the speed as proficiency is attained.

It is important to note that in all these exercises the beneath must not be held.