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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 65.djvu/411

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CONSERVATION OF HUMAN ENERGY.

erectness of the head may appear merely stilted and arrogant, and little is gained.

To tell a person of slouching figure, stiffened by advancing age, warped by ligaments in faulty poise, to stand up straight and throw back the shoulders, etc., will accomplish little or no good. It is necessary to point out specific faults of structure, correct weakened or contractured tissues, to teach just what precise movements can strengthen the one and elasticize the other. Where contractures are noted (and they are always present, less or more) the parts must be sedulously overstretched. This will be somewhat painful, but only at first. For daily or bi-weekly systematic teaching a skilled masseur or physical trainer can and will take more time and give more constant attention than the physician could afford, but it is impossible to expect these trainers to estimate individual needs scientifically or carefully, especially as progress must be made, if at all, in a consistent direction. Movements for acquiring elasticity should by no means be confined to the limbs; the largest gains are to be secured in the deeper structures of the thorax, shoulders, back and loins. Here the expert eye of an anatomist is needed. Even more so in those most important structures of all, the abdominal organs. Large knowledge and experience are required to permit or encourage accurate adjustments of these parts. All movements, active or passive, of an educational character, should be made with the utmost accuracy of direction, or they fail in some measure of utility. Furthermore, a fundamental principle is to make each movement with increasing forcefulness, till at the end of the act the fullest tension is secured. In this way alone can strength, elasticity and full coordinative power be attained.

Time also is a potent factor, along with persistence. There is always more or less rigidity to be overcome in the tissues, often unrecognized minor deformities and limitations which mar both attitude and freedom of action. It has taken the writer years to rid himself of some such rigidities, and most folk are similarly circumstanced. Especially is this true of the thorax, which, even in late middle life or advanced age, is yet capable of large emendation and increased efficiency well worth the effort. Much indeed can be effected here by right breathing accurately taught; full forcible inspiration followed by complete expiratory expulsion, always with careful rhythm and judicious variations in rate.

It must be remembered that voluntary movements of the muscles are always valuable and often necessary to maintain the powers of oxygenation by which cellular interchanges are carried on, so that nutrition may progress, the organs kept to their normal activity and restful sleep obtained. It is possible that the nutritive balance may continue more or less well in some people under certain circumstances and for