The Unquestioned Assumptions Behind Corrective Exercise Methods, Part 3

Visualizing the Anatomy

A third theory suggests that by imaging muscles and bones, we can bring about release of muscles and improved postural function. This idea originated with Mabel Todd and Lulu Sweigard, who argued that postural and automatic muscle functioning cannot be brought about through voluntary effort because muscles operate at an involuntary level: "When a person imagines movement, putting forth no voluntary muscular effort to aid its execution, the coordinated action of muscles which produces the imagined movement will be patterned subcortically." This practice, known as "ideokinesis," is very popular among dancers and somatic practitioners, as is the related belief that if you can correctly visualize and conceptualize the body's anatomical design, this will bring about a better working of the underlying muscles that support the body.

But no amount of visualization or anatomical imaging can bring about correct working of the muscular system, for at least two reasons. First, mental conceptions cannot correct reflex systems, however much we may believe that conceptualizing the body correctly may help us. Second, the body works as a whole, and unless we address it as such we cannot correct specific problems and will be unable to bring about a coordinated working of the musculoskeletal system.

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