CHAPTER XV: Pressure Movements for Building Inner Strength
Several years ago I discovered a unique and very effective means of strengthening the heart, lungs, stomach and other internal organs. I arranged a system of lessons, consisting of various pressure movements, which I termed an Inner Strength Course [Isometric Exercise]. As my experience with this course had been limited, I refrained at the time from presenting its fundamental theories to the general public. I issued the course in a series of four lessons, and the strength of each applicant was ascertained through questions before the course was sent to him. The experience with several hundred students, however, has so thoroughly confirmed the value of this method of internal vitality building that I am now in a position where I can present the ideas upon which it is based to the general public. The usual price of this course was five dollars, and several thousand courses were sold at this price, each student naturally receiving a certain amount of personal attention. The same ideas, however, are presented in this chapter, with the warning that those who use the pressure exercises recommended must take care to avoid pressing upon the internal organs beyond their resisting power.
The various forms of pressure movements recommended are clearly illustrated and those who are not especially strong should begin with a very mild pressure and with the open hand placed upon the abdomen or chest, though where ordinary or unusual strength is possessed, the side of the open or closed hand could be used. These exercises are especially valuable for strengthening the heart where the pressure movements are used very freely near this particular organ. They can be highly recommended for strengthening the stomach though they should not be used immediately after a meal. I referred to their value in the chapter on constipation in connection with the treatment of this ailment. After a long trial this system of increasing the internal strength is highly recommended, and will be found of special value as a means of varying the health-building methods that may be adopted for securing throbbing vitality. They are not a necessary part of the plan of body building especially recommended in this volume, but are presented merely as a valuable means of varying your efforts in working for increased vitality.
It is an interesting fact that in some forms of athletics, the body is subjected to a certain amount of internal stimulation similar to that which I have systematized in these movements. This is especially true in wrestling, where the vital organism is often compelled to endure a great deal of pressure of this kind. The same is true of American football, although this is too violent for those who are not in an unusually vigorous condition.
To suit these varying degrees of strength I have arranged these movements so that the first series (A) is comparatively mild. Those who are not already vigorous can probably use the advanced form of treatment, but in most cases it will be best to take them up gradually. In cases of rupture, or where the abdominal region is weak, there is a possibility of injury if one makes the movements too vigorous.
The first series, however, in which the open palm of the hand is used, is quite safe in all cases, if reasonable care is used. In each of these pressure movements remember that the pressure should be applied for one moment only, and then relaxed, repeating the pressure and moving the position of the hands in accordance with the directions accompanying each photograph.
When a feeling of pain or great tenderness is noted in pressing upon any part of the body, this should be regarded as a warning that the pressure is not to be repeated. If there is only a feeling of uneasiness you can usually continue with the treatment and the discomfort will disappear in practically every instance. And while an acute sense of pain indicates the necessity for avoiding pressure on that particular part, yet it is sometimes a good plan to exert the pressure upon adjacent or surrounding parts, thereby influencing the circulation, and continuing the treatment until the inflammation which is the cause of the pain gradually disappears. One should be careful to exercise moderation in all cases, however.
The second series (B) in which the closed hand is used is somewhat more vigorous, and this is made still more energetic by grasping the first hand with the other so that the pressure may be applied with the strength of both the arms. As the student progresses, the number of times that pressure is applied at each part of the body may be increased, so that at the conclusion of the treatment he may feel thoroughly tired, thus showing that he is making good progress toward the goal in view.
The third series (C) includes movements especially intended for stimulating the functional regions from the back of the body, and should be given close attention. They are especially valuable for strengthening the kidneys. The last and most vigorous of the movements (series D ) are especially powerful in their influence upon the organs lying within the chest as well as upon those beneath the diaphragm. The heart and lungs will be very effectually stimulated and strengthened in this way. In chronic bronchitis, coughs and colds on the lungs these movements applied to the chest will be very helpful, besides directly strengthening these parts.
You can absolutely depend upon it that when you have reached a condition in which you can exert the most vigorous pressure upon all of these parts, and do it with comfort and pleasurable results, your "department of the interior" is in a strong and healthy condition. You will find a radical change in the entire internal organism. You will find that the abdominal organs feel more solid and substantial, while the muscular walls of this region are far stronger. You will have a sense of strength in this region, and this is absolutely the case in so far as the external muscles of this part of the body are concerned. But the more valuable gain will be in the strength of the organs themselves. These organs are partly muscular in character, and they are firm and strong, or soft and flaccid, in accordance with the intelligent consideration that they receive and the amount of exercise given them.
Before long you should be able to use almost your entire strength in exerting pressure, and feel nothing but beneficial results. But when doing this it may be well to change the position of the hand slightly for each application of pressure, rather than to repeat such strenuous treatment so many times in one spot. The idea is to exert pressure throughout the entire region of the abdomen, chest, sides and back.
It may occur to the reader that this form of exercise for the vital organs has a certain distant similarity to some features of massage treatment, known as deep massage. However, this method is much more vigorous than any form of massage, and is of a character to build a degree of real internal strength that cannot be attained through massage of any kind. And it has the advantage of being convenient for self-application.
After a time you may be able to originate pressure movements of your own. One of my friends writes that he has used a similar idea associated with a vibratory motion. He slightly agitates the hand in different directions while pressing inwards. This is well worth a trial, and it partakes very much of the nature of massage. Another good practice is to inhale a deep breath and then while holding this breath apply pressure all along the central portion of the abdominal region, from the breastbone downwards, from ten to twenty times. Then, without exhaling the breath, draw in all the additional air you can and repeat the pressure movements six to twelve times, after which you may be able to take in still more air. One should be careful not to carry this holding of the breath too far. At the first signs of discomfort the breath should be exhaled quickly.
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Charles Atlas Course