Human Anatomy – "Pumps & Filters"
"The design of the human body is a marvel. It is a machine that has the ability to perform under some very difficult circumstances. Physical barriers and hurdles that were prevalent in generations past have been conquered by industrial and technological solutions, making movement in our everyday lives uncomplicated and relatively easy. Although this provides us with an increased level of comfort and convenience, our bodies are exposed to a more sedentary existence that doesn't always match with our physical architecture and composition. We are built to move.
Your body is a filter and a pump. Your lungs filter air. Your digestive system filters food (fuel). Your heart and muscles provide the pump that moves food and air through your body and provides the ability for every cell to eat, breathe and dispose of waste products. How you feel is dependent upon the vibrancy and health of your cells. And the efficiency of every cell's function relies entirely on the efficiency of the filters and pumps that bring it life. If you think of your body as a machine, keeping the filters clean and keeping the pumps pumping is imperative. Inefficiency of any part of the machine drags down the performance of the overall machine, and inevitably leads to a breakdown.
THE SOLEUS MUSCLE - THE SECOND HEART
"The soleus muscle is located in your calf. It is a powerful muscle, vital in walking, running, skipping, jumping and dancing. The soleus is also important for maintaining an erect standing posture. The soleus plays a very critical role of pumping venous blood back to the heart from your lower body. It is referred to as the "second heart" or the "skeletal muscle pump".
Without the help of the soleus muscle, the heart is saddled with the entire burden of pumping the body's entire volume of blood throughout the body, including the returning venous blood from the lower legs against gravity. The heart is an incredibly powerful organ that can handle a lot of stress, but protracted overuse of its services without the assistance of the soleus muscle will eventually wear it out. Proper locomotion from the swing and sway of the hip girdle down to the heel-toe action of the feet engages the soleus -- and other muscles -- providing the proper mechanics to efficiently activate the heart's "second pump", and provide the extra "push" designed within our body's architecture to help blood move against gravity and return to the heart.
The key to this successful optimization of the function of the soleus muscle has to do with elevation onto the ball/toe of the foot. Lifting up onto your toes causes the calf muscles, including the soleus, to contract. When the soleus muscle is not engaged, or is challenged, the body mechanics can be extremely compromised. The knee compensates by pushing forward in an attempt to put the foot in a position the body perceives as supportive. This creates an unstable platform for the knee and puts added stress on the knee joint. In this position, the thigh muscles (quadriceps) take over the responsibility of lifting the foot -- a task quadriceps are not designed to do -- and the gate from the hips down to the feet is disrupted in this attempt to maintain the structural integrity of the leg. People who walk by slapping their feet down, and never elevating onto the ball or toe of their feet during locomotion, or people who are so sedentary that their lower body pump is never engaged will most likely eventually suffer some sort of mechanical dysfunction and/or heart issue.
Consciously engaging your soleus muscle by frequently elevating onto your toes, or by skipping, running, dancing or jumping provides a high level of tone and efficiency to your body's lower body pump, and will help you avoid some of the side effects of a sedentary lifestyle."