RISE AND FALL
Your article Apathy in Smogsville (Nov. 13) reminds me of the one you published sometime ago entitled, The Decline and Fall of New York (Jan. 11, 1960). You based your statement on the following: the Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Giants had left, the Yankees had slumped badly, Floyd Patterson had been kayoed and our football Giants were beaten in the championship game. Our Knicks and Rangers, of course, were just plain lousy.
But, now the Yankees are the tops, Patterson has matured into a great champion, the Giants are one of the strongest teams in the NFL and the Knicks and Rangers are no longer the laughing stock of their respective leagues. Even in the young AFL, the New York Titans are doing all right. New York has risen once again. Maybe your article is just what Smogsville needed.
The Bronx, N.Y.
Your recent National Basketball Association preview (Oct. 30) made reference to the NBA becoming "big league." But how can any sports organization be truly big league when it determines its championship in so ridiculous a manner as does the NBA? When the sole effect of all the games played in the preplay off season leaves all but two of the teams still "championship" contenders, isn't it obvious that the only real consideration is protecting the box office?
I was very much impressed with Gilbert Rogin's article (Get Strong Without Moving, Oct. 30). As a believer in conditioning young boys before they enter high school athletics, I would like to know more about isometric contraction.
November 20, 1961
I am very interested—particularly in the length of time involved in, contraction, the tension applied, frequency and any other technical information.
ROBERT J. DONGELL JR., M.D.
What exercises might be suggested for 1) tennis players, 2) basketball players and 3) improvement of general body tone?
•SPORTS ILLUSTRATED will answer these and many other technical questions about isometric contraction in an early issue.—ED.
Is isometric contraction the same as Charles Atlas' Dynamic Tension, or just a first cousin?
CHAS. D.R. CHAUSSÉE, D.C.
•More like a Siamese twin, since it is almost impossible to find an exact dividing line between Dynamic Tension (which requires the muscles to be contracted in motion) on the one hand and static or isometric contraction (muscle tension without movement) on the other. Arthur H. Steinhaus, Ph.D., whom Rogin quoted in his story, says: "When I was a kid it was Svoboda and his Conscious Evolution; he contracted a biceps, and [keeping the muscle tensed] examined it as critically as a 5-year-old. Then it was Charles Atlas and his Dynamic Tension. These were all exercises, self-resistant exercises, which, wittingly or not, exploited the M√ºller theory of isometric contraction." Pure isometric contraction takes self-resistant exercises a step further to resistance against an immovable object whereby fewer muscles are employed and single muscles or muscle groups may be more easily isolated for study.
First cousin to all of these is isotonic contraction, i.e., calisthenics.—ED.
The opening statement, "...are taking up a no-sweat, no-pain system of muscle building," is somewhat misleading. If one performed the IC exercises with "no-sweat, no-pain," he would most likely maintain his present level of strength and endurance. To build up muscles usually requires heavy resistance to increase strength, many repetitions of a light resistance to increase endurance. Either type of exercise (isometric or isotonic) to build up muscle has one sweating and, usually, is a bit uncomfortable to perform. Also, Dr. Karpovich's statement, "Isometric contraction will not build up endurance and stamina," needs to be qualified to be correct.
JAMES M. SAWYERS
"There is nothing new under the sun." Sixty-odd years ago I saw Sandow—or was it George Hackenschmidt, the "Russian Lion"—flip a coin over with one of his abdominal muscles while lying on his back. If that wasn't a demonstration of isometric contraction, what was it? My unuttered slogan for the past several years has been, "You can keep in shape in a phone booth."
JOSEPH P. McENERY
Great Barrington, Mass.
The one person directly responsible for developing the theory and basic research that has led to broad use of this exercise concept is Dr. Erich A. M√ºller, M.D., of the Max Planck Institute of Work Physiology, Dortmund, Germany. Dr. M√ºller first began experimenting with this exercise concept about 1952, and publications of his work appeared in Arbeitsphysiologie. In 1957 it was published as "The Regulation of Muscular Strength," in the Journal of Physical and Mental Rehabilitation, March-April issue. This was the first English translation of all of his work. From this stem all of the concepts that we read about in this country today.
KARL K. KLEIN
My own first experience with isometric exercising in general was as an instructor in the British army 20 years ago, and no equipment was used or needed to obtain substantial results. It is our experience that true isometric exercising derives its major purpose and worth from the fact that no equipment is necessary, or even desirable; that it can be done anywhere, without undue fatigue or strain; and that the contractions leading to balanced muscular development are obtained merely by holding the body itself in various simple postures, each for a few seconds.
You may be interested to know that some of us in the Marine Corps were working with isometric exercises as early as 1958. The original research which popularized this form of conditioning was done by Dr. Erich A. M√ºller, M.D., of Dortmund, Germany. The late Charles H. McCloy, Ph.D., of Iowa University, one of this country's foremost physiologists, became interested in Dr. M√ºller's work and did a considerable amount of the original research on it in the U.S., especially at Parris Island Marine Base.
Additionally, we are developing an isometric program for grade school children in response to the national plea from the President's Council on Youth Fitness. This photo illustrates one of a series of movements we are working with here at Camp Pendleton. Lieut. John Terpak, former University of Pennsylvania halfback, is performing the squat movement for strengthening the legs (as I look on).
GEORGE E. OTTOT