Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Why is walking falling?

I've been wanting to post about this for a while now, because it really seems to be something a lot of people are confused about.  I hear lots of people say they don't do it, but truthfully there are few who don't.  So, to clear things up, I'm going to give you my illustrated version of why you're not walking, you're falling.

First of all, just because you don't end up flat on your face after every step doesn't mean you're walking without falling.  The falling motion, when it comes to gait, is actually quite small, not the head over heels face plant you're thinking of.  The problem comes from the way we move forward.  If you're lifting your leg out in front of you to walk like this:

then I'm sorry to say this, but you my friend are falling forward with each step.  With your leg bent at the hip and knee, there is no other way for your lifted foot to hit the ground unless you fall.  See?

Either you fall, or you bend your other leg to get your front foot on the ground, but then you'd look like you were supposed to be in a Monty Python sketch.  This is a really high impact way of walking on lots of different body parts.  First of all, your center of mass is constantly thrown over the front of your body.  This overloads your knee and the front of your foot, since they weren't designed to carry the weight of your body from the knees up.

The second problem is that this motion is causing you to pivot on your foot.  Instead of your body just gliding forward, it is pivoting from a single point (your foot on the ground).That means your big fat head has to travel a further distance than any other part of your body!  Not only does it have to travel further, it also has to do it in the same amount of time...which means it has to go FASTER.  That's right.  Your fat stupid head has to travel further and faster through space than the rest of your body.

Something has to eventually stop you from pivoting, though, or you'd end up face planting.

Luckily for you, your other leg is bent at the hip and knee to catch you every. single. time.  Ouch.  So, the leg breaks your fall, but something still has to stop the acceleration of your fast, monumental head.  Otherwise:
Guess what you're gonna do?  You're probably going to end up using your lower back to stop yourself from kneeing yourself in the face.

So, let's see.  We've got excessive loading on the knees and lots of repeated impact (a life time of steps worth of impact).  We've got excessive loading on the front of the foot.  Your spine is being used like a jimmy-wiggler to stop your massive, ugly, stupid head from flying through space and to stabilize your torso.  I'm not even gonna mention what it does to the hips.  (Not because I dont' know, but I think this is enough for now.)  On top of it all, your feet probably aren't even pointed in the right direction (hint: the outside edge of your foot should be lined up straight, not the inside edge).  Foot pain?  Knee pain? Back pain? Acceleration headaches? (I made that one up. but you might have acceleration neck pain...)  Big surprise.  You're bouncing around on your gear like a paddle ball.

So you're thinking "Thanks, GAIT keeper" (haha, get it?) "how the eff am I supposed to locomote then?"   Well, simply put, you're supposed to put your weight on one straight, vertical leg and push yourself forward.  Then you land on your other leg, which stays vertical beneath you, and that becomes your straight, vertical weight bearing leg which you then use to push yourself forward again.  This way, your weight is always stacked where it should be, and your whole body moves through space at the same speed!
Walking this way does require lots of lateral hip and butt strength, and nice long hamstrings.  But once you get it you can pretty much say good bye to shitty stuff like pelvic floor disorder (peeing when you laugh) back pain, and osteoporosis, to name a few.

A final note about walking: you cannot walk on a treadmill.  Walking requires that you push your weight forward off a fixed ground.  On a treadmill, the ground is already moving, so you have no other choice than to....*drum roll please* lift your leg out in front of you and fall down onto it.  And that, my friends, is not walking.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Seminar planning.

One of the reasons why I am so into the alignment course is that the material fascinates me and I'm never bored with it.  Another reason is that it gives me an awesome opportunity to help people in a really accessible way (no drugs, no surgery).  The final reason (keep in mind, these are all equal reasons) is that it gives me a lot of ways to make some moola so I don't end up living in a box covered in a tarpaulin when I'm older (mine would be the one with the bright blue tarp, btw, cause that's how I roll.)  I'm discovering that EVERYONE can benefit from some adjustments and some muscle strengthening.  I'm also discovering that not everyone is as passionate about the human machine as I am. 

I'm starting to think about a seminar I want to offer to women in offices.  I think it's a good place to start, and a great way to open people up to the concepts we talk about at the Restorative Exercise Institute.   My greatest challenge is figuring out what to talk about.  Sitting too much, pelvic floor health (hamstrings), shoe choice and foot direction are the obvious ones that need to be covered.  But that could take me all day if I'm not careful.  There's always so much to say on each topic!  Then I think "oh, well people who sit too much tend to have hyper kyphosis.  That should be covered.  But I can't talk about that without talking about disk degeneration, which would bring me into bone formation and osteoporosis...which brings me back to sitting to much b/c of the effect on the hips...but I can't forget to tell everyone about the effects of osteoporosis drugs and how bad it is to drink soda.  And I should definitely "mention"(ramble for an hour about) the exercise paradigm and how really it should be replaced by all day movement...OH YEA! weight loss and metabolism, middle aged women want to know about that too..."   Yea.  Right.  Everyone wants a 3 hour lecture about stuff they don't understand or particularly care about understanding.

The idea behind my seminar idea is to talk for 45 minutes or less on a few key issues (like the first ones mentioned) and then have a 30 - 45 minute exercise session teaching a few exercises that can be done at the office all the time.  Stuff like the double calf stretch, single calf stretch on a towel, the pelvic list, and perhaps a demo on stacking your weight over the heels.  I want to leave everyone with a handout on key points, the exercises that I show them, and some tips and tricks to get more movement into their day (like parking at the back of the parking lot when you go out, using a small glass for your water so you constantly have to get up to refill it, and making all your phone calls while standing). 

It's my first time designing something like this but I'm really excited to see how it's received.  I want to see if I can give people the "magic" amount of information.  Enough to get them intrigued and to communicate the importance of the issues (like hamstring length), but not so much that they feel overwhelmed by what I'm saying, like they'll never accomplish it all so there's no point in trying.  I love alignment and want to make my life about it, and even I feel overwhelmed at times.  I can only imagine what the average sedentary person would feel like if they had all this info dumped on them.  I'd love to have some input from those of you who have led seminars and classes before.  Anyone have any tips and tricks for me?