Understanding the Foundation of Standing, Moving and Turning
From the instant in which we are born Gravity is the only consistent force that we experience throughout the course of our lives. This present moment is dominated by gravity and our experience of the present unfolds in the context of how we are dealing with this force. Our sea-dwelling ancestors who had mastered neutral buoyancy did not face this issue, but when their descendants crawled onto land every evolutionary change occurred in the context of interacting more efficiently with the force and dimension of gravity.
The evolutionary layers modeled in this website all have a gravitational context. However, our direct ancestors – bipedal primates – are of interest here as they mastered loading their bodyweight entirely through the pelvis and hind legs, freeing their forelimbs for other purposes. A key attribute of this evolutionary leap is that the vast majority of the functions required to keep the center of body mass within reach of the center of gravity of the body occur in our feet.
Our feet not only propel us forward (or backward) and keep us from tipping over to the outside, but provide significant shock absorption when we walk or run, as well as a means of very stiff contact with the ground when needed (predominantly in turning). This combination of functional complexity and robustness of structure is perhaps unmatched in animal neurophysiology. It is therefore understandable that there is a range of opinions as to what is proper gait and foot function, as well as how to best care for and protect the feet. The discussion here is based on this author’s best understanding of how our prehistoric ancestors used their feet (Paleo Gait) as well as his understanding of the subtle and complex study of TENSEGRITY, which is a mechanical model that explains how extremely robust, yet complex functions can emerge from structures made of soft tissue and bone.
It is this author’s experience that in using this information to develop his own foot function his movements have become much more fluid and dynamic, he has more direct experience of movement within the field of gravity and thereby engages more directly with the present instant. This is as good a description of the experience of being grounded as any he has heard. He has also experienced quite dramatic changes in the structure of his client’s feet and their global functions (usually pain reduction) by coaching them in this model.
As a side note, when sitting this experience of grounding is more accessible if one ensures that one’s body weight translates into the object upon which one sits through the sit bones. Doing so requires that the sitting appliance is not too soft, as thicker cushioning buffers the sit bones contact with the supporting surface. The sit bones are much more accessible if one sits high enough so that one’s knees are below the pelvis (eg: on a stool).
The explanations of foot structure and functional roles are contained in this section:
HUMAN FOOT STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION
It is important to note that this material is controversial, which simply means that the subject is not settled medical science. What complicates the discussion is that the built environment in which we use our feet is changing rapidly. This author suggests that if you experiment with these guidelines you will experience the effects of enhanced foot functionality, thereby enabling your own formulation of an opinion on this subject, as well as enabling a more responsive physical expression to a rapidly changing world.
It is possible to improve the functionality of the feet, and through doing so even alter structural issues (eg: Bunions). However, retraining how we stand and walk requires focused effort over a long period of time. As you progress it becomes easier because if the operational parameters of stance and gait degrade, it is quite noticeable. In this age of the phone app, it has seemed to this author that it would be possible to build a sensor platform to enable feedback on the efficacy of one’s stance and gait. Because how we use our feet tightly correlates with the level of functionality in our evolutionary layers this device works both diagnostically and therapeutically inside the model presented in this website. An overview of this project is here:
IPHONE APP FOR STANCE AND GAIT FUNCTION