Wednesday August 3, 2016
Correcting balance to achieve optimal health
Feet are the foundation to an optimal body blueprint
Feet our foundation, with every step we impact our entire body’s anatomy train to the top of our head. This effort can create an optimal body blueprint for the best conditions in the body or can contribute to chronic problems from imbalance in body’s system from the continuous process of walking in daily life.
Clients come in for massage and complain of problems in calves, glutes, back and neck that they feel come from some activity. However this usually stems from an unconscious habit in a rather routine activity of walking. Walking is something that most people take for granted. In fact, it would never occur to the average person that they might be walking incorrectly.
One frequent condition for instance, Sciatica, occurs because something: bone, disc or muscle is impinging on the sciatic nerve. If we learn to walk and stand correctly, we align our bones in a more effective way, creating a much better pathway for the flow of the sciatic nerve. Poor walking patterns create blocks along the path of the anatomy train by allowing for a consistent misalignment of the skeleton and misuse of muscles.
Most people tend to lean backward slightly with legs that move forward before the trunk so that the rest of the body has to be pulled along to catch up. If the legs move forward first, the pelvis is pulled into a tucked position which shortens or compresses the piriformis muscle in the gluteals and this flattens the lumbar spine. Both of these factors increase the likelihood of the sciatic nerve being impinged by muscle, bone or disc.
How to maintain good form while walking.
While walking to get the optimal benefit from each step and to help protect the back and avoid injury these elements of form should be followed:
Start with standing in your feet, how far apart are they, are they about hip width apart, do they both point forward in the same direction? Can you feel where your weight is distributed on them?
Feet: The most important part of walking is to begin with being centered in your feet and the toes should be able to spread apart easily. The three points you should feel connected to the ground are beneath the big toe, the area below the little toe and your heel. The effect of being properly in your feet will be to feel as though there is a tripod. Also check your shoes, so many clients come in with flip flops or poorly made sandals and/poorly fitting shoes that pinch the toes or do not give good arch support. Though these shoes may be a fashion statement it negatively impacts the entire body. Good shoe health is an essential component of overall optimal health. Examining the bottom of your shoes reveals much from the wear patterns about where your weight is being distributed.
Legs: There should be a sense of equal balance on both legs; often we unintentionally favour one side or the other. You can notice this as you stand up from sitting positions. Are your knees locked? They should be slightly flexed with a slight bend as you settle your weight into them.
Hips: The majority of the forward motion should start with the hips. Each stride should feel natural - not too long or too short. In our hurried lives most people make the mistake of trying to take too long of stride. It is helpful to imagine you’re sitting in a saddle, which in effect your hips are.
Abdominal muscles: It is very important to actively engage the abdominal muscles as these are the only support to the trunk of the body and the spine. To do this, engage the core muscles and use your breath to fill the core to assist in engaging the abdominals.
Head and shoulders: To help keep the head up and centered between the shoulders, imagine that your head is suspended from the sky with a few strands of hair. It is fun to try this you’re your actual hair to feel what it is like to have the sensation of being suspended. To maintain self as you move forward have your eyes focused straight ahead at the horizon. Keep the shoulders relaxed but straight - avoid slouching forward or backwards.
Taking the first step! It is helpful to have a mirror to check yourself as you take your steps, or have a friend give you feedback. Also if you place your hands palm first on hips at the top of the trochanter (the bony protrusion at side of hips) it will give you feedback on how your hips are moving. Make your step roll from heel to toe and roll forward to optimal health!