Barefoot running, walking, etc. Position of Mechanical Advantage

I am not a fan of barefoot running. Actually I am not not a fan of barefoot running either. I am a fan of getting rid of the heel strike, in running, walking, and all activities. The heel strike as demonstrated in this video by Daniel Lieberman is as he describes an abrupt stop in the forward progress in running and from my perspective more importantly also in walking. Each and every step we slam our heel into the ground, halting our forward progress. When you start to think about it and feel it the compression can be felt all the way up to the top of the neck where the spine meets our head.

Harvard professor Daniel Lieberman the Barefoot Professor

It is a bit like we were using a pole to pole vault over our every step we take. It wastes energy. It is painful. It harms our body and drains energy. It has us tilting backward at our pelvis so that our feet can land out in front of us. We don’t do this when we walk up stairs. Going upstairs we lean slightly forward (a position of mechanical advantage), and we land on the front of our feet. Incidentally and in contrast, going down stairs we often revert to leaning backward (position of mechanical disadvantage), and probably may be why most people fall going down stairs and not going upstairs.

The video of barefoot running offers us many great images and ways of watching how all of this mechanical use of ourselves affects our bodies.

The natural stance of most people is tipping slightly backward at the pelvis, and we take that into walking, sadly to our detriment. Perhaps a better more effective way to walk would be tilted slightly forward at the pelvis (position of mechanical advantage) somewhat toward the way most athletes are encouraged to stand and move during sports.

By standing on two legs we as humans already live at the end our range of motion of our hips. The disadvantage of living at the end of any joint range is multifold and should be obvious. At the end of range of any of the three planes of joint movement we have less movement available at the joint in the other two planes, and there is a concomitant stress on the joint structures and ligaments in the joint area. In addition, end of range joint activity also means end of range of muscles, and muscles are at their strongest in the middle of their range not at the end.

Walking so that we land more on the front areas of our feet, and avoiding a heel strike, is likely to cause more effective a walk. Our feet then land underneath us not out in front of us. Every action propels us forward toward our goal. It has the advantage of not stopping the forward movement caused by the heel strike. It allows all the joints in the kinetic bone chain to work effectively more in mid range of all the joints causing less joint damage and pain. It has the muscles operating more in the middle of their range, thus putting us in the area of muscular strength not weakness at end of range, either long or short. In this way of walking, running, and most athletic endeavors we place our bodies in a position of mechanical advantage for all the joints; the foot, leg, thigh, hip, torso, neck, and all the way up to the head. The whole body undulates, is springy and alive and not rigid. We play to our strengths and power.

For business leaders and presenters standing in a position of mechanical advantage offers the position of most ease and incidentally we look the most relaxed, credible, and trustworthy.

When is Good Posture Bad Posture, Simple Tool Tells All

Good posture is bad posture. There is a misunderstanding about what is good posture. Let’s take the shoulders for instance and sitting up straight. Many of us have learned that good posture means pulling your shoulders back and keeping them back. It has been demanded by many well meaning parents “sit up straight and pull your shoulders back”. Also many well meaning dance teachers, yoga teachers, Pilates teachers, school teachers, and others also suggest getting those shoulders back. When you see gymnasts they usually end their routine with the classic shoulders back stance. It is often a look we associate with pride or strength.

Actually much of the chronic pain out there is a result of doing something the body was never meant to do. Holding the shoulders back is one of those things. Ask your body.

Those of us who have followed this advice got our shoulders back for a very short period of time, usually until we stop thinking about it. Then bang we are right back to the original habitual position. The body is pretty intelligent if we know how to ask. When we stop thinking about doing something that is extra work the body will often relax and say “well that is just enough of that”. Although, the body can be fooled and some of us have done it for so long we are chronically holding our shoulders back, and for many of of us it is the cause of the pains we feel in our shoulders and neck.

Well if they aren’t supposed to be back, where are they supposed to be? And how can we change our posture?

Let’s propose that the ultimate best posture is the one that gets us the most vital capacity and aliveness (breath, blood and nerve flow, strength, presence, etc.). As a first approximation let’s simply observe our breathing. We can evaluate and test which of a couple different but similar postures gives us the best, fullest, easiest breath. We can use this rule of thumb in all situations. If we take in a light easy breath in one posture then compare that with the light easy breath of another posture, the posture that allows the best breath is the one that is most likely to serve us best. Simple, right. It works.

With this simple tool alone we can easily evaluate all those “good ideas and assumptions out there” that we and others have about what is best for us. We can experiment and test our theories. Of course if we can’t tell the difference between two postures, then we either have to increase our sensitivity or alter the experiment a bit so that it gives us the good data we want.

Again let’s take shoulders. Sitting up relatively straight or standing, feel where your shoulders are. Move them forward and backward without changing the chest and ribs, and then let them rest. Breathe easily. Now pull the shoulders gently backward as far as they go. You will probably feel them also rise a bit if you haven’t changed the ribcage conformation. Let them rest back forward. Then gently move the shoulders forward. Again you will most likely feel them also rise if the chest stays constant. Return them to the middle where the shoulders are at their lowest point. This is the point of rest. This is the point of ease. This is where an intelligent body would return the shoulders in between being used for some useful action or function.

The shoulder girdle is designed to be in a hollow low energy place between front and back. The yoke of yoga is resting on your ribcage. From this middle rest positioning we get our greatest strength, capability, ease, and power. And here we look and are most relaxed, comfortable, embodied, and present.

If there is a slumping at this point then clearly what needs some rethinking and alteration is most likely the structure, state, and balance of the thorax itself (the ribs, ribcage, the spine, the heart, and the lungs) or perhaps the support underneath.

This simple breath tool works on all areas of the body and body positions. It even works when exercising strenuously. Corollary tests are which posture gives me the greatest strength, or which one gives me the easiest range of motion in all directions of a joint. You can think about it and make up your own tests to tell what is the best posture for you, your body, your situation now. Let me know what you find out.

Six Forms of Human Intelligence (and Learning)

In 2012 Glenn Doman, Douglas Doman, and Bruce Hagy wrote Fit Baby, Smart Baby, Your Baby: From birth to age six.

According to the authors there are six different and interrelated (and at times obviously very interdependent) forms of human intelligence: auditory, manual, mobility (to which I add proprioceptivity), language, vision, and tactile.

Now perhaps learning stops in childhood in many of these forms of intelligence, but perhaps it is better to consider them as ongoing tasks for lifelong learning. Many developmental steps are skipped as we grow and learn. Some are perhaps unnecessary for a happy and productive life. Often we skip steps when we accomplish our various tasks of learning; crawling, walking, skipping, jumping, running, handling the environment, learning to read, mathematics, social skills, etc. When we skip steps some learning, skills, or mastery may be forever beyond us.

Most of us walk, many of us walk pretty well. However, most of us walk pretty nearly the same way we did when we were one, two, or three years old. We haven’t improved. We have never conceived of a reason to improve upon it. If it works don’t fix it, you might say. Well what if learning to walk many ways would help your aches and pains all the way from knees to neck to headaches. What if such learning and exploring help you learn and master other forms of intelligence (or business, or relationships) as reviewed in one of my 04/15/13 post. What if other forms of learning depend on all the others. Wouldn’t we want to dabble in learning in all the many realms?

What if there were ways to recapture some of those steps and offer ourselves further growth, learning, and mastery. Body and Movement Repatterning certainly help.

Nine Types of Intelligence; Connected through Body Development

How are all the forms of intelligence connected. I am wondering how as infants and children we coordinate and integrate all the things we learn and develop our innate intelligence. I ran across this work of Howard Gardner. It seems to offer at least how all the types of intelligences may differ, and offer us a clue as to how to integrate them.

Being a Body and Movement oriented therapist, coach, and teacher I am curious how we learn all these intelligences, and how learning one intelligence supports the learning of the others. The common denominator for all of them is of course the human body, with which we learn them so elegantly.

It also seems that if we are going to make important changes in our world, body and movement changes and learning will necessarily have to be included and will lead the way.


The Nine Types of Intelligence

By Howard Gardner

1. Naturalist Intelligence (“Nature Smart”)

Designates the human ability to discriminate among living things (plants, animals) as well as sensitivity to other features of the natural world (clouds, rock configurations).  This ability was clearly of value in our evolutionary past as hunters, gatherers, and farmers; it continues to be central in such roles as botanist or chef.  It is also speculated that much of our consumer society exploits the naturalist intelligences, which can be mobilized in the discrimination among cars, sneakers, kinds of makeup, and the like.

2. Musical Intelligence (“Musical Smart”)

Musical intelligence is the capacity to discern pitch, rhythm, timbre, and tone.  This intelligence enables us to recognize, create, reproduce, and reflect on music, as demonstrated by composers, conductors, musicians, vocalist, and sensitive listeners.  Interestingly, there is often an affective connection between music and the emotions; and mathematical and musical intelligences may share common thinking processes.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence are usually singing or drumming to themselves.  They are usually quite aware of sounds others may miss.

3. Logical-Mathematical Intelligence (Number/Reasoning Smart)

Logical-mathematical intelligence is the ability to calculate, quantify, consider propositions and hypotheses, and carry out complete mathematical operations.  It enables us to perceive relationships and connections and to use abstract, symbolic thought; sequential reasoning skills; and inductive and deductive thinking patterns.  Logical intelligence is usually well developed in mathematicians, scientists, and detectives.  Young adults with lots of logical intelligence are interested in patterns, categories, and relationships.  They are drawn to arithmetic problems, strategy games and experiments.

 4. Existential Intelligence

Sensitivity and capacity to tackle deep questions about human existence, such as the meaning of life, why do we die, and how did we get here.

 5. Interpersonal Intelligence (People Smart”)

Interpersonal intelligence is the ability to understand and interact effectively with others.  It involves effective verbal and nonverbal communication, the ability to note distinctions among others, sensitivity to the moods and temperaments of others, and the ability to entertain multiple perspectives.  Teachers, social workers, actors, and politicians all exhibit interpersonal intelligence.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence are leaders among their peers, are good at communicating, and seem to understand others’ feelings and motives.

6. Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence (“Body Smart”)

Bodily kinesthetic intelligence is the capacity to manipulate objects and use a variety of physical skills.  This intelligence also involves a sense of timing and the perfection of skills through mind–body union.  Athletes, dancers, surgeons, and craftspeople exhibit well-developed bodily kinesthetic intelligence.

 7. Linguistic Intelligence (Word Smart)

Linguistic intelligence is the ability to think in words and to use language to express and appreciate complex meanings.  Linguistic intelligence allows us to understand the order and meaning of words and to apply meta-linguistic skills to reflect on our use of language.  Linguistic intelligence is the most widely shared human competence and is evident in poets, novelists, journalists, and effective public speakers.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence enjoy writing, reading, telling stories or doing crossword puzzles.

8. Intra-personal Intelligence (Self Smart”)

Intra-personal intelligence is the capacity to understand oneself and one’s thoughts and feelings, and to use such knowledge in planning and directioning one’s life.  Intra-personal intelligence involves not only an appreciation of the self, but also of the human condition.  It is evident in psychologist, spiritual leaders, and philosophers.  These young adults may be shy.  They are very aware of their own feelings and are self-motivated.

 9. Spatial Intelligence (“Picture Smart”)

Spatial intelligence is the ability to think in three dimensions.  Core capacities include mental imagery, spatial reasoning, image manipulation, graphic and artistic skills, and an active imagination.  Sailors, pilots, sculptors, painters, and architects all exhibit spatial intelligence.  Young adults with this kind of intelligence may be fascinated with mazes or jigsaw puzzles, or spend free time drawing or daydreaming.


From: Overview of the Multiple Intelligences Theory.  Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development and Thomas


Understanding the Body and other Beliefs. Managing Your Body Beliefs

Beliefs run our lives. They are everywhere and under every decision we make. Believe it or not.

Let’s not tackle religious, spiritual, or political beliefs right now. Too much fuss about those, maybe later. Let’s think about simple, everyday things, like who we are, what’s our self image, what needs to get done, is my body in shape or attractive, does he, she appreciate me, etc. Beliefs come in all varieties and shapes, and arguably they are ubiquitous.

The most important aspect of beliefs is first being able to identify them, and then furthermore being able to deal with and manage them well. I wonder if you know how you are manage your beliefs now.

The Avatar Company and Courses (Harry Palmer) create some awesome insights, and they have some very valuable downloadable Mini-Courses**.

One such Avatar Mini-Course is entitled: Insight, Belief Management. There is a downloadable PDF version. You may want to download it now and complete it for yourself. Very enlightening. Go get it, okay.

In exercise 1, pages 8 and 9 you will want to create a separate section for the body and ask yourself some insightful questions like “List three things you believe about your body, your belly, your self image, your face, your memory, your aging, etc.” Go wild.

Avatar Insight: Belief Management Mini-Course

If we want to make permanent, broad reaching changes in our body, movement, image and presentation, we will have to broach some spectacular (some correct and many erroneous and unsubstantiated) beliefs we have about ourselves, our bodies, and our world.

Let’s get started now, okay.

What are the beliefs that run your life, and what do you want to do about them?

** These very useful Avatar Mini-Courses. There are seven and they are entitled Awareness, Insight, Determination,   Perspective, Compassion, Integrity, and Alignment. You may want to do them all after you work with beliefs.

Magnetic Resonance Imaging Real Time Birth Images

Magnetic Resonance Imaging has offered amazing pictures of the inside of the body with no detrimental effects to the body. It along with Ultra Sound technology has revolutionized imaging of body structures, non invasively. Now we are seeing Functional Magnetic Resonance Images of real time processes.

Because of my studies in Magnetic Resonance of biomolecules in Biochemistry graduate school at University of California at San Diego Magnetic Imaging holds a dear place in my heart. Funny thing to say, right.

I joined a group on LinkedIn calledMagnetic Resonance Research Network and was excited to see a reference to a site doing Functional Magnetic Resonance of Birthing.

Then I searched YouTube on the internet to find:

Magnetic Resonance Imaging

From the perspective of someone who has worked for over thirty years to alter Connective Tissue to make profound changes in people and horses, Magnetic Resonance Images offer a rare view that shows how important the Connective Tissues are. They wrap every structure and organ in the body. Although we tend to think of the body as having boundaries between all its structures it isn’t actually separated as we think, and MRImages make it clear that all the structures meld together. Boundaries are much more permeable than we think at first.

More images





Dynamic Self Work – Dynamic Structural Integration – GraviDynamics –

Recently I have been practicing a new way of working that works really well. I like to think of it as Dynamic Structural Integration. My long time friend and mentor Joseph Heller, of Hellerwork fame, calls it GraviDynamics. It is a way of working that turns the power and responsibility for the work over more and more to the recipients body. Some might say where it belongs, since we are trusting that bodies do really know best how to heal themselves.

Sure an educated touch and expert body wisdom are great, but after a little practice it can also be accomplished at home with a friend or loved one to help you deal with discomfort and pain all on your own.

In the hands of a talented practitioner the results are awesome, quicker, more long lasting, and the new structure and new habits of movement and posture are learned very easily. The results are great posture, efficient movement habits, self confident expression in all areas of life.

Maybe you will want to watch Joseph and Kathleen Heller’s introductory video on YouTube:

Introduction to GraviDynamics


Hands like Feet, Learning – Shape and form follow Function

Bodies form according to Stress

We think and unconsciously act as if our bodies, our shape, even our boney structures are controlled by genetics, but are they? They are really formed by what ever force or learning get placed upon them. Bind your feet, put expanding rings in your ears, put rings around your neck, wear tight shoes, bras, clothing, high heels, etc. Your body will conform to those stresses no matter how subtle or powerful.

Here are some examples of learning to move, act, and function differently that also change the whole structure, and all out of necessity. We can also do it out of choice.

Using Feet like Hands, Foot structure changing as a result of use patterns.

Eating Sushi with chopsticks with feet

Driving car with feet

So what does all this mean for us. Well, it means that we probably have only a few favorite ways of using our bodies (eg. we choose right or left side dominance) and therefore we limit our possibilities. We could do a whole lot more but we don’t take the time to break down the learning process to make the changes we want. (BTW that is how I help.)

If feet can do this, imagine what hands truly well trained could do, on the piano, touching another, drawing, ……

The converse is true. Most all pains and dysfunction have their basis in limited use and habit patterns. The weakest link, so to speak. Yes accidents and impacts are a problem, but even then why did the body choose to break where it did, not two inches to the left or right, up or down.


Moshe Feldenkrais was fond of noting that the more choices we have (through learning) the greater (and perhaps the only true) freedom we have.

I like to think of it this way: If we have only one choice it is a compulsion, if we have only two choices we have a dilemma, if we have three or many more choices we have real freedom, don’t we.

So learning how to do the things we already know how to do in many, many ways may be both the only really important learning, and the path to choice and freedom. Maybe try learning something simple and new today. Butter your toast differently. Brush your teeth differently. Slowly, learning takes some slowing down.

Cristiano Ronaldo – Tested To The Limit – Amazing Brains

I recently watched a video demonstrating the amazing skill our brains have of deciphering information in an instant. It shows  the visual skills of Cristiano Ronaldo, an amazing soccer player. It shows how his brain was able to decipher where an object (or a person’s intent) is going to be in space from very little data. You will be amazed.

He was able to determine where a person’s intent was by observing his hip and body motions. Moshe Feldenkrais used to say that in Judo you get to know your opponent’s body patterns and limits so well that you know where his or her next step has to be judging by where it is, its directions, speed, its limitations, etc. Then you just help him or her to the ground along those directions. Awesome.

It reminds me of helping a friend Jan learn to juggle many years ago. She was having a difficult time tracking and catching the balls. On a whim I suggested she open her eyes only when the ball was likely to be at the top of the arc (open the eyes for only a blink) and then close them and try to catch the ball.

It was mind boggling. She could catch the balls. You may want to try this yourself with a single ball. Your brain is capable of calculating exactly where the bal will be with seemingly no information. Amazing brains we have.

The Incredible Visual Skills of Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo – Tested To The Limit HD – Mental Ability – Part 2/4