Running, Einstein, Gravitational Push and Space. What do they have in common ?
WAIT ! Don’t watch the video just yet ! Read this first paragraph first !
Yes, you read it right. Gravitational PUSH. Did your physics teachers mislead you ? There is no such thing as Gravitational “Pull”. Actually it is most accurate to say atmospheric push. Gravity does not pull us to the ground, space (as in the atmosphere) is pushing down on us. Space and time are curved and adjustable, Einstein proved this. You must be saying, “Oh Gait Guys, you are going way too deep now !”. No, we are not. And you need to know this if you run or walk. It is simple. Your 5th grader will understand this and so should you ! Watch the video for a very nice explanation of what we are going to discuss today, atmospheric PUSH, start at the 3:30 mark for support for our point today. If you choose not to watch this video today, it is your loss. You will be depriving yourself of some of the most important information and logic there has ever existed in science. There is a big difference between pull and push. Ask anyone who has had a car breakdown and had to push it off the road. Ask any weightlifter as well.
What does this have to do with running, walking and gait ?
Well, it is pretty simple. This is yet another reason why posture is dependent upon the extensors such as the gluteals, the quadriceps, the cervical spine extensors, the thoracolumbar paraspinals, the abdominals etc. These muscles must be strong enough to resist the push of Space down upon our bodies. Think of it this way, what muscles would have to work harder and be more isometrically and eccentrically strong and endurance trained if you had to carry a 100 pound person on your shoulders all day ? It is much the same as if you were carrying a bunch of extra winter fat on your body. You will need more of these extensors otherwise you will begin to break down into compensations.
With the natural motion of pronation during impact loading we need to dampen the internal spin of the hip, femur and tibia to resists the pronatory forces from space pushing down on us.
So, our neuromuscular system has evolved to resist this push, and that job lies largely with the antigravity extensor muscles, which keep us upright. The elderly eventually begin to lose this battle as they weaken and posturally decompose. These muscles are powered by a special part of our our brain, largely the cerebellum, assisted by the vestibular apparatus (inner ear). Remember that there are 3 systems that keep us upright; vision, the vestibular system and the proprioceptive system. The interplay of these 3 systems is what Newton was trying to figure out and Einstein was eluding to.
This is one of the reasons orthotics (for the long term) often, but not always of course, do not make sense. Space pushing down on us and thus space pushing our body mass down onto our tri-arched foot (what we have come to understand as gravitational pull, which is technically misspeaking of the facts) is a large part what creates the pronation; with the musculature of the lower kinetic chain assisting in slowing it. Slapping an orthotic under the foot to resist this force is not a permanent solution; it is often a temporary fix to a long term problem. This returns us to the hypothesis of today’s post, gravitational pull or Space push. Which is smarter, pushing up against the downward pressure of Space push (orthotic) or finding a better way of using the body’s anatomy to pull up against it ? Which makes us stronger and a better human and athlete ? Finding better skill, endurance and strength (there it is again, S. E. S.) in the anti-gravitational muscles if you will, such as the toe extensors, tibialis anterior and posterior and foot intrinsics as well as those muscles above that are not dampening internal spin (medial quads, gluteals, lower abdominals) is the answer if you really want to fix it. Often times, a stability shoe is much the same as the orthotic; it provides dampening and slows pronation, or “resists” the push of gravity. It can sometimes be helpful in the short term; creating mechanics that you do not have; but is seldom good for the long term (though in some cases they are necessary, we are not negating their occasional beneficial use). We just ask that you, or at least your orthotist, use your/their brain when making that decision.
As we always say, there are so few people who truly understand the neuro-ortho-biomechanics of the human parts going into the shoe that we get all caught up in the shoe as the solution. The solution is S. E. S. , if you still have the anatomy to get there.
Shawn and Ivo ………. two Uber geeks today. They are the kind of guys who keep neurology and physics textbooks beside the toliet rather than Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issues. Hey, we try to keep it simple. We like to pick the low hanging fruit just like everyone else. But it is the higher hanging fruit that are often the gems. Sure, space pushing down on us all can make it hard to get up that high to the good stuff…….but it is worth it when you get there. Thanks for tagging along on this journey. If you are a regular reader, reconsider your bathroom reading material if you haven’t already !