Gait and Climbing (and DNS): Part 2.  Introducing 14 year old Ashima Shiraishi.

14 year old “sends” V15 , a 30 move roof climb in Hiei, Japan, called “Horizon”.

“the present work showed that human
QL (quadrupedal locomotion) may spontaneously occur in humans with an
unimpaired brain, probably using the ancestral locomotor networks for
the diagonal sequence preserved for about the last 400 million years.”
2005 Shapiro and Raichien

I am flipping the script a little today for DNS’ers (Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization). Watch the video if you wish, but the point I will be drawing your attention to is the 2:15 mark when she goes inverted on the roof of this apparently “more simple” V9 route. Note, this is not a video of her historic ~30 move V15 route. Stay tuned for that, it is not available yet.

Look closely. In the video, a then 9 year old Ashima is climbing upside down, a roof climb, defying gravity’s push. Spin this picture 180 and she is crawling, finding points of “fixation” or “punctum fixum”. What is neat about climbing is that you can have one, two, three or four points of fixation, unlike walking (one or two points) and crawling (two, three or four points of fixation). The difference in climbing is that gravity is a bear, wearing you down, little by little. A deep similarity in climbing to any variety of crawling is that both involve pulling and pushing, compressing and extending over fixation points. Other common principles are those of fixation, stability, mobility and neurologic crawling patterns in order to progress.

Ashima just recently, in early 2016, was the first female to complete a V14d (it is said it may even be upgraded to a V15a, maybe even a V16). Not many pros of any gender can say they can complete a V15 so this is a real big deal for a 14 year old. Stay tuned for that video.

DNS, Kolar and Climbing

I took my first DNS course with Prof. Kolar 10 years ago. It was an interesting eye opener and I had just enough clinical experience (9 years at that point) to grasp just enough to take it back to my practice and integrate it. Since that time, it has been fun to see it grow and see young practitioners excited to get their first face palm epiphanies. I have been returning to it often, blending it into my rehab work much of the time. There are few hip, shoulder, spine, breathing or global stabilization exercises I prescribe that do not have a DNS component to them, with my own flare and alterations and amendments as necessary. If you have taken a DNS course you will know why I am bring the topic into climbing. If you have not taking a course, you will be a little lost on the conceptual spill over.

As you can see in the video above, start really paying attention at the 2:15 mark in the video when she goes inverted on the roof. Cross crawl patterns, concepts of fixation, compression, expansion, crossing over, and tremendous feats of shoulder and hip stability on spinal stiffness and rotation.  Now add breathing, oy !  Now add doing all of this by mere finger tip and toe tip fixation ! When you consider all of this, it becomes almost incomprehensible what she and other climbers are doing when they go inverted like this. Amazing stuff, finger pulling/compression and foot pushing to compressively attach the body to the wall and progress forward.

Lucid Dreaming, A climb in the Buttermilks

Last year I wrote a piece on Lucid Dreaming, the name of a rock (another V15 climb) in the Buttermilks of Bishop, California. Here is that blog post. Lucid Dreaming is no ordinary rock.  To summit this rock is
basically only three moves off of three holds, from your fingertips, starting from a sitting position. The
remainder of the climb is sliced bread. If you can do the three, you can get
to the top. The problem is, only a handful of people in the world can accomplish the feat. In the piece I outlined many principles of crawling, quadruped and climbing from a neuro-biomechanical perspective. Here is a excerpt from what i wrote in Gait and Climbing, Part 1:

In climbing there is suspicion of a shift in the central pattern generators because of the extraordinary demand by pseudo-quadrupedal gait climbing due to the demand on the upper limbs and their motorneuron pools to mobilize the organism up the mountain.  We know these quadrupedal circuits exist.
In 2005 Shapiro and Raichien wrote “the present work showed that human
QL (quadrupedal locomotion) may spontaneously occur in humans with an
unimpaired brain, probably using the ancestral locomotor networks for
the diagonal sequence preserved for about the last 400 million years.”

research has determined that in quadrupeds the lower limbs displayed
reduced orientation yet increased ranges of kinematic coordination in
alternative patterns such as diagonal and lateral coordination.  This
was clearly different to the typical kinematics that are employed in
upright bipedal locomotion. Furthermore, in skilled mountain climbers,
these lateral and diagonal patterns are clearly more developed than in
study controls largely due to repeated challenges and subsequent
adaptive changes to these lateral and diagonal patterns.  What this
seems to suggest is that there is a different demand and tax on the
CPG’s and cord mediated neuromechanics moving from bipedal to
quadrupedal locomotion. There seemed to be both advantages and
disadvantages to both locomotion styles. Moving towards a more upright
bipedal style of locomotion shows an increase in the lower spine (sacral
motor pool) activity because of the increased and different demands on
the musculature however at the potential cost to losing some of the
skills and advantages of the lateral and diagonal quadrupedal skills.
Naturally, different CPG reorganization is necessary moving towards
bipedalism because of these different weight bearing demands on the
lower limbs but also due to the change from weight bearing upper limbs
to more mobile upper limbs free to not only optimize the speed of
bipedalism but also to enable the function of carrying objects during

The take home seems to suggest the development of proper early crawling and
progressive quadruped locomotor patterns. Both will tax different motor
pools within the spine and thus different central pattern generators
(CPG). A orchestration of both seems to possibly offer the highest
rewards and thus not only should crawling be a part of rehab and
training but so should forward, lateral and diagonal pattern quadrupedal
movements, on varying inclines for optimal benefits. 

Dancing, Jiu Jitsu and Climbing. Bringing things together.

So, what am I doing with all this information? As some of you may know, I have been expanding my locomotion experiences over the years. First there was three years of ballroom and latin dance, some of the hardest stuff I have ever done, combining complex combined body movements to timing and music at different speeds, each time changing to different rhythms or genres of music. Some of my deepest insights into foot work and hip, pelvis and core stability and spinal mobility originated from my dance experiences, particularly Rumba, Cha Cha, Jive, Waltz and Foxtrot. On a side note, some of my greatest epiphanies about the true function of the peroneal-calf muscle complex came during a private session on a difficult Waltz step concept. It was such an epiphany I sat down and wrote scratch notes on the enlightenment for 20 minutes right there in the ballroom. Next I moved into the very complex martial art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and after three years it is clear it is an art that you could do for a lifetime and never get to the end of the complex algorithms of defense and offense. This art will stay in my wheelhouse to the end if I am able to keep it there.

Rock climbing, this one is the next on the list. After years of sharing my hands on peoples physical problems I know I already have above average grip and finger strength, so this could either prove to be a blessing or a “career ender” in terms of finally finishing off my hands for good. But it is on the list, and it won’t leave my head, so for me that is the tipping point. Climbing is next. I need to understand and experience this, so I can understand human locomotion better.

I will have the video of Ashima “sending” V15+ when they put it up, stay tuned. I have a feeling it is going to be a jaw dropper, I hear the whole send is inverted which boggles my mind. We will dissect her roof crawling and I will try to have some new research for you.

If you want to come down my rabbit hole, come read some of my other related articles:

Part 1: Gait and Climbing. Lucid Dreaming

and my 3 part series on Uner Tan Syndrome. The people who walk on all fours.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys



Shapiro L. J., Raichien D. A. (2005).
Lateral sequence walking in infant papio cynocephalus: implications for
the evolution of diagonal sequence walking in primates. Am. J. Phys.
Anthropol.126, 205–213 10.1002/ajpa.20049

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2011 Oct;21(5):688-99. Idiosyncratic control of the center of mass in expert climbers. Zampagni ML , Brigadoi S, Schena F, Tosi P, Ivanenko YP

J Neurophysiol. 2012 Jan;107(1):114-25. Features of hand-foot crawling behavior in human adults. Maclellan MJ, Ivanenko YP, Cappellini G, Sylos Labini F, Lacquaniti F.

What Are Motion Control Features, anyway?

In this brief video, Dr Ivo talks about common motion control features found in many shoes shoes. terms like “medial posting” “dual density midsoles” and “lateral flares” are discussed

SoftScience “The Terrain Ultra Lyte” shoe update:

Introducing “The Terrain Ultra Lyte”.  Fresh off the UPS truck today
and just unboxed ! Uber excited. Wearing them right now. Dang, zero drop
with good cush. I could run in these babies ! And I will just to try,
even thought that is likely not their intended purpose.  Gorgeous roomy
toe box. True to fit. These feel like a favorite pair of worn in
favorite leather gloves …  they are soft cotton canvass right out of
the box.  I don’t think i even need to wait a few days, they
should have a label that says “pre-worn in”. I may have just found yet
another new favorite weekend casual shoes, I will save my Altra
Everyday’s for work. I can see where the thinking came when the partners
brought their wisdom over from Crocs (only the best parts were brought,
the materials, from what i can see).  
Removable, washable Trileon™ insole, non-marking, slip-resistant outsole
Ultra lightweight, a pair in size 10 weighs just 1.6 lbs. (that is per pair !)

*Welcome to Soft Science. one of our Podcast sponsors. Because we believe in them.

Update one day later:

Some have been asking about this shoe. I
think they have done something unique here. This shoe is about 6 oz,
yes, that is seriously uber light. That means there is no room for
stabilizing rigidity factors in this shoe. It appears to be a well
thought out “outsole” and a soft cotton canvas upper. That is it. If you
need control, this shoe may not be for you. The outsole however offers a
nice wide foot print with some flare of the sole out from the foot
(look at their website, look at the shoe from behind), and that in
itself offers stabilizing over something compared to like a glove type
Now, on to the insole:
I know what the website says, a
“minimal heal to toe elevation”. I emailed the guru over as Soft
Science. I have been told they are zero drop and after wearing i believe
they are, and if not, maybe a millimeter ? I have sensitive feet, I
wear zero drop all day long at work because I can. Not everyone can and
this is important to note.
I do not have any info outsole thickness
of this particular shoe, the foot does recede somewhat into the outsole
that you see, so there is not a tremendous amount of stack height as
portrayed in photos, some of that is the outsole lipping up to grab onto
the shoe’s upper.
TRileon Insole:There is a VERY mild arch
contour, not as much as in crocs (as one person asked) but it is present
and mild. If you have a flatter arch, you will feel it, but, Trileon is
uber cush so it is not offending at all. If you have a normal arch
posture, you may not even notice it, it is that subtle.
there feels like a 1-2 degree or 1-2 mm varus forefoot post, i have
pretty sensitive feet and can tell these things readily, i may choose to
grind this down on the insole, it wouldn’t take much to do this. If you
take out the insole and put it on a hard floor and stand on it, you
will notice the subtle forefoot varus posting of the foam. And if you
put the insole in your hands and pinch finger tips together at the 1st
metatarsal head and 5th met. head you will notice the thickness
difference. * It is not much, but it is there. Some people can really
benefit from it since many feet are have a slight FF varus. Some may not
notice it at all. I did notice it because my forefoot is not varus’d at
all.  I noted it less so when the insole was in the shoe so it may be
off setting a slight depression in the outsole shell. I am not sure, so
do not quote me on this. For most folks, this is “princess and the pea”
subtle jibber jab talk and is not worthy of noting.  But we are shoe
geeks and some of you want to know about peas.
To be clear, I like
this shoe so far, very much actually. It will be on my feet all week and
all weekend……..many weekends.  Soft, uber light, no break in, zero
drop, good looks, minimal, wide platform, ….. things i like and things
that are important to me. The question is, “is it for you ?” That is up
to you.  Nice work Soft Science.
-Dr. Allen

Great, FREE FULL TEXT article on the hip.

an EXCELLENT review with some great rehab tips at the conclusion like this

“Once isolated contraction of the deep external rotator muscles
is successfully achieved, progression can be made to the
rehabilitation of secondary stabilisers and prime movers of the
hip, particularly the gluteus maximus, initially using nonweight
bearing exercises and progressing to weight bearing
exercises once motor control and strength allows. Pre-activation
of the deep external rotators may make these exercises
more effective. Deficits in flexibility and proprioception
should also be addressed at this stage. Once adequate hip muscle
strength and endurance is achieved, functional and sports
specific exercises can then be implemented. ”

Can local muscles augment stability in the hip?: A narrative literature review T.H. Retchford, K.M. Crossley, A. Grimaldi , J.L. Kemp, S.M. Cowan J Musculoskelet Neuronal Interact 2013; 13(1):1-12

image from:…/258427127_fig12_Fig-11-Anato…

A test question from Dr. Allen, see how you do with this photo critical thinking.

When you walk on the beach you are on a slope. The leg closer to the water naturally drops down to a lower surface. 

Here is the game …  to keep the pelvis level on the horizon, one would have to:

a. shorten the water side leg

b. lengthen the water side leg

c. pronate the water side leg

d. supinate the water side leg

e. lengthen the beach side leg

f. shorten the beach side leg

g. pronate the beach side leg

h. supinate the beach side leg

i. externally rotate the water side leg

j. internally rotate the water side leg

k. externally rotate the beach side leg

l. internally rotate the beach side leg

m. flex the water side hip

n. extend the water side hip

o. flex the beach side hip

p. extend the beach side hip

******Ok, Stop scrolling right now !!!!!  

List all the letters that apply first.

You should have many letters.  *** And here is the kicker for bonus points, the letters can be unscrambled to spell the name of one of the most popular of the Beatles. Name that Beatle.




don’t look, figure it out before you scroll down further. It is important you try to work through the question and its foundational principles.







Answer: B, D, F , G, I ,L , N, O

* now, more importantly, make sure you think of these issues in all your clients with leg length discrepancies, both anatomic and function and when the pelvis is not level. This is the most important take away from today’s test question. If you got the answers correct, you have the knowledge to implement. If you did not get the answer correct, you need to hammer down the HOW and WHY of the answer before you start playing with people’s bodies putting in heel lifts (boooo), sole lifts, orthotics, postings etc. If you do not have the foundation to play by the rules, you should not be playing.

ok, we were messing with ya on the Beatles thing. Sorry.

Dr. Shawn Allen

The Pitfalls of Motion Control Features.

Welcome to Monday, folks. Today Dr Ivo discusses why not all shoes are created equal and why you need to understand and educate your peeps about shoes!

Internal tibial torsion is when the foot is rotated internally with respect to the tibia. When the foot is straight (like when you are walking, because the brain will not let you walk too internally rotated because you will trip and fall), the knee will rotated OUTSIDE the saggital plane (knee points out). Putting a medially posted shoe on that foot rotates the foot EVEN FURTHER laterally. Since the knee is a hinge joint, this can spell disaster for the meniscus.

need to know more? email us or send us a message about our National Shoe Fit Program.

Yes, Virginia. Dizziness and Vertigo are costly

I had a Parkinson’s pt that came in this morning and had fatigue (more than usual) related to a recent onset of dizziness. He was trying to figure out why and It got me to thinking about the metabolic costs of disequilibrium.

A quick pub med search found me having to try multiple search terms and all I was able to turn up was a few papers on the topic. I found that surprising, considering the prevalence of fatigue complaints with dizziness and vertigo.
It makes sense to think of as proprioception is impaired (or altered), it would have a greater energy cost to get normal tasks done. I was able to turn up a few full text papers (below), and yes, the short answer is it does cost more to have impairment. 

Gait Posture. 2015 Feb;41(2):646-51. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2015.01.015. Epub 2015 Jan 24.Metabolic cost of lateral stabilization during walking in people with incomplete spinal cord injury.Matsubara JH1, Wu M2, Gordon KE3.

Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2013 Nov;94(11):2255-61. doi: 10.1016/j.apmr.2013.04.022. Epub 2013 May 20.Effect of balance support on the energy cost of walking after stroke.Ijmker T1, Houdijk H, Lamoth CJ, Jarbandhan AV, Rijntjes D, Beek PJ, van der Woude LH.

Dragging your tongue ? When the tongue of your shoe keeps getting pulled to the side. Do you know what it means ? It means plenty, if you are sharp.

By: Dr. Shawn Allen

This one pisses off most people it happens to. Why does it typically happen only on one side, on one shoe ? Look at the photo case above. Look closely to the left foot, the tongue of the shoe is pulled laterally compared to the right, or shall I say, dragged.

This is a fairly common phenomenon, and there is a reason for it, several actually. So, no, you do not need to staple the tongue to the shoe upper, or tighten your shoe laces, or stitch the tongue to the medial shoe upper. You need to stop externally spinning your foot in your darn shoe.  What ?!

Yes, you very well may be avoiding normal internal rotation progression of the pelvis over the fixated limb. Loss of internal hip rotation is often a common finding clinically. As one passes the swing leg forward, the forward progressing pelvis eventually meets this loss of internal rotation over the fixated leg and femoral head. The swing leg none the less progresses further forward to get to its’ heel strike and the stance phase leg has to externally spin over the ground (I like to give the analogy of putting out a cigarette butt on the ground or squishing a bug (PETA don’t come after me)). This is called an Abductory or Adductory twist (good video demo here) depending on whether your reference point is the forefoot or rear foot. Regardless, the heel is spinning inward, the forefoot is relatively spinning outward. This spin of the foot inside the shoe (this happens minutely just before the shoe spins on the ground) and pulls the tongue laterally with it.  

This problem can also come from, and often does, a premature heel rise from things like a:

  •  loss of ankle rocker
  • short calf
  • lack of hip extension
  • hallux rigidus / limitus or even a painful big toe
  • etc

There are even several other causes I will not list here today, I could have you waste your whole day on the list and the mental gymnastics of things to consider. Basically, anything that impairs the stance phase mechanics creating a premature heel rise or failure of completing internal hip rotation can cause an Abd/Adductor twist of the foot/heel and drag the tongue laterally. Sure, there are others, but the purpose of my blog post here today was to explain a neat little biomechanical phenomenon that  has huge clinical insight if you know what it means.  You cannot fix this problem if you do not do a physical exam, understand clean and faulty gait biomechanics, and maybe can even find small objects in a dark room.  What I mean is it takes some educated exploration and a curiosity to want to fix things.  

There are clues often right in front of you, all you have to do is pay attention and sometimes ask a simple question. 

“Mr. Jones, when you stick out your tongue, does it drag laterally ?”  

Ok, maybe not that exact question. But, when I see a loss of internal rotation or terminal hip extension in a runner, and when I have time to explain things deeply with a openly receiving client, I might start the conversation with that fun question and then explain what I really meant was the tongue of the shoe on that affected side. 

You can’t swallow bandaids to fix things, as much as you wish it was that easy. Sure, you can avoid all of this fun by buying a shoe that has the tongue of the shoe sewn to the medial upper of the shoe, but then you wouldn’t have to fix anything.  Where would you “get your fun on” then ?  Be brave, go all in, fix the problem dammit.  

These are the things that keep me up at night. Welcome to my nightmares.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

Photo courtesy of this link:

Why is that muscle so tight?

We often think of neurological reasons (increased facilitation of the agonist, decreased reciprocal inhibition of the antagonist, increase gamma drive, etc), but how about the series elastic element (ie the connective tissue)? Or perhaps the sarcomere (individual contractile unit of the muscle)? How can we fix that? It is easier than you thought!

An oldie but a goodie. A great FREE FULL TEXT paper on sarcomere loss and how to prevent it. Yep, would you have guessed static stretching? Yes, this study was on mice and it seems plausible that it would be applicable to humans as well.

“When muscle is immobilised in a shortened position there is both a reduction in muscle fibre length due to a loss of serial sarcomeres and a remodelling of the intramuscular connective tissue, leading to increased muscle stiffness. Such changes are likely to produce many of the muscle contractures seen by clinicians, who find that such muscles cannot be passively extended to the full length, which normal joint motion should allow, without the production of muscle pain or injury.

…These experiments show that in addition to preventing the remodelling of the intramuscular connective tissue component daily periods of stretch of ½ h or more also prevent the loss ofserial sarcomeres which occurs in mouse soleus muscles immobilised in the shortened position.”


link to full text:

A great, quick read from one of our fav’s: Dr Tom Michaud.

Here is my favorite excerpt. I had not thought of imaging the ankle quite this way

“Physical examination reveals pinpoint sensitivity over the anteromedial capsule. When the ankle is slightly plantarflexed, the osteophytes on the talus and tibia can be readily palpated. Surprisingly, lateral X-rays only identify approximately 40 percent of the talotibial spurs, because the natural torsion of the distal tibia obstructs direct visualization of the anteromedial tibia. To improve radiographic accuracy, van Dijk, et al., recommend oblique radiographs be taken with a 45-degree craniocaudal angle, with the lower extremity externally rotated 30 degrees. The authors demonstrated that oblique radiographs identify 73 percent of the spurs located on the talus and 85 percent of the spurs located on the distal tibia.”