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.”

Some
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
locomotion.

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

___________

References:

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.

Gait and Climbing: Part 1

Lucid Dreaming is the name of a rock in the Buttermilks of Bishop, California. This is no ordinary rock. It is a V15. Summiting this rock is basically only 3 moves off of 3 holds, from your fingertips. The remainder of the climb is sliced bread. If you can do the 3, you can get to the top. The problem is, only a handful of people in the world can do it. How hard can this be, after all you start sitting down.

Strength, stability, mobility, endurance, skill, experience, movement patterns … . it is all here, today, on The Gait Guys blog.

Author: Dr. Shawn Allen

There are things that other people can do in life that rattle your brain. These are tasks that these individuals make look fairly simple, but in actuality are nearly impossible to the average person.  The honest fact is that many of us could do many of these things to a degree if we would dedicate a portion of our day to building the engine to perform these tasks, but the truth is that many of us would rather sit down and be entertained than get up and struggle.

Here on The Gait Guys blog, bipedal and quadrupedal gait has been discussed for over 5 years. Discussions have gone deep into the strange quadrupedal gait of Uner Tan Syndrome and have delved into the critical neurology behind CPG’s (Central Pattern Generators) which are neural networks that produce rhythmic patterned outputs. We have gone on and on about arm swing and how they are coordinated with the legs and opposite limb in a strategic fashion during walking running gaits.

Today I will look briefly at the interconnected arm and leg function in a high functioning human arguably one of the best new hot shots in climbing, Alex Megos. This year the German, as seen in this video link today, managed to summit Lucid Dreaming, a V15 in the Buttermilks of Bishop, California. Hell, you can say that this is just a big boulder, but there are not many V15s in the world like this one. Only a few of the very best in the world have even tried this rock, and you can count even fewer who have reached the summit. So, what does V15 mean to you? “virtually impossible” just about sums it up. Watch the video, this V15 starts from a “sit-start”, many folks wouldn’t even get their butts off the ground to complete the first move, that is how hard this is.  Watch the video, if this does not cramp your brain, you perhaps you don’t have one.

Are there possible neurologic differences in climbers such as Megos as compared to other quadruped species?  Primarily, there is suspect of an existing shift in the central pattern generators because of the extraordinary demand on pseudo-quadrupedal gait of climbing because of 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.”

As we all know, the interlimb coordination in climbing and crawling biomechanics shares similar features to other quadrupeds, both primate and non-primate, because of similarities in our central pattern generators (CPG’s). New research has however determined that the spaciotemportal patterns of spinal cord activity that helps to mediate and coordinate arm and leg function both centrally, and on a cord mediated level, significantly differ between the quadruped and bipedal gaits. In correlation to climbers such as Megos however, we need to keep in mind that the quadrupedal demands of a climber (vertical) vastly differ in some respects to those of a non-vertical quadrupedal gait such as in primates, in those with Uner Tan Syndrome and during our “bear crawl” challenges in our gyms. This should be obvious to the observer in the difference in quadrupedal “push-pull” that a climber uses and the center-of-mass (COM) differences.  To be more specific, a climber must reduce fall risk by attempting to keep the COM within the 4 limbs while remaining close to the same surface plane as the hands and feet (mountain) while a primate,  human or Uner Tan person will choose  to “tent up” the pelvis and spine from the surface of contact which narrows the spreading of the 4 contact points. Naturally, this “tenting up” can be reduced, but the exercise becomes infinitely more difficult, to the point that most cannot quadrupedally ambulate more than a very short distance. I will discuss this concept in Part 2 of this series on climbing.  If you study childhood development and crawling patterns, you need to be familiar with UTS (search our blog, save yourself the time), the flaws in the neurology behind the "Bird Dog” rehab pattern, and crawling mechanics … and of course, study climbers.

Some research has determined is 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 locomotion.

The take home seems to suggest that gait retraining is necessary as is 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.  Certainly I need to do more work on this topic, the research is out there, but correlating the quad and bipedal is limited. I will keep you posted. Be sure to read my 3 part series on Uner Tan Syndrome, here on The Gait Guys blog. Some of today’s blog is rehash of my older writings, naturally I am setting the stage for “Part 2″ of Climbing.

– Dr. Shawn Allen

 References:

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 SSchena FTosi PIvanenko 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.

Irregular Arm Swing Could Be Early Sign Of Pending neurological disease.

Written by Dr. Shawn Allen

We’ve been saying this for quite some time now, the small subtle gait changes are often the first sign of things to come.

The attached article suggests that scientific measurement investigating irregular arm swing during gait could help diagnose the Parkinson’s disease earlier, giving greater opportunity to slow brain cell damage and disease progression.

In the study below Huang suggests that although we all know that classically the Parkinsonian disease is met with tremors, slow movements, stooped posture, rigid muscles, bradykinesia, speech changes etc, “by the time we diagnose the disease, about 50 to 80 percent of the critical cells called dopamine neurons are already dead,”

Previously, here at The Gait Guys, we have gone deep into discussions of arm swing and the phasic and anti-phasic natures of limb action in gait and how the four limbs interact neurologically, both centrally and peripherally. You can click here for just a sampling of our “arm swing” writings,   

In the study, because arm swing changes are one of the first gait parameters to diminish and decline, and because the decline is typically asymmetrical due to the fact that the disease is an asymmetrical one, the authors compared arm swing magnitude and asymmetry in patients with and without Parkinson’s as parameters to begin the assessments.  Most research to date has commented on the early loss of arm pendular swing but as they said here, “ but nobody had looked using a scientifically measured approach to see if the loss was asymmetrical or when this asymmetry first showed up,“ explained Huang.

What they discovered was that compared to the control group, “the Parkinson’s group showed significantly greater asymmetry in their arm swing (one arm swung significantly less than the other while walking),” and when the subjects walked faster, the arm swing increased but the amount of asymmetry remained unchanged.

On a slightly different tangent of thinking, an aside from the Parkinson’s disease disucussion, how truly sensitive is this limb swing thing you might ask ? Here, read this from this piece (How injury and pain reorganize the brain) we wrote a few years ago.

“Getting a cast or splint causes the brain to rapidly shift its resources to make righties function better as lefties, researchers found.
Right-handed individuals whose dominant arm had to be immobilized after an injury showed a drop in (brain) cortical thickness in the area that controls primary motor and sensory areas for the hand, Nicolas Langer, MSc, of the University of Zurich in Switzerland, and colleagues reported.
Over the same two-week period, white and gray matter increased in the areas that controlled the uninjured left hand, suggesting “skill transfer from the right to the left hand,” the group reported in the Jan. 17 issue of Neurology.
The findings highlight the plasticity of the brain in rapidly adapting to changing demands, but also hold implications for clinical practice, they noted.”

This article highlights the rapid changes in motor programs that occur. It does not take long for the body to begin to develop not only functional adaptations but neurologic changes at the brain level within days and certainly less than 2 weeks.

If you know your literature on this topic of arm swing symmetry, you know it is an arguable point.  According to the Lathrop-Lambach study (see link in the article just mentioned above), they mentioned that they feel a 10% baseline asymmetry is the norm.  This symmetry issue is an arguable point that no one is likely to ever win.  We tend to feel, as many others do, that asymmetry can be a major component and predictor to injury, and in today’s topic of discussion a possible determinant of higher level gait disease. 

Still think you should retrain arm swing ? Dive into our blog archives here on arm swing, you will find out that perhaps it is not your best first choice. Discover from our old writings who tends to dictate how much arm swing occurs. 

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

References:

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/173680.php

“Arm swing magnitude and asymmetry during gait in the early stages of Parkinson’s disease.”
Michael D Lewek, Roxanne Poole, Julia Johnson, Omar Halawa, Xuemei Huang
Gait & Posture, 2009, In Press, Corrected Proof, Available online 27 November 2009  DOI:10.1016/j.gaitpost.2009.10.013

Spinal interneuronal networks linking the forelimbs and hindlimbs

Do the intimate relationships of the upper limbs and lower limbs suggest that quadrupedal skill sets, if not true quadrupedal gait, were a piece of our past locomotion strategies ?  Or is it just representative of the close linkages for gait efficiency? Or maybe both?

In this study below the researchers pondered whether lower limb motor function can be improved after a spinal cord lesion by re-engaging functional activity of the upper limbs. Although this study looked at spinal cord hemisections in adult rats we know there is likely human correlation. This study showed improved hindlimb function when the forelimbs were engaged simultaneously with the hindlimbs during treadmill step-training as opposed to training only the hindlimbs.
As we have proposed here on the gait guys blog many times previously, this study’s results provide strong evidence that actively engaging the forelimbs improves hindlimb function and that one likely mechanism underlying these effects is the reorganization and re-engagement of rostrocaudal spinal interneuronal networks.
“For the first time, we provide evidence that the spinal interneuronal networks linking the forelimbs and hindlimbs are amenable to a rehabilitation training paradigm. Identification of this phenomenon provides a strong rationale for proceeding toward preclinical studies for determining whether training paradigms involving upper arm training in concert with lower extremity training can enhance locomotor recovery after neurological damage.”

This likely has huge implications in rehab measures and gait retraining for those who are not spinal cord impaired as well.  We have discussed many times that making a single limb change merely because the observer/clinician does not like the functional appearance of a limb is a  mistake most of the time. That what we see is a compensation, not the problem.  Go back and review our many “arm swing” blog posts, you should recall that the arms can have a huge impact on the leg function and that many times the arms take their cues from the lower limbs during gait.  This is a topic we have hammered many times in many blog posts and in many courses we have taught.  It is nice to see the literature continue to support the close relationships of the 4 limbs on a neurologic level.

Brain. 2013 Nov;136(Pt 11):3362-77. doi: 10.1093/brain/awt265. Epub 2013 Oct 7.

Use of quadrupedal step training to re-engage spinal interneuronal networks and improve locomotor function after spinal cord injury.

Shah PK1, Garcia-Alias G, Choe J, Gad P, Gerasimenko Y, Tillakaratne N, Zhong H, Roy RR, Edgerton VR.

This Client went Phasic in their Gait. Do you know what that means ? We do, and so does McGill, Liebenson, Cook and many others.

Long ago on this blog we showed and discussed a video (link) that discussed Stu McGill’s research of the human movements of Georges St-Pierre and David Loiseau. The basic tenets of that video were that the hips and shoulders are used for power production and that the spine-core are used for creating stiffness and stability for the ultimate power transmission through the limb.  He made it clear that if power is generated from the spine, it will suffer. 

Here on TGG we have long talked about phasic and antiphasic motions of the arms and shoulder-pelvic blocks during gait and locomotion/sport activity.  Many of our 1000+ blog writings and 80 podcasts have talked about spine pain and how spine pain clients reduce the antiphasic rotational (axial) nature of the shoulder girdle and pelvic girdle. In the video above, we see anything but antiphasic gait, to be clear, this is a classic representation of a phasic gait. This is pathologic gait, the frontal plane sway is exaggerated and necessary because there is no axial antiphasic motion.  There is essentially frozen arm and torso movements. This client has a long standing history of severe spine trauma and pain, their central pattern generators (CPG) had to make this motor pattern choice in an attempt to avoid pain and negotiate force streams across trauma zones. If you are curious and wish to go deeper down this rabbit hole, read the 30+ articles we have produced more specifically on arm swing and locomotor phasics, just click here.

In these types of cases, the client subconsciously makes the subcortial pattern choice (overrides the normal CPG) to rotate them as a solid unit to reduce spine rotation, axial loading and compression.  We could say that quite often spine pain disables the normal arm-leg pendulums via altering the shoulder-torso and hip-pelvis phasics and the CPG that dictates them. Normally, the spine and core must present sufficient amounts of recruited stiffness, yet mobility where necessary, to enable the locomotive power and velocity generated by movements of the shoulders and hips. These are the two main portals of limb movement off of the spine/core.  These principles holds true in gait and sport. For and interesting example, in human gait the psoas is not entirely a hip flexor initiator when it comes to leg swing, it is a huge hip flexion perpetuator. The initial hip flexion in human gait comes from derotating the obliqued pelvis, via abdominal contraction, on a stiff and stable spine.  Once the pelvis rotation is initiated, the femur can further pendulum forward (via contraction of the psoas and other muscles) on the forward accelerated pelvis in the hip joint proper creating an energy efficient movement (the towel flick/whip effect). This premise holds true in gait, running, kicking etc.  This is a solid principle of effective and efficient human locomotion. This principle also holds true for a punch or throwing an object, the stable torso/spine provides a stable anchor upon which to accelerate the arm in order to create a high velocity limb movement with power.  But here is where we get annoyed much of the time.  (Soap box Tangent coming up) How often do you read articles about tight ITBand, tight psoas, tight piriformis and the like ?  As a “diagnosis” these are weak and they are the “go to diagnosis or cause” of the unseasoned clinician, trainer, coach, therapist. If we all are to be really good at our job, we must go beyond what we see in someone’s gait (since it is the compensation) and go beyond the CNS neuroprotective strategy of tightness/shortness when there is weakness or motor pattern failure.  This does not mean that you cannot, or should not, incorporate restoration methods and principles to restore length-tension relationships in your client, it means you have to resolve ALL of the problems, including the aberrant CPG they have set up as a protective default to avoid injury or further injury. 

In the case above, returning the discussion to arm and leg swing, one must understand clearly that faulty arm swing patterns and lack of antiphasic torso and pelvis oscillation is a product of surgery,  trauma and more so, pain. The client is avoiding the antiphasic presentation (hence, he is phasic) for a reason and coaching more arm swing would be just about the dumbest intervention, so don’t be “that guy”. We know this is an altered motor pattern choice, not a new fixed set point. We know this because on clinical examination the range is available, we know because we examined for it, it is just not being used.  In an example of this same principle, in this case talking hip ranges of motion, McGill discusses the same in his paper*:

“Despite the large increases in passive hip ROM, there was no evidence of increased hip ROM used during functional movement testing. Similarly, the only significant change in lumbar motion was a reduction in lumbar rotation during the active hip extension maneuver (p < 0.05). These results indicate that changes in passive ROM or core endurance do not automatically transfer to changes in functional movement patterns. This implies that training and rehabilitation programs may benefit from an additional focus on grooving new motor patterns if newfound movement range is to be used.”

Think about that next time you stretch, or are stretched by someone. As we have said before, just because you increase someone’s range of motion, does not mean they will be able to incorporate that range of motion into a movement pattern, or compensation pattern for that matter. It is only ¼ of the equation: Range of Motion,  Skill (or proprioception),  Endurance (or the proportion of slow twitch muscle) and Strength (the proportion of fast twitch muscle). There is our S.E.S. mnemonic again.

In this video case, lack of NORMAL antiphasic spinal motion (torso and pelvis moving opposite one another) is noted. Without the obliqued pelvis the swing and stance phases will be impaired. The psoas may have to become more of a hip flexor initiator, AS WELL AS the perpetuator of limb swing, because there is no pelvic obliquity from the antiphasic principles to drive it from. And so, when you see this fella in your office with bilateral tight psoas/hip flexor complex and tight quadriceps mechanisms with resultant impaired glutes and hip extension, please do not begin lengthening them as your point of initiation.  They are that way because he has gone phasic in his gait.  Change the motor patterns that drive this as best as possible, restore any weaknesses that are contributory to, or initiate, these motor patterns and then, if needed, encourage some progressive new length-tension in these muscle groups as improved motor patterning evolve to allow for it.  You are likely going to have to go back and reteach and restore primitive and postural sensory motor windows in these cases, so be patient, be kind, be wise. Oh, and do not forget that with impaired hip function, there will most likely be impaired ankle rocker,  you are going to need a wide angled lens to see, capture and remedy this lads problems.

On another note, can you imagine what this client’s video gait analysis would show and interpret ? Let alone the diagnostics and recommendations that could come from it?  What about the appearance of their foot pressures across a dynamic foot pressure plate (or God forbid a static one !), surely what is seen at the foot is this client’s problem (not !) And forgive those poor fools who recommend a shoe for this client based off of just those mediums alone.  Without a complete hands-on clinical examination to correlate gait cycle observances, any recommendations for this case will be traumatic on many levels. 

Today’s bottom line……. read, learn, think, stay hungry, be wise.

Shawn and Ivo, The Gait Guys

* Improvements in hip flexibility do not transfer to mobility in functional movement patterns.  Moreside, Janice: McGill, Stuart

link: http://journals.lww.com/nsca-jscr/Fulltext/2013/10000/Improvements_in_Hip_Flexibility_Do_Not_Transfer_to.1.aspx

An Alternate View of Crawling and Quadrupedal Motor Patterns: A Correlation to Free Solo Mountain Climbers ?

Quadruped Patterns: Part 1

In the last 3 years, if you have been with us here at The Gait Guys that long, you will have read some articles where we discuss quadrupedal gait (link: Uner Tan Syndrome) and also heard us talk about CPG’s (Central Pattern Generators) which are neural networks that produce rhythmic patterned outputs without sensory feedback. You will have also read many of our articles on arm swing and how they are coordinated with the legs and opposite limb in a strategic fashion during gait and running gaits. Through these articles, we have also eluded to some of the fruitless aspects of focusing solely on retraining arm swing in runners because of the deep neurologic interconnectedness to the lower limbs and to the CPG’s. 
IF you are interested in any of these articles we have written please feel free to visit our blog and type in the appropriate words (Uner Tan Syndrome, arm swing, cerebellum, cross over gait) into the Search box on the blog.

Here we briefly look at interconnected arm and leg function in crawling mechanics in a high functioning human (as compared to the Uner Tan Syndrome) in arguably the best solo free climber in the world, Alex Honnold. Here we will talk about the possible neurologic differences in climbers such as Alex as compared to other quadruped species. Primarily, there is suspect of an existing shift in the central pattern generators because of the extraordinary demand on pseudo-quadrupedal gait of climbing because of the demand on the upper limbs and their motorneuron pools to mobilize the organism up the mountain. The interlimb coordination in climbing and crawling biomechanics shares similar features to other quadrupeds, both primate and non-primate, because of similarities in our central pattern generators (CPG’s). New research has however determined that the spaciotemportal patterns of spinal cord activity that  helps to mediate and coordinate arm and leg function both centrally, and on a cord mediated level, significantly differ between the quadruped and bipedal gaits. In correlation to climbers such as Alex however, we need to keep it mind that the quadrupedal demands of a climber (vertical) vastly differ in some respects to those of a non-vertical quadrupedal gait such as in primates and those with Uner Tan Syndrome. This is obvious to the observer not only in the difference in quadrupedal “push-pull” that a climber uses and the center-of-mass (COM) differences.  To be more specific, a climber keeps the COM within the 4 limbs and close to the same surface plane as the hands and feet (mountain) while a primate,  human or Uner Tan person will “tent up” the pelvis and spine from the surface of contact.

What some of the research has determined is 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 locomotion.

The take home seems to suggest that gait retraining is necessary as is the development of proper early crawling and 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.  Certainly we need to do more work on this topic, the research is out there, but correlating the quad and bipedal is limited. We will keep you posted. Next week we will follow up on this quadrupedal topic with a video that will blow your mind ! So stay tuned !

Shawn and Ivo
The Gait Guys

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.