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.

Effects of prior hamstring injuries

Previous hamstring injury is associated with altered biceps femoris associated muscle activity and potentially injurious kinematics.

“Previously injured athletes demonstrated significantly reduced biceps femoris muscle activation ratios with respect to ipsilateral gluteus maximus, ipsilateral erector spinae, ipsilateral external oblique, and contralateral rectus femoris in the late swing phase. We also detected sagittal asymmetry in hip flexion, pelvic tilt, and medial rotation of the knee effectively putting the hamstrings in a lengthened position just before heel strike." 

The biomechanics of running in athletes with previous hamstring injury: A case-control study. C. Daly1, U. McCarthy Persson2, R. Twycross-Lewis1, R. C. Woledge1,† andD. Morrissey1,…/10.1111/sms.12464/abstract

Podcast 94: The Shoe & Motor Control Podcast

Shoes, Minimalism, Maximalism, Motor fatigue, Brain stuff and more !

A. Link to our server:

Direct Download:

-Other Gait Guys stuff
B. iTunes link:
C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification & more !)
D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:
Monthly lectures at : type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen, ”Biomechanics”

-Our Book: Pedographs and Gait Analysis and Clinical Case Studies
Electronic copies available here:


-Barnes and Noble / Nook Reader:

-Hardcopy available from our publisher:

Show notes:

movement and brain function; based on your piece:

shoe fit:

Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2006 Dec;21(10):1090-7. Epub 2006 Sep 1.

The effect of lower extremity fatigue on shock attenuation during single-leg landing.

Coventry E1, O’Connor KM, Hart BA, Earl JE, Ebersole KT.

Dr. Ted Carrick podcast

movement patterns talk:
Wilson SJ, Chander H, Morris CE, et al. Alternative footwear’s influence on static balance following a one-mile walk. Med Sci Sports Exerc 2015;46(5 Suppl);S562.

movement patterns talk:

If you plan to live that long, you better start thinking about preservation:  

Music piece/ Bass players:

Muscle activity and movement

“We expected to see a one-to-one correlation between the muscle activity and movements because motion is generally driven by muscles,” Higham said, “but as we changed the structure of their habitat and they changed their motions, we were surprised to find very few accompanying changes in muscle activity.”

Context-dependent changes in motor control and kinematics during locomotion: modulation and decoupling. Foster and Higham

Can Running, Can Movement, Make us better Humans ?

This will be the last blog post you read from us …  for 2012. It is a rehash of our Dec 31st, 2011 blog post but we felt it was worthy of a year-end repeat.  It seemed to bring together many good points and thoughts. We hope you agree.

It has been an amazing year for both of us here at The Gait Guys. Through this year, we have bridged many chasms. We restarted our podcasts, put out the National Shoe Fit Certification Program, blogged most days of the week, added many new videos and made many new friends while learning much on our own end in our relentless research and readings. We appreciate every one of you who has followed us, and we thank you for your friendship.

Today, we would like you all to watch this video and then more importantly read what we have paraphrased below. As we find ourselves here at the end of another year, it is normal to look back and see our path to growth but to look forward to plan for ways to further develop our growth.  Many of you who read our blog are runners, but many of you are also extensions of running. What we mean by that is many of you are coaches or trainers who develop those who run in one way or another in various sports, but many of you are also in the medical field helping those to run and move to get out of pain or improve performance.  And still yet we have discovered that some of you are in the fields of bodywork such as yoga, pilates, dance and movement therapies.  It is perhaps these fields that we at The Gait Guys are least experienced at (but are learning) and like many others we find ourselves drawn to that which we are unaware and wish to know more in the hope that it will expand and improve that which we do regularly.  For many of you that is also likely the case.  For example, since a number of you are runners we would bet to say that you have taken up yoga or pilates or cross training to improve your running and to reduce or manage injuries or limitations in your body. But why stop there ? So, here today, we will try to slowly bring you full circle into other fields of advanced movement. As you can see in this modern dance video above the grace, skill, endurance, strength, flexibility and awareness are amazing and beautiful.  Wouldn’t you like to see them in a sporting event ? Wouldn’t you like to see them run ? Aren’t you at least curious ? Their movements are so effortless. Are yours in your chosen sport ? How would they be at soccer? How would they be at gymnastics ? Martial arts ? Do you know that some of the greatest martial artists were first dancers ? Did you know that Bruce Lee was the Cha Cha Dance Champion of Hong Kong ? He is only one of many. Dance, martial arts, gymnastics …  all some of the most complex body movements that exist. And none of them simple, taking years to master, but most of which none of us can do. In 2012 we will continue to expand your horizons of these advanced movement practices as our horizons expand. From 3 years of personal study, we already have been experimenting with some of the advanced foot and body movements of dance, incorporating many aspects into our treatment and exercise regimens for our patients, runners and multi-sport athletes. Using things like the latin dance (primarily rumba and salsa) movements to strengthen the hips, core and feet and borrowing from the Cha Cha to improve foot side and cross over step speed and accuracy in some of our NCAA basketball and European soccer players. Even using some of the smooth footwork in the waltz and foxtrot to increase awareness of rear, mid and forefoot strike patterns and the development of rigid and mobile foot positions in our speed athletes.  Why not use this knowledge?  Many of our athletes do not even know their exercises homework are from basic dance principles, until we tell them at the end of a session.  There is a reason why some of the best athletes in the NBA, NFL and other sports have turned to almost secret study of dance and martial arts because there is huge value in it.  Look at any gymnast, martial artist or dancer. Look at their body, their posture, their grace.  It is as if their bodies know something that ours do not.  And so, The Gait Guys will dive even deeper into these professions to learn principles and bring them back to you. After all, everything we do is about movement. Movement is after all what keeps the brain alive. 

Below are excerpts from a great article from Kimerer Lamothe, PhD. She wrote a wonderful article in Psychology Today (link is at the top) on her experience with McDougall’s book “Born to Run” and how she translated it into something more.  Below you will find some exerpts from her work. But at some point, take the time to read the whole article.  But do not cut yourself short now, you only have a little more reading below, take the next 2 minutes, it might change your life, or at least your next run.

We will leave you hear now for 2012 with our gratitude for this great growing brethren and community that is unfolding at The Gait Guys. We have great plans for 2013 so stay with us, grow with us, and continue to learn and improve your own body and those that you work with.  Again, read Kimerer’s excerpts below, for now, and watch the amazing body demonstrations in the video above. It will be worth it.


Can Running Make us Better Humans ?….. excerpts from the artcle by Kimerer LaMothe.

The Tarahumara are not only Running People, they are also Dancing People. Like other people who practice endurance running, such as the Kalahari Kung, dancing occupies a central place in Tarahumara culture. Or at least, it has. The Tarahumara dance to pray, to celebrate life passages, to mark seasonal and religious events. They dance outside where Father God and Mother Moon can see, in patterns consisting of steps and shuffles, taps and hops, performed in a line or a circle with others. And they dance the night before a long running race, while the native corn beer, or tesguino flows.

While McDougall notes the irony of “partying” the night before a race, he doesn’t ask the question: might the dancing actually serve the running? Might it be that the Tarahumara dance in order to run—to ensure the success of their run—for themselves and for the community?

At the very least, the fact that the Tarahumara dance when and how they do is evidence that they live in a world where bodily movement matters. They believe that how they move their bodies matters to who they are and to how life happens. They have survived as a people by adapting their traditional method of endurance hunting (running animals to exhaustion) to the challenges of fleeing Spanish invaders, accessing inaccessible wilderness, and staying in touch with one another while scattered throughout its canyons. As McDougall notes, they have kept alive an ancient genetic human heritage: to love running is to love life, for running enables life.

Yet McDougall is also clear: even the Tarahumara are not born knowing how to run. Like all humans, they must learn. Even though human bodies are designed to flourish when subject to the stresses of long distance loping, we still need to learn how to coordinate our limbs to allow that growth to happen. We must learn to run with head up, carriage straight, and toes reaching for the ground. We must land softly and roll inwardly, before snapping our heels behind us. We must learn to glide—easy, light, smooth—uphill and down, breathing through it all. How do we learn?

How do we learn to run? We learn by paying attention to other people, and taking note of the movements they are making. We learn by cultivating a sensory awareness of our own movements, noting the pain and pleasure they produce, and finding ways to adjust. We learn by creating and becoming patterns of movement that release our energy boldly and efficiently across space. We learn, in a word, by dancing.

While dancing, people open up their sensory selves and play with movement possibilities. The rhythm marks a time and space of exploration. Moving with another heightens the energy available for it. Learning and repeating sequences of steps exercises a human’s most fundamental creativity, operating at a sensory level, that enables us to learn to make any movement in any realm of endeavor with precision and grace. Even the movements of love. Dancing, people affirm for themselves and with each other that movement matters.

In this sense, dancing before the night of a running race makes perfect sense. Moving in time with one another, stepping and stretching in proximity to one another, the Tarahumara would affirm what is true for them: they learn from one another how to run.  They learn to run for one another. They run with one another. And when they race, they give each other the chance to learn how to be the best that they each can be, for the good of all.

It may be that the dancing is what gives the running its meaning, and makes it matter.

Yet the link with dance suggests another response as well. In order for running to emerge in human practice as something we are born to do, we need a culture that values movement—that is, we need a general appreciation that and how the bodily movements we make matter. It is an appreciation that our modern western culture lacks. 

Those of us raised in the modern west grow up in human-built worlds. We wake up in static boxes, packed with still, stale air, largely impervious to wind and rain and light. We pride ourselves at being able to sit while others move food, fuel, clothing, and other goods for us. We train ourselves not to move, not to notice movement, and not to want to move. We are so good at recreating the movement patterns we perceive that we grow as stationary as the walls around us (or take drugs to help us).

Yet we are desperate for movement, and seek to calm our agitated senses by turning on the TV, checking email, or twisting the radio dial to get movement in a frame, on demand. It isn’t enough. Without the sensory stimulation provided by the experiences of moving with other people in the infinite motility of the natural world, we lose touch with the movement of our own bodily selves. We forget that we are born to dance and run and run and dance.

The movements that we make make us. We feel the results. Riddled with injury and illness, paralyzed by fears, and dizzy with exhaustion, our bodily selves call us to remember that where, how, and with whom we move matters. We need to remember that how we move our bodies matters to the thoughts we think, the feelings we feel, the futures we can imagine, and the relationships we can create with ourselves, one another, and the earth.

Without this consciousness, we won’t be able to appreciate what the Tarahumara know: that the dancing and the running go hand in hand as mutually enabling expressions of a worldview in which movement matters.

Thanks for a great article Kimerer. (entire article here)

Wishing a Happy New Year to you all, from our hearts……. Shawn and Ivo

The Gait Guys

The Essex Swagger: Are Gait (Walking and Running) Styles Cultural and/or Geographical ?

Do Australians move like Americans ?  Does a woman in Israel move like a woman in Ireland ? Do Swedish men move differently than a rural farmer in Tibet ?

Sure there are many variables that come to mind that can drive differing answers; things like foot wear (winter boots, rugged rural shoes/boots to fashionable Manhattan), terrain, tight or loose clothing an so on.  But the main question we are asking here is this: are there cultural and geographical differences in the way we walk devoid of issues related to climate, terrain, and fashion?  In other words, because of our deeply rooted genetic codes that may have been slightly tweaked over the centuries, are there subtle differences in the way these different cultures walk and run ?

Recently we came across an internet article on a gait study “College walking study to capture the Essex swagger” being done at the Chelmsford University . Scientists at Anglia Ruskin University, in Bishops Hall Lane, are calling on people to help them capture “the Essex swagger”, which could help provide better treatment for UK patients.  The gait analysis lab, at the university’s postgraduate medical institute, is a replica of the one at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, the leading hospital for orthopaedics in the United State so one might assume this is no meager investigation.

He believes establishing a local database will allow more accurate testing and analysis of patients, ranging from burns victims to those who have just undergone hip or knee surgery.

Dr Rajshree Mootanah, director of the university’s medical engineering research group mentioned that “When we are working with patients it is important to have a reference database of ‘normal’ gait to compare them to. The only database we have is of the New York population and we believe there may be slight, but still significant, differences to the way our local population walks due to the different racial make-up of the two groups.” 

So the bigger question is in fact, are geographic and/or cultural differences present significant enough to warrant different baselines for gait studies ? This question had us looking deeper into the research.  Unfortunately there is not much in the literature on transcultural movement differences but what we did find was supportive of our hypothesis.  To keep this blog article within readable limits for now, we have included the two journal articles we wanted to mention to support the hypothesis.  In Ebersbach’s study (references below) the

“healthy subjects in Berlin showed faster gait velocity than their counterparts in Tyrol, Austria, and patients with Parkinson’s disease were slightly slower than their respective healthy peers in both environments”.

Surprisingly, his study found that patients with Parkinson’s disease from Berlin had significantly faster walking speeds than both patients and healthy control subjects from Tyrol. There was a high gait tempo in Parkinsonian patients from Berlin characterized by fast step-rates and short strides. Thus, it appeared that in Ebersbach’s study there were sociocultural differences in gait, even in disease processes such as Parkinson’s disease. This certainly opens ones eyes into the understanding of disease. After all, we thought that a disease was a disease, not matter what part of the world you are in. And this study shows that this may not be the case.

In Al-Obaidi’s study the gait of healthy young adult Kuwaiti subjects from both genders were compared those in Sweden. The study indicated several significant differences between the subjects in their manner of walking regarding walking at “free, slow and fast” rates.

Both of these studies suggest that people move differently from each other around the world, and surprisingly, even differently from within the disease group of “movement impairment syndromes”. People in Australia move different from those in England, Canada, Germany, Sudan etc.  it suggests that our gait is as unique as our language and as subtle as an accent within a common tongue.  The studies also  suggest that if the gait world is to expand further in terms of research that multi cross-cultural data bases must be built.

Shawn and Ivo, The Gait Guys.

Two geeks looking for the missing links in how humans move.


Mov Disord. 2000 Nov;15(6):1145-7. Sociocultural differences in gait. Ebersbach G, Sojer M, Müller J, Heijmenberg M, Poewe W. Source

Fachkrankenhaus für Bewegungsstörungen/Parkinson, Beelitz-Heilstätten, Germany.


Transcultural differences in routine motor behavior and movement disorders have rarely been assessed. In the present study gait was studied in 47 healthy inhabitants of Tyrol living in rural or semi-urban (Innsbruck, Austria) settings and 43 healthy subjects residing in Berlin, Germany. In addition, gait was assessed in 23 patients in early stages of idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (11 in Berlin, 12 in Innsbruck). Healthy subjects in Berlin showed faster gait velocity than their counterparts in Tyrol, and patients with Parkinson’s disease were slightly slower than their respective healthy peers in both environments. Surprisingly, patients with Parkinson’s disease from Berlin had significantly faster walking speeds than both patients and healthy control subjects from Tyrol. High gait tempo in parkinsonian patients from Berlin was characterized by fast step-rates and short strides. Differences in normal gait in different sociocultural settings are thus reflected in parkinsonian slowing of gait.


J Rehabil Res Dev. 2003 Jul-Aug;40(4):361-6. Basic gait parameters: a comparison of reference data for normal subjects 20 to 29 years of age from Kuwait and Scandinavia. Al-Obaidi S, Wall JC, Al-Yaqoub A, Al-Ghanim M. Source

Department of Physical Therapy, Faculty of Allied Health Sciences, Kuwait University, Kuwait.


This study obtained measurements of the spatiotemporal gait parameters of healthy young adult Kuwaiti subjects from both genders and compared the data to those collected in a similar study performed in Sweden. Thirty healthy subjects volunteered to participate in the study (which included being asked to walk at their “free,” “slow,” and “fast” self-selected speeds). We collected the spatiotemporal gait data using an automated system. Descriptive statistics were calculated for each variable measured at each walking condition. The data were then compared to those from the Swedish study. The results indicate several significant differences between Kuwaiti and Swedish subjects in their manner of walking. These results suggest a need to include data from subjects with diverse cultural backgrounds when a database on normal gait is developed or a need to limit the results of the database to a specified ethnic population.

Arnold Palmer, Gait & The difference between Muscle Tightness vs Muscle Shortness.

Arnold Palmer did not exactly have the prettiest golf swing but we doubt too many are going to argue that in the height of his uber successful professional career he should mess with it.

One of the gait guys used to date (eons ago) a gal who’s father used to be on the PGA tour. (Although it was not the case, Go ahead and accuse us of using her to get to him ! We have no shame. LOL). We got to golf with him once a week. Needless to say there were deep lessons each time they went out. Some days it was “today we will play with a 7 iron and a putter and nothing more”. But one lesson that really stuck out was …. “Don’t be afraid to bet against the golfer with a beautiful swing who can golf well most days…… be afraid to bet against the golfer with a butt-ugly swing that always hits the middle of the green in 2 strokes every single time.”

Now, this may be a confusing point. What this meant in the golf world was that if you do something enough times, no matter how bad it looks, you will get really consistent and accurate with it. You can bet on it. Now this does not mean there is not a better way, a smarter way, a more economical way. Ask any golfer who cannot hit a driver but can groove a 3 wood and they will tell you they will pick out the 3 wood every time in friendly competition over the risk of driving the ball off the Tee with the driver at the risk of entering the woods or deep rough. That does not mean that picking up the driver at the range and getting some lessons would have a better and wiser outcome in time.

Our point here today is that many times there is a better way, our bodies just cannot always find that better way on the working body parts available. Hitting the driver is just a different skill set and needs some different skills and work to harness its benefits. When we cannot find a “better way”, because of muscle inhibition from an injury or from challenged anatomy (ie. forefoot varus) or for some other reason, the body will attempt a reasonable strategy. It will be a strategy to protect the involved joints, to maximize ranges of motion and over all limb function, as best as possible. Sometimes this works for a short while, sometimes for months or years. But it is usually inevitable that the compensation will fail or the repetitive nature of the tasks will tax the tissues and end in pain or injury.

Sometimes we find a better way on our own, sometimes we need help to find a better way around problems. Heck, we all need crutches for a sprained ankle from time to time, but after the first few weeks we do not continue to use the crutches. Eventually function must be restored. Either the pristine biomechanically correct function, or a compensation pattern. One is optimal with little consequences, the other is suboptimal. The real trick is knowing if you have the optimal pattern or if you are adding strength and putting miles on the compensation pattern. Sometimes it is hard to tell.

We will choose conscious incompetence any day over unconscious incompetence. We would rather know we are doing something wrong so we can correct it, or at least be able to monitor it.

So, next time you are foam rolling your “tight” IT Band or stretching out your tight calf……. we hope you will ask the question, “am I bandaiding the problem or am I fixing the problem?” Remember, tightness and shortness are not the same beast. One is a neuro-protective phenomenon and the other is just plain vanilla shortness. One needs stretched and the other craves the strength around the joint to afford the protective tightness (the heightened tone) some resolve.

Athough we love Arnold Palmer, we bet had someone caught him early enough in his young career he would have opted for the optimal swing as opposed to what we all grew to know.

Now, go watch the Masters on TV !

Four !

Shawn and Ivo