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.

Quadrupedal gait and tree climbing

Earlier today we posted on quadrupedal perspectives in locomotion. Now we find this to drive home the point.
A University of North Florida study “focused on "proprioceptively dynamic activities,” that is, ones that involved proprioception and a second factor (like locomotion or navigation) at the same time" such as climbing trees.
“All participants had their working memory tested at the start and two hours later (after climbing trees, running barefoot, and walking on a balance beam) and the researchers found that while the control groups showed no change, those who completed the proprioceptively dynamic tasks had a 50% jump in their working memory capacity.”

http://www.newser.com/story/210569/study-climbing-a-tree-is-good-for-your-brain.html

Quadruped facts.

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?
Join us on the blog today for a short rewind piece where we discuss beaucoup things … . such as:
“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. ”

Here is the blog link:

http://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/111383241429/spinal-interneuronal-networks-linking-the

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.

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.