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Finding Your Sole

Most people take walking completely for granted figuring that our big brains are made for thinking big thoughts while we stare at our little magic boxes.  Actually the greater part of our brain by far is used for our ability to balance upright and move.  Because we wear shoes, live in a world of flat surfaces, and ride conveyances, we can continue to ignore the larger part of our brains like this until we are in too much pain to walk.

Being a student of gait for 27 years, I understand that people wear out their parts not so much by what they do, but by how they do what they do.  You see our ancient ancestors were stimulated through their soles all the time by uneven natural surfaces and little to no footwear.  Thus the “Nobel Savage” had graceful movement that was instantly adaptive to the earth’s changing surface, skills necessary to move through wilderness and avoid injury.


The brain is designed around gait.  Practicing movement develops a child’s brain. However, in modern life children move very little and, of course, they model their movements and postures after their parents (gasp).  Is it any wonder that childhood developmental issues, orthopedic issues, and adult dementia are skyrocketing in our population?



Because we don’t use movement medicine to rebalance our brain all the time, the higher cortical centers become over-involved.  We tend to overreact to the trauma of relational stress, injury, surgery, or bad traffic.  Knee jerking postures of protection make us tilt, or twist, or walk with a bit of a limp, halt, or sway for a lifetime.  The chronic stress lights us up with inflammation and we degenerate…

If you have seen a reflexology chart you know that the body is mapped out on each foot.  In fact, every distortion in the body is reflected in the feet.  The spine runs up the outside edge of the foot from the heel, which correlates to the hip, then to the ball of the foot, correlating to the chest, and the toes, correlating to the head and neck.  With each footfall, each segment of the body passes in turn over the foot.  Most of us are just slapping our body against the ground with each hard footfall. 

The foot is where we get our stability and traction. Most of us are “driving with the brakes on” by flagging our toes upward to perfectly balance the stiffness and tension in our face, neck and arms.  Learning to move better requires getting in touch with your “paws” to dig and pull, thus engaging the strong back body and the power that lifts and propels us from behind.

To get a feeling for this movement, practice keeping your soles fully connected to the floor when you sit.  Form a little dome that lifts your forefoot while all the toe pads rest on the ground.  This dome is the foundation of the magical lifting arches we call transverse tissues.  Others are in the pelvic floor, respiratory diaphragm, shoulder girdle and palate.  These domes create the lifting that makes you radiate from the heart.  They keep us on the level, moving and adjusting so the bones can do the grounding and rooting for clear movement. 

Try practicing the “Mindful Walk” by walking as slowly as possible for a few strides (including the single foot phase).   This super slow movement challenges your brain to pay attention to the wobbly places it likes to skip.  Keep your toe pads down while allowing the domes to lift you. 

To learn more go to Vital Yoga or to M+ Pilates to practice the essentials of rooting and rising in a clear, graceful, connected and strong way.  You may need some Active Release Technique (ART) work from Dr. Vander Wall on your feet and legs to set you free from old scar tissue in muscles and ligaments and to reprogram your brain for the deeper journey to your sole.

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