Hurt Or Heal

By Paul Christ
Published on Mar 11th, 2013

Hurt or Heal?

“When you move, you either hurt your body or you heal your body.”
This principle was taught to me long ago by my teacher, Skip Hancock.
As I am a kinesthetic learner, learning by doing, this knowledge has reinforced itself time and time again, I’ve consistently found it to be true. It was a great experience for me to see this principle proven on a scientific level, with research at a university in the Netherlands.
If you run on a regular basis, I suggest you pay particular attention to the following; it may prevent future injuries.
There is a TV program here in the Netherlands, called “Pavlov” (yes, the guy with the drooling dog). The show takes celebrities from TV, sports, etc. and answers a question they have. The unique premise of the show is, the guests must actively participate in the tests used to try to answer their questions. These tests are done in an academic environment, with professors or leading expert researchers in fields related to the question. For this episode, a former high school gym teacher, now a writer / comedian, had some questions about his physical performance after he turned 50. He is still very active and running is a regular part of his fitness activities.
One of the tests analyzed his way of running at a Dutch university. The researchers put sensors on his legs, these registered his leg movement, and he ran on a mat that had other sensors which registered impact force as his feet hit the ground.
Immediately the researchers saw that he, like 70 to 80% of us, landed on the heel of his foot while running.
The graph illustrating their data showed the angle his leg at the time of landing and the impact force involved. The force itself was represented by a long line, longer than any of the lines representing his leg, and there was no mention of numbers (amount and/or unit of force).
They then proposed to him he should run again, but this time he was to concentrate on landing on the middle or ball of the foot, and so he did. The difference in the new graph was quite dramatic; the line of force had a different angle and was now less than a quarter of the length of the original.
The researchers explained when you land on your heel, the amount of force generated is huge and impact is transferred directly to your knees and hips. When you land on the middle or ball of the foot, the force is reduced to less than a quarter of the original force and the impact gets transferred to the big muscles in your legs (quadriceps, calves, etc.) not the joints!
So, this approach to running will prevent a lot of wear and tear to knees and hips, and makes your muscles work better and more efficiently. The university researcher also mentioned that, because 70 to 80% of the people are “heel landers”, shoe companies spend millions of dollars on research on how to make shoes that prevent injuries when running with a bias toward “heel landing”.
For me, again, that was the first time I saw scientific proof from an academic study that you can actually heal your body while moving, very cool.
I have weak knees due to the fact that I “parked” my motorcycle on a side of car crossing the road while driving 50 miles an hour, so I do not run anymore.
I still have a good Kenpo tradition of applying new insights, how can I train this newly reinforced knowledge? How can I use this research to my benefit?
Like 80% of most people, I’m also am a “heel lander”. I imagine I make things worse because I land on the outside of my heels.
I started to pay attention to the way I walk. I concentrated on landing on the middle / ball of my foot.
Things that I immediately noticed:
I walked more physiologically engaged
I was more actively stimulated (mind/body connection)
Walking this way forced me to “anchor my butt”.
Hadn’t I been taught to do this while being Neutral and Maneuvering?! I immediately related it back to years of training, So, being Physiologically Engaged, while being Neutral or in, let’s use an ancient term, in a “Horse Stance”, weight distribution left to right is 50-50%, and from the ball of the foot to the heel it’s 60 to 40%. Still, to feel this while just walking was an epiphany.
Like I said, I am a kinesthetic learner, and so I spent a week on my new walk.
That feeling, being engaged, is what I got while “just” walking, right away, and it feels great.
Not just that, I strongly believe if you use the evidence provided by the TV program, the “new” motion will contribute to healing your body. If you stop landing on your heel while running or even walking, your hips, knees and ankles will thank you.
It will take some time to adjust, some conscious effort to change your walking / running, but it will be worth your while!
It has changed my walk for the better, for life.
You will be healing your body instead of hurting it.
Paul Christ
The Path to Excellence

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Paul Christ

Paul Christ began training in Ed Parker's Kenpo in 1983, reaching Black Belt in 1992. In 1993, although a career police officer, Mr. Christ began working with students, mainly his colleagues but also taught at other studio's. Paul has also taught in, Germany, Belgium, Austria, Ireland and the United States. Paul was presented with the prestigious Ed Parker Award in 2003 for his contributions to Kenpo. That same year, Mr. Christ was promoted by Professor Skip Hancock as his first European Black Belt in Kenpo 2000. Mr. Christ is a student of Skip Hancock.

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