Olympics-How not to walk

If you watched any of the Olympic Race Walking, please don’t take your walking lessons from them.  While they may be able to walk fast, they are not walking with whole body wellness in mind.  They do have some great hip mobility, but most of the motion is restricted to side-to-side movement, and not in all three planes of motion.  Their knees all seem to be buckling, and almost every single one of them was only using the outside part of the feet.

However, the biggest tell-tale that their walking styles are not free flowing, natural, easy walks is their torsos.  You may ask yourself, who cares about the torso in walking?  Well, quite frankly, you should.  Your spine should be able to respond to your walking by compressing and lengthening pike a spiralled spring.  This action allows the stress of walking to transmit through your body, and it also activates all of the various pairing of muscles to allow efficient walking.  If you spine can’t or isn’t allowed to handle the motion, other parts of the body have to take over.  That is why most of the race walkers were pumping their arms like no tomorrow and their heads were sliding side to side.  Plus, from the Rolfing perspective, it seemed like most of their motion was coming from their sleeve and not from their core–lots of motion with not so much stability.

If you see any of the race walking events, just watch the participant’s torso.  If you look around at about their sternum or breast bone, if there any motion there, or it just seem like a quiet place with everything else in their body moving around it?

I think it would also be interesting to see these athletes walking around normally.  Do they still have traces of the “race walking” gait, or it entirely just a motion they do for events.  I’d guess that they at least bear the trace of their race walking in their everyday walking as well.

Kinesio Tape, the Olympics, and beyond

The Internet world and sporting world is a buzz with Kinesio tape.

If you’ve watched any of the Olympics, you’ve probably seen it.  It’s the black tape on shoulders of athletes like volleyballer Kerri Walsh.  And no, it’s not a tattoo, but it may have helped her and her teammate, Misty May-Treanor win some gold. You may have also seen it various pink or blue colors on a LOT of other athletes as well. Do only Olympic athletes use this mystical, magical tape?  No.  A lot of other superstar athletes have used it including Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams, and whole slew of others. Sure, the makers of the tape say it’s good for athletes, but it’s also good for the everyday athlete and more run of the mill things.

So, what is the magical tape good for other than winning gold medals and Tour de France?  Basically, you could think of it as athletic tape on steroids (and from the planet Krypton).  Normal athletic tape is used for taping up weak joints and muscles to get someone moving again.  It’s not very stretchy, it’s not the nicest to remove from body hair, but it does do it’s job.

This is where Kinesio tape takes the cake.  It is significantly stretchier than normal tape–the makers claim it can stretch up to 130-140% of it’s normal length.  Try that athletic tape!  Plus, their some sort of sticky magic, I’ve seen it applied to a (hairy) forearm, and removed without even the slightest grimace.  It’s stretchy nature also allows for two types of applications–stretched and unstretched.  The way you use it depends on whether you looking to increase fluid flow to an area to aid healing, or if there is a musculoskeletal injury you’re trying to support. So, it can be used to help support injured joints and muscles to (according to the manufacturer) relieve pain and speed healing.  This is of obvious benefit as a palliative measure to anyone whose had these issues but still needed to make full use that area–so pretty much everyone.  Some of the athletes are using it in post-surgery situations to help protect them as they get back to their activities.

Another advantage over normal athletic tape is it’s width.  This allows the Kinesio tape to be cut into those fun shapes you’re seeing all over the Olympics.  The shapes are designed to follow the natural path of the muscles across the body.  I’ve only ever seen athletic tape really used to help shore up joints by wrapping them tightly in place, usually adding support at the expense of mobility.  As the name “Kinesio tape” evokes, it allows the wearer to still move with the tape in place.

The tape is also water resistant, which is why some swimmers/water polo players are wearing it, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen happen with any from of normal athletic tape.

It’s an interesting product, and I’m curious if it would be any supporting benefit to the Rolfing process.  The added lymph flow would definitely be an assist in any area that has a lot of fascial adhesions that have just been broken up to help get the re-released toxins out of the area.

Is that fat on those Olympians?

Well, the 2008 Olympics have been going on for awhile now.  If you haven’t watched, then you’re missing out on some prime examples of functional bodies and motions.

Primarily, if you watch the gymnasts and swimmers warming up.  If you see them swinging their arms around, you might notice that there is a LOT of motion in their arms.  You might even think it looks like fatty tissue moving around–which seems odd since you don’t normally see any fat on the atheletes’ bodies.

Well, what you’re looking at is relaxed muscle tissue.  When muscles and the associated fascia are at a properly lengthened and toned state, they should feel like a gel and you should be able to gently press though the entire muscle belly to the tissue/bone beneath it.  It is tight, restricted muscles that get the “hard muscle” feel that many associate with strength.  Actually, the relaxed muscles will be stronger.  When you contract that muscle, the gel turns into that “hard muscle” that you expect.  If the muscle is always in that state, it’s wasting energy by being partially contracted (or resisting being pulled apart) all the time.

So, if you feel like you have these tight muscles and not the gel like ones, what can you do?  Well, a great idea is to stretch.  Yes, it is always said, but who actually does enough?  Frankly, EVERYONE can benefit from some more stretching.  Animals do it instinctively when they get up after sleeping or laying down for awhile.  Take a few minutes and stretch when you wake up in the morning or after getting up from sitting for a long time.

For those with Restless Leg Symdrome, some leg strecthing before going to bed can be beneficial as well.  While not as direct as doing Rolfing, it does provide some benefit.  And stretching is a excellent adjust to furthering your Rolfing progress as well.

And most importantly, after doing anything “athletic” (even if you define that as house work), take those few minutes and give your body some breathing room.

Water, water everywhere

Make sure you get a drop to drink.  It’s hot out there in Portland and the surrounding area right now.  Make sure you stay hydrated.

Water is one of the most important building blocks of life.  The human body is essentially a mobile bag of salt water.  If you don’t have enough water in you, the basic processes of life are limited and you just won’t function as well.  Plus, chronic dehydration can set up the situation for your body to create fascial adhesions easier.  These adhesions can be thought of simply as dehydrated laters of fascia that end up sticking together and then limiting motion.

So….get those glasses of water in.  A helpful tip to drink more water can be to add some flavoring.  Add a nice lemon wedge or something similar.  Just that little bit of flavor encourages us to drink more just “plain, boring” water does.