'Moving Better': Walking Along the High Water Line
Updated: Jan 28
"The pattern of disease or injury that affects any group of people is never a matter of chance. It is invariably the expression of stresses and strains to which they were exposed, a response to everything in their environment and behaviour."
(Calvin Wells, bones, bodies and disease)
This blog is the first of a series of blogs based on the book, 'Move your DNA' (Katie Bowman).
At In-Sync Pilates, we pride ourselves in educating our clients and creating awareness of how they move. Through our blogs, videos and suggested reads, we keep our clients inspired to ‘move better’ in their daily lives beyond the hour in the Studio.
During my annual visits to Strand, Cape Town (South Africa), I take time to reflect, to read and do what I like most, taking walks on the endless stretch of golden beach along False Bay.
After having embarked on the plane, I eagerly started reading my favourite book “Move your DNA” (written by Katie Bowman, bio mechanist, author of 8 books and founder of a movement education company called Nutritious Movement).
In her book, she explains the term ‘diseases of captivity’ and how our ‘convenient’ lifestyle contributes to various physiological changes in the human body, down to a cellular level and/or DNA level. She uses an example of the Orca Whale and how living and swimming in captivity has lead to physical adaptations in its spine and dorsal fin structure on DNA level.
She draws a parallel with the modern world we live in and how the human body has adapted to the ‘convenient’ environment we live in today. We often choose to take the path of least resistance in whatever we do on a physical level. In our daily lives we are supported by chairs, we sit in our cars to go shopping, or we have it delivered to our homes. Our feet are supported by shoes and we walk on hard, level surfaces most of the time. She explains how these repetitive habitual movements or a lack of movement (in the worst case) have affected the human body. It has debilitated us in our daily functional movements like squatting, standing on one leg or lifting our arms above our head. The changes most noticeable are the way our postures and our spine has adapted to the environment we live in. But the consequences of our ‘convenient’ lifestyle choices actually run much deeper than what is visible on a structural or muscular level….
Walking Along the High Water Line
Stretch of beach: Strand, Cape Town
Today I planned to do my daily walk again along the beach of beautiful False Bay. Normally (for last 20 years) I would choose the habitual path of least resistance, either walking on the paved promenade (with shoes) or when I felt more adventurous I would walk barefoot on the hard sand close to the water's edge. I would walk against time in an almost automatic mode, not giving a single thought of how I walk.
My usual habit is to walk from my heels which (after many years of repetition), translated into my typical sway back upper body posture and lazy forward pelvis (hanging into my hips).
I’ve been doing the same walk for years now, but today I decided to leave my old habits behind and do it differently. Let me take you with on my walk along the high water line.
The High Water Line: Strand, Cape Town
As I walked diagonally across the beach in the direction of the high water line, I felt a different sensation under my feet. The sand felt softer and my toes could spread, lift and grip more. I propelled myself forward as the sand was giving way, almost sucking me down, creating more resistance with every step.
As I approached the high water line, the sand became more loose and uneven. Walking along the high water line, I started noticing significant changes in my entire experience, even down to psychological level.
What I noticed:
-I felt the different textures of sand under my feet, constantly changing from soft, to grainy, to very coarse almost consisting of broken shells.
-The sand was soft and unstable and I was using more energy, working harder with my feet, spreading and gripping my toes and propelling myself forward pushing through the ball of my foot.
-My heart rate increased as I was working much harder now, involving more muscles - even the tiniest muscles in my feet.
-I was more focused and aware of where I placed my feet trying to prevent stepping on something or twisting an ankle .
-I noticed that the position of my torso shifted from a sway back to slightly forward leaning with my entire upper body and I was moving my arms more.
-The unequal forces under my feet due to the uneven surfaces, required more core strength as I had to work more to stabilise my hips and pelvis.
During this process of assessing the physical changes of my movements, I also started noticing other sensations:
-The initial sensational feeling under my feet was almost becoming uncomfortable from friction against the sand.
-Contrary to the increase in my heart rate, I realised that I slowed down my pace and started noticing my surroundings more.
-As I became more aware of my surrounds, I noticed the abundance of shells and debris on the high water line. I took a course into the sand dunes and noticed the vegetation and bird life unique to this habitat.
I found a beautiful abalone shell among the debris. It fitted into the palm of my hand. When stroking it, I felt the different textures on its smooth side and the rough side. Its shape was almost round, smoothed out by the forces of water.
-I felt a flood of calmness, my breathing was slower and deeper. I was not racing against time or rushing to get back home.
I decided to keep the abalone as a reminder of this walk of ‘breaking old habits’, ‘moving more mindfully’ and ’moving better’.
At In-Sync Pilates we are committed to encourage you to ‘move better’. Moving more is not necessarily better. We believe in doing less repetitive movements and teach you to incorporate more varied movements into your daily routine, beyond the hour in Pilates class.
Our classes are varied and incorporate functional movement patterns like squatting, hanging, lifting, balancing on one leg. We guide you to breathe better, slowing down movements and moving mindfully. We help create awareness of your posture and old habitual ways of moving and help you find better ways to move.
In this series of blogs, we I will give you loads of inspiration and provide you with helpful tools to guide you in this journey towards 'moving better’. The series will include:
-How to walk better
-Its About Progression, not Perfection
-Mouse arms to monkey arms