Movement Ecology, Part IV

Movement Ecology: The A to Z study of human locomotion.

Today, I want to ask (and, hopefully, begin to answer) the following questions: How can one assess one's current movement capacities, create a plan for improving those capacities, and then implement such a plan?

Assessing One's Current Capacities

There are multiple ways to assess your capacities. I'd like to focus on three:

  1. Using your own felt sense about your movement competence (as it relates to one particular movement or to an entire movement genre)

  2. Enlisting help from a guide of sorts, be it a book, video, or person (class, one-on-one, etc.), to help you assess your movement competence.

  3. Comparing your specific movement competence with that of someone you wish to emulate.

In the above, I mention two arenas. The first is one particular movement, like, say, walking up and down the stairs. The second is an entire movement genre, like, say, ballet dancing. Early on, I'd recommend focussing on just one particular movement at a time. As you grow in these things, you'll naturally be able to broaden your focuss to an entire movement genre (the latter arena), but that's for later. For now, at least in this post, I'd like to hone in on the former. For the purposes of this post, the skill I'm going to look at is the one of traversing the stairs.

We all have a felt (body-mind) sense of how well (or not so well) we walk up and down the stairs. Are we confident or timid? Do we ascend and descend with gusto, strength, and fluidity? Or, do we struggle with such movement? Are hand railings a lifeline, or do we discount them entirely? Asking, and answering these questions should be very easy, because, internally, we've been asking and answering them our entire lives. In us, there's an ingrained knowingness about our stair walking competency. This, of course, should not be the only judge, because our internal perspective may be slightly skewed.

For example, many young people intuitively feel they're really good at ascending and descending steps. But, based on my observations, some of them should reconsider their perspective. A young person may ascend a set of steps rather nicely and briskly; but, when descending the same set of steps, he may evert his feet (point them outward, due to rotating his right and left femurs), tuck in his pelvis, and lower each foot to the step below with his quads (the quadricep muscles of each leg). In a sense, he make look strong and, in fact, he may be very strong in the movement, but it's the wrong way to descend steps as it fails to honor the body (remember my definition of healthy movement from a previous post?).

Descending steps should primarily involve the hips and lower spine through what's called "listing." It should also involve the calf muscles. Yes, the quads play a part, but not the major part. In addition, the feet should point straight ahead, not out to the sides. To get a better idea of what listing is, I recommend you watch the video below. Even though it's not about walking down the stairs, it addresses the issue of hiking down a steep slope, which is sort of like descending stairs. I provide all this to indicate that sometimes our felt sense of competence is incorrect. Hence, why we may need a guide of some sort to help us. My thanks to Katy Bowman for her very helpful video.

Next week, we'll pick things back up where we left them today. Until then, God's peace, and happy listing!



My new book, Experiments in Prayer: Monastic Practice in Ordinary Life, is now available on Amazon in Paperback and Kindle/eBook formats.

Click here to access my Amazon book page.

100% of all author royalties are, most gratefully, donated in equal parts to Christ the King Church and Zoweh Ministries.


A Note to All My Blog and Social Media Friends and Followers:

I've made it a point, over the last decade, to accept friend and follower requests from any who ask. I think I've "defriended" only three or four people in the last ten years and did so only because they posted inappropriate material to one of my walls or timelines. Thankfully, it's been several years since anyone committed such a breech of etiquette.

I write all this to indicate I have many "friends" and "followers," whom I do not know personally (yet!). Lately, I've been getting countless (sometimes more than 200 a day) messages from people I don't know. Please know this: I speak a brief word of blessing over each person who sends me a message, but I can respond directly to only a few each day. If I did not discipline my activities in this way, I could, conceivably, spend my entire day every day responding to such messages.

By disciplining myself to the above social media activity-limitation plan, I in no way want to belittle or disrespect anyone or hurt anyone's feelings. My hope and prayer is that, even if I don’t respond to your message directly, you will know I cherish you and pray you'll experience God's love and grace personally and deeply. Experiencing God is the highest Good anyone could ever experience. May each of you experience such Good through your pursuits of Divine Union with Jesus Christ, the Eternal Living God.

As always, may the Lord bless you and keep you…


IKIGAI Weekly Blog Schedule (per The Training Trinity):

Mondays: Meditative Prayer

Wednesdays: Holistic Discipline

Fridays: Martial Arts Practice