When I first took an interest in running and looked at running shoes, I was taught that different people have different feet. That you need different shoes depending on what type of foot “pronation” you have.
It turns out that the fundamental anatomy of a human being doesn’t change. If you look at a dog or a cat or a rabbit, then generally speaking, a rabbit is a rabbit is a rabbit, etc.
If your feet point outward when you walk or stand, it probably means you have tight ankles. (Possibly from walking with elevated heels your entire life -- apparently, most boots and shoes aren’t made for walking, your feet are. Heels on shoes compromise everything from your heel cords to your knees to your hips to your back. Yay heels.)
If your feet point in when you walk or stand, it probably means you have tight hips.
Your feet are meant to point straight forward, whether walking or running or standing. Pointing them out, for instance, will wreck your arches, put your entire leg in an unstable position, which in turns screw up both your hips and back.
Hey, how about that... your low back pain may be caused by wonky ankle position.
... OK. Pause.
What am I really talking about here?
A little over a week ago I purchased the recordings from Kelly Starrett’s mobility workshop (not an aff link. but you should buy it immediately) he held for CreativeLive. It instantly changed my life forever.
Everything I thought I knew about my body turned out to be totally wrong. I even found out that I have done pushups wrong for as long as I can remember. That’s like, the one thing I thought I had nailed. Disillusionment ensued.
One of the very, very important concepts he went over at the beginning of the seminar was something from the world of engineering: leading and lagging indicators.
In your body, pain is a lagging indicator. You don’t do anything to fix anything unless it’s painful. And, you assume that if it doesn’t hurt, everything is fine.
Ahh. No. Actually, your body is designed to adapt. That’s kind of what we do. If you move around in weird positions, bad posture, etc, it probably does not hurt. Yet. Your body adapts. Your weird, unnatural posture becomes the new normal. Then you need to fight to reclaim correct positions and mobility.
2% of things that go wrong with your body can’t be fixed by proper position. That would be like, medical stuff. If you have cancer, or an actual disease of some kind.
The rest -- all that pain you’ve been all worked up about, in all likelyhood comes from the fact that you haven’t been moving in the right positions.
Things like shoes and chairs have ruined your life. They’ve ruined mine, that’s for damn sure, and now I’m in the process of fixin’ it all. I just reclaimed a ton of range of motion in my right shoulder today with the help of a lacrosse ball. About a week ago I didn’t even know there was something wrong.
So... pain is a lagging indicator, and NOT a good way to measure whether you are functioning optimally. Lagging indicators are at the “effect” end of cause and effect.
That’s where we get to leading indicators. How do you know ahead of time whether you’re doing it right?
In this case, position.
Your body is designed to be able to perform certain movements in certain ways. Can you do all the movements you’re supposed to be able to? It’s simple to measure. It’s a binary equation, meaning it’s a black and white, yes or no answer. Either you can do it or you can’t. If you can’t, something’s up.
Anyway, that was just a small sampling of all the stuff I learned. It’s funny, I used to think some people where just more flexible and mobile than others, and I thought I wasn’t one of them. Except I was when I was ten years old, and I’m not now. Turns out, something is actually wrong with how I have been using my body, and my body has subsequently adapted itself to bad positions. Now I gotta fix it.
I couldn’t recommend this seminar more highly. It’ll change your life, and it will change the way you think about your body and how you move through the world. Kelly is also hilarious. (Again, not getting paid to recommend this or anything. I just think this is seriously must-know information for every human being who has a body.)
Bonus thought: Leading and lagging indicators exist everywhere. When we talk about business and marketing, sales, for instance, are a lagging indicator. A leading indicator would be, to give you one of many examples, the answer to a question like “are you abiding by all the fundamentals of direct response marketing?”. Nobody is talking about this stuff in the world of marketing, and it is absolutely critical. More on this another time...