In Taos, NM the temp is typically below 0 in the early morning and yes snow is usually on the ground – turned to ice wherever pressure is applied to its surface. Cars are stuck on home-driveways and somehow impaled along the sides of dirt roads And the recent snow is different in terms of general action – step on it, just once and it immediately turns to ice.
Caution is called for when ice is in the neighborhood. We already know of high numbers of falls experienced by over-70 population, resulting in long recovery or death. All seniors need to invest in serious practice of simply walking, particularly in icy environments like Taos where individuals have been known to slip at night, unable to get up and freeze to death in sub-zero temps. The easiest solutions: bent knees and Yak tracks.
I was introduced to bent knee movement back in the ’80s when studying martial arts with Grand Master George Crayton in NYC. How fortunate I was to have this influence in my life. He taught his master class in my loft on 14th in Manhattan for over a year as I recall. And we hung out regularly – going to China-town for movies, food and checking out other dojos. Directly next door on 14th lived another Grand Master: Ricco Guy who became a dear friend and inspiration. In a later blog I’ll go into greater detail regarding these experiences; right now we are focusing on bent knee movement and particularly walking.
Watch people walk. First look at the knees; are they walking with bending knees or do they step onto straight pogo stick legs? A majority of athletes and martial artists walk with knees that bend slightly when stepped upon. Look at the difference in the grace and agility between the two ways of walking.
Our goal is to walk on bending knees and not do the pogo-stick thud.It is essential for good posture or as the orientals say – a straight spine is essential for good health. It is imperative for balance, agility, healthy knees and pain-free lower back. Without loose, bending knees , energy cannot flow into the lower body including the feet. It is necessary for balanced walking.
Look in a mirror standing profile. Straighten knees and watch what happens to the lower back: it becomes swayed because there’s no other way to maintain standing balance. Now bend the knees very slightly and see what happens or straighten the lower back and watch what happens to the knees.
In preparation for walking with bending knees do the following exercise.
Stand with feet shoulder width apart, bend the knees a noticeable amount and stand there. Stand near a solid piece of furniture in case you are wobbly. Or use a hover cane, whatever works for your steadying. This bent knee stance is a modified Ma-bo stance in martial arts. While in the stance try to practice belly breathing and not moving the chest with the intake of breath. Monitor the shoulders, telling them to drop.
Rest weight of the body in the pelvic region and the feet. Feel the feet expand against the floor like pancakes. Don’t allow body energy and weight to rise and locate in the upper chest and shoulders. Experience the weight of the body resting totally on the feet.
When comfortable in this bent knee stance walk about with very bent knees keeping the lower back straight and in perfect alignment with the head. Focus on loosening the rectal muscles; being a tight-ass is not an advantage.
The above exercises will take time. In the meanwhile snow and ice-bound readers MUST purchase Yak Tracks with spikes and wear them. And remember, should you fall and bang your head: do not use a hot tub or shower and sleep on a incline. Too many folks have died by experiencing a heavy blow to the head and getting into a hot tub or shower to relax. My mom died in this manner
A large number of folks are having hip replacement surgery initiated by arthritis and aggravated by pogoing. My personal belief is pogoing aggravates both knee and pelvic hip problems. The impact can be severe depending on the weight of the person. It’s puzzling orthopedic MDs don’t recommend a radical change in walking technique. In fact I once had a PA ask me why I stood with bent knees. Shocking.
I don’t mean radically bent knees. It’s a slight almost unnoticeable bend. And we don’t step onto a bended knee but rather the knee is soft and bends slightly as one steps onto the leg.