A little over a decade ago a book came out that not only had a catchy title, but it also made some compelling arguments that questioned a lot of common assumptions around both shoe wear, and the limits of the human body as it relates to endurance. It was called “Born to Run“, and while it is a very enjoyable read, I am not sure that running is entirely what we as a species were truly born to do in this lifetime.
That said, our gait is absolutely an expression of not only who we are as a person, but absolutely also what we are as a human being.
After all, we are the only species that is able to stand and walk upright, and thus freeing our hands and face to interact and engage with the world around us. Others have to walk on their hands, carry things with their mouths, and pant to simply regulate their body temperature….
And while we were all born perhaps to do a few choice things more easily than other creatures, we also seem to have been built to compensate.
Which is actually pretty awesome. It allows us to get by, adapt, and even thrive.
And, we have some very reliable built in ways to compensate…we could call them Common Compensatory Patterns.
They too are awesome; they really help us stay both upright and alive into the next moment. However, it doesn’t tend to feel all that great when you get stuck in these patterns.
Like a knee jerk reaction, they serve a purpose… but we don’t want them always reaching from the back seat and yanking the wheel. Unfortunately it is entirely up to us to learn how to both captain our ship and man the crew. Our brains are hardwired to both stress and respond to stress, and although we have the ability to relax and shift in the opposite direction, it seems we have to learn when and how to do it.
Just like with any garden variety impulse control, awareness of the tendencies we are looking to manage is key, and from there the rest is practice…
At this point, if you have read this far, I am sure you are wondering what these Common Compensatory Patterns look like.
Well, there are a few typical layers that we seem to get stuck in, and with that a few typical flavors to how these layers often express themselves.
Often times there is a top layer of tightness (or, tension), and at the root of it is some level of breath holding. Now it is not that the person is stuck literally holding their breath all the time. They are breathing just fine; after all if they are still alive then they are undeniably meeting the standard of “good enough”.
This breath hold is more like a chronic state of shallow breathing…and because the breaths that are taken are shallow, well, there is often chronic hyperventilating.
What exactly does this top layer of tension (breath holding) look like?
It depends on whether you are stuck on an exhale or an inhale… and truly it is something that is best conveyed not solely with words, but by actually demonstrating what being stuck in such a state looks like.
So, if you want to know what being stuck on an inhale, or an exhale looks like then I would read on…the video link below will demonstrate that and more.
Now underneath this top layer of tightness we have some very predictable asymmetry. Although we look symmetrical on the outside, internally we are anything but. Our organs are lopsided, and very notably our diaphragm is as well. This is not an evolutionary flaw by any means; it is this asymmetry that allows us to both stand and walk upright. It gives us torque and leverage.
We are built not only to compensate…we are built to move. And, when we don’t we drift…in very predictable ways.
If you want to view what this predictable drift looks like (hint…it is to the right), then simply click HERE. However if you are genuinely curious about some of the things I have touched on above, then feel free to watch the video below. There I go into much greater depth of what these Common Compensatory Patterns are, how they tend to present, and even some simple strategies to begin wrangling them back in if you yourself are experiencing any of these things.
If you have any questions about the above, please do not hesitate to reach out.
Regardless, I hope you find the above helpful, and I hope you are comfortable, able and well.