Walk the Talk! Primal Gait for Healthy Living
Esther Gokhale, L Ac
Format: Download Video of Slides & Audio
This talk explores the natural locomotion of our species – the fundamental activity of walking – how it has been adversely altered by modern design and our built environment, and how it may be restored.
In modern industrial societies, families have become geographically dispersed. This has resulted in an absence of cultural support and patterning. The kinesthetic patterns of walking need physical proximity and repeated visual cueing to be acquired. When the ancestral line is broken, the disconnected generation is more likely to be (literally) shaped by the twentieth century developments of mass media culture and mass-produced consumer goods. After World War I, fashions in clothing and furniture converged to bring about a cultural evolution in the human figure. Traditional standing posture, tall but relaxed, was redefined as stiff and passé, and in the name of comfort and ease the fashions of the day promoted a collapsed spine which resulted in rounded shoulders and a tucked pelvis.
Such modern “adaptations” of a balanced, erect posture throw our structure out of alignment and have a detrimental effect on our movement. People unable to sit or stand well are unlikely to be comfortable walking for any distance and in fact are likely to suffer damage to discs, cartilage, bone and soft tissue. Today 85-90% of the population report back pain. Fortunately, the ancient body-wisdom is still found in non-industrial societies, who report an astoundingly low incidence of back and joint pain (5-7%).
This ancestral heritage has formed the blueprint for a highly successful program of postural reeducation developed by the Gokhale Method Institute. In walking, for example, students are taught how to engage the muscles of their feet effectively, despite the tendency of shoes and flat, man-made surfaces to work against this necessary function. They also learn to engage and synchronize buttock muscle action correctly as they walk, so that walking becomes a series of smooth forward propulsions, rather than scuffs or jarring falls.
Our ancestors would not have hunted so successfully or gathered what they needed for survival using the average modern gait. The Gokhale Method gives us the opportunity to regain our structural health and reconnect with our birthright.