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Chi in Motion, Techniques For Walking, Posture and Health

Jun 17, 2008
This interview is an excerpt from Kevin Gianni's Fountain of Youth Summit, which can be found at http://fountainofyouthworldsummit.com. In this excerpt, Danny Dreyer shares on Chi in motion.

The Fountain of Youth World Summit with Danny Dreyer, author of ChiWalking and ChiRunning.

Kevin: Let talk a little about how Chi works in motion. I think that's a pretty cool concept and how if you are being supported on your spine, how everything else kind of rotates around that.

Danny: Yeah, now what we do, in walking and running, we have your whole weight supported by your spine, and your alignment basically; we call it your column.

Kevin: OK.

Danny: Once you can practice that every time you foot comes down, your weight is supported by your column, then we have runners and walkers both choke their entire body forward just slightly. This engages the pull of gravity. It's like if you watch little kids run or little kid walk, they always lead with their upper body.

Kevin: Oh Yeah.

Danny: Yeah. Because they are falling, controlled fall and half the time the fall isn't controlled [laughter] That is why we all got stitches in our chins.

Kevin: [laughs]

Danny: Abrasions in our elbows, is that as kids, we learnt how to use the pull of gravity to propel ourselves, you know, kids don't have strong legs, so they have to use this balance, this forward balance to do it, to move around, and so once your body is aligned and you allow it to just slightly fall forward, gravity takes over to pull you forward, then your job is just to allow your body, your arms, your legs to rotate around the central axis and really relax your arms and legs so that they are not pouncing anywhere. And so if gravity is your proportion, then your legs aren't.

Kevin: That is an interesting point.

Danny: Your legs are just your support system, they are not your propelsion system which is a big mistake a lot of runners make and that is why people, you know, hit the wall and get hammered quads in races and even hikers and walkers, you know, their legs feel it because their legs are working too hard.

Kevin: OK, that's an interesting point.

Danny: So then when you can move forward, let gravity do the work of propelling you, then your job is just to relax everything else so that gravity can do its job. If you are blocking, if you holding tension in your shoulders, or tension in your hips and a lot of people have tension in their ankles even, anywhere you hold tension it's going to restrict the flow of your mobility, period. There is now way around that.

Kevin: OK.

Danny: You hold tension, you are not going to swing your arms or move your body as easily. So this is a really - it's kind of like a walking or running relaxation exercise.

Kevin: OK.

Danny: And there are so many people that are running and walking come back with sore muscles and sore muscles means that you are holding it tight. Anytime you feel pain that means that Chi is not flowing through that and that's why Mai Tai-chi master will tell you.

Kevin: Over and over again.

Danny: While you are standing there. If you feel pain it's because you are not relaxed at some point.

Kevin: That's a whole new paradigm of running. So you are not using your legs as propelsion, but you are actually, what, just lifting them?

Danny: Yeah. You are just picking up your feet to keep up with your forward fall.

Kevin: Wow.

Danny: Yeah. Just so you don't trip. [laughs] That's about all you are doing. But your legs, it's picking up your feet. You know, you can imagine, if I weigh 140 pounds and I am running a marathon or walking a marathon, if I'm propelling myself, my legs, my quads, my curves, everything is pushing me around all day.

Kevin: Right.

Danny: If I run three and a half hour marathon or walk six hour marathon, my legs are doing a lot of work, propelling 140 pounds forward. If I am falling forward, then my core muscles, because I am leveling my pelvis, I'm using all these big strong muscles to do what; to pick up my feet, that's a big difference is muscle usage.

Kevin: Right, then those muscles are toned much more efficiently for that type of exercise.

Danny: Yeah, you know, I tell people the body is set up in a very Marxist way, in that each body part contributes to its ability. So if you have; how big are the muscles in your lower leg as opposed to how big are your larger core muscles.

Kevin: Right.

Danny: So your lower leg shouldn't be doing much work at all and your toes definitely shouldn't be doing much either and if you push yourself forward walking or running and the last part of your body to leave the ground is your toes, at some point that means that your entire body weight is resting on you're a very tiny appendage.

Kevin: Sure.

Danny: And that's why people get bunions, that's why they get stress fractures.It's over use of those little tiny places in your legs that really shouldn't be working that hard.

Kevin: Right. I think you've just touched on some of the injuries that people have. Let's talk about how people normally walk without this information, walk and run and what are some of the things that are happening as they are moving forward.

Danny: OK, well, when people normally walk it starts when people normally stand, which I mentioned earlier, when people normally stand their hips are always forward. So when they walk, there hips are a little forward. That means that they are leading with their legs. Now I would say that if you walked out on the street right now and looked at people walking by, I would say 95 percent of them you would see lock their legs in front. They throw it, they kick their foot in front of them; they lock their leg, and come down on their heel.

Kevin: Got you.

Danny: And you would see that their heel lands in front of their shoulders and in front of their hips. So if you are moving down the road, now this is Tai-chi in action and this is how injuries happen at the same time. If you are walking down the road, however, fast you are walking, that's the same as having a force coming at you because you are moving across the road, but you have to consider there is a road coming at you. And how do you want to deal with that force coming at you, right? In Tai-chi it's a martial art and the whole training is about this, how do you co-operate with the force. Someone is throwing a punch at me the last thing I want to do is throwing a punch at them at the same time. I want to absorb there punch or re-direct it, OK. So if there is a force called the road coming at you, the last thing you want to do is stick your leg out into it.

Kevin: Sure.

Danny: Because that force is going to travel either into your heel give you a plantar fasciaitis or heel bruises, or it's going to go up into your knee and get you knee problems, it's going to go into your IT bands or your hip joint or your lower back, wherever your weak spot is you walk far enough you will feel it. OK. That's if you put your foot out in front of you. So it's like every step you take you are putting the brakes on.

Kevin: Wow.

Danny: That is a repetitive motion injury, you know, there's an impact, every time you come down moving a long the road with you leg out in front of you. OK. So there is a lot of injuries that can happen from leading with your leg as I call it. That is striking on the back of your heel. So what I have people do is take this posture stand and have them tilt their upper body just slightly forward bending at the hips not at the waist.

Kevin: OK.

Danny: Slightly forward so that as they are walking along, their hips are always directly over that lead leg when it comes down on the ground.

Kevin: OK. And how do you make that not feel awkward?

Danny: I'll tell you the truth, it doesn't feel awkward, it just feels really different.

Kevin: OK. [laughs]

Danny: You've watched a race walker walk.

Kevin: Yeah!

Danny: And a regular walker walk, the race walker will have a shorter stride.

Kevin: Yeah!

Danny: Now that's funny because those guys are cruising along at a seven and a half minute pace.

Kevin: Yeah! Faster that a lot of you can run.

Danny: Faster than a lot of people can run. But their stride is very short. They just increase their turnover.

Kevin: OK.

Danny: To go faster. Because if you over stretch your legs, especially if you are a race walker, you're going to, you know, you're going to stress out your ligaments and tendons and pull muscles and everything like that. So, as a race walker goes faster they don't increase their stride length. And it's a big mistake that a lot of walkers make as they walk and power walking and that means they've got to have a lot of practice years and years ago and so people are taking these huge longer strides, thinking that they are, you know, really burning a lot of calories. Well they were but they all ended up in the therapy office. [laughs]

Kevin: Right.

Danny: There knees are gone, the hips are gone and everything else. So I would suggest for people that in order to reduce injury to your legs and impact to your legs, um, to shorten your stride and that also allows you to stay more over your feet, over your legs. Because then as your foot comes down on the ground it gets swept behind you, rather than stopping your forward momentum in front of you. See what I mean?

Kevin: Um!

Danny: I'm not having people reach out in front with their legs. They are reaching with their upper body, not their lower body.

Kevin: And that's with the lean.

Danny: That's the lean, that's the lean for running and walking. With walkers you don't have to lean quite as much.

Kevin: OK. But we are turning into running. And that's the neat thing about this. Is it correct that once you get the form of the walking you can turn this into running very easily?

Danny: It's a great step up for walkers. Great step up, because a lot of people are either coming back from injury or just now getting started on the fitness program and want to get out moving and they look at runners and they go, "Oh, there's no way! You know, forget it!" But if they can learn to be a real efficient walker and fluid and smooth along the ground they start loving their walking so much, that they just start going, "Well you know, I think I really could run! Because the faster I walk the easier it is to actually jog". [laughs]
About the Author
To read the rest of this transcript as well as access The Fountain of Youth World Summit experts just like Danny Dreyer please click here! Kevin Gianni is an internationally recognized health advocate, author & film consultant. He has helped thousands of people take control of their own health naturally. For more information visit raw food diets and holistic nutrition.
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