I can do a cartwheel. I can do a back handspring. I can do several eye-pleasing movements. But in the end it does not really matter. Because I can’t run properly, as I found out during my barefoot retreats with Tony Riddle. I can’t even walk properly, and my friend and AiM therapist Anthony is working with me on that. I probably don’t breathe optimally either, because every time I meditate or am more mindful of it, I can see huge room for improvement. As 99% of the people I know, I am focused on painting the walls of my living room in a different color when my whole house is on unstable foundations.
Jumping is one of these things I was taking for granted before I actually had the opportunity to study the biomechanics of landing. Every single person I have met during the four years I have practiced tumbling took their feet and the way they contacted the floor for granted. Little did the teacher know that we were all missing the correct patterns he had been taught as a professional gymnast. It was so much second nature to him that he had become oblivious to it. And all the students, focusing on the skills without peeling the onion to get to the roots of it, were neglecting one of the most fundamentals aspects of tumbling.
And there was at least one good reason for it: cartilage is not innervated (as agreed by most specialists, but not all). So you could be basically damaging the cartilage in your knees from a bad technique jump after jump… And not feel it until it’s too late.
But the correct mechanics are complex, and certainly have to be ingrained. Wearing compromised shoes and walking on our cities’ flat surfaces certainly don’t help either. Depending on the type of floor you are dancing or tumbling on, your technique shall change. As many joints as possible in the foot region have to be used to transfer and diffuse properly the shock wave. Collapse the ankle, land without using the first joints in your feet, and things could go south.
Catch this: Landing, just as walking, running, and fundamental human postures and movements, deserves your awareness, because your body won’t give you a feedback as strong as the delicious feeling of a strained ankle if you shit the bed. Learn to observe yourself. Learn the proper mechanics of it. Correct your movement. And integrate and ingrain it to an extent where it becomes second nature.
As I was reviewing the videos of my training today, I was very happy to see this:
I now seem to be naturally using the metatarsal-phalangeal joint in my landing, something I would not do before and that very few people are aware of. I’ll try to sum up the basics biomechanics of landing in a following post. Stay tuned.