Aside

Part 4: RELAX TO REACT AND BOUNCE

Part 4: Relax to react and bounce

Interestingly enough, the human foot is quite an elastic, resilient structure – the one to be responsive and reactive to mechanical forces applied, especially during locomotion. By extension, the foot can be viewed as an outer end of a bodily spring – the musculotendinous unit of the calf where the Achilles’ tendon is attached.

Tendons are elastic and passive elements that join muscles to bones – meant to be responsive to changes in their structures – stretched or shortened – mainly caused by muscle activities. So, the muscular force generated by muscle contraction is transmitted to bony structures through tendinous tissues – and that particularly occurs at articular joints – a lot in the foot and the ankle – produces joint movements necessary for bodily movements such as walking, running, lifting, to name a few. 

Given the cyclic, elastic nature of bodily movements – largely attributed to the multidimensionality of the musculotendinous system, muscle contractions – which cause joint movements – appear to be sequential, to varying extents, allowing tendinous tissues to respond to mechanical changes. In other words, muscles and tendinous tissues are constituted in ways muscle contractions and muscle relaxations can occur nearly simultaneously – complementarily – in which mechanical energy can be stored in and released by elastic responses of tendinous tissues for a subsequent movement.

And the foot – which is to correspond to the movements of the ankle and the calf – is an excellent example of all of which discussed above.

The Achilles’ tendon – which can be seen as the largest spring in the body – gets stretched and ready to shorten reflexively as the knee bends forward, pushing slightly outward in the initial phase of locomotion: the downward motion that may come with the diaphragmatic relaxation – the impetus for exhalation.

So for the best possible outcome (for the upward motion, in this context), the calf muscles in the backside need to remain relaxed to some extent until the Achilles’ tendon recoils in response to the stretch: elastic recoil, the reflexive and elastic response, mainly from connective tissues (a broad category where tendinous tissues are included) deformed by mechanical stimuli.

In other words, a sequence of muscle contractions – the drive for the upward motion – is to be stimulated by and begin with muscle relaxations that allow the Achilles’ tendon (and other connective tissues) to respond spontaneously to changes in their structures – that is, shortening when stretched, stretching when shortened, in reactive ways.

Again, the cyclic sequence of locomotion – regulated by muscle relaxations and contractions – is what needs to be understood as a whole. It, by nature, is to encompass reflexive elements – not to be controlled, say, the realm beyond conscious intervention – and thus is performed pretty autonomically – in a self-regulating manner.

Yet, most physical properties related to locomotion are trainable. But somewhat contrary to common expectation, the key to progressive improvement may lie in a very basic aspect of bodily movements: coordination abilities for subtle adjustment of posture in ways that promote cyclic mechanisms and responsiveness – fine motor control, which can be done by individuals who can breathe and walk.

Particularly, a forward-leaning posture – characterized by the neck, the shoulders, the trunk, the knees, and the ankles – all slightly relaxed and inclined forward, poised for a sequence of muscle contractions to come – is the one most likely relevant to performance efficiency. Again, a simple yet essential mechanics many of us tend to forget – or underestimate.

By extension, the levels of coordination abilities – which may be closely associated with postural tendencies individuals have but are not always conscious about – can be examined – pretty clearly – by a simple, repetitive movement: the bouncing motion.

The bouncing motion – a rapid vertical oscillation – is a sequence of reactive and cyclic movements, tightly bound up with a forward-leaning position that can be taken on various stances yet within the functional limits of the individual person. As described above, it is simple and repetitive – one to be driven by reflexive, spontaneous responses, largely attributed to the elastic, cyclic nature of tendinous tissues.

To be continued…

POSTURAL ADJUSTMENT for Nikolas Petteri

Part 1: The pinky toe to use 

Part 2: Relax to contract

Part 3: The big toe to push off

Part 1: The pinky toe to use

The pinky toe is the smallest among others, and what we can do with this little one is highly limited by any means, say, the range of motion and control we can exert over it. But that doesn’t mean it is insignificant – in fact, its role in postural control during locomotion is invaluable yet often misunderstood – or even deliberately ignored and manipulated for some reasons. That being said, there’s a lot more to see. So let’s get to it.

First of all, the role the pinky toe takes is to be understood as a part of a complex functional unit: the foot, the primary base of support for the human body to stand on its feet. In particular, the arches – a half-dome-shaped structure located in the middle portion of the foot – can be described as a defining feature that characterizes how humans stand, walk, run, and jump.

And as suggested by the name, their functional mechanisms are quite similar to how an arch (the architecture) stays balanced with its own weight – that is to say, they do better with the weight placed on them – the pressure exerted downward – throughout their unique shape: a half-dome. The reason we roll our foot – outward and then inward – during walking and running (and even jumping).

The pinky toe finally comes into play when the foot rolls outward – the initial phase of bipedal locomotion – rolling along the base of the arches, ultimately toward the pinky toe. This outward motion of the foot is called supination. Taken together, the pinky toe is meant to be the one that touches the ground first – to initially withstand the impact force – to move forward in ways that are natural to the functional anatomy of the human body. This mechanism is more apparent when it comes to running or jumping – where the impact force is greater than walking – which can be easily examined by doing so barefoot on the floor or ground.

 

Part 2: RELAX TO CONTRACT

In a broad sense, the initial sequence of locomotion – where the pinky toe is to go first – can be understood as the landing phase, which may come naturally with relaxation – during exhalation.

In general, the downward movement starts from the diaphragmatic relaxation that causes exhalation – the process of expelling the air from the lungs – often requiring abdominal muscles to further relax, especially during dynamic movements – eventually leading to postural change – from an upright to a forward-leaning.

Noticeably, the whole body is, to some extent, affected by the respiratory cycle – comprised of one inspiration and one expiration, closely associated with muscle contractions and relaxations, respectively. And all of which come hand in hand – often with the need for coordination.

For example, the body may become upright during inhalation – as the lungs, located above the abdomen, are distended with the help of abdominal muscles – pulling the diaphragm down to the abdominal cavity, narrowing the abdomen, simultaneously expanding the thoracic cavity (around the rips, chest, and the upper back). And especially, this is the case during locomotion or dynamic movements requiring frequent postural changes – meaning the belly may not inflate and deflate laterally while doing so.

In short, muscle contractions and relaxations are to be cyclic, sequential, and complementary. To execute an intended movement as efficiently as possible, muscles are first to be relaxed, to varying degrees, in preparation for contractions – and vice versa. The very way bodily movements are made and controlled.

Taken together, understanding the cyclic nature of bodily movements is crucial because the second phase of locomotion – rolling the foot inward, called pronation – is what may need to come after the initial phase characterized by the downward motion – which comes with the diaphragmatic relaxation and an exhalation. That is to say, it’s time to inhale and rise – move upward. 

 

Part 3: THE BIG TOE TO PUSH OFF

Pronation – rolling the foot inward – can be described as what begins with the pinky toe – which is meant to be small enough to work closely with the ball of the foot to support the entire body, especially during locomotion. So as supposed by its anatomical feature, the pinky toe is to roll inward when supination ends at it – which is to function as a stabilizer and a facilitator for propulsion – to move forward.

The transition from supination to pronation occurs naturally – quite automatically – while walking, running, and jumping – basic locomotor patterns to be done mainly for moving forward. That is, the foot rolls outward and then inward during locomotion – moving toward the big toe where the sequence ends with it pushing off the ground. Particularly, the mechanics of this forward and upward motion is most clear while sprinting – a robust form of running characterized by the projectile motion.  

Notably, at the final moment of pronation, the heel and the pinky toe are likely lifted from the ground. In contrast, the big toe nearly stands alone, holding up the entire body and pushing it forward in concert with other body parts – such as the knee extending upward, the hips rotating internally, the abdomen getting tensed and extending vertically, etc. To reiterate, this sequence is to be performed in a cyclic and reactive manner during locomotion or dynamic movements – yet which is not to be too conscious about. 

To be continued…

THE DANCING BODY TO BE FREE FOR ITSELF: the biomechanics for dancers and movers

This is the trailer for the lecture-performance series, THE DANCING BODY TO BE FREE FOR ITSELF: The Biomechanics for Dancers and Movers – an educational project supported by TAIKE (the Finnish arts promotion center). And the very first event will be held in the southeast of Finland in August 2022. More details are to come.

Wooguru Kw is a dancer for the body of his own – to be functional, responsive, and free for itself – yet in ways defined by functional limits set by physical and physiological alterations that came with a traumatic head injury at 20.

His dancing all began with his own body and its inherent rhythmicality – abruptly disrupted by injuries, yet still adaptable and resilient for its regular functioning: the foundation for biomechanical integrity to be restored and properly maintained.

His experience of extensive rehabilitation from a series of injuries and neurological complications has been gradually translated into a unique set of empirical knowledge – further examined and explored with biomechanical information and research over the past 20 years.

He now lives with his wife in Finland, where they dance freely with nature.

Kimmoisuutta Juoksuun – Kurssi (Plyometrics & Reactive Strength)

Ohjaaja: Wooguru Kw

Aika: 26.-27.07, 17:00-18:30

Paikka: Viitasaaren Keskusurheilukenttä

Hinta: 15€ kerta 


Haluatko keventää juoksuaskelta ja saada juoksun kulkemaan omalle fysiikallesi optimaalisimmalla tavalla? Perusterveille henkilöille pienet säädöt voivat saada aikaan välitöntä kehitystä juoksun/hyppyjen suorituskykyyn.  Avainasemassa fyysisen potentiaalin maksimointiin on kehon asennon hallinta, joka on paljon enemmän kuin vain hyvän ryhdin ylläpito urheilusuorituksen aikana. Treeni alkaa dynaamisella lämmittelyllä, jonka jälkeen siirrytään plyometrisiin nopeusvoimaa kehittäviin harjoitteisiin, kuten erilaisiin yhden jalan hyppyihin, sivuttaisloikkiin ja pomppuihin. Treeni etenee vaihtelevalla intensiteetillä tehtäviin intervallijuoksuihin. Jokainen meistä on yksilö, fysiologisesti ja biomekaanisesti ainutlaatuinen kokonaisuus. Kurssi on tutkimusmatka oman kehon mahdollisuuksiin ja se avoin kaikille aiemmasta juoksukokemuksesta riippumatta. 

Wooguru KW on kansainvälisesti kokenut ohjaaja, joka on valmentanut monenlaisia ryhmiä ammattitanssijoista peruskuntoilijoihin.  Woogurun tietämys biomekaniikasta yhdistyy käytännön kokemukseen kuntouttavista lähestymistavoista, joihin hän on syventynyt oman vakavan loukkaantumisensa seurauksena. Hän on vetänyt kursseja mm. kotimaassaan Etelä-Koreassa, Yhdysvalloissa, Saksassa, Suomessa, Norjassa, Latviassa ja Liettuassa. Heinäkuussa 2021 Wooguru on Viitasaarella kesäasukkaana. Woogurun tyyli opettaa on tarkkanäköinen mutta rento. Hän hahmottaa kehon kokonaisuutena ja ottaa huomioon jokaisen osallistujan anatomiset ominaispiirteet liikkujana. Wooguru puhuu vähän suomea, mutta opetuskieli on pääosin englanti.


Tervetuloa hikoilemaan ja nauttimaan liikkeen ilosta!
Ilmoittautuminen ja lisätiedot: wooguru@gmail.com

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FREE FLOW: Fundamental Movement Training for all levels in Tampere, Finland

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FREE FLOW on perustavanlaatuista liikeharjoittelua, joka tukee kehon optimaalisen tasapainon palauttamista ja ylläpitoa yksilöllisesti.  FREE FLOW:n lähtökohtana on jokaisen osallistujan fyysisten lähtökohtien ja ominaisten liikeratojen arviointi. Harjoittelu parantaa yleiskuntoa, sekä pyrkii korjaamaan biomekanisia virheasentoja. FREE FLOW kehittää kehotietoisuutta, ja harjoittelu tarjoaa apua esimerkiksi kroonisen jännityksen lievittämiseen niska- ja hartiaseudulla tai kävely- ja juoksumekaniikan parantamiseen.  FREE FLOW sessio koostuu hengitysharjoituksista eri asennoissa, keskustan aktivoimisesta, lantion ja rangan kiertoliikkeiden tutkimisesta, rytmillisestä jalkatyöskentelystä ja koko kehoa haastavista liikkeistä osallistujien henkilökohtaiset tarpeet huomioiden.  Harjoitusten välillä ja tunnin lopussa tehdään lyhyitä improvisaatioharjoituksia, joiden tarkoituksena on löytää omaa orgaaninen tapa käyttää juuri käsiteltyjä, uusia liikeratoja. Kurssi sopii kaiken ikäisille ja kaiken tasoisille liikkujille. Wooguru KW etelä-korealainen, nykyisin Helsingissä asuva tanssitaiteilija, joka on kehittänyt liikeanalyysi- ja harjoittelumetodin <FREE FLOW: physicality toward musicality>. Hän on vetänyt FREE FLOW kursseja ja koulutusprojekteja Etelä-Koreassa, Saksassa, Ranskassa, Suomessa, Latviassa ja Liettuassa erilaisille ryhmille ammattitanssijoista ja muusikoista koululaisiin ja vanhuksiin. Lisätietoja:  http://freeflowmethod.com

Ilmainen kokeilukerta 29. helmikuuta 10:00-12:00
Tunnit lauantaisin 10:00-12:00Taidetila Pelto (Pirkankatu 1, 33230 Tampere)Hinnasto:
1) Kertamaksu 25€
2) 5-kerran kortti 95 € (sisältäen henkilökohtaisen kirjallisen liikeanalyysin) Ilmoittautumiset: contact@freeflowmethod.com

Tervetuloa!

FREE FLOW is a movement workshop that aims to foster the ability to restore and maintain the optimal balance – which is to be individually different. So, the individual’s physical characteristics and movement patterns are the main subjects to be assessed, improving general fitness and addressing biomechanical issues: relieving chronic tension in the neck and shoulders, postural correction, walking mechanics, etc.
All age groups at various levels of physicality are welcome.
Woogur Kw is a movement educator, who developed a physical education/ dance teaching method, FREE FLOW: physicality toward musicality. Its educational projects have been conducted in S.Korea, Germany, France, Finland, Latvia, and Lithuania in the context of alternative education for various groups, ranging from professionally-trained dancers and artists to elderly people.
More details are on the following website.
http://freeflowmethod.com

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NYTKE Festival 2019 in Tampere, Finland

NYTKE festival is the contemporary dance festival, which took place on July 15-20, 2019 in Tampere, Finland. The workshops of the FREE FLOW: physicality toward musicality were delivered in two formats: (1)Professionally trained group (2)Open Level. Plus, the showcase for a duet piece with Nelly Hakkarainen was held on the last day of the festival at Tanssiteatteri MD. The following are the pictures taken by Raf Mielczarek and Matti Kilponen (chilpura on Instagram).

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nelly-nytke 2019.jpg

nelly-wooguru-nytke 2019.jpgphotographed by Raf Mielczarek

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dscf3584-xt-2jpg_48329214547_o.jpgphotographed by Matti Kilponen