The Center Point
It is interesting to see how in this model movement begins from the body’s center, irrespective of whether we are walking, raising our arms or any other movement, it’s always supposed to start from the center!
The movement that is supposed to happen at the center is almost always the same – motion that maintains the lower/middle back in the rear space of the body, as opposed to the common habit of allowing that region to move forward thus pushing the mid region of the body to the front space and the front region to the space beyond the front space of the body.
This type of movement maintains the existence of front, middle and rear, and only from this condition does movement begin – any movement.
We shall focus on walking since that is where the special function of the mid-muscle – the Iliopsoas –manifests fully.
The existence of this muscle in the center of our physical structure and it being the only one to connect legs to spine, makes it the muscle most directly manifesting the preservation of the inner space and the possible way in which we can act without loosing that space.
The correct way to walk according to the model developed by Dr. Rolf (PhD. in Physics and Biochemistry) starts with an elongation of the waist vertebrae region with a backwards motion orientation.
At the same time the Iliopsoas muscle which connects these vertebrae to the thigh (in the upper-inner side), acts to move the knee forward – thus walking begins!
This model differs from what is common, in that absent the correct orientation of the Psoas muscle, it is possible that instead of an elongation of the waist vertebrae a compression may happen, and the knee will be moved to motion by the strong and large Quadriceps.
The disadvantage of such movement is firstly in the compression in stead of elongation and thus pressure on the discs – which causes problems, and secondly, an incorrect use of the mid-muscle causes us to loose, or simply not be present at, our center.
When we are not centered we act rather reactively and automatically, a sense of who I am is lacking, and the choice of what constitutes my inner reaction, which is a manifestation of my self-essence is also lacking. The inner reaction is opposed to the automatic reaction which is an expression of one’s habits, abilities, and the automation without the presence of self essence.
The Supporting Factor
For the correct way of walking according to Rolf to be easily accomplished, the action of the foot must be mentioned as the factor which completes and enables the stride.
The foot’s main action according to this model is to push the floor backwards!
In the incorrect model this pushing almost, or completely, doesn’t exist and is indeed unnecessary as the powerful Quadriceps (which connects the sheen/knee to the hip on the front side) is so strong, that it easily lifts the thigh up (instead of the knee moving forward it is raised upwards), and places it down again on the floor and so on and so forth. This is a classic example of external action that bears no connection to the inner workings that also has low physical efficiency – that is high energy wastage!
In contrast when the foot pushes the floor backwards, this pushing allows us to maintain the waist vertebrae’s “rearness”, prevents their compression and allows for their elongation and is what awakens the Iliopsoas to work correctly – that is, while the waist vertebrae stay behind the contraction of the Psoas moves the knee forward!
The foot’s action in pushing the floor backwards allows for the correct working of the Psoas as well as supports it by the leverage it creates.
The sensation of such movement is like the knee flying forward of its own volition since we lack any clear sensation of the internal workings of the muscle that creates it – the Iliopsoas Muscle.
In this model physical efficiency reaches its highest point since it wastes no energy. It lacks any upwards movement of raising the leg, only moving it forward thus maximizing the use of foot action.
The Feeling Walking According to This Model Creates
The feeling a person walking in this way has, is of effortless walking – a stride that is flowing and has a sensation of clear and pleasant connection from head to toe.
There is clarity in the center region – the waist, it has clarity of front, center and rear, so that from there on and all the way up to the head a sensation that the structure and mainly the head, are supported by the center and does not need to be forcefully supported by the power of the neck’s rear muscles.
Certain important additional points come with this model but they are relatively ancillary to it.
I shall point one of them out; the fact that the legs are parallel and movement of the knees along the planes which divide the legs.
In the same way that we wouldn’t conceive the wheels of our car pointing inwards or outwards, so our feet, especially when they are properly fulfilling their function of pushing the floor backwards, should not be pointing inwards or outwards. It is a fact of life that this is actually the situation for a large majority of us, but, it is part of what harms physical efficiency!
In order for the knee to be able to receive and transfer the earth’s support which is passed on to it via the foot, it is obvious that it must be always above the foot and not sideways from it. That is why the definition of the plane in which the knee moves is always on the plane which divides the leg to left and right.
The definition of physical efficiency according to Dr. Rolf is nothing more than pure physics, the problem is applying it! This model works easily and almost of its own accord in people who have undergone the series of treatment she developed (Rolfing), which balances the structure, however, the model can inspire anyone, (even someone who hasn’t yet been treated), in the right direction, and with the aid of a series of special exercises the model can be closely approximated!
The Author, Avi Bahat, is a Touch and Movement and Rolfing Therapist and has created a step by step DVD to instruct correct posture.
Translated by Guy Malbec firstname.lastname@example.org