What kind of casts are we creating for ourselves.
A couple days ago I went for a run along Venice beach. It's been a long time since I did that, but I'm making an effort to mix up my training as much as I can and general conditioning is something that I have been overlooking for some time now, mostly because it takes up a lot of time! On this run, I had a good half hour or so to take in my surroundings and think about how, for many people, jogging is a daily thing. I looked over at the footpath on my left and remembered the sound of sneakers scuffing, as many make the routine trek from pier to pier, often times with a painful look on their face as their feet bang haphazardly over and over again into the concrete, sending shockwaves up their body and placing repetitive stress over and over again on their joints and connective tissue. This isn't a bash on running but a thought on a concept that I first heard from the popular biomechanist, Katy Bowman on the "casts" that we have created for ourselves as our world and it's technologies continue to advance in order to make our lives "easier". Here comes my rant...
It's crazy to me that people wear spongy shoes to protect the wear and tear of their joints from running along this concrete path right next to a big sandy beach. I can't even imagine to think of the impact it would have for these people if they took off their muzzles, connected with the earth and taught their feet, ankles, knees, hips, abs and entire body to manage weight shifts and unstable surfaces whilst dramatically decreasing the negative effects on their joints of repeated impact on the hard ground. I don't even think it takes someone with a trained eye, such as mine, to see the damage people are causing themselves from incorrect running techniques, usually magnified from poor posture and to add to the issue, we make things even more of a problem by containing our bodies within the "casts" we have created to protect us from engaging with our natural environment. To move along from this thought real quickly, here's some advice, ditch the shoes, allow your feet and toes to expand, connect and breathe in their natural environment and get on the sand. Not only is their benefit in exercising all of the individuals muscles of your feet, causing a positive carry over to the connecting muscles and fascia that run upwards, but you are also gaining the benefit of connecting with the earth and the positive grounding effects that come with it. This doesn't end at the beach either. Hiking barefoot is beneficial, walking in your home barefoot is beneficial, even just one less hour of wearing shoes a day is beneficial!
Shoes are an easy target when we begin to identify these "casts" that we purposefully put ourselves in and if you would like a deeper explanation or conversation on this concept, you can listen to the podcast with Katy, here, but for a general round up with my thoughts added, keep reading.
As I stated earlier, as a human species we have strived to make our lives easier and it has come to a point where we've made it so easy for ourselves that our bodies have adapted and our health is declining. I wonder if back in our early days where we learnt to make fire by banging rocks together if men and women wore underwear? Not trying to get kinky or anything but I don't think that when trying to survive in the wild, underwear would have been a priority... until one day it was. But at what cost!? There is a muscle in the human anatomy called the cremaster and it's function is to raise and lower the testicles in response to heat to make sure that our sperm don't die. It also helps to raise the testicles during sex so that we don't just bang the shit out of them, causing pain and maybe even damage! So now let's look at underwear through the lens of them being a (hu)man made cast and examine the potential impact that might have on the ability to reproduce.
When you put something in a cast, you take away the need for the natural supporting structures to do their job, in this case "cremaster muscle, you're out, designer underwear, you're in!" But weren't we given this muscle for a reason? I don't know the stats on this, but my guess is that for all these years of wearing underwear, this muscle has to get weaker and less effective at doing it's job. And there are many more casts! These walls are a cast for my eyes. Stop what you are doing right now, look out your window and try to focus on something far away. Is it blurry? Take a second to bring it into focus. You have just worked some important muscles in your eyes, which if done regularly might take away the need for you to wear glasses! How about that path we talked about earlier? There's grass on one side and sand on the other. Get rid of the cast! What about those paint on jeans? They are casts too!
My take away from this is not that you need to get rid of your underwear, although I think if you slowly did so you're health would benefit, but instead to think about what casts you might have unnecessarily added to your life and start taking steps to get rid of them. When I see my dog jumping in the air to tug on her favorite toy "lamb chop", I don't think she would jump higher if she had a pair of Nike Jordan's on. I think she has adapted to her environment just as nature intended and so I continue to enjoy the humor in watching this small dog reach for the stars with each little jump.