It isn’t often you get to chat with a master of his craft; so I was delighted to have the opportunity to chat just recently with Paul Chek on his new podcast “Living 4D” episode 12, which is out today!
In this podcast we explore human function through the lens of evolution – a favourite topic of mine, and of Paul’s; which is a key part of what attracted me to his work in the first instance.
One of the concepts we cover is the idea that, while the Paleo approach to healthy living is built on solid foundations, there are other considerations we have to bear in mind if we are to be prudent in our advice or approach… and that is, to strike the balance between phylogeny and ontogeny. Here is the image I mention in the podcast to convey this:
As part of this concept, we mention how the recent trend in barefoot running and training is great example of where phylogeny (evolutionary principles) do not always match up with ontogeny (the development of the individual), and that this can lead to injury. If you’re interested in making a transition to barefoot running or training, but want to avoid getting injured, we have a free Transition Calculator and guidelines available here.
We discuss how Paul’s concept of Primal Movement Patterns(TM) integrates beautifully with Phill Beach’s concept of Archetypal Rest Postures and Michael Tetley’s concept of Instinctive Sleep Postures. In a chapter I wrote for Leon Chaitow’s Natural Medicine textbook in 2006, I synthesised these three concepts into an integrated model I termed Biomechanical Attractors. Sadly the textbook (RRP £43.99) is now out of print but, if you’re keen to learn more about these concepts; the neurophysiology and the application to everyday life, you’re in luck! You can still access an eCopy pdf here for the amazing investment of only £10! This concept is also explored further in a recent webinar from my 2016 series 2016 series.
One of the beauties of evolutionary principles that struck me perhaps a decade, or so, back is what I term “the Star Wars principle”. As many will recall, the opening scene of the original Star Wars movie, “A New Hope”, starts with an image of space and the words:
The genius of this is that, unlike other 20th Century Sci-Fi movies that tended to be set in the year 2000, or 2020, because Star Wars was set in the past it can never go “out of date”. In a similar way, primal understandings of health are different from the latest technological trend (such as air pads, fixed-axis weights machines, or scientifically isolated whey proteins) as they will never go “out of date” – they’re how we got here and what our physiology has moulded itself to function around. The notion of Biomechanical Attractors as an evolutionary principle seems to be sticking around too – and will form part of an upcoming Editorial, co-authored with Primal Blueprint pioneer, Mark Sisson, in the Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies (April 2019).
Paul and I go on to discuss Darwin’s theory of evolution and how, controversially, it has not only influenced our thinking around biology, but also our approach to psychology and society itself. A true “biopsychosocial” exploration of evolution!
We finish with discussions on the evolution of consciousness and highlight the point that the prevailing scientific/materialist view of the world is not grounded in the lived experience, but requires an abstract line of reasoning which must pre-suppose a reality outside of consciousness.
This is interesting as we know, at the most fundamental level of life’s building blocks, it is consciousness that determines outcome. The point is that no one can – and no one has – ever experienced a reality outside of consciousness. Yet, the leading scientific/materialist view asserts that matter (outside of consciousness), or that which is never experienced is the fundamental reality, while consciousness, or that which is always experienced, is an “accident” of evolution! Sound deep? It is! It goes all the way down to the bottom!!
To hear more about these topics, you can access this and all of Paul’s other great Podcasts here:
As you’re probably aware, GDPR is upon us, and so this page is here to serve as a thank you to all those who have signed up to be part of my tribe in the past, and to act as a taster to those who may like to sign up for future updates and events.
As a thank you, I am making one of my professional webinar series available for free through until Sunday 2nd June here.
The title, Bare, buttocks and breasts may be controversial, but the content should be thought provoking and informative. I hope you enjoy it…
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Bruce Tulloh, former European 5000m champion and Barefoot legend passed away this week at the age of 82. Tributes to him and his life’s achievements can be found all over the web already.
I first met Bruce in 2011 when, in my then-role as Vibram’s UK distributor of Fivefingers footwear, we were at the London Marathon Exhibition and an old man was loitering around our stand picking up various Vibram Fivefinger shoes, flexing them, turning them, smiling, shaking his head and laughing.
After a few moments I went over to him and asked if he had seen the product before. He said he hadn’t but, in his typically modest style, explained that he “used to run a bit barefoot”…
Subsequently he explained that he had won the European 5000m championships running barefoot in 1962, and that his name was Bruce Tulloh!
As you can imagine I was shocked, pleasantly surprised and slightly embarrassed that I hadn’t heard of him (1962 was a bit before my time… at least that’s my excuse)!!
We gave Bruce a pair of Vibrams to trial out and give us some feedback on. You can see some of that feedback in an interview we did with him here:
Unfortunately, after over an hour of discussion, we realised that our second camera had a technical failure, and because we shot the video in the garden, around 4 minutes in, a helicopter flew over masking the sound… so we never actually used the video.
Now Bruce has run off, barefoot no doubt, to explore new dimensions, I felt it would be a fitting tribute to share some of his story and to also recommend some of his books for aspiring runners that can be found (as always) on Amazon, or from his own site here.
I’m sure the apparent irony of the title of his last book won’t be lost on many readers, but I think the point here is he did a pretty darned good job at it for 82 years… If it’s not the years in the life but the life in the years, Bruce certainly hit a level of attainment to inspire many others to live a fuller, happier, healthier life and, as Eckart Tolle says:
“Life is not the opposite of death… Birth is the opposite of death.
Life just is.”
Keep on running Bruce – thanks for inspiring us all.
In this Information Age, the sheer volume of research, publication and change in ideas can leave us bewildered and confused…
What once we based our professional opinions on, and seemingly helped patients with is debased by new research and we are left either defending our old position or wondering if we need to completely change our way of working, of being.
In this series, Jator and I will be focusing on reconciling some of these divides – looking at topics from posture and biomechanics, to nutrition and exercise prescription. We will investigate how the body responds to stress, and what we can do about it… is “Adrenal Fatigue” really a thing or is it a figment of the imagination?
These interactive iWEbinars will elucidate many of the questions you have and allow you to reconcile the older information with the new, providing tools and insights into how to sift through the incoming barrage of information and change.
The iWEbinars are £19 (~$27) each, or you can attend all 4 for £68 (~$97) as a package.
How do I safely transition from running shoes to barefoot?
This post is designed to give you the most accurate answer to the big barefoot question
“How long does it take to transition?”
This question is a perennially challenging question to answer accurately as everyone has a different history, a different level of health and performance and a different goal.
The short (and responsible) answer is that it will take between 6-18 months for you to transition, as this is the reported duration for connective tissue adaptation to occur. However, for some people this journey will be a little longer, and for others it will be shorter; and of course, this can all change based on your diligence.
For simplicity, the foot can be described as having 3 primary components:
1) the passive system (bones / joints / ligaments / tendons / fascia)
2) the active system (muscles – intrinsic within the foot & extrinsic running down from the leg)
3) the neural system (the sensory nerves coming from the foot & motor nerves running to the foot)
When each of these components is functioning optimally and in harmony, then you will have a stable, healthy, fully functional foot.
In our experience – and based on research, for most people, the nervous (neural) system reacts almost instantaneously to a lack of cushioning (assuming the surface you’re running on is hard) to produce a forefoot strike.
The active system will typically take between 8-12 weeks for adaptation to the new running technique.
The passive system (bones/connective tissues) are, by their nature, passive; and therefore have a relatively limited blood supply compared to muscles. This means their ability to adapt is a lot slower, and will take between 6-18 months.
The Barefoot Transition Guide below (a downloadable Excel file) should give you a good basic insight into how long it will take you to transition, but first you must establish your goal. Is it to run a 5K barefoot? Is it to run a marathon? Is it to do resistance training in the gym in minimalist shoes? Or to play full round of golf in your minimalist golf shoes? There are as many possible goals as there are people (and probably more)! Please think about what your initial goal is as you wait for your computer to download the questionnaire. You can always revisit the process if your goal changes.
… take your time to transition (months rather than weeks)
… think you can run your normal distance at first
… remember, the more injured, fatigued, or deconditioned you are, the longer it will take
… assume because you’re already a forefoot striker you can adapt instantly
… listen to what your body is telling you; pain is an indicator to STOP!
… stop paying attention to the ground beneath your feet
… start at 10% of your normal distance / volume and progress by up to 10% per week-to-fortnight
… forget, delayed onset muscle soreness peaks 48 jours after your workout
… run as if you were barefoot – even in minimalist shoes
… run in Vibram Fivefingers before you’ve worn them daily for 2 weeks
… run silently
… run through pain
… consult an expert if you have any concerns about your transition
… leave tracks
To see this section discussed by Matt Wallden in video format in more detail, please click here.
We recommend to all runners to download a copy of barefoot audio’s album Towards Verticalhere.
If you scored high in Section B or you know you have a tendency to over-pronate conditioning tips, please visit here and scroll to the “Bonus Material” at the bottom of the page (here you will find a free video called “Overpronation – or inhibition & deconditioning”).
Look at your higher scoring responses (the blue and purple column scores in Section A / the responses to the right hand side in Section B) and address these issues first. If it’s easier, feel free to copy & print this section off:
Tick if you scored 2+
1) Injury history
(major or recurrent injuries)
A higher level of injuries in your medical history indicates either a susceptibility to injury and/or an increased likelihood of adoption of compensatory movement patterns. If you score high here, consider seeing a movement specialist such as a C.H.E.K. Practitioner, a higher-end personal trainer / strength & conditioning coach, or a manual therapist specialised in sports conditioning.
2) Current injury(ies)
If you have current injuries or niggles, these should be diagnosed and their causative path identified by a manual therapist or movement specialist (see above). Any niggle or pain you perceive will alter your muscle firing and coordination, decreasing efficiency and increasing risk of future injury.
3) Nutritional Status
Nutrition is not only key for fuel, but perhaps more importantly, for repair. Any new stressor the body isn’t yet conditioned for increases the damage rate and the requirement for repair. Compromised nutrition will result in compromised capacity to adapt to new stressors, such as a barefoot lifestyle. If you feel your nutrition is suboptimal, consider consulting a metabolic typing nutritional advisor, a holistic lifestyle coach, or a naturopath (see resources below).
4) Hydration Status
If your hydration may be a problem consider the following: drinking approximate 200ml for every 1 stone of bodyweight, 30ml for every kg, or in fluid ounces – half your bodyweight (in pounds). Be aware of diuretics, such as coffee, alcohol and high sugar / caffeinated drinks. Aside from this, consider that a high quality sea salt sprinkled to taste on your food may be important to facilitate hydration (it is sodium that actually holds fluids in the body, but is often excreted at high rates due to consumption of diuretics, such as coffee)
5) Sleep patterns
Like all organisms, human physiology is tightly tuned to the light-dark cycles of the planet. Primary repair occurs during sleep – and especially during the first half of the night (peaking between 22:00-2:00am). If you consistently miss this period of sleep and/or have disturbed sleep, consider the following measures: 1) minimize any stimulants after midday, 2) assess your metabolic type (eating the wrong food ratios, such as too many carb’s, in the evening can compromise sleep), 3) ensure you are sleeping in complete darkness, 4) get exposure to daylight (and exercise) early in the day, 5) minimize alcohol consumption, 6) try a dawn simulator / light alarm clock, 7) avoid exposure to computer screens / mobile phones / TV’s beyond 8pm, 8) dim your lights in the evening.
6) Breathing pattern
Breathing pattern reflects (and perpetuates) underlying physiological stressors. If you have challenges with stress, anxiety, panic attacks, asthma or breathing pattern, consider building a relaxation discipline into your routine; such as yoga, general stretching, T’ai chi, Xi gong, zone exercises, a hot bath, or simply a slow walk. Relaxing music, aromatherapy oils, such as lavender and teas, such as camomile, can be useful tools here.
7) Training Age (years)
Training age is the amount of time you have been training for this specific discipline, without any significant break. If your training age is low, it is an indicator that you are not likely to be as “adapted” to the kinds of loads that barefoot training will put through your system as someone who has already been training for a while. Consistency with training is key to positive adaptation; but equally important is to build in times when training is at lower intensity, lower volume, or when you have total rest. The body gets stronger when it rests, not when it’s training, so if you miss a training session, don’t see this as negative, but as an opportunity to be able to get stronger and to train harder next time.
8) Training History (years)
If training history is low, this tends to indicate it may take a longer period to adapt, however, this is not always the case, as it also means that you have probably not picked up bad technique habits. If you’re fortunate enough to have a low training age, consider getting a coach in your chosen sport to offer you advice at this early stage. If you cannot access a coach, we strongly recommend Barefoot Audio to runners who are considering starting out in the barefoot / minimalist running style. (See resources at end.)
If your lack of training history is due to a lack of desire to participate in sports, the necessity for a running coach is higher to ensure your body awareness of technique is optimized.
9) Barefoot / Minimalist History (years)
The longer you’ve spent in minimalist shoes or barefoot living, the more adept you will have already become at optimising awareness, footfall, and the adaptation the connective tissues will have undergone. If you score high here (little experience) have patience and pay attention; “listen” to each foot step as if it were a new language – asking a question of the ground, the ground responding, and you then selecting the correct response to what you perceive. For example, if the ground is telling you it is jagged, hard or pointed, you do not want to push down hard, but to switch your weight quickly to your other foot. This is easier said than done when mid-stride and fatigued toward the end of a run. If you can and are willing, going completely barefoot is a better learning experience than going minimally shod. This is best done in the warmer months, starting on well lit, clear concrete surfaces and progressing to
10) Running technique
Footstrike remains a controversial topic, but there is now plenty of evidence that a forefoot strike is more natural, often more efficient, and less likely to cause injury when running on firm to hard surfaces. If you know you tend to heel-strike and/or to over-pronate, there will be a greater adaptive requirement on your body when switching to minimalist or barefoot running. Bear in mind that you are most likely to feel this some time after you have run (usually between 24-48 hours after) and not during your run; therefore beware to take it easy in the first instance; do up to 10% of your normal distance, and see how your body reacts. Cadence (your step rate per minute) and awareness are key consideration in optimizing foot strike. Barefoot Audio, a free downloadable album (see resources) is a useful tool here.
11) Target use
It is a very different answer to the question “how long will it take to transition” if you are planning to run a 5K versus planning to run an UltraMarathon. If you are planning on running a longer distance (anything over 10K), it is advisable to allow a minimum of 6 months for adaptation of the connective tissues, as this is the shortest likely period within which they can adapt. Good hydration, nutrition and sleep are all key for effective connective tissue adaptation; as well as for heavier volume training, so ensure you are drinking enough fluids, consuming enough salts (to hold fluid in the tissues) and minimizing diuretic consumption (medications / caffeinated drinks / alcohol) in your diet. For optimal sleep, stimulants should not be consumed beyond midday, and you should aim to be in bed by around 10pm and up between 6-7am in the morning. For more detail, see the Primal Lifestyle Barefoot Conditioning Booklet
12) Max distance to date in training
A seasoned marathoner who wants to transition to minimalist or barefoot running is likely to be able to successfully transition for marathon distance quicker than someone who has only run 5K. This is because the seasoned marathoner will have, over time, developed stronger connective tissues as a result of their superior training volumes. The further you are from your goal, the greater patience you will need, but the rewards will be worth it!
13) Kinesthetic awareness
Kinesthetic awareness is your awareness or intelligence of your body. Typically those who are aware of their body have very good movement skills, hand-eye-coordination and foot-eye-coordination; they are sporty types who are agile and dexterous. In addition, these people tend to be very aware if something feels “tight” out of place or hypermobile in their body. If this sounds like you, this background may help you to transition more effectively with lower risk of injury, but if it doesn’t sound like you at all, it is just a warning sign that a) it may take you a little longer to safely transition and b) you may need more tools to facilitate a smooth transition. One of the key tools we recommend for those scoring high here is the Barefoot Audio (see resources section), which is great for anyone transitioning and helps to minimize technique faults, but the best option is to book in with a running coach.
Barefoot Audio: click here to get listen to the first album Towards Vertical.
CHEK Practitioner: click here to find a practitioner near you.
HLC Coach: click here to find an HLC Coach near you.
Metabolic Typing (Nutritional) Advisor: click here to find a Metabolic Typing Advisor near you.
If you are searching for any of the following, they should each be registered to their Governing Bodies:
Osteopath – General Osteopathic Council
Chiropractor – General Chiropractic Council
Physiotherapist – Royal Charter of Physiotherapists
For 2018, we wanted to come up with something new for Matt Wallden Webinars…
As awesome as the feedback has been from our 2016 and 2017 webinar series*, if there’s one thing I learned from my experience in distributing the Vibram Fivefingers footwear for 10 years, it was that you need to constantly develop, innovate and reinvent your product, or it starts to become dull!!
* We are still offering 3 conventional webinars this year, see here.
What is an iWEbinar?
The iWEbinars are a fusion of podcast and webinar, providing the best of both worlds; the structure and visual engagement of a webinar, with the freedom of a discursive exploration of the subject matter between two experts in the field.
The first in our iWEbinar series is a discussion with my long-time friend and colleague, Jon Bowskill. Jon has inhabited an elite medical space within the world of spinal rehabilitation for nearly 20 years. After working alongside surgeons, radiologists, pain management specialists and manual therapists at the London Spine Clinic in Harley Street for several years, Jon moved around the corner and opened up his own multidisciplinary centre, The Bowskill Clinic.
Jon and I will be discussing the various objective tools he and his colleagues utilise in top-flight practice to objectively understand what most of us can only assess subjectively; static & dynamic posture, movement skill and sagittal balance, among many other fascinating topics.
For more information or to join us on Thursday 8th of March, click here.
Other upcoming iWEbinars include a 4-part series with CHEK Faculty Member, Jator Pierre, and a 3-part iWEbinar series with Metabolic Typing founder, Bill Wolcott, plus iWEbinars with Paul Chek discussing an upcoming JBMT paper we have written called “The Ghost in the Machine – Is Musculoskeletal Medicine Lacking Soul?“
For most trainers working with new clients, their case history will encompass questions about a history of illness, operations and injuries… but did you know that nearly all of your clients – even those with no history of any pain or injury will have a compromise to their spinal structure that may be exacerbated by the wrong exercise selection?
Though this may seem a little scary, it is important to be aware of the reality that almost everyone you work with has these risk factors; whilst also appreciating that the human frame is very robust and has great capacity for compensation.
This being so, it is both useful to be able to identify where clients may be at risk, while also striving for more than simply “compensation”.
Matt’s perspective has always been that our role as trainers and coaches is to help our clients to realise their dreams, their goals and, in short, their fullest potential.
To be able to achieve this there are a number of simple tests and techniques that can be easily utilised to help you get the most out of your clients, and for them to get the most out of being your client!
Since the spine is the place from which movement emanates, it can be viewed as a “rate limiting factor” in human performance. The healthier the spine, the more effective the movement patterns and force transmission it will allow.
To be able to achieve this there are a number of simple tests and techniques that can be easily utilised to help you get the most out of your clients, and for them to get the most out of being your client!
In the workshop Matt is presenting with PT toolbox on Sunday 28th January, Matt will dig in to some of the key markers you can identify in your clients to gauge their risk of spinal injury, how to prevent it, and how to rehabilitate clients not only beyond pain, but back to optimal function and performance.
For more information or to book your place, please click here.
Who is Matt Wallden?
Matt trained as an Osteopath & Naturopath in the 1990’s completing a BSc (Hons) and, later a Masters in Osteopathic Medicine, then going on to train in the CHEK System between 2001-2005. His ambition was to work in professional sports; a goal he achieved by 2003. Since then he has contributed several chapters to various medical texts and has been the Editor of the Rehabilitation Section for Elsevier’s Journal of Bodywork & Movement Therapies since 2009. In 2006, Matt bought an early version of the Vibram Fivefingers and was the person who explained to Vibram that their “sailing shoe” had applications in rehabilitation and conditioning. Matt presents here and abroad to post-graduate, undergraduate and various medical groups and has been part of the CHEK Faculty since 2006. Matt lives in Surrey with his wife and 2 children.
Pop along to Greenwise next Thursday to get an understanding for:
– When and why alcohol can be good for you… and when to tame it
– Why a high cholesterol diet can be highly beneficial
– How full-fat options improve your health & reduce your risk of putting on weight
– When sugar is a help and when it’s a hindrance
– Whether organic is worth it, or GMO is better
– How a slice of toast could be your worst enemy
– How nutrition fits into a bigger picture of life
Matt Wallden, a leading holistic health practitioner* will draw on over 20 years of clinical experience to deliver an informative, insightful and free talk to answer all your nutritional questions on Thursday 6th July, for free at Fetcham’s Greenwise Wholefoods Shop & Cafe.
Join us for professional guidance and prosecco on Thursday!
Please feel free to post any questions you may have below, and Matt will do his best to answer them within the presentation or in the Q&A afterwards.
For many years, ergonomics has been broadly considered an important investment for business owners, yet the bulk of research and advice in this field has focused on seating, work stations, angles and expensive mouse mats or key boards… This is a huge mistake.
Ergolution provides a greater context – in fact, the biggest context – for why and how we “work”. Back pain – the 3rd leading cause of time off work is not due to sitting with poor posture; it is far more complex than that.
The common cold – the 2nd leading cause of time off work is not due to a lack of Vitamin C supplementation; it is far more complex than that.
And stress – the leading cause of time off work is not due to a lack of yoga; it, too, is far more complex than that.
Yet, in spite of this complexity, there is a thread of simplicity that runs through the heart of work performance; and that is what we will be exploring in our webinar on Thursday.
Included within your £25 investment for the webinar are:
Access to the 100+page chapter Matt wrote on Rehabilitation & Movement Re-education which covers much of the biomechanical background to Ergolution
A free copy of the upcoming eBook of the same title “Ergolution”
Ongoing access to stream or download the webinar after the event
To secure your place, or to find out more click through here.
As such, we are offering a Power Series of 4 webinars this year, one per quarter – running in March, June, September and December.
The first of these webinars, on Thursday March 23rd, will be covering the controversial topic of “The Core“. Although you’d think that this topic has been “done to death” it turns out there there is still a huge amount of confusion – even in professional circles about the opinions of gurus that have perpetuated more than 2 decades after they were first debated.
The focus of the remaining 3 workshops are to be decided, but top requests so far include the following:
Working with identifying and correcting breathing pattern disorders
Laterality Patterns and their role in injury
Ankle Sprain – mechanisms and rehabilitation
ACL Injury – how to treat and prevent
Primal Running – how evolution shaped us for optimal efficiency
Practical Applications of Shamanic and Subtle Energy Medicine
If you have any different requests, or like the sound of one or more of the topics above, please make a comment below and we will create the most sought-after webinars.