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Postures of Repose

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Have you heard of Philip Beach and his amazing map of ‘Muscles and Meridians’? Then here is his web site. I thoroughly recommend reading his book and applying, trying and developing his approach. Here I give reference and up most respect to his thinking and beautiful ideas.

Reading his papers and book filled me with hope and I thank Mark Ford for giving me the link to his articles and James Earls for supplying me with his book. Here is to a society that moves to the tune of its embryological, histological, evolutionary and developmental movement birth right.

Beach brings a new way to look at the body (whole person even) using what he describes as contractile fields (CF). He names them as to their positioning / function and are listed below.

• Lateral contractile Field

• Dorso/ventral contractile field

• Helical contractile field

• Limb contractile field

• Raidial Contractile

• Chiralic contractile field (read handed)

• Fluid field

Each field is explored though an evolutionary and embryological perspective with a description of the field and discussions (and decussations 😉 ).

He then gives us simplicity of assessment and self-tuning ‘postures of repose’ that are our human birth right to find easy an restful to perform. They are not yoga poses or exercises rather postures that when part of our everyday lives bring about self-correcting, aligning and an postural tone that will serve us in our daily pursuits and activities. He describes these ‘archetypal’ postures: a self-tuning mechanism’ as being as follows:

• Full squat

• Toe sitting or standby posture

• The drinking posture

• Kneeling

• Cowboy posture

• Long sitting

• Cross-legged posture

• Side-saddle posture

• Tailor’s posture

These postures put us on the floor. Therefore we have to rise from these positions and Beach goes on to recommend, with care and consideration, ‘erectorxise’s’ i.e. getting yourself up off the floor and back down again with ease. As one of my clients told me at 72 yrs old ‘you feel old when getting up from the floor is difficult’. He is now still young and still a happy skipper, sailing yacht’s in his free time.

I am sure there are many more ‘postures of repose’ other cultures use. They may even shape the culture we see. The chair has surely defined our own with chronic postural distortions, pain and dis-ease. Here is to a more floor based living and society that get back down to the floor to find their feet on the earth once more.

Beach makes a strong call for us all to get out barefoot. Describing shoes as ‘sensory deprivation chambers’. Beautiful. It sure is how my feet feel and look after a long run in trainers. Here is an abstract from his book as I just cannot put this information down as eloquently as he does (pp149)

‘The lower lumbar and first sacral nerves innervate the skin of the sole of the foot and most of the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the foot are innervated from L4-S3. Nerves that innervate the foot are the same nerves that innervate the deep muscles of the pelvic floor and lower back (such as the multifidus, the intertransversarii, the interspinales, and the rotatories lumborum)’ … Continue reading yourself, the wisdom is profound.

Here comes the best recommendation of all! I have been painfully suggesting to all my clients over the years to get outside on rough surfaces (or sharp stones as I in-eloquently put it. I have recently discovered the more pleasing word of pebbles in an attempt persuade it is is healthy and good idea. A change of language, a change of perception,a change of action?…hopefully. Beach suggest building rock gardens for the home and work places, made by gluing different sizes and shapes of stone on top of some ply wood. ‘Over a few months the results of this simple intervention to the life of your feet can be quite remarkable. …..’ (pp150)

So there you have it. As my old personal training business cards cards used to read “Get up. Get down. Repeat” See I was on to something back then.

Imagine what we will know tomorrow…Imagine what we have forgotten from yesterday.

Life is an exploration, happy exploring.


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