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Born to Walk – Myofascial Efficiency and the Body in Movement, Second Edition

by James Earls

listed in bodywork

[Image: Born to Walk – Myofascial Efficiency and the Body in Movement, Second Edition]

The focus of this wonderful second edition explores the many dynamics that help explain the mystery of why we, as humans, stood up on two legs, and what happens within our physiology to make our bipedal locomotion so calorie efficient. Our energy-efficient walking allows calories to be redirected to support our increased brain size. With our brain requiring 20-25 per cent of our daily resources, it makes perfect sense that we take measures to ensure sufficient food reaches this important organ. Earls explains in further detail, that by looking at the interaction between movement, momentum, gravity and ground reaction force (the force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it), we can understand our bipedal efficiency. It looks at the timing of muscles firing, what the muscles are doing when they fire, it also builds a deeper understanding of the inevitable interaction between the different body tissues; explaining how the various systems effortlessly interact in function. The skeletal system, fascial system, muscular and nervous systems, work continually in concert with one another to allow for bi-pedal efficiency. With the mechanoreceptors positioned within the fascial system forming the “computer” which allows walking to be a sub-conscious activity, enabling us to do what we so love - “walk and talk”.

Historically the human body was understood to be a series of building blocks and levers, this outdated model stuck until further (relatively recent) research into our wonderful dynamic fascial system gave us a deeper understanding of our bio-tensegrity and functional movement.  This book acknowledges the interconnected wholeness of the human body and illustrates how the human body has actually evolved in a completely different manner to the model we once understood to be true. Earls describes a more contemporary and accurate model, that explains how the whole body seamlessly adapts and cooperates with the movement of walking. A model that is far more informative and satisfying, one which shows how we utilise energy-saving mechanisms inherent within our anatomy. Energy efficiency is in part due to our joint alignment and relative straight-leg posture. Earls also clearly demonstrates how our myofascial system captures kinetic energy as strain and re-uses it in return movements. A return of 93 per cent of the energy taken to stretch a tendon is amazingly efficient – meaning only 7 per cent of energy is ‘lost’ to heat, friction or noise. Both of these factors create a metabolically efficient mode of stance and locomotion.

Earls gives us an understanding of the sense of unity that many of us experience within our own body, as well as the sense of a unified whole that we can palpate through the fascial system of our clients. He demonstrates that when the walking system is functioning correctly, with joints aligned, healthy tissues and momentum maintained we walk with pain-free, fluid movements and ease; any deviation from the normal means that something has to work harder. However, we humans are very efficient at adapting under stress, our systems find alternative strategies for success, even with the partial loss of brain function or the loss of a limb, we manage to find new pathways to our goals.

This book presents a version of what happens when the whole body moves together, how our inherent movement lies within our inherited anatomy. We use our whole body to walk: the pelvis and legs are assisted by the trunk and arms. Our whole body helps balance the movement of walking by increasing and decreasing the forces moving through the soft tissue of the myofascial system since no one part moves in isolation.  The bones and joints assist the body through a controlled pattern of shock absorption, the movement of our joints takes place along predictable lines that send a force of impact into the semi-fluid streams of the myofascial tissue, allowing for body-wide communication. It looks in more detail at the interaction between the body tissues and gives a deeper understanding of the various systems interact, the skeletal, fascial muscular and nervous systems, works in concert with one another.

This edition also includes a lot of new information on science and research, some great new illustrations which assists in digesting more complex information. The book is reorganized in a more accessible way, by planes of movement sagittal, frontal transverse. This false but useful construct builds a visual impression that allows us time to digest the implications of tissue fibre direction and force dynamics in one plane at a time. The reality is that everything happens in each plane all at the same time - we are an integrated whole - however, it would be almost impossible to understand this in any comprehensible way. Hence the information is broken down and explained in individual planes, which Earls does brilliantly, making complex information accessible.

In this second edition, Earls offers more clarity in the electromyography (EMG) readings – a reading which evaluates the health of muscles and nerves that control them – by putting them into context, and by looking at the interaction of movement, momentum, gravity and ground direction force. By looking at the timing of muscle firing and when they are firing, builds a greater understanding of the mechanics of walking.

A wonderful, highly recommended read for movement and bodywork therapists of any discipline, offering an understanding of the complexities of gait and its mechanics, as well as new research on assessment, diagnosis, and treatment approaches. This book is perfectly laid out, clear, accessible and informative, offering up to date research and accurate anatomy, for the informed clinician wishing to deepen their understanding of myofascial efficiency. Earls intention with this book is to give us the tools to seek out energy leakages within the walking system, of clients’ friends or relatives, with the hope that small changes will assist them with their experience of their body; to facilitate a better connection within, as well as with the world around them. This, I feel he has achieved with panache – enjoy.

Further Information

Available from Lotus Publishing, and

Emma Gilmore
Lotus Publishing
978 1 913088 10 1

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