View the clip to get an idea of what we're aiming for.
Nathan is on
the left, presenting a side view of the lower body action. Shirin is
on the right, presenting a front view. Notice how their hips swing with
Now, we'll begin by performing this exercise on the spot. I recommend
that you try this exercise barefoot or in socks at first. It will help
you develop pressure sensitivity through the soles of your feet, and
use that to give you feedback about your performance.
exercise slowly develops your control; performing it faster increases
your fluency. Always go slow at first.
Stand with your feet together, toes pointing slightly outwards, weight
completely on your left leg, ready to step onto your right.
right foot slightly off the floor and;
the front half of your foot, specifically the ball, on the floor.
You should sense the contact by feeling a slight increase in pressure
on the ball of your sole. This begins the process of foot placement.
your heel until it makes contact with the floor. Again you should
try to sense the slight increase in pressure, now through the heel
of your foot. Once the heel is down, your whole foot should now be
in contact with the floor. This ends the process of foot placement.
your knee by easing it backwards until it is over your heel. You can
feel it pulling your body weight to your right, and confirm it by
sensing a further increase in pressure through the sole of
your right foot. You can control how quickly (or slowly) your weight
shifts by how quickly (or slowly) you ease your knee backwards. This
begins the process of weight transfer.
moving your hip to the right until you feel the toes (of your
right foot) relax. If you feel the tips of your bigger toes
start to peel off the floor, you've gone too far. Your ankle, knee
and hip joints should now be stacked on top of each other. This ends
the process of weight transfer.
need to relax the muscles at the top of your hip. To do so, take a
deep breath: in through your nose and out slowly through your mouth.
As you exhale, you should feel your rib cage drop, your muscles relax
and your whole body sinking onto your hip. We call this process
settling your weight.
with your weight still settled, pitch your body forward slightly so
that your toes just start to grip the floor again. Your weight
should be on the front part of your foot, ready for your next move.
The phases of movement are foot placement, weight transfer, relaxation,
and preparation. It is achieved by positioning the ball of the foot,
ankle, knee and hip joints in that order from the ground upward,
in what we call an upward joint cascade.
Refer back to
the video clip above.
The side view
is most useful for observing the action of the foot, ankle and knee.
By moving the slider, observe joint cascade in the way Nathan takes
his step. Not only do the joints move in the proper order, but the speeds
at which the joints move relative to each other is even. This results
in a smooth cascade. Compare his action with Shirin's who has faster
ankles and slower knees, giving an action that stresses the beats and
is lighter in between.
Pausing the clip
and using the slider, notice how after the knee is straightened,
the top of the hip aligns above it. Relaxing (or reducing tension
in) the muscles around the hip causes settling, which can be seen by:
a slight increase in deflection of the hip outward from
the perpendicular (to the floor); and a more prominent lateral roll
of the hip backwards. This causes the hips to tilt into
the direction of your next step, as is observed from the belt-lines
of both Shirin and Nathan.
Continue with the practice until you're consciously proficient, and
then try it stepping onto your left. Your aim is to pedal using each
leg in alternation, just like in the clips.