When I was a small child I lived in a suburb of Cleveland Ohio and at the end of the block there was a woods. Now, this is the time when kids could disappear from their parents presence and nobody worried. Growing up so near to the woods allowed us to play unobserved. There was an old log cabin in our woods that belonged to early settlers of the area I’m assuming. Regardless, we played often and long in the woods.
In elementary school we learned about the indians, nowadays we call them native Americans but then we called them indians. We were taught that they ran silently through the woods while hunting or when at war. It confused me. I knew that when I was in the woods I made a lot of noise while moving around. Dried leaves and twigs made walking or running through the woods sound like Rice Krispies. Snap crackle and pop. How, I wondered, could the indians move quietly through this? So, as a little kid, I began to train myself to walk as silently as possible.
As an adult this has caused me some difficulty. I walk up to someone and say hi or something, but if they didn’t see me they jump out of their skin. It’s not intentional, it’s what I taught myself to do as a child and now I walk quietly as a matter of habit.
Last week I came across an article that said that we don’t walk the same way our ancestors did. Yes, your style of walking is a learned behavior. Before there were hard sole shoes people wore what was actually more of a leather sock. Protected and insulated their feet but didn’t protect the soles the way our modern shoes do. Also, no paved roads or footpaths. This caused them to walk more carefully. When they walked they put their forward foot down ball of the foot first then rolled back to the heel. This accomplished a couple of things. First, if they were to step on a stone or something, all of their weight didn’t come down full force on the object and they could retract their foot more easily. Also, this kind of acted as a shock absorber for the joints involved. Less strain on knees and hips.
This is how I taught myself to walk silently as a child, I still land on my heel but on the outside of the heel and foot and then roll inward to take the weight. This article I read gave me more insight as to how the natives moved so silently. I’ve tried this different style of walking, it’s harder to impliment than you think, and I can feel the strain on unused muscles. The fellow in the article said his calves and much larger now than they used to be.