Weekly musings, 4/23/17: The Masai and jumping variability

I was watching video footage of the Masai tribe jumping during a traditional dance recently. What struck me was the variability between people jumping. One person kept his knees completely together, another had his feet turned in, and yet another had knees that went in slightly on each landing.*

If any of these tendencies were spotted in a gym setting, you would be told to make sure you land with the knees pointing straight ahead so you don’t stress the knee joint. If you watch the Masai jump, they have a spring like tendency that is unusual for US adults. They look almost like human pogo sticks, loading and re-loading in a way that is efficient, despite the variable feet and knee positions. (I tried to find information on knee injuries in the Masai tribe and failed. Either members of the Masai aren’t having knee surgeries or they aren’t prone to knee injuries. One could also argue their life expectancy is under the age of 50, so perhaps they aren’t living long enough to experience things like knee pain).

One final thing to note about the Masai is they move.** A lot, but at low intensities. Rarely during the day do they run, and even their huts are made of lightweight material, so they aren’t lifting really heavy things, though they bend and lift frequently over the course of 24 hours. There is no right or wrong way to move, and maybe the true lesson from the Masai is moving variably, throughout the day, makes for a more robust and resilient structure.