Our upright human design is the most complex architectural structure in the known universe. Balanced vertically on two feet, humans are capable of an amazingly diverse range of activities including jumping, walking, dancing, running, climbing, playing sports, using tools, playing musical instruments—all made possible by a neuro-musculo-skeletal system of mind-boggling complexity.
But how does this system work, and why does it so often malfunction, as when we experience muscle, joint, or low-back pain? The simple answer is that, to produce movement and maintain posture, muscles pull on bones. In most four-footed vertebrates, this design is fairly stable and movement quite efficient. But to produce upright posture, the stable arrangement of the four-footed spine had to give way to the unstable human spine, leading to bad posture and low-back pain.
But it is easy to forget that, far from being a defective design, our upright posture is amazingly subtle and complex and that, without it, none of our distinctly human accomplishments would be possible. In the Da Vinci Project, we will look at this design in detail, discussing the various systems that make up the moving body: muscles and bones; the muscle/bone arrangement; the extensor muscles that maintain upright posture; the flexors on the front of the body; the spine; the shoulder girdle and arms; the pelvis and legs. We will also look at breathing, our spiral design, and our upright form of locomotion: the striding gait.