While traversing the cobblestoned streets of Oaxaca, my husband commented that his back wasn't hurting as much as it usually would be if he was to walk this distance on the level straight roads in Victoria. He has found over the years that he can walk for kilometres on trails or rough ground but as soon as things turne level, trouble begins.
It set me to thinking. Is walking on even ground a bit like a repetitive stress injury, rather like carpal tunnel syndrome? On the straight and narrow we use the identical muscles for each step, the same tension, the same degree of extension and contraction, the same muscles working together in the same way. Same, same, same same. Eventualy some muscles get stronger while others become weaker, we hold our bodies in habitualy the same posture. The same areas are continuously stressed. No wonder so many people end up with chronic aches and pains that they can't identify an original source for.
I also recalled a newspaper article I'd read a few years ago. A couple of artists had been given a grant to build an anti-aging house. Photos of this house were quite amazing. Not a solitary horizontal surface was flat. To traverse the route from the fridge to the stove would require a thought out plan of action, and, would engage more than just your legs.The premise being that uneven surfaces caused us to continuously, physically compensate. That ongoing compensating, or physical 'problem solving' resulted in different neurones firing. Ongoing problem solving in the physical dimension. We exercise both our minds and our bodies when we're moving. But put any of us on a treadmill, day in and day out, eventually problems result. I have no desire to live in that anti-aging house, but I'm alot more aware now of making sure that I move my body in different ways. And if anyone ever asks me about town planning...I'll recommend cobblestones.