The key to walking on a high-wire is the heel! So says this ESPN video by John Brenkus and the Sport Science team that analyzes the biomechanics and physics behind Nik Wallenda’s successful high-wire walk across Niagara Falls
Typically, the foot is supported by three main balance points. But on a narrow surface like a high-wire, you have only two balance points. This makes the heel 50 percent of the equation. The heel is also the part of the foot most sensitive to vibrations (caused by the gently oscillating high-wire); the heel has nerve endings that respond as fast as .0006 seconds. That’s more than 16 time faster than the brain processes visual stimuli.
What’s so fascinating about this Sports Science video is what runners –and walkers– can learn about how the human body moves, whether it’s on a vertigo-inducing two-inch high-wire nearly 200 feet above rushing waters, or going out for a run or hike. The take-away message? It all begins with the foot. The less interference there is between the sole and the surface it is encountering, the more efficient will be the body’s natural reaction to moving forward. By creating an artificial barrier such as wearing thick-soled, big-heels shoes, you thereby reduce what is called proprioception. As a result, your body has to make unnecessary readjustments, which affects the stride. –Bill Katovsky