Over the last week I’ve been conducting a collaborative research expedition with Shane Benzie in Peninsular Malaysia (read the report here). While we had a little down time between hiding from thieving jungle elephants and chasing Batek tribesmen with kinesiology tape, I figured it’d be worthwhile to have a short chat with Shane about his work.
For the non-runners reading this, Shane is a leading expert on human movement performance, and a massive inspiration to me and my own work. Known for his theories on fascial elasticity in movement, or as he likes to refer to it, human tensegrity, his ideas and thought processes are the product of almost a decade’s worth of work with elite athletes and indigenous groups around the world. Shane believes that the key to human movement efficiency is our perception of that movement, and that by adopting a more fluid concept of biomechanics we can better understand and apply our potential for efficient movement both in our daily lives, and, by extension, in the context of athletic performance.
Shane’s research has led him on expeditions to communities such as the East African runners, Sherpas of the Himalayas, yogis of India, the Mongolian nomads, and now the Batek of Malaysia, using the insights gleaned from them to develop his understanding of a natural human movement archetype that can be fed into the development of higher human performance.
Focusing mainly on running, he has worked with an impressive cadre of athletes over the last few years, including ultrarunners Tom Evans, ElisabetBarnes, Damien Hall, and Nicky Spinks among others, and most recently world record holder EliudKipchoge in his quest to break the 2-hour marathon. Though he’s too modest to admit it, the continuous and notable successes of Shane’s athletes speak considerably louder than he does. As we discuss in the interview, he has also now begun to apply these ideas to other disciplines, from Olympic diving to working with the specialist human performance team at the Ministry of Defence.
In the interview we talk about how the concepts of Shane’s work can be applied to the average person to improve their running and athletic movement. We also talk briefly about the benefits of practical and intuition-led research, and how collaboration and cross-disciplinary perspectives are so important in furthering our understanding of human performance.
So, direct from the jungle, and thankfully elephant-free: an interview with Shane Benzie.
You can find more about Shane and his work on his website: https://www.runningreborn.co.uk
Do get in touch if you have any comments or questions—it'd be great to hear from you.