The Mighty Quadratus Femoris

Ishial tuberosity pain that looks like a hamstring but is not responding? Think QF.

We have always have found the quadratus femoris is one of, if not the, 1st hip muscle to become dysfunctional in hip pain patients. Perhaps it is due to it being the southern most stabilizer of the deep 6. Long known as an adductor, but also external rotator, we find it is employed eccentrically when the foot the planted and people rotate to the same side as weight bearing, or people take a “sudden stumble” while running. It often mimics an insertional hamstring strain with regards to location. We were happy to see it is getting some of the attention it deserves : )

The Mighty Quadratus Femoris

You mean a sauna can improve my endurance for running?

Did you know using a sauna can (in some areas) produce better results than exercise? I didn’t believe it either. What are we listening to this week? For 1, one of Dr Ivo’s new favs: Dr Rhonda Patrick

This is an absolutely great, referenced short on some of the benefits of hyperthermic conditioning (ie sauna use). One of the most surprising effects was benefits which exceeded exercising!

Here is one small excerpt:

Being heat acclimated enhances endurance by the following mechanisms:

It increases plasma volume and blood flow to the heart (stroke volume). This results in reduced cardiovascular strain and lowers the heart rate for the same given workload. These cardiovascular improvements have been shown to enhance endurance in highly trained as well as untrained athletes.

It increases blood flow to the skeletal muscles, keeping them fueled with glucose, esterified fatty acids, and oxygen. The increased delivery of nutrients to muscles reduces their dependence on glycogen stores. Endurance athletes often hit a “wall” when they have depleted their muscle glycogen stores. Hyperthermic conditioning has been shown to reduce muscle glycogen use by 40%-50% compared to before heat acclimation. This is presumably due to the increased blood flow to the muscles. In addition, lactate accumulation in blood and muscle during exercise is reduced after heat acclimation.

It improves thermoregulatory control, which operates by activating the sympathetic nervous system and increasing the blood flow to the skin and, thus the sweat rate. This dissipates some of the core body heat. After acclimation, sweating occurs at a lower core temperature and the sweat rate is maintained for a longer period.

waaaayyyyy more in her video. Check it out. I had to listen to it several times to catch all the details.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHOlM-wlNjM&feature=youtu.be

and what have we been saying for the last several years?

“The development of bone marrow edema after transitioning from traditional running shoes to minimalist footwear is associated with small intrinsic foot muscle size, according to research from Brigham Young University in Provo, UT.

The findings, epublished in late October by the International Journal of Sports Medicine, suggest that runners with small intrinsic foot muscles may benefit from strengthening exercises prior to attempting the transition to minimalist running.

Investigators randomized 37 habitually shod runners to 10 weeks of running in minimalist footwear or their own shoes, and performed magnetic resonance imaging at baseline and after the intervention to detect bone marrow edema and assess intrinsic foot muscle size.

Eight of the runners in the minimalist group had developed bone marrow edema at 10 weeks, as well as one in the control group. Those who developed bone marrow edema had significantly smaller intrinsic foot muscles than those who did not.

In addition, running in minimalist footwear was associated with a 10.6% increase in abductor hallucis cross-sectional area, a statistically significant change”.

Source:

Johnson AW, Myrer JW, Mitchell UH, et al. The effects of a transition to minimalist shoe running on intrinsic foot muscle size. Int J Sports Med 2015 Oct 28. [Epub ahead of print]

yet another cause of impaired ankle rocker. Be sure to do a thorough exam!

“Many pathogenic manifestations of equinus occur due to the center of pressure displacement that is seen in diseased states. Typically, the center of pressure on the foot can be measured 6 cm anterior to the ankle during gait, but with equinus, it is shifted distally and laterally. The pull of the Achilles tendon cannot adequately compensate for the new distal and lateral center of pressure and, as a result, an overall pronatory force remains.”

http://lermagazine.com/article/equinus-its-surprising-role-in-foot-pathologies

“The Deep 6” and their “not so talked about” role in the gait cycle.

Excerpted from a recent Dry Needling Seminar in, listen to this brief video and you will never look at these muscles the same way again.

It talks about the lesser known, eccentric role of the deep 6 external rotators during gait. This is really important from a rehab perspective, as these muscles are often neglected in the rehab process.

Do yourself and your clients/patients a favor and watch this informative short so you don’t miss out : )

Eliminating the fake out of ample ankle rocker through foot pronation in the squat and similar movements:  How low can you go ? 

This is a simple video with a simple concept. 

* Caveat: To avoid rants and concept trolling, am blurring lines and concepts here today, to convey a principle. Do not get to tied up in specifics, it is the principle I want to attempt to drive home.  What you see in this video is clearly more lunge/knee forward flexion rather than hip hinge movement. However, keep in mind, that this motion does occur at the bottom of many movements, including the squat. 

You can achieve or borrow what “appears” to be more ankle dorsiflexion, a term we also loosely refer to as ankle rocker, through the foot, foot pronation to be precise. Do not mistaken this extra forward tibial progression range as ankle rocker mobility however. When you need that extra few degrees of ankle dorsiflexion deep in your squat, or similar activities, you can get it through your foot. Often the problem is that you do not think that is where it is coming from, you might just think you have great ankle mobility.  Many deep squatters are borrowing those last few degrees of the depth of the squat from the foot. This is not a problem, until it is a problem.  Watch the video above.  Why ? Because when the foot pronates and begins to collapse (hopefully a controlled collapse/pronation) the knee follows. Forcing the knees outward in a squat like some suggest is a bandaid, but I assure you, the problem is still sitting on the table. 

Go do a body weight squat with the toes up like in this video. Toes up raises the arch from wind up of the windlass and increased activity of the toe extensors and some assistance from the tibialis anterior and some other associated “helper” muscles.  When the arch is going up, it cannot go down. So, you raise your toes and do your squat. This will give you a better, cleaner representation of how much mobility in your squat/lunge/etc is from ankle dorsiflexion, knee flexion and  hip flexion. You can cheat and get some from the foot. The foot can be prostituted to magnify the global range, and like I said, this is not a problem until it IS a problem.   We know that uncontrolled and unprotected increases in foot pronation can cause a plethora of problems like plantar tissue strain, tibialis posterior insufficiency and tendonopathies, achilles issues, compression at the dorsum of the cuneiform bones (dorsal foot pain) to name a few. This dialogue however is not the purpose of this blog post today. You can read more about these clinical entities, proper foot tripod skills and windlass mechanics on other blog posts on this site. 

Today, we just wanted to bring this little “honesty” check to your awareness. Has been a staple in my clinic for over a decade, to help me see where limitations are and to show folks how they can cheat so much through the foot. Go ahead, try it yourself, see how much you use your foot to squat further if you have end range mobility issues in the hips, knees or ankles.  The foot is happy to give up the goat, it just doesn’t know the repercussions until they show up. 

So, lift your toes, do a full squat. Go as low as you can with good form with the toes up.  Then, at the bottom of the squat or the bottom of  your clean mobility, suddenly drop your toes and let the arch follow if it must. Here is the moment of truth, at that moment the toes go down, feel what happens to the foot, ankle, tibial spin, knee positioning, pelvis posture changes. Careful, these are subtle. You may find you are using foot pronation more that you should, more than is safe.  Now try this, bottom out your cleanest squat as you regularly would, and at the bottom, raise your toes and try to reposition the foot arch and talus height. In other words, reposture your foot tripod, see how difficult this is if you can do it at all. Perhaps you will find your toe extensors are too weak to even get there.  This is how we cheat and borrow. We should not make it a habit, it should be used when we need it, but it should not be a staple of your squatting diet, it should not be a regular event where you prostitute sound biomechanics.  Unless you wish to pay for it in some way.  What should happen is that you should be able to bring your toes down and not let the arch follow, but that is a skill most have not developed. It is a staple move in your clients’ movement diets.

Does all this mean you should squat with your toes up ? No, but it may serve you well in awareness, evaluation, and looking for potholes and power leaks. At the very least, give it some thought and consideration. You may see some smiles and have some lightbulb moments between you and your athletes and clients. 

Plan on blocking this foot pronation range with an orthotic ? How dare you ! At least try to do it through reteaching this and the tripod skill first. Give your a client a chance to improve rather than a bandaid to cope. 

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

How relaxed, or shall we say “sloppy” is your gait ?

Look at this picture, the blurred left swing leg tells you this client has been photographed during gait motion. 

Now, visualize a line up from that right foot through the spine. You will see that it is clearly under the center/middle of the pelvis. But of course, it is easier to stand on one leg (as gait is merely transferring from one single leg stance to the other repeatedly) when your body mass is directly over the foot.  To do this the pelvis has to drift laterally over the stance leg side.  Sadly though, you should be able to have enough gluteal and abdominal cylinder strength to stack the foot and knee over the hip. This would mean that the pelvis plumb line should always fall between the feet, which is clearly not the case here.  This is sloppy weak lazy gait. It is likely an engrained habit in most people, but that does not make it right. It is pathology, in time something will likely have to give. 

This is the cross over gait we have beaten to a pulp here at The Gait Guys over and over … . . and over.   This gait this gait, this single photo, means this client is engaging movement into the frontal plane too much, they have drifted to the right. We call it frontal plane drift. To prevent it, it means you have to have an extra bit more of lateral line strength in the gluteus medius and lateral abdominal sling to fend off pathology. You have to be able to find functional stability in the stacked posture, and this can take some training and time.  Make no mistake, this is a faulty movement pattern, even if there is not pain, this is not efficient motor patterning and something will have to give. Whether that is lateral foot pain from more supination strategizing, more tone in the ITB perhaps causing lateral knee or hip pain, a compensation in arms swing or thoracic spine rotation or head tilt  … … something has to give, something has to compensate. 

So, how sloppy is your gait ? 

Do you kick or scuff the inside of your opposite shoe ? Can you hear your pants rub together ? Just clues. You must test the patterns, make no assumptions, please.

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys