The diaphragm and chronic ankle instability.

I have been treating the global manifestations of unaddressed chronic ankle sprains for decades now. I am never unsurprised to find frontal plane hip weakness and dysfunction of the same side obliques , shoulder and spinal stabilizers. Here is one more piece of proof that unaddressed ankles are monster problems, slowly eroding the stability of the system.
But, shame on those who attempt to simplify this, just correcting the breathing and throwing some corrective spinal stability work at this problem. This approach will fail, repeatedly. At some point the ankle has to be addressed and the impaired supra spinal programming. Gait will have to be retrained as well, forget to do this and your efforts will be muted.
-Dr. Allen

“Previous investigations have identified impaired trunk and postural stability in individuals with chronic ankle instability (CAI). The diaphragm muscle contributes to trunk and postural stability by modulating the intra-abdominal pressure. A potential mechanism that could help to explain trunk and postural stability deficits may be related to altered diaphragm function due to supraspinal sensorimotor changes with CAI.”

Reference:

Diaphragm Contractility in Individuals with Chronic Ankle Instability.

Terada, Masafumi; Kosik, Kyle B.; McCann, Ryan S.; Gribble, Phillip A.  Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise:

http://journals.lww.com/acsm-msse/Abstract/publishahead/Diaphragm_Contractility_in_Individuals_with.97497.aspx

Do you know where your rocker is?

At 1st pass, some articles may seem like a sleeper, but there can be some great clinical pearls to be had. I recently ran across one of these. It was a presentation from the  42nd annual American Academy of Orthotists and Prosthetists meeting in Orlando, March 2016 entitled “ Shifting Position of Shoe Heel Rocker Affects Ankle Mechanics During Gait”. The title caught my eye.

They looked at ankle kinematics while keeping the toe portion of rocker constant at 63% of foot length, angled at 25 degrees and shifting the base of a rockered shoe from 1cm behind the medial malleolus, directly under it and 1cm anterior to it. Knee and hip kinematics did not differ significantly, however ankle range of motion did.

The more forward the ankle rocker, the less plantarflexion but more ankle dorsiflexion at midstance. So, the question begs, why do we care? Lets explore that further…

  • Think about the “average” heel rocker in a shoe. It largely has to do with the length of the heel and heel flare (base) of the shoe. The further back this is (ie; the more “flare”) the more plantar flexion at heel strike and less ankle dorsiflexion (and thus ankle rocker, as described HERE) you will see. Since loss of ankle dorsiflexion (ie: rocker) usually means a loss of hip extension (since these 2 things should be relatively equal during gait (see here), and that combination can be responsible for a whole host of problems that we talk about here on the blog all the time. Picking a shoe with a heel rocker based further forward (having less of a flare) would stand to promote more ankle dorsiflexion.
  • Having a shoe with a greater amount of “drop” from heel to toe (ie: ramp delta) is going to have the same effect. It will move the calcaneus forward with respect to the heel of the shoe and effectively move the rocker posteriorly.
  • Lastly, look a the shape of the outsole of the shoe. The toe drop is usually clear to see, but does it have a heel rocker (see the picture above)?

These are  a few examples of what to look for in a clients shoe when examining theirs or making a recommendation, depending on whether you are trying to improve or decrease ankle rocker. We can’t think of why you would want to decrease ankle rocker, but with conditions like rigid hallux limitus, where the person has limited or no dorsiflexion of the great toe, you may want to employ a rockered sole shoe. We would recommend one with the rocker set more forward.

Walking in sync makes enemies seem less scary

Walking in sync makes enemies seem less scary.
“When men match each others’ steps, purported criminals seem less physically formidable, a new study shows. The results, published August 27 in Biology Letters, suggest that matched movements in men may foster fighting alliances, a behavior seen in apes and some dolphins and whales.”
What this does not discuss, but that which we do all over our blog, is whether they are talking about in-phase or out-of-phase synchrony. This is an important distinction, though not likely when it comes to the topic at hand here. We discussed this and many other things on podcast 74.

http://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/96787952409/podcast-74-cross-fit-more-on-squatting-and-hip

https://www.sciencenews.org/blog/science-ticker/walking-sync-makes-enemies-seem-less-scary

Pain on the outside of the leg? Could it be your orthotic? What you wear on your feet amplifies the effect of the orthotic.

This woman presented with right-sided pain on the outside of her leg after hiking approximately an hour. She noticed a prominence of the arch in her right orthotic. She hikes in a rigid Asolo boot ( see below). Remember that footwear amplifies the effect of an orthotic!

In the pictures below you can see the prominent arch. The orthotic has her “over corrected” so that she toes off in varus on that side. The rigid footwear makes the problem worse. The peroneus group is working hard (Especially the peroneus longus)  to try and get the first Ray down to the ground.

The “fix” was to soften the arch of the orthotic and grind some material out. Look at the pictures where the pen is pointing to see how some of the midsole material was taken out. Notice how I ground it somewhat medial to further soften the arch.

She felt better much better after this change and is now a “happy hiker” 🙂

Looking for the subtle clues will help you. You should have hypotheses and work to prove or disprove them. 

“Remember, this client is displaying these weight bearing differences side to side for a reason, this is their adaptive strategy. It is your job to prove that this is the cause of their pain, their adaptive strategy to get out of pain, or this is now a failed adaptive strategy causing pain, yet still not the root of the problem.”

We used to call this a “windswept” presentation. It is not that it is incorrect, but it is so vague.  

Look at these fippy floppers. Look closely at the dark areas, where foot oils and whatnot have played their changes in the leather upper of the flops. The right f.flop displays more lateral heel loading, rear foot inversion if you will. You can even see that there is less big toe pressure on this right side and even some increased lateral forefoot loading. This client appears to be more supinated clearly. You can even see there is more lightness to the arch leather on the right, again, more supination is suggested.

The left f.flop suggests the opposite. More medial heel pressures and more over the medial forefoot and arch. 

Now this clients f.flops tell a story.  So, this client is being windswept to the right we used to say, appearing to pronate more on the left and supinating more on the right.  Why are they doing this? Is the left leg functionally longer and by pronating they reduce the functional length of the leg (yet, increase internal spin of the limb and the host of naughty things that come with that). Is the right leg shorter, and by supinating they are raising the ankle mortise and arch which helps reduce the length differential ?  MAybe a bit of both, finding common ground for a more symmetrical pelvis ?  Who knows. This is where you need your physical exam, but, now you have some hypotheses to prove or disprove. 

“Remember, this client is displaying these weight bearing differences side to side for a reason, this is their adaptive strategy. It is your job to prove that this is the cause of their pain, their adaptive strategy to get out of pain, or this is now a failed adaptive strategy causing pain, yet still not the root of the problem.”

Is there some right hip pain from the right frontal pelvis drift creating some aberrant loading on the greater trochanter from ITB tension ? Perhaps a painful right hallux big toe, and they are unloading it to avoid pain? Maybe some knee pain or low back pain ? Who knows? Take your history and start putting the pieces together, it is your job. Just don’t screen them and throw corrective exercises at them, you owe it to them to examine them, take their history, watch them walk, teach them about what you see, and then sit down, spread the puzzle pieces out, look for the straight edges and corner pieces, and begin to build their puzzle. 

Clues, they are everywhere, if you look for them.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

Landing strategies focusing on the control of tibial rotation in the initial contact period of one-leg forward hops – Chen – 2016 – Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports – Wiley Online Library

“If the knee is whining and doing things it should not be doing, the wise clinician first looks at the foot-ankle and the hip-pelvis complexes, where the blood has dried. Don’t look for the fresh blood at the knee” – Dr. Allen

If you cannot control pelvis position on the femoral head, or hip rotation or initial foot arch mechanics, the knee is going to give in to the directional loading response and that typically means medial valgus movement. This is internal tibial rotation or spin.  

Here is an analogy i use with all my patients. The knee is like the middle child. In the simplest terms, you have 3 lower limb joint complexes. The foot/ankle, the knee and the hip. The knee is the middle of these 3 joint complexes.  

Similarly if you put 3 children in the back of the car, the one sitting in the middle is the one directly impacted by the child on the right and the left.  When you hear the middle child screaming and whining, the smart parent first looks at the two apparently “innocent” children looking out the windows (with blood dripping off their elbows). 

Similarly, the knee takes this same seat. IF the knee is whining and doing things it should not be doing, the wise clinician first looks at the foot-ankle and the hip-pelvis complexes, where the blood has dried. Don’t look for the fresh blood at the knee

Changing landing strategies with the focus of control of tibial rotation, requires the astute clinician to look at all the children.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys.

Landing strategies focusing on the control of tibial rotation in the initial contact period of one-leg forward hops – Chen – 2016 – Scandinavian Journal of Medicine & Science in Sports – Wiley Online Library