“I’ll plead the 1st … .”   More foot geek stuff from The Gait Guys.

The 1st Ray that is!

The “1st ray” consists of the 1st metatarsal and the medial cunieform, essentially the long bones associated with the big toe. It is a functional unit we often refer to when discussing foot biomechanics.

You have heard us speak of the 1st ray needing to descend to form the medial tripod of the foot (tripod review: head of 1st metatarsal, head of 5th metetarsal, center of calcaneus). This action depends to some degree on the competency of the peroneus longus, which attaches from the upper lateral fibula and the associates interosseous membrane; curves around the lateral malleolus, crosses under the foot and attaches to the base of the 1st metatarsal and medial cunieform. The tibialis posterior is supportive to this action. This action is opposed (or modulated, for every Yin there is a Yang; it’s all about balance) is the tibialis anterior, which attaches to the top of the base of the 1st metatarsal and 1st cunieform.

As a result, 1st rays can be elevated or depressed. (here is a latin term to impress your friends with: Metatarsus Primus Elevatus, or elevation/dorsiflexion of the 1st ray/metatarsal). Clinically, we see more that are elevated, resulting in a faulty (collapsing) medial tripod of the foot. The important thing is isn’t necessarily its position, but rather its flexibility. The inflexible ones (isn’t it always?) are the problem children, because they result in altered (notice I didn’t say bad) biomechanics. The further we move from ideal, the closer we seem to move to some compensation pattern. The flexible ones are still a problem but we can control and dampen their rate of flexible collapse.

Generally speaking, a plantar flexed 1st ray that is rigid, has a tendency to throw your center of gravity (an often your knee) to the outside of the foot tripod (think of a rigid cavus foot) and a dorsiflexed to the inside of the foot tripod. Sure, there are LOTS of other factors, but we are talking in generalities here.

Look carefully at the images above and note the position of the 1st metatarsal heads. In the top set, the 1st is depressed (or plantarflexed). In the bottom set they are elevated (or dorsiflexed). Cool, eh? 

NOTE: please refrain from using the term “dropped metatarsal”. Nothing gets dropped, it is correctly stated as plantarflexed (rigid or flexible).

Be on the look out for these on your clinical exam.

Ivo and Shawn. Bringing you one step closer to foot geekdom each day!

copyright 2012 The Homunculus Group/The Gait Guys. All rights reserved. If you rip off our stuff, you will be plagued with the curse of Toelio…..

Podcast #16: Monkeys, Newton Shoes & Gait Vision

Gait, running, Newton Shoes, Forefoot Strike, Gait Software, limb torsion problems, foot tripod and lots more !

LINK: http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-16-monkeys-newtons-gait-vision

Join us today for the following topic list and show note links:

Links to DVD’s & e-downloads: http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.asp?m=80204

1- scars of evolution:

Bigfoot blog post:    http://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/day/2011/11/05

Why gait must be taught slowly. Even running gait must be taught slowly.

2- email from a reader

wondering if you had any internal femoral torsion videos? I have been looking online and noticed most of the articles were on children with IFT. I have internal femoral rotation, a “winking patella” and I believe an externally rotated tibia? I am a runner and I am trying to find some more info on my awesome gait:) As you can imagine, I have had my fair share of injuries from running (hip, knee, and foot) and I have tried foam rolling but I am hoping you have some other recommendations

3- The Almighty Foot Tripod exercise – good for pronation of the foot

4- DISCLAIMER: We are not your doctors so anything you hear here should not be taken as medical advice. For that you need to visit YOUR doctors and ask them the questions. We have not examined you, we do not know you, we know very little about your medical status. So, do not hold us responsible for taking our advice when we have just told you not to !  Again, we are NOT your doctors

5- Blog post we liked recently:  Perception/vision and Gait analysis software.


2 blog posts here…….review them before the pod

The Observation Effect:   http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1998/02/980227055013.htm

6- SHOE TALK:   Skora Shoes
7- Our dvd’s and efile downloads
Are all on payloadz. Link is in the show notes.
Link: http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.asp?m=80204

The Foot Tripod; Part 2

Here we go. More stuff you can use today. Pay attention to the subtleties of this simple, yet effective exercise we use on a daily basis.

Have a great Friday

Ivo and Shawn

The Almighty Foot Tripod

You have heard us talk time and time again about the importance of the foot tripod. To review, it consists of the center of the calcaneus, the base of the 1st metatarsal and the base of the 5th metatarsal.  To see some of our other posts on the foot tripod, including other exercises, click here

Join Dr Ivo in this brief and informative video demonstrating an exercise that most people with an inadequate foot tripod will benefit from.

Remember Skill, Endurance and Strength. There are many nuances to this simple exercise, don’t take it lightly!

The Gait Guys: Hammering it out, daily, to give you the goods!

Is Your Foot Tripod Stable Enough to Walk or Run without Injury or Problem ?

The all to common case of the Wobbling Tripod.

Note the music we have chosen today. We tried to match the rate of the dancing tibialis anterior tendon to the tempo of the song, just for fun of course. Well, actually, for neurological reasons as well, as with a steady tempo or beat, your nervous system can learn better. Why do you think we teach kids songs to learn (or you can’t get the theme from the “Jetsons” out of your head).

This is a great video. This client has an obvious problem stabilizing the foot tripod during single leg stance as seen here.  There is also evidence of long term tripod problems by the degree of redness and size (although difficult to see on this plane of view) of the medial metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint (the MPJ or big knuckle joint) just proximal to the big toe.  This is the area of the METatarsal head, the medial aspect of the foot tripod.

As this client moves slowly from stance into a mild single leg squat knee bend the challenges to the foot’s stability, the tripod, become obvious.  Stability is under duress. There is much frontal plane “Checking” or shifting and the tibial and body mass is rocking back and forth on a microscopic level as evidenced by the dancing tibialis tendon at the ankle level.  The medial foot tripod is loading and unloading multiple times a second. 

Is it any shock to you that this person has chronic foot problems which are exacerbated by running ?  Every time this foot hits the ground the foot is trying to find stability. The medial tripod fails and the big knuckle joint (the 1st MPJ or big toe joint) is enlarging from inflammation and early cartilage wear and decay, not to mention the knee falling medially as well!  Hallux limitus (turf toe) is subclinical at this time, but it is on the menu for a later date. A dorsal crown of osteophytes (the turf toe ridge on the top of the foot) is developing steadily, soon to block out the range necessary for adequate toe off in this client.  And that means a limitation in  hip extension sometime down the road (and premature heel rise……. did you read Wednesday’s blog post on that topic ?).


Take the time to develop the skill. We ask our clients to work on standing with the toes up to find a clean tripod and do some shallow squats working on holding the tripod quietly. Be sure your glutes are in charge. Then, again using the toes pressed flat but be sure the tripod is still valid, esp the medial tripod. No toe curling/hammering. Keep that glute on. Move the swing leg forward during a squat, and then behind you during a squat (mimicing early and late midstance phases of gait/running). This will help your brain realize when it needs this stability and it will also act to press you off balance and will make the foot check and challenge. Do this until you feel the foot fatigue on the bottom. Then Stop. Repeat later. If the medial tripod collapses, the knee will drop inwards and excess pronation is inevitable. We modified this with our prescription of the “100 ups”…..combine the two !

Shawn and Ivo … .  comfortably numb.

Once you have been to the Dark Side of the Moon  (and hopefully you didn’t have any Brain Damage) you will know it well and know what to expect when you return again.  Meaning, when you have seen these issues over and over again, hopefully in your daily work if not regularly here at The Gait Guys, you will quickly know what things to assess and look for in your athletes.  And you might just turn into a Pink Floyd fan at the same time, or at least crave some Figgy Pudding (but you have to eat yer’ meat! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat  yer’ meat?).

The Toe Waving Exercise, Part 2

In part one of this series, we talked about the importance of the short flexors of the toes (FDB or flexor digitorum brevis) in forming and maintaining the foot tripod. In this installment, we discuss another important muscle used in this exercise,  the extensor digitorum longus (EDL).

We have shown you time and time again, dominance of the long flexors in gait, which cause biomechanical imbalances. We remember that through reciprocal inhibition, the log flexors will reciprocally inhibit the long extensors, so increased activity in the former, means decreased activity and activation in the latter.

The balanced activity of the long flexors and long extensors helps to create harmony during gait. Working the long extensors with this exercise (along with others, like tripod standing, toes up walking and the shuffle gait exercises) helps one to achieve this balance.

The Gait Guys; promoting foot and gait competency every day here, on Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, and in our offices and yours.

all material copyright 2012 The Homunculus Group/The Gait Guys. All rights reserved. If you rip off our stuff, you will never have an adequate foot tripod and will have gait problems for the remainder of your days.