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

Is the “Short Foot” exercise dead ? Dr. Allen thinks it is at the very least, floundering on wobbly premises.

– another blog article by Dr. Shawn Allen

Stand and raise your toes. Where does your arch go ? It should elevate, the arch should increase in height/width/volume thanks to several biomechanical principles, the Windlass mechanism to name one.

Many therapeutic approaches to foot posture correction at some point implement the “Short foot” exercise. In some respects, perhaps many, I think that model may be poorly grounded fundamentally and functionally. My protocols and approach are to restore as functional a foot as possible, during both static and dynamic stance phases of gait, and that means restoring rear and forefoot alignment on a neutral strong competent arch. To be clear, an arch does not need to be high, at whatever its’ height, it just needs to be competent. It is quite possible that I have not truly used the “short foot” exercise in over 10 years in correcting my client’s biomechanics, not in its’ traditionally taught methodology (ie, I have never taught the exercise with the toes flush on the ground, that a mistake in my opinion). I see some limitations in it, and some flaws. These are purely experiential on my part, yet grounded in my successes and failures with many hundreds of clients. This however does not mean I am always right, but i go with what works in my clients. 

When I ask a client to stand up and raise their toes (this is truly how a “short foot” is achieved), pointing out that their arch raised as the toes elevated, they often look puzzled. I often put their orthotic under their foot and again ask them to raise the toes again, thus lifting their apparently “fallen” incompetent arch off the orthotic. I then ask the question, so, are we going to continue to use this device to “Fix” your foot ? Are we going to use a hydraulic push approach restore your foot, or are we going to exercise the muscle that are already there to lift (I like to use a crane analogy) the arch and restore the rear and forefoot relationships ?  Clients always answer this question for me, and they do so quickly.  I am quick to reply that this will take time, repetition, obsession, awareness and homework.  This does not mean every case is successful. Some people have attenuated the ligamentous and tendon structures so badly that a deconstructed arch or weight bearing navicular is just too far gone. There are also those folks who have zero body awareness and that is their rate limiting step.  There are many rate limiting steps in attempting to restore function. We just cannot save everyone. 

I am sure you want answers, protocols, “the order” and “the exercises” I use. Ivo and i have outlined some of them on our blog and on our youtube videos. Somewhat purposefully, we have not prescribed an “order” for them to be done, because each person has their own unique problems and their own order and that is were clinical knowledge must come in to play. You just cannot throw exercises at people and see what sticks, too many people do this already.  I also know that many prescribe the “Short Foot” exercise as homework. That is not a problem for some, but it may have limited value if the prescriber does not realize that 

the exercise has a retrograde approach and a prograde approach. 

What I mean is, with this exercise as it is traditionally taught by many (not all), that you are weight bearing first with the toes down, then shortening the rear-forefoot interval by reacting into the ground, and this is exactly opposite from what truly happens in functional prograde weight bearing. In functional weight bearing the arch and foot need to somewhat splay to load adapt, and more importantly, this has to be a skilled eccentric endurance task. This first portion of the arch splay occurs with the toes off of the ground and so forgetting to teach this part while only teaching the “reacting off the ground, flexor muscle driven approach” is flawed. The toes when on the ground utilize the flexor muscles help to resist the latter phase of arch accommodation, but again to be clear, this does not occur in the initial weight bearing phase where eccentrics of the anterior compartment muscles rule the roost. What I am trying to say is that there is never a point in the functional stance phase of the gait cycle where the rearfoot and forefoot are approximating, other than at terminal toe off, it just does not occur.  Hopefully you can see the point of my argument, that this exercise if done improperly (as taught by many) is not functional. 

So is the short foot exercise dead ? Well, to be honest everything has its’ place in this world. Value can sometimes be obtained from the most corrupt of tasks, but there has to be a correlation and transference to the end purpose.  

None the less, this is a pretty prehistoric exercise if you ask me, it needs to be dusted off and updated and retaught correctly, and that is one of my near term missions in the coming weeks. Again, if anything, if there is one morsel of value , the eccentric phase of “letting go” of the short foot posture into a controlled splay is the part of it that has much of any functional relevance.  Teaching your client how to attain a short foot posture, and then to stand and learn to slowly eccentrically release the short foot posture is its main functional value. But, the toes are critical, and a video is key to helping drive this point home, so that is my short term commission. Again, this does not mean there is not value here, so lets not start a social media rant taking my words out of context.  

To summarize, as we are bearing weight down on the foot the arch should be in a controlled pronatory deformation to shock absorb. There is no time to be reacting off the floor into a short foot, that opportunity moment is lost at contact, actually it really never occurs once the ground is met whether one is in initial rearfoot, midfoot or forefoot strike.  The foot has to be prepared at the time of contact with its’ most competent arch, not busy reacting after the fact trying to achieve the competent structure.  The value in the short foot is earning competence in its loading ability and learning to control its adaptive eccentric lengthening, this must be possible in both toe extension and toe flexion (ground contact).  Failure to procure a competent foot will put your client at risk for all of the juicy pathologies we talk about here on The Gait Guys, things like bunions, hammer toes, pes planus, plantar fascitis, tibialis posterior insufficiency and a multitude of various tendonopathies to name just a few.

Need an exciting primer on the types of things a foot should be able to do ? Here are 2 videos. Video link. Video 2 link.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

En Pointe, Demi Pointe, Posterior Impingement ?

When we see pictures like this most of us are triggered to look at the toe and the challenges to the 1st MTP joint.  But what about all that compression and crowding in the back of the ankle ? Posterior compression is a reality in athletes who spend time at end range plantarflexion or pack much force and load through end range plantarflexion.

This is a photo example of what is referred to as “en pointe” which means “on the tip”.  “Demi pointe” means on the ball of the foot which is much safer for many areas of the foot, but this requires adequate 1st MTP (metatarsophalangeal joint range). We discussed this briefly this week on social media regarding hallux limitus and rigidus.

En Pointe is a terrible challenge. So if you are thinking of putting your darling children in ballet…… just beware of the facts and do some logical thinking on your own when it comes to allowing the “en pointe” axially loading of the entire body over a single joint, a type of loading that this joint was never, ever, designed to withstand. This joint is a great problem for a great many in their lives, why start playing with the risk factors so early ? Let them dance, into demi pointe, but pull them once they are being forced in to En Pointe, if you want our opinion on the matter.

En pointe or classical point ballet it typically done in point shoes or slippers which have a reinforced toe box that allows a more squared off stable surface to stand in pointe position.  It does not however allow a reduction in the axial loading that you see in this picture and it certainly does not help with proper angulation of the big toe, if anything the slipper will gently corral the toes together rendering abductor hallucis muscle function nearly obsolete.   The box will also not stop the valgus loading that typically occurs at the joint. Despite what the studies say, this is one we would watch carefully.  Now, there are studies out there that do not support hallux valgus and bunion formation in dancers, we admit that.  However, we are just asking you to use common sense.  If you see a bunion forming, if the toe is getting chronically swollen, if the toe is drifting off line then one must use common sense and assume that the load is exceeding joint integrity.  Prolonged and excessive loading of any joint cartilage is likely to create a risky environment to crack, fissure, wear down or damage the cartilage or the bony surface underneath (subchondral bone).  If you screw up this joint, toe off will be impaired and thus the windlass effect at the joint will be impaired thus leading to a multitude of other dysfunctional foot issues in the years to come.

Now, back to the “en pointe” position.  Did you try it yet ? Heed our warning ! Just trust us, this is bloody hard.  Since serious foot deformities can result from starting pointe too early, pre-professional students do not usually begin dancing en pointe until after the age of 10 or so , remember, the adolescent foot has not completed its bone ossification and the bone growth plates have not closed.  Thus, damage and deformity are to be expected if done at too young an age.  If you asked our opinion on this, we would say to wait until at least the mid-teenage years……. but by that point in the dance world a prodigy would miss her or his opportunity.  Thus, we see the problems from going “en pointe” too early in many. In the dance world, there are other qualifications for dancers before En Pointe is begun. Things like holding turnout, combining center combinations, secure and stable releve, 3rd position, 4th position, 4th croise and 5th position all of which are huge torsional demands on the hips to the feet. Do you want your child undergoing these deforming forces during early osseous development ? 

Achieving en pointe is a process.  There is a progression to get to it.  Every teacher has their own methods but it is not a “just get up on your toes” kind of thing.

Are you a dancer with posterior ankle pain, impingement or disability. The Os trigonum and protruding lateral talar process are two common and well-documented morphological variations associated with posterior ankle impingement in ballet dancers. 

Think this stuff through. If you are going to be treating these things, you have to know the anatomy, loading mechanics and you have to know your sport or art. Dr. Allen was a physician for the world famous Joffrey Ballet for a few years, he knows a thing or two about these issues dancer’s endure. And he still has a few nightmares from time to time over them. 

Dr. Shawn Allen

reference:

Clin Anat. 2010 Sep;23(6):613-21. doi: 10.1002/ca.20991.Pathoanatomy of posterior ankle impingement in ballet dancers. Russell JA,Kruse DW, Koutedakis Y, McEwan IM, Wyon M

Podcast 83: Gait & Brain Injury, and Compression Wraps Theories

Plus: Rocker Shoes, Knee Replacements, and Strong Ankles

Show sponsors:

www.newbalancechicago.com

www.lemsshoes.com

A. Link to our server: 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_83ff.mp3

Direct Download: 

http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-83

B. iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

Show notes:

Texting on the Loo

Hepatic encephalopathy: effect of liver failure on brain function.

http://www.nature.com/nrn/journal/v14/n12/fig_tab/nrn3587_F1.html

Podcast 71: Forefoot Varus, Big Toe Problems & Charlie Horses”

*Show sponsor: www.newbalancechicago.com

Lems Shoes.  www.lemsshoes.comMention GAIT15 at check out for a 15% discount through August 31st, 2014.

A. Link to our server: 

Direct Download: 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_72final.mp3

Permalink: http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-71

B. iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

______________

Today’s Show notes:

1. American College of Cardiology. Running out your healthy heart. How much exercise is too much ?

Running for 7 minutes a day cuts risk of death by 30%, study says
http://wgntv.com/2014/07/29/running-for-7-minutes-a-day-cuts-risk-of-death-by-30-study-says/
 
2. The history of “Charlie Horses”
 
3. A runner with strange shin bruises.  
from : Joy 

Hi, I’m a great follower of your blog – fascinating stuff! I was wondering if I could ask you a quick question as nobody I’ve spoken to has been able to help:

I’ve been getting bruises that appear on my shin during running. They don’t hurt, I’m just wary of ignoring what could be a warning sign. Have you ever come across this before? (It’s mainly the spot where I had a tibial stress fracture last year, but I also get a few other apparently spontaneous bruises on my lower legs.)

4. Is that a forefoot varus or are you just happy to see me ?
Functional vs Anatomic vs. Compensated forefoot varus foot postures. A loose discussion.
5. A reader’s pet peeve about shoe store “gait analysis”.
6. Thoughts on pronation and the like.
7. Case study:  First toe fusion and implications long and short term.
“I had a patient today with an MTP fusion of his great toe after adverse complications from a bunionectomy.  Do you have any recommendations for gait training when great toe dorsiflexion is no longer an option?  He is currently compensating by externally rotating his foot and overpronating.  I’m thinking through it and  I know he has to gain the motion elsewhere to help normalize his gait as much as possible, so possibly gaining ankle dorsiflexion and hip extension.  Just wondering if you have any tips to share or articles to point me to for further ideas.  Continuing my research now.  I’m a relatively new grad and this is my first patient I’m seeing with this fusion. Many thanks

Podcast 71: Forefoot Varus, Big Toe Problems & Charlie Horses”

*Show sponsor: www.newbalancechicago.com

Lems Shoes.  www.lemsshoes.comMention GAIT15 at check out for a 15% discount through August 31st, 2014.

A. Link to our server: 

Direct Download: 

http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_72final.mp3

Permalink: http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-71

B. iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

______________

Today’s Show notes:

1. American College of Cardiology. Running out your healthy heart. How much exercise is too much ?

Running for 7 minutes a day cuts risk of death by 30%, study says
http://wgntv.com/2014/07/29/running-for-7-minutes-a-day-cuts-risk-of-death-by-30-study-says/
 
2. The history of “Charlie Horses”
 
3. A runner with strange shin bruises.  
from : Joy 

Hi, I’m a great follower of your blog – fascinating stuff! I was wondering if I could ask you a quick question as nobody I’ve spoken to has been able to help:

I’ve been getting bruises that appear on my shin during running. They don’t hurt, I’m just wary of ignoring what could be a warning sign. Have you ever come across this before? (It’s mainly the spot where I had a tibial stress fracture last year, but I also get a few other apparently spontaneous bruises on my lower legs.)

4. Is that a forefoot varus or are you just happy to see me ?
Functional vs Anatomic vs. Compensated forefoot varus foot postures. A loose discussion.
5. A reader’s pet peeve about shoe store “gait analysis”.
6. Thoughts on pronation and the like.
7. Case study:  First toe fusion and implications long and short term.
“I had a patient today with an MTP fusion of his great toe after adverse complications from a bunionectomy.  Do you have any recommendations for gait training when great toe dorsiflexion is no longer an option?  He is currently compensating by externally rotating his foot and overpronating.  I’m thinking through it and  I know he has to gain the motion elsewhere to help normalize his gait as much as possible, so possibly gaining ankle dorsiflexion and hip extension.  Just wondering if you have any tips to share or articles to point me to for further ideas.  Continuing my research now.  I’m a relatively new grad and this is my first patient I’m seeing with this fusion. Many thanks

Podcast 68: Gait , Arm Swing, Neuro-developmental Windows

A. Link to our server:

Direct Download: http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_68ffinal.mp3

Permalink: http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-68

B. iTunes link:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :

http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

______________

Today’s Show notes:

1.Brain implant helps paralysed man move his hand
http://realitysandwich.com/220399/brain-implant-helps-paralysed-man-move-his-hand-wired-uk/?u=95820

2. Has Science Finally Confirmed the Existence of Acupuncture Points, Validating Chinese Medicine?

3.This Tiny, Whip-Tailed Robot Can Administer Meds Anywhere In the Body

4. It matters what you put on your kids feet
“Shoes affect the gait of children. With shoes, children walk faster by…
5. Normal gait development.
6. Myelination
7. Arm swing in kids.
8. Arm swing and gait speed.