Pain on the outside of one leg, inside of the other. 

Whenever you see this pattern of discomfort, compensation is almost always at play and it is your job to sort it out. 

This patient presents with with right sided discomfort lateral aspect of the right fibula and in the left calf medially. Pain does not interfere with sleep.  He is a side sleeper 6 to 8 hours. His shoulders can become numb; left shoulder bothers him more than right.

PAST HISTORY: L shoulder surgery, rotator cuff with residual adhesive capsulitis. 

GAIT AND CLINICAL EVALUATION: see video. reveals an increased foot progression angle on the right side. Diminished arm swing from the right side. A definite body lean to the right upon weight bearing at midstance on that side.

He has external tibial torsion bi-lat., right greater than left with a right short leg which appears to be at least partially femoral. Bi-lat. femoral retrotorsion is present. Internal rotation approx. 4 to 6 degrees on each side. He has an uncompensated forefoot varus on the right hand side, partially compensated on the left. In standing, he pronates more on the left side through the midfoot. Ankle dorsiflexion is 5 degrees on each side. 

trigger points in the peroneus longus, gastroc (medial) and soles. 

Weak long toe extensors and short toe flexors; weak toe abductors. 

pathomechanics in the talk crural articulation b/l, superior tip/fib articulation on the right, SI joints b/l


1.    This patient has a leg length discrepancy right sided which is affecting his walking mechanics. He supinates this extremity as can be seen on video, especially at terminal stance/pre swing (ie toe off),  in an attempt to lengthen it; as a result, he has peroneal tendonitis on the right (peroneus is a plantar flexor supinator and dorsiflexor/supinator; see post here). The left medial gastroc is tender most likely due to trying to attenuate the midfoot pronation on the left (as it fires in an attempt to invert the calcaneus and create more supination). see here for gastroc info

2.    Left shoulder:  Frozen shoulder/injury may be playing into this as well as it is altering arm swing.

WHAT WE DID INITIALLY (key in mind, there is ALWAYS MORE we can do):    

  •  build intrinsic strength in his foot in attempt to work on getting the first ray down to the ground; EHB, the lift/spread/reach exercises to perform.
  • address the leg length discrepancy with a 3 mm sole lift
  • address pathomechanics with mobilization and manipulation. 
  • improve proprioception: one leg balancing work
  • needled the peroneus longus brevis as well as medial gastroc and soles. 
  • follow up in 1 week to 10 days.

Pretty straight forward, eh? Look for this pattern in your clients and patients

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” 🙂

Thoughts on the adductor grouping to ponder. 

I found this while prepping for the dry needling course I am teaching this weekend and thought you may enjoy it. Though the primary actions of the addcutors are well established, secondary actions (whether they are acually internal or external rotators) remains to be elucidated.

Here is a nice abstract that supports the dynamic function of them as external rotators (eccentrically) during gait.

“Anatomical texts agree on most muscle actions, with a notable exception being the action of the adductors of the hip in the transverse plane. Some texts list an action of the adductor brevis (AB), adductor longus (AL), and/or adductor magnus (AM) as internal rotation, whereas others list an action of external rotation. The purpose of this article is to present a functional model in support of the action of external rotation. Transverse plane motion of the femur at the hip during normal gait is driven by subtalar joint motion during the loading response, terminal stance, and preswing phases. During the loading response, the subtalar joint pronates, and the talus adducts. This talar adduction results in the lower leg, and subsequently the femur, internally rotating. During terminal stance and preswing, the opposite occurs; the subtalar joint supinates as the talus abducts in response to forces generated from the lower extremity and in the forefoot. Electromyographic (EMG) studies indicate varied activity in the AB, AL, and AM during the loading response, terminal stance, and preswing phases of the gait cycle. A careful analysis of EMG activity and kinematics during gait suggests that, in the transverse plane, the adductors may be eccentrically controlling internal rotation of the femur at the hip during the loading response, rather than the previously reported role as concentric internal rotators. In addition, these muscles may also concentrically produce external rotation of the femur at the hip during terminal stance and preswing. Physical therapists should consider this important function of the hip adductors during gait when evaluating a patient and designing an intervention program. Anatomical texts should consider listing the concentric action of external rotation of the femur at the hip as one action of the AB, AL, and AM, particularly when starting from the anatomic position.”

Leighton RD. A functional model to describe the action of the adductor muscles at the hip in the transverse plane.Physiother Theory Pract. 2006 Nov;22(5):251-62.Leighton RD. A functional model to describe the action of the adductor muscles at the hip in the transverse plane.Physiother Theory Pract. 2006 Nov;22(5):251-62.

Ahh yes, the lumbricals. 

One of our favorite muscles. And here it is in a recent paper! This one is for all you fellow foot geeks : )

Perhaps the FDL (which fires slightly earlier than the FHL) and FHL (which fires slightly later and longer) at loading response, slowing pronation and setting the stage for lumbrical function from midstance to terminal stance/preswing (flexion at the metatarsal phalangeal joint (it would have to be eccentric, if you think about this from a closed chain perspective) and extension (actually compression) of the proximal interphalangeal joints.

“The first lumbrical arose as two muscle bellies from both the tendon of the FDL and the tendinous slip of the FHL in 83.3 %, and as one muscle belly from the tendon of the FDL or the tendinous slip of the FHL in 16.7 %. These two muscle bellies subsequently merged to form the muscle belly of the first lumbrical. The second lumbrical arose from the tendinous slips of the FHL for the second and third toes as well as the tendon of the FDL in all specimens. The third lumbrical arose from the tendinous slips of the FHL for the third and fourth toes in 69.7 %, and the fourth lumbrical arose from the tendinous slip of the FHL for the fourth toe in 18.2 %. Some deep muscle fibers of the fourth lumbrical arose from the tendinous slip of the FHL for the second toe in 4.5 %, for the third toe in 28.8 %, and for the fourth toe in 15.2 %.”

Hur MS1, Kim JH, Gil YC, Kim HJ, Lee KS. New insights into the origin of the lumbrical muscles of the foot: tendinous slip of the flexor hallucis longus muscle. Surg Radiol Anat. 2015 May 12. [Epub ahead of print]

Thinking on your feet. You have less than 20 minutes with this gentleman, as he has to leave to catch a plane. See how you did. 

Lateral foot pain and cowboy boots?

A 55 YO male patient presents with pain in his left foot area of the cuboid and tail of the fifth metatarsal.  He was told that he had a “locked cuboid” on this side by his chiropractor, who provided some treatment and temporary relief. There has been  no history of trauma and Most recently, he has been wearing cowboy boots and doing “a lot of walking” particularly when he was over in Europe and feels this was a precipitating factor.

Watching him walk in his cowboy boots, the rear foot and heel plate of the cowboy boot is worn into varus. Gait evaluation reveals his left foot to remain in supination (and thus in varus) throughout the entire gait cycle. 

Examination of the foot revealed loss of long axis extension at the metatarsophalangeal and interphalangeal articulations. The cuboid appeared to be moving appropriately. (to see why cuboid function is integral, see this post here. ) There was weakness in the peroneus brevis and peroneus longus musculature with reactive trigger points in the belly of each.  There is tenderness over the tail of the fifth metatarsal and the groove where the peroneal muscle travels through as well as in the peroneal tendon as it travels through here. 

So, what’s up?

This patient has peroneal tendonitis at the point around the foot as it goes around the tail of the fifth metatarsal. Discomfort is dull and achy in this area.  The cowboy boot is putting his foot in some degree of supination (plantar flexion, inversion adduction); this combined with the rear foot varus (from wear on the heel) is creating excessive load on the peroneus longus, which is trying to descend the 1st ray and create a stable medial tripod. Look at the pictures above and check out this post here

What did we do?

Temporarily, we created a valgus post on an insole for him.  This will push him onto his 1st metatarsal as he goes through  midstance into termiinal stance. He was asked to discontinue using the boot until we could get the heel resoled with a very slight valgus cant. We also treated with neuromuscular acupuncture over the peroneal group (GB 34, GB 35, GB 36 and a few Ashi points between GB34 and 35) circle the Dragon about the tail of fifth metatarsal, GB41 as well as the insertion of peroneus onto the base of the first metatarsal (approximately SP4).   We K-taped the peroneus longus to facilitate function of peroneus longus.  He was given peroneus longus (plantarflexion and eversion) and peroneus brevis (dorsiflexion and eversion) theraband exercises. 

How did you do? Easy peasy, right? If they were all only this straight forward….


The Gait Guys. teaching you to think on your feet and increasing your gait literacy with each and every post.