Pod 102: Thermic adaptation & Gait/Running.

Podcast 102: Thermic adaptation, gait, running, odometer neurons, your brain’s GPS, rehab for cartilage, plantar fascitis and more.

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Other Gait Guys stuff

A. Podcast links:

direct download URL:  http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_102ff.mp3

permalink URL: http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-102-thermic-adaptation

B. iTunes link:
C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification & more !)
D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:
Monthly lectures at : www.onlinece.com type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen, ”Biomechanics”

-Our Book: Pedographs and Gait Analysis and Clinical Case Studies
Electronic copies available here:


-Barnes and Noble / Nook Reader:


-Hardcopy available from our publisher:

Show Notes:

‘Odometer neurons’ encode distance traveled and elapsed time

Our GPS loss

Athletic adjustments to the heat http://www.runnersworld.com/sweat-science/how-long-does-it-take-to-adjust-to-heat

Hyperthermic conditioning http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/04/10/saunas-hyperthermic-conditioning-2/

The newest craze?  or a temp fad ? http://sproingsport.com

Muscle strength in Plantar fascitis http://www.runresearchjunkie.com/intrinsic-muscle-strength-in-plantar-fasciitis/

Intrinsic foot muscle volume in experienced runners with and without chronic plantar fasciitis
RTH Cheung, L.Y. Sze, N.W. Mok, G.Y.F. Ng
Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport ; Article in Press

What does stretching do to a joint ?http://www.greglehman.ca/2015/11/11/what-does-stretching-do-to-a-joint-we-really-have-no-idea-part-i/

Rehabing cartilage ?

Music piece: why you need good earphones to run with.

Spanking the orthotic: The effects of hallux limitus on the foot’s longitudinal arch.

But the issues do not stop at the arch. If you have been with us long enough, you will have read about the effects of the anterior compartment (namely the tibialis anterior, extensor digitorum and hallucis and peroneus tertius muscles) strength and endurance on the arch.

Here we have a very troubled foot. This foot has undergone numerous procedures, sadly. Today we will not talk about the hallux varus you see here, a virtual unicorn in practice  (and acquired in this case) nor do we want to discuss the phalangeal varus drift. We want to draw your attention to the obvious impairment of the 1st MTP (metatarsophalangeal joint) dorsiflexion range.  You can see the large dorsal crown of osteophytes, a dorsal buttress to any hallux dorsiflexion.  There is under 10 degrees of dorsiflexion here, not even enough worth mentioning.  We have said it many times before, if you lose a range at one joint usually that range has to be accommodated for proximal or distal to the impaired joint. This is a compensation pattern and you can see it here in the hallux joints themselves.

Here you can see that some of the dorsiflexion range has been acquired in the proximal phalangeal joint.  We like to call this “banana toe” when explaining it to patients, it is a highly technical term but you are welcome to borrow it. This occurred because the joint was constantly seeing the limitation of dorsiflexion of the 1st MTP joint and seeing, and accommodating to, the demands of the need for more dorsiflexion at toe off. 

But, here is the kicker. You have likely seen this video of ours on Youtube on how to acquire a foot tripod from using the toe extensors to raise the arch.  Video link here  and here.  Well, in his patient’s case today, they have a limitation of 1st MTP dorsiflexion, so the ability to maximally raise the arch is impaired. The Windlass mechanism is broken; “winding” of the plantar fascia around the !st MTP mechanism is not sufficiently present. Any limitations in toe extension (ie dorsiflexion) or ankle dorsiflexion will mean that :

1. compensations will need to occur

2. The Windlass mechanism is insufficient

3. gait is impaired at distal swing phase and toe off phases

4. the anterior compartment competence will drop (Skill, endurance, strength) and thus injury can be more easily brought to the table.

In this patient’s case, they came in complaining of burning at the top of the foot and stiffness in the anterior ankle mortise area.  This would only come on after a long brisk walk.  If the walk was brisk yet short, no problems. If the walk was long and slow, no problems.  They clearly had an endurance problem and an endurance challenge in the office showed an immediate failure in under 30 seconds (we will try to shoot a quick video so show our little assessment so be patient with us). The point here today is that if there is a joint limitation, there will be a limitation in skill, strength or endurance and very likely a combination of the 3. If you cannot get to a range, then any skill, endurance or strength beyond that limitation will be lost and require a compensation pattern to occur.  This patient’s arch cannot be restored via the methods we describe here on our blog and it cannot be restored by an orthotic. The orthotic will likely further change, likely in a negative manner, the already limited function of the 1st MPJ. In other words, if you raise the arch, you will shorten the plantar fascia and draw the 1st MET  head towards the heel (part of the function of the Windlass mechanism) and by doing this you will plantarflex the big toe … .  but weren’t we praying for an increase in dorsiflexion of the limitus big toe ? ……..yes, exactly !  So use your head  (and spank the orthotic when you see it used in this manner.  ”Bad orthotic, bad orthotic !”)

So think of all of this the next time you see a turf toe / hallux rigidus/ hallux limitus. Rattles your brain huh !?

This is not stuff for the feint of heart. You gotta know your biomechanics.

Shawn and Ivo … .the gait guys

Addendum for clarity:

a Facebook reader asked a question:

From your post: “if you raise the arch, you will shorten the plantar fascia and draw the 1st MET head towards the heel (part of the function of the Windlass mechanism) and by doing this you will plantarflex the big toe … . but weren’t we praying for an increase in dorsiflexion of the limitus big toe ? ” I always thought when the plantar fascia is shortened, it plantar flexes the 1st metatarsal (1st ray) and extends (dorsiflexes) the 1st MTP joint….

Our response:  

We should have been more clear, our apologies dear reader.  Here is what we should have said , ” The plantar fascia is non-contractile, so it does not shorten. We meant conceptually shorten. When in late stance phase, particularly at toe off when the heel has raised and forefoot loading is occurring, the Windlass mechanism around the 1st MET head (as the hallux is dorsiflexing) is drawing the foot into supination and thus the heel towards the forefoot (ie passive arch lift). This action is driving the 1st MET into plantarflexion in the NORMAL foot.  This will NORMALLy help with increasing hallux dorsiflexion. In this case above, there is a rigid 1st MTP  joint.  So this mechanism cannot occur at all. In this case the plantar fascia will over time retract to the only length it does experience. So, if an orthotic is used, it will press up into the fascia and also plantarflex the 1st MET, which will carry the rigid toe into plantar flexion with it, IN THIS CASE.”

The case of the missing toes.

OK, a bit dramatic but as you can see in the plantar view above, all you can see is the toe pads, the rest of the digit shafts are hidden.  

This is a classic example of a foot imbalance. We have talked about this many times before but the attached video link here  ( http://youtu.be/IIyg7ejYNOg ) shows it very well.  Read on.

There is shortness and increased resting tone in the short toe extensors (EDB, extensor digitorum brevis) and long toe flexors (FDL=flexor dig. longus) with insufficiency in the short flexors and long extensors. This pairing creates a hammer toe effect.  In the video, you can see that these toes are showing early hammering characteristics, but not yet rigid ones. The key word there is, “yet” so this is still a correctable phenomenon at this point.  You can also clearly see the distal migration of the metatarsal fat pad. The fat pad has migrated forward of the MET heads and is being pulled forward by the excess tension in the long toe flexors. As this imbalance in the toe flexors and extensors develops, the forefoot mechanics get impaired and the lumbricals (which anchor off off the FDL) become challenged. Their contributory biomechanics, amongst other things, help to keep the fat pad in place under the metatarsal heads. You can see in this video link above that by proximally migrating (towards the heel) just the fat pad back under the MET heads the resting mechanics of the toes changes, for the better.  

Remember the other functions of the lumbricals ?  their other major functions, namely: thinking from a distal to proximal orientation (a closed chain mode of thinking), they actually plantarflex the metatarsal on the fixed phalynx, assist in dorsiflexion of the ankle, and help to keep the toes from clawing from over recruitment of the flexor digitorum longus.

Here is another blog post we did on a similar presentation.http://thegaitguys.tumblr.com/post/14766494068/a-case-of-plantar-foot-pain-during-gait-this

Proper balance of the toe flexors and extensors, and their harmony with lumbricals and fat pad amongst other things will give healthy long flat toes that can help the proximal biomechanics of the foot.  If you have neuromas, metatarsalgia, hammer toes, claw toes, migrating toes, bunions or hallux valgus amongst many other things, this might be a good place to start.   

There are exercises that can help this presentation, but understanding “the why” is the first step.

Shawn and Ivo

The Gait Guys

Foot “Roll Out” at Toe Off : Do you do this ? And if so, why do YOU do it ?

As we always say, “what you see in someone’s gait is often not the problem, rather a compensatory strategy around the problem”.

What do you see in this case ? We would like to draw your attention at this time to the transition from midfoot stance to toe off on the right foot.  You should watch both feet and note that the right foot tips outward (inverts) as toe off progresses.
What could cause this ?  It is certainly not normal.  Remember, it is highly likely it is not the problem, that something is driving it there or something is not working correctly to drive this client to normal big toe propulsive toe off. Now, there are many other issues in this case, some of which  you can see and many of which you cannot, but do not get distracted here, our point is to talk about that aberrant Right toe off into inversion which prevents the optimal hallux (big toe) toe off. 
A clinical exam will give many answers to joint ranges and what muscles are strong and which are weak and inhibited.  Without the clinical exam and this information about the entire kinetic linkage there is no way to know what is wrong. This thinking should awaken shoe stores when prescribing shoes off of watching clients run or walk on a treadmill.  There is so much to it beyond what one sees. 
So what could be causing this foot to continue its supinatory events from heel strike all the way through lateral toe off ?
The foot could be:
– a rigid high arched cavus foot
– perhaps pronation through the midfoot and forefoot is painful (metatarsal stress pain, painful sesamoiditis, plantar fascitis) so it is an avoidance strategy possibly
– a common one with this gait presentation is perhaps there is a hallux limitus/rigidus (turf toe), painful or non-painful
– weak peronei and/or lateral gastrocsoleus thus failing to drive the foot medially to the big toe during the midstance-to-forefoot loading transition
– contractured medial gastrocsoleus complex (maybe an old achilles tear or reconstruction ?)
-rigid rearfoot deformity not allowing the calcaneus to perform its natural evertion during early stance phases thus maintaining lateral foot pressures the entire time
– presence of a rigid forefoot valgus
– avoidance of the detrimental medial pressures from a forefoot varus

 These and many other issues could be the reason for the aberrant toe off pattern.  This is not an exhaustive list but it should get your brain humming and asking some harder questions, such as (sorry, we have to say it again), “is what you see the problem, or a compensatory strategy to get around the problem ?”

We know you have busy days but we appreciate your time watching our videos and embracing something we are both passionate about.
We are The Gait Guys

Dr. Shawn Allen & Dr. Ivo Waerlop

Email from a reader: Chronic IT Band and Plantar Fasciitis

I have been reviewing your Youtube videos and blog posts over the last few weeks, I am a triathlete suffering from plantar fasciitis and ITB issues, and I’m not really close to a major center where I can get treatment so I’m self educating. I’m very interested in the videos you have about function of the foot, and how the toes relate to the arch, fascinating! You mention exercises for the feet, to help the muscles function and learn to work separately. I was wondering if you have any of these exercises posted online, I am not able to hold the arch position or use my toes separately, I think these movements would go a long way to helping me figure why I’m having issues with the PF. Great job on all the info, I love being able to access info like you guys have online, makes me want to learn more… thanks!!
Becky H
AB, Canada
Dear Becky:
Sorry to hear about your chronic issues.  Make sure you evaluate your glutes. The pelvis must remain relatively quiet and not tip forward or backward (anterior or posterior tilt) during all forms of ambulation. When it tips more forward the glutes become challenged and can become inhibited. When inhibited internal rotation of the hip minimizes or is lost and the ITBand tightens to attempt to drive that internal rotation. It is a good internal rotator as is the anterior g. medius and coccygeal division of the glute maximus (hence the glute connection).  This will put stain on the patellofemoral joint and may cause tracking issues or lateral knee regional pain (or ELPS….. excessive lateral patellar pressure syndrome).  Additionally, when the foot tries to pronate more to drive more internal limb rotation (because it is obviously not happening at the hip in this scenario) the plantar fascia can become strained because of the pronation lengthening of the longitudinal arch of the foot.
Regarding the foot exercises……. they are coming….. we just need time. We would pay for more time, but we cannot seem to find it on amazon or ebay.  If anyone is selling, we will line up to buy !
thanks for your email question.
Keep the emails coming. Those of you who have emailed us recently or in the past, we  have received them and they are being answered in length in the podcasts we are about to launch. They are coming, you will love them.  It just comes down to editing time.  There is that “time” word again !