Attempting to regain a level playing ground for your foot.

“Remember, we were born with both our rearfoot and forefoot designed to engage on the same plane (the flat ground). We were not born with the heel raised higher than the forefoot. And, the foot’s many anatomically congruent joint surfaces, their associated ligaments, the lines of tendon pull and all the large and small joint movements and orchestrations with each other are all predicated on this principle of a rearfoot and forefoot on the same plane. This is how our feet were designed from the start.  This is why I like shoes closer to zero drop, when possible, because I know that we are getting closer to enabling the anatomy as it was designed. This is not always possible, feasible, logical or reasonable depending on the problematic clinical presentation and there is plenty of research to challenge this thinking, yet plenty to support is as well. The question is, can you get back to this point after years of footwear compensating ? Or have your feet just changed too much, new acquired bony and joint changes that have too many miles on the new changes ? Perhaps you have spent your first 20-50 years in shoes with heeled shoes of varying heel-ball offset. Maybe you can get back to flat ground, maybe you cannot, but if you can, how long will it take? Months ? Years ?  It all makes sense to me, but does it make sense for your feet and your body biomechanics after all these years ? Time will tell.” -Dr. Allen

Fundamental foot skills everyone should have, subconsciously. This video shows a skill you must own for good foot mechanics. It needs to be present in standing, walking, squatting, jumping and the like. It is the normal baseline infrastructure that you must have every step, every moment of every day. 

Is your foot arch weak ? Still stuffing orthotics and stability shoes up under that falling infrastructure ? Try rebuilding a simple skill first, one that uses the intrinsic anatomy to  help pull the arch up.  If your foot is still flexible, you can likely re-earn much of the lost skills, such as this one. This is a fundamental first piece of our foot, lower limb and gait restoration program. We start here to be sure this skill is present, then add endurance work on it and then eventually strength and gait progressions. This is where it starts for us gang. 

Shawn and Ivo, the gait guys

Rearfoot to Hip Pathomechanical considerations.

In normal gait, the rearfoot strikes in slight inversion and then quickly moves through eversion in the frontal plane to help with the midfoot through forefoot pronation phases of gait. Some sources would refer this rearfoot eversion as the rearfoot pronatory phase, after all. pronation can occur at the rear, mid or forefoot. As with all pronation in all areas, when it occurs too fast, too soon or too much, it can be a problem and rearfoot eversion is no different.  If uncontrolled via muscles such as through tibialis posterior eccentric capabilities (Skill, endurance, strength) or from a structural presentation of Rearfoot Valgus pain can arise. 

From a scenario like in the video above, where a more rearfoot varus presentation is observed,  where the lateral to medial pronation progression is excessive and extreme in terms of speed, duration and magnitude this can also create too much lateral to medial foot, ankle and knee movement.  This will often accompany unchecked movements of internal spin through the hip. So one should see that these pronation and spin issues can occur and be controlled from the bottom or from the top, and hopefully adequately from both in a normal scenario.  It is when there is a biomechanical limitation or insufficiency somewhere in the chain that problems can arise. And remember, pain does not have to occur where the failure occurs, in fact it usually does not. So when you have knee pain from an apparent valgus posturing knee, make sure you look above and below that knee.  Also, keep in mind that as discussed last week in the blog post on ischiofemoral impingment syndrome (link), these spin scenarios can be quite frequently found with ipsilateral frontal plane lateral deviations (bumping of the hip-pelvis outside the vertical stacking of the foot-knee-hip stacking line). This stacking failure can also be the source of many of the issues discussed above, so be sure you are looking locally and globally. And remember, what you see is not the problem, it is their compensation around their deeper problem quite often.

If you have not read the blog post from last week on ischiofemoral impingement syndrome you might not know where the components of the cross over gait come in to play here nor how a rearfoot problem can present with a hip impingement scenario, so I can recommend that article one more time.

One last thing, just in case you think this stuff is easy to work through, remember that these rearfoot varus and valgus problems, and pronation rates. and limb spin rates are all highly variable when someone has varying degrees of femoral torsion, tibial torsion or talar torsion. Each case is different, and each will be unique in their presentation and in the uniqueness of the treatment recipe. I just thought I would throw that in to make your head spin a little in case it wasn’t already.

For example, a case where the rearfoot is a semi rigid varus, with tibial varum, and frontal plane lateral pelvic drift with components of cross over gait (ie. the video case above) will require a different treatment plan and strategy than the same rearfoot varus in a presentation of femoral torsion challenges and genu valgum. Same body parts, different orientations, different mechanics, different treatment recipe.  

So, you can fiddle with a dozen pair of shoes to find one that helps minimize your pains, you can go for massages and hope for the best, you can go and get activated over and over, you can try yet another new orthotic, you can go to a running clinic and try some form changes, throw in some yoga or pilates, compression wear, voodoo bands and gosh who knows what else. Sometimes they are the answer or stumble across it … or you can find someone who understands the pieces of the puzzle and how to piece a reasonable recipe together to bake the cake just right. We do not always get there, but we try.  

Want more ? Try our National Shoe Fit certification program for a starter or try our online teleseminars at www.onlinece.com (we did a one hour course on the RearFoot just the other night, and it was recorded over at onlineCE.com).

Dr. Shawn Allen,  of the gait guys

Reference:

Man Ther.  2014 Oct;19(5):379-85. doi: 10.1016/j.math.2013.10.003. Epub 2013 Oct 29.Clinical measures of hip and foot-ankle mechanics as predictors of rearfoot motion and posture.  Souza TR et al.

Health professionals are frequently interested in predicting rearfoot pronation during weight-bearing activities. Previous inconsistent results regarding the ability of clinical measures to predict rearfoot kinematics may have been influenced by the neglect of possible combined effects of alignment and mobility at the foot-ankle complex and by the disregard of possible influences of hip mobility on foot kinematics. The present study tested whether using a measure that combines frontal-plane bone alignment and mobility at the foot-ankle complex and a measure of hip internal rotation mobility predicts rearfoot kinematics, in walking and upright stance. Twenty-three healthy subjects underwent assessment of forefoot-shank angle (which combines varus bone alignments at the foot-ankle complex with inversion mobility at the midfoot joints), with a goniometer, and hip internal rotation mobility, with an inclinometer. Frontal-plane kinematics of the rearfoot was assessed with a three-dimensional system, during treadmill walking and upright stance. Multivariate linear regressions tested the predictive strength of these measures to inform about rearfoot kinematics. The measures significantly predicted (p ≤ 0.041) mean eversion-inversion position, during walking (r(2) = 0.40) and standing (r(2) = 0.31), and eversion peak in walking (r(2) = 0.27). Greater values of varus alignment at the foot-ankle complex combined with inversion mobility at the midfoot joints and greater hip internal rotation mobility are related to greater weight-bearing rearfoot eversion. Each measure (forefoot-shank angle and hip internal rotation mobility) alone and their combination partially predicted rearfoot kinematics. These measures may help detecting foot-ankle and hip mechanical variables possibly involved in an observed rearfoot motion or posture.

Flat Dogs

Take a look at these pedographs. Wow!

  • No rear foot heel teardrop.
  • No midfoot arch on left foot and minimal on right.
  • An elongated 2nd metatarsal bilaterally and forces NOT getting to the base of the 1st metatarsal and stalling on the 2nd: classic sign of an uncompensated forefoot varus.
  • increased printing of the lateral foot on the right

Knowing what you know about pronation (need a review? click here) Do you think this foot is a good lever? Do you think they will be able to push off well?

What can we do?

  • foot exercises to build the intrinsic and extrinsic muscles of the foot (click here, here, here, and here for a few to get you started)
  • perhaps an orthotic to assist in decreasing the pronation while they are strengthening their foot
  • motion control shoe? Especially in the beginning as they are strengthening their feet and they fatigue rather easily

The prints do not lie. They tell the true story of how the forces are being transmitted through the foot. For more pedograph cases, click here.

The Gait Guys. Teaching you more about the feet and gait. Spreading gait literacy throughout the net! Do your part by forwarding this post to someone who needs to read it.

Look at that forward lean and glute development !

There now, maybe we tricked you into finally reading one of our bigfoot / Gigantopithecus blog posts. These blog posts were highly informative yet sadly under viewed compared to our regular posts. We suspect only the true gait geeks found those worth of their time but maybe they were misleadingly superficial to the quick browsing viewer. And that is ok, to each his/her own. But if you want to learn about your own species and problems we have as humans it is always helpful to look at our distant species “relatives” to see where we came from.

In this video you will see this Silver Back walking on 2 limbs, this is quite a rare event to see. In this clip you can see a gorgeous forward lean and the subsequent midfoot strike that occurs when the foot fall occurs with the body mass directly over the foot.  If you look closely you will also see that this gorilla is carrying a log in his left hand, which is one of the theories postulated as to why we evolved to bipedal ambulation, to carry objects over a distance. You should note the increased arm swing in the contralateral hand which is always seen when one arm swing is impaired from carrying things or from injury. This same pendulum alteration occurs in the lower limb when there is an injury and thus a weight bearing alteration, such as ambulating on a sprained ankle.  If you still do not believe us, strap a 5 pound ankle weight to one ankle and note the immediate change in step and stride in both limbs.  In subtle injuries or merely in the presence of pain, the gait cycle is altered a subtle level, and this is where gait compensations often begin.

in the normal walking gait cycle, rear foot strike is normal. But we at The Gait Guys tend to have our clients focus more on heel “contact” as opposed to a true “strike”. The difference is one of how aggressively the foot’s heel interacts with the ground at initial contact. We all have a family member or neighbor that can be heard upstairs sounding like they are pounding nails into the floor when it is really just their normal heel strike.  The best way to help someone to reduce this pounding habit is to increase their forward torso lean and to educate them on heel contact on impact.  The lean must come from the ankles, not from the waist. It is like walking into a heavy wind, you must lean your whole body (we use a queue of “raise your chest a little and lead from the chest” and this often helps stop a collapse into the core and flexion from the waist). And when one does this, the foot cannot progress so far out in front of the body and generate that aggressive heel strike. One is close to midfoot strike at this point when the correction is made properly.  This is similar to Pose running technique but it is just simply good form running technique to hit a nice soft midfoot impact each time.  

We talked more about heel strike in Gigantopithecus last week in this blog post. And, we also mentioned the perpetual knee flexion to dampen the head oscillations.  

Shawn and Ivo, The Gait Guys, and aspiring primatologists apparently.

Injures induced by running the same direction on an indoor/outdoor track.

We have been seeing, addressing and treating this problem for years, far too many years. There are few things that frustrate us more than coaches and athletes who refuse to alternate their track workouts into the clockwise direction to help avoid the repetitious detrimental training effects of continued and repeated counterclockwise track training. 

Here is a study from 2000 that tends to validate a causal link to our point. The study confirms a statistically significant asymmetrical strength development in the hindfoot invertor and evertor muscle groups. 

Imbalances are a frequent and well known cause of injury.  Consciously driving this asymmetry is the equivalent to purposefully encouraging injury if you as us.  Why anyone would not heed recommendations to balance out workout effects is beyond us.  We encourage road work so that there are no repetitive track banks to negotiate and thus knowingly drive asymmetry.  When weather makes outdoor work an impossibility then days should ideally alternate the flow on the track to counter the direction of the previous day.  And as track event days get closer then the inevitable will occur that you want to simulate race day direction but at least deeply engrained (skill, endurance and strength) training effects in the counterclockwise direction will not terribly risk injury as much as if there had been no training changes and accommodations.

The smaller the track radius the more detrimental the training effects. Frequency and duration of the training further magnifies training effects. A banked track will mute some of the effects but not all of them. 
So why not just reverse the direction of your track training ?  And don’t tell is it is logistically too difficult to coordinate, that is a lame excuse. You are training yourself or your athletes to be better runners, so you should want to reduce risks and optimize training effects. Period.

Shawn and Ivo……… The Gait Guys

Clin J Sport Med. 2000 Oct;10(4):245-50.

Asymmetrical strength changes and injuries in athletes training on a small radius curve indoor track.

Beukeboom C, Birmingham TB, Forwell L, Ohrling D.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

1) To evaluate strength changes in the hindfoot invertor and evertor muscle groups of athletes training and competing primarily in the counterclockwise direction on an indoor, unbanked track, and 2) to observe injuries occurring in these same runners over the course of an indoor season.

DESIGN:

Prospective observational study.

SETTING:

Fowler-Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario.

PARTICIPANTS:

A convenience sample of 25 intercollegiate, long sprinters (200-600 m) and middle distance runners (800-3,000 m) competing and training with the 1995-1996 University of Western Ontario Track and Field team.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

A standardized protocol using the Cybex 6000 isokinetic dynamometer was used to measure peak torques of the hindfoot invertor and evertor muscle groups of both limbs using concentric and eccentric contractions performed at angular velocities of 60, 120, and 300 degrees/sec. Changes in peak torques between the preseason and postseason values were calculated and compared using a repeated measures analysis of variance test. Injury reports were collected by student athletic trainers and in the Sport Medicine and Physiotherapy clinic.

RESULTS:

Primary analysis indicated that the left (inside limb) invertors increased in strength significantly more than the right (outside limb) invertors (p = 0.01), while the right evertors increased in strength significantly more than the left evertors (p = 0.04). A high incidence of lower extremity injury (68%) occurred in this sample of runners, corresponding to an injury rate of 0.75 injuries per 100 person-hours of sport exposure. Although sample size was limited, secondary analysis indicated that strength changes were not significantly different for injured (n = 17) and uninjured (n = 8) runners (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

The observed small, but statistically significant, asymmetrical changes in strength of the hindfoot invertor and evertor muscle groups can best be described as a training effect. Altered biomechanics proposed to occur in the stance foot while running on the curve of the track are discussed in relation to the observed strength imbalance. A causal link between strength changes and lower extremity injuries cannot be inferred from this study, but suggestions for further research are made.

Injures induced by running the same direction on an indoor/outdoor track.

We have been seeing, addressing and treating this problem for years, far too many years. There are few things that frustrate us more than coaches and athletes who refuse to alternate their track workouts into the clockwise direction to help avoid the repetitious detrimental training effects of continued and repeated counterclockwise track training. 

Here is a study from 2000 that tends to validate a causal link to our point. The study confirms a statistically significant asymmetrical strength development in the hindfoot invertor and evertor muscle groups. 

Imbalances are a frequent and well known cause of injury.  Consciously driving this asymmetry is the equivalent to purposefully encouraging injury if you as us.  Why anyone would not heed recommendations to balance out workout effects is beyond us.  We encourage road work so that there are no repetitive track banks to negotiate and thus knowingly drive asymmetry.  When weather makes outdoor work an impossibility then days should ideally alternate the flow on the track to counter the direction of the previous day.  And as track event days get closer then the inevitable will occur that you want to simulate race day direction but at least deeply engrained (skill, endurance and strength) training effects in the counterclockwise direction will not terribly risk injury as much as if there had been no training changes and accommodations.

The smaller the track radius the more detrimental the training effects. Frequency and duration of the training further magnifies training effects. A banked track will mute some of the effects but not all of them. 
So why not just reverse the direction of your track training ?  And don’t tell is it is logistically too difficult to coordinate, that is a lame excuse. You are training yourself or your athletes to be better runners, so you should want to reduce risks and optimize training effects. Period.

Shawn and Ivo……… The Gait Guys

Clin J Sport Med. 2000 Oct;10(4):245-50.

Asymmetrical strength changes and injuries in athletes training on a small radius curve indoor track.

Beukeboom C, Birmingham TB, Forwell L, Ohrling D.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

1) To evaluate strength changes in the hindfoot invertor and evertor muscle groups of athletes training and competing primarily in the counterclockwise direction on an indoor, unbanked track, and 2) to observe injuries occurring in these same runners over the course of an indoor season.

DESIGN:

Prospective observational study.

SETTING:

Fowler-Kennedy Sport Medicine Clinic, The University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario.

PARTICIPANTS:

A convenience sample of 25 intercollegiate, long sprinters (200-600 m) and middle distance runners (800-3,000 m) competing and training with the 1995-1996 University of Western Ontario Track and Field team.

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

A standardized protocol using the Cybex 6000 isokinetic dynamometer was used to measure peak torques of the hindfoot invertor and evertor muscle groups of both limbs using concentric and eccentric contractions performed at angular velocities of 60, 120, and 300 degrees/sec. Changes in peak torques between the preseason and postseason values were calculated and compared using a repeated measures analysis of variance test. Injury reports were collected by student athletic trainers and in the Sport Medicine and Physiotherapy clinic.

RESULTS:

Primary analysis indicated that the left (inside limb) invertors increased in strength significantly more than the right (outside limb) invertors (p = 0.01), while the right evertors increased in strength significantly more than the left evertors (p = 0.04). A high incidence of lower extremity injury (68%) occurred in this sample of runners, corresponding to an injury rate of 0.75 injuries per 100 person-hours of sport exposure. Although sample size was limited, secondary analysis indicated that strength changes were not significantly different for injured (n = 17) and uninjured (n = 8) runners (p > 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS:

The observed small, but statistically significant, asymmetrical changes in strength of the hindfoot invertor and evertor muscle groups can best be described as a training effect. Altered biomechanics proposed to occur in the stance foot while running on the curve of the track are discussed in relation to the observed strength imbalance. A causal link between strength changes and lower extremity injuries cannot be inferred from this study, but suggestions for further research are made.

The Great Myth of Rotating your Shoes : Here are the Actual Facts as we see them.

Everyone has heard the rules, rotate into new shoes about every 400-500 miles.  We disagree, kind of, and we have talked about it on previous blog posts in the past and on our podcasts.  Many shoe reps have agreed with the methods we employ for our runners.

The EVA foam often used in shoe manufacturing has a lifespan, or better put, a given number of compression and shear cycles. It can go through a rather fixed number of compression cycles before it loses its original structural properties, the older the foam gets the faster the degradation process and the more risks it poses for runners.  It is known that EVA foam compressed into a focal vector or area over and over again becomes softer and more giving into that vector/area over time.  Hence, if you have a compensation pattern or a known foot type (forefoot varus, forefoot valgus, rearfoot varus, rearfoot valgus or a combination of these 4) you will break down a certain region or zone of the shoe’s EVA foam. For example a forefoot varus foot type will often drive some heavy focal compression into the foam under the first metatarsal. However, if you combine it with a rear foot valgus it will drive shear forces and compression into the  EVA foam along the entire medial aspect of the shoe (see the 2 pictures attached, you can see the evidence of excessive medial compression and medial shear in a foot that has severe rearfoot valgus and forefoot varus. This is a very poor shoe prescription for the foot type involved).

Here is what you need to do / know:

1- Know your athletes foot type so you can make more informed decisions.

2- Know the type of foam of the shoes you are recommending (ie. Altra uses A-Bound foam instead of EVA just as an example. A-Bound is an environmentally friendly energy-return compound is made of recycled materials. It reduces the impact of hard surfaces while still maintaining ground feedback. Traditional running shoe foam compresses 70-90% while A-Bound™ compresses 2-3x less so it won’t deform over time.).  Cheap shoes use cheap materials.  Altra goes the extra mile for foam quality and many others are beginning to follow suit. If you think you are getting a deal on shoes, know what “the deal” is, it just may be cheaper materials.

3-  500 miles is not the rule for everyone and every shoe.  If you have a relatively neutral forefoot and you are a forefoot or midfoot strike runner you will get far more miles out of a shoe.  If you depend on a stability shoe with dual densities of foam to slow your pronation and control your medial foot because of a rearfoot valgus and/or forefoot varus know that the shoe’s foam will break down less uniformly because of foam interface junctions and whatnot.  This is a science. Engineers call it “the mechanics of material deformation”.  We wonder how many mechanical engineers shoe companies have on board in their R&D divisions ?  We know for a fact that a few do not. There was a reason we snuck quietly into the mechanical engineering departments of our Alma Mater and sat quietly in the “Materials” classes. At the time our roommates just told us it was  cool class, little did we know why it was so interesting to us, until now.

4- Here is what we recommend. Fit the foot type to the right shoe selection. If you are weak in this territory consider taking our intense “National Shoe Fit” program. Fit is everything. Make the wrong choice for your client and the shoes will break down quicker and into poor and risky patterns. Make the right choice and be their hero. If you are looking for a way to improve clientele happiness and store loyalty our Shoe Fit Program is the way. Just read the testimonials here on our blog. Some of the top stores in the Nation have quietly taken the National Shoe Fit Program from us, they have good reason to. They also have good reason to keep it quiet, to get the edge on the competition.

You can email us to get this information and the e-file program download. Why not certify your entire store staff ?

Email us at   thegaitguys@gmail.com.  This program will teach you foot anatomy, functional anatomy, shoe anatomy, foot types and matching foot type to shoe type as well as many other aspects of gait and lower limb biomechanics.

* 5- Try this recommendation.  At 250 miles buy a new shoe to accompany your shoe that already has 250 miles. Now you are rotating 2 shoes. From this 250 mile point moving forward, alternate the newer show with the older shoe. This way you are never in a shoe that is notably more deformed in a specific area of the EVA foam because of your compensations, limitations or foot type. Essentially you are always just a day away from a newer shoe that has less driving force into abnormally compressed EVA foam.  The older the shoe gets the more it accelerates your foot and body into that deformation and hence why many injuries occur as their shoes get older. Continue to alternate shoes on every other run (new, old, new, old).  Once you hit 400-500 miles on the old shoes, ditch them and get a new pair again to restore the cycle once again.  In fact, to be specific here is what we recommend. Monday, old shoe. Tuesday, new shoe. Wednesday do not run, rather, rest or cross train. Thursday go back to the older shoe. Friday new shoe and repeat. This way you are 4 days between runs in the older more deformed shoe. The one day off running in mid week gives tissues that were challenged by the “old shoe run” a bit more time to repair.

6- Dedicate your shoes to running only. Running gait is not the same as walking gait. Why would you want to break down the EVA foam at the rear foot during walking (because heel strike is normal in walking) when in running you are a mid-forefoot striker ?  Keep walking shoes for walking, running shoes for running. Otherwise you are just asking for trouble.

Check out our National Shoe Fit program and certification process here as well as links to our other teaching DVD’s & e-downloads:
 http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.asp?m=80204

Shawn and Ivo. Helping you use your head (and shoe knowledge) better everyday.
The Gait Guys  (have you checked out our RebelMouse page ? https://www.rebelmouse.com/TheGaitGuys/

Keeping up with our awesome informative podcasts ? It is all free stuff ! https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

How about our youtube channel ? http://www.youtube.com/user/thegaitguys

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