What Are Motion Control Features, anyway?

In this brief video, Dr Ivo talks about common motion control features found in many shoes shoes. terms like “medial posting” “dual density midsoles” and “lateral flares” are discussed

The Pitfalls of Motion Control Features.

Welcome to Monday, folks. Today Dr Ivo discusses why not all shoes are created equal and why you need to understand and educate your peeps about shoes!

Internal tibial torsion is when the foot is rotated internally with respect to the tibia. When the foot is straight (like when you are walking, because the brain will not let you walk too internally rotated because you will trip and fall), the knee will rotated OUTSIDE the saggital plane (knee points out). Putting a medially posted shoe on that foot rotates the foot EVEN FURTHER laterally. Since the knee is a hinge joint, this can spell disaster for the meniscus.

need to know more? email us or send us a message about our National Shoe Fit Program.

Got Motion Control? Sometimes too much of a good thing is a bad thing!

Welcome to Monday and News You can Use, Folks.

Today we look at short video showing what someone with internal tibial torsion looks like in a medially posted (ie motion control) running shoe. Note how the amount of internal rotation of the lower leg decreases when the shoe is removed and when he runs. Be careful what shoes you recommend, as a shoe like this is likely to cause damage down the road.

You can follow along listening to Dr Ivo’s commentary. This was filmed at a recent seminar he was teaching.

More on the Minimalist Debate

“Nearly a third (29%) of those who had tried minimalist running shoes reported they had experienced an injury or pain while using the shoes. The most common body part involved was the foot. Most (61%) of those reports involved a new injury or pain, 22% involved recurrences of old problems, and 18% were a combination of both old and new musculoskeletal problems.

More than two thirds (69%) of those who had tried minimally shod running said they were still using minimalist running shoes at the time of the survey, but nearly half of those who had stopped said they did so because of an injury or pain. The most common sites of pain or injury that caused survey participants to discontinue minimally shod running were the foot (56%) and the leg (44%).

While some runners who tried minimalist running shoes suffered some pain and discomfort, a greater percentage (54%) said they had pain that improved after making the switch. The anatomical area most often associated with improvement was the knee. The results were published in the August issue of PM&R.”

Look at your patients and clients shoes!

Can you see the varus cant to the heel counter of these shoes? This is an Asics  Gel  Kayano; a shoe we seem to see manufacturers defects in frequently. This could be a good thing for an overpronator, but could be a bad thing for a supinator. With a drop ( ramp delta) of 13 mm, and a narrow toe box, we are not huge fans…

All about Toe Break.

No, this is not a post about fractures phalanges, but rather where your shoe bends, or should bend.

Toe break is where the shoe bends anteriorly. Ideally, we believe this to be at the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint and metartarsal phalangeal articulations. This allows for the best “high gear” push off as described by Bojsen-Moller (1) High gear push off means that the pressure goes to the base of the great toe (1st MTP joint) for push off. (for an interesting post on this, see here 

If we think about rockers of the foot during the gait cycle (need a review? click here), it seems best that we accommodate each of them to the best of our abilities. Since most of us wear shoes, it would make sense that it flex in the right places. With regards to the forefoot, it should (theoretically) be under the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint. This should provide both optimal biomechanical function (distribution of force to the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint for push off/ terminal stance) and maximal perceived comfort (2).

If the shoe bends in the wrong place, or DOES NOT bend (ie, the last is too rigid, like a rockered hiking shoe, Dansko clog, etc), the mechanics change. This has biomechanical consequences and may result in discomfort or injury.

If the axis of motion for the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint is moved posteriorly, to behind (rather than under) the joint, the plantar pressures increase at MTP’s 4-5 and decrease at the medial mid foot. If moved even further posteriorly, the plantar pressures, and contact time in the mid foot and hind foot (3). A rocker bottom shoe would also reduce the plantar pressures in the medial and central forefoot as well (4). It would stand to reason that this would alter gait mechanics, and decrease mechanical efficiency. That can be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on what you are trying to accomplish.

Take home messages:

  • Where a shoe flexes will, in part, determine plantar pressures
  • Changes in shoe flex points can alter gait mechanics
  • More efficient “toe off” will come from a shoe flexing at the 1st metatarsal phalangeal joint and across the lesser metatarsal phalangeal joints
  • examine the “toe break” in your clients shoes, especially of they have a foot problem

1. F Bojsen-Møller Calcaneocuboid joint and stability of the longitudinal arch of the foot at high and low gear push off. J Anat. 1979 Aug; 129(Pt 1): 165–176.

2. Jordan C1, Payton C, Bartlett R Perceived comfort and pressure distribution in casual footwear. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 1997 Apr;12(3):S5.

3. van der Zwaard BC1, Vanwanseele B, Holtkamp F, van der Horst HE, Elders PJ, Menz HB Variation in the location of the shoe sole flexion point influences plantar loading patterns during gait. J Foot Ankle Res. 2014 Mar 19;7(1):20.

4. Schaff P, Cavanagh P Shoes for the Insensitive Foot: The Effect of a “Rocker Bottom” Shoe Modification on Plantar Pressure Distribution Foot & Ankle International December 1990 vol. 11 no. 3 129-140

plantar pressure image above from : Dawber D., Bristow I. and Mooney J. (1996) “The foot: problems in podiatry and dermatology”, London Martin Dunitz Medical Pocket Books.

Welcome to Rewind Friday. Today we review a video we did on toe box sizing. Lots of great info here. Check it out!

Have a great weekend (not that we are telling you what to do)

Ivo and Shawn

Join us this Wednesday evening, 5pm western, 6 PM mountain, 7PM central, 8PM eastern, at:  online CE.com for a lecture on minimalistic footwear and its impact on runners called Biomechanics 318. Drop, motion control features and a host of other subjects will be addressed.

Holy Hand Grenades! What kind of shoe do I put these feet in?

Take a look at these feet. (* click on each of the photos to see the full photo, they get cropped in the viewer) Pretty bad, eh? How about a motion control shoe to help things along? NOT! OK. but WHY NOT? Let’s take a look and talk about it.

To orient you:

  • top photo: full internal rotation of the Left leg
  • 2nd photo: full internal rotation of the Right leg
  • 3rd photo: full external rotation of the Left leg
  • last photo: full external rotation of the Right leg

Yes, this gal has internal tibial torsion (yikes! what’s that? click here for a review).

Yes, it is worse on the Left side

Yes, she has a moderate genu valgus, bilaterally.

If someone has internal tibial torsion, the foot points inward when the knee is in the saggital plane (it is like a hinge). The brain will not allow us to walk this way, as we would trip, so we rotate the feet out. This moves the knee out of the saggital plane (ie. now it points outward).

What happens when we place a motion control shoe (with a generous arch and midfoot and rearfoot control) under the foot? It lifts the arch (ie it creates supination and it PREVENTS pronation). This creates EXTERNAL rotation of the leg and thigh, moving the knee EVEN FURTHER outside the saggital plane. No bueno for walking forward and bad news for the menisci.

Another point worth mentioning is the genu valgus. What happens when you pick up the arch? It forces the knee laterally, correct? It does this by externally rotating the leg. This places more pressure/compression on the medial aspect of the knee joint (particularly the medial condyle of the femur). Not a good idea if there is any degeneration present, as it will increase pain. And this is no way to let younger clients start out their life either.

So, what type of shoe would be best?

  • a shoe with little to no torsional rigidity (the shoe needs to have some “give”)
  • a shoe with no motion control features
  • a shoe with less of a ramp delta (ie; less drop, because more drop = more supination of the foot (supination is plantarflexion, inversion and adduction)
  • a shoe that matches her sox, so as not to interfere with the harmonic radiation of the colors (OK, maybe not so much…)

Sometimes giving the foot what it appears to need can wreak  havoc elsewhere. One needs to understand the whole system and understand what interventions will do to each part. Sometimes one has to compromise to a partial remedy in one area so as not to create a problem elsewhere. (Kind of like your eye-glass doctor. Rarely do they give you the full prescription you need, because the full prescription might be too much for the brain all at once.  Better to see decent and not fall over, than to see perfectly while face down in the dirt.) 

Want to know more? Consider taking the National Shoe Fit Certification Program. Email us for details: thegaitguys@gmail.com.

We are the Gait Guys, and yes, we like her sox : )

So, what kind of shoes do I put this guy in?


The answer is, well…it depends.

This gentleman has a large Q angle (need to know more about Q angles? click here). The second photo is taken from above looking down at his knee.

If he has medial (inside) knee pain (possibly from shear forces), you would want to unload the medial knee, so a more flexible shoe that would allow more pronation of the foot and INCREASE the amount of valgus would open the medial joint space and probably be more appropriate.

If he had lateral (outside) knee pain (possibly from compressive forces), then a shoe with more support (like a motion control shoe) would help to unload the lateral knee and create more space may be appropriate. And that just covers the local knee issue. What if he has a pes planus and needs more than a “more stable” shoe ? And, what if that pes planus is rigid and won’t accept a more rigid arch supporting device ? What are you gonna do then ?

The caveat?

There are no hard and fast rules AND there is no substitute for examining the person and asking LOTS of questions BEFORE putting them in a shoe. You must approach each case on a case-by-case basis with all factors brought into the fold to make the best clinical decision.  Simply watching them walk, as you have heard it over and over again here on The Gait Guys, will lead you into wrong assumptions much of the time. Sometimes the obvious fix is not possible or won’t be tolerated by the person’s foot, knee, hip or body.  So, sometimes you have to settle with something in-between. 

Need to, or dying to, know more? Take our 3 part National Shoe Fit Program and be a shoe guru!

Email us at thegaitguys@gmail.com for details.