Do you have enough in the anterior tank ? Dr. Allen’s quiz question and lesson of the week.

One of my favorite sayings to my clients, “Do you have enough anterior strength to achieve and maintain posterior length?”  

Translation, do you have enough anterior lower leg compartment strength (tibialis anterior, long toe extensor muscle group, peroneus tertius) to achieve sufficient ankle dorsiflexion in order to achieve posterior compartment length (gastric, soleus, tibialis posterior, long toe flexor muscle) ?  You see, you can either regularly stretch the calf-achilles complex or you can achieve great anterior compartment strength, to drive sufficient ankle dorsiflexion, in effect EARNING the posterior compartment length. This is a grounded principle in our offices. It is the premise of the Shuffle Walk exercise (link) and many others we implement in restoring someones biomechanics.

Now on to today’s quiz question.

In this photo, both people are just mere moments before heel strike. 

1. Who is gonna need to have more eccentric strength in the anterior compartment ? And what if they don’t have it ? Repercussions ?  

2. Who is toeing off the lateral forefoot ? 

3. Who is crossing over more and thus could have more gluteus medius weakness ?

A picture is worth a thousand words. Answers and dialogue below.

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1. The lady in the high heeled shoes. If she heel strikes first, the larger longer heel on her shoe will mean she will need more of a prolonged eccentric loading of the anterior compartment to lower the forefoot to the ground. I hope she shortens her strike so she can get close to mid foot strike, it will negate most of this issue.  Repercussions? Forefoot pain, clenching/hammering of her toes from use of the long flexors to dampen loading of the metatarsal heads, and even possibly anterior shin splint like pain.

2. The lady is clearly in more lateral toe off, this is from the intoe’ing we see. This is low gear toe off. She may have limb torsion, internal tibial torsion to be specific, or insufficent external hip rotation control as a possibility. There are several possibilities here.

3. Hard to say, but the man seems to be crossing over more.

There is also no arm swing, hands are in the pockets, this is a big hit to gait economy. We have discussed these numbers in previous blog posts, the numbers are significant and real.  Step width is also a real factor, reduced step width leads to joint stacking challenges and is found with weaker hip abductors and changes in the iliotibial band length.

A picture can be worth a thousand words. I am a few short of the mark today, but I wanted to keep it short.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

Holy twisted tibias Batman! What is going here in this R sided knee pain patient?

In the 1st picture note this patient is in a neutral posture. Note how far externally rotated her right foot is compared to the left. Note that when you drop a plumbline down from the tibial tuberosity it does not pass-through or between the second and third metatarsals. Also note the incident left short leg
In the next picture both of the patients legs are fully externally rotated. Note the large disparity from right to left. Because of the limited extra rotation of the right hip this patient most likely has femoral retro torsion. This means that the angle of her femoral head is at a greater than 12° angle. We would normally expect approximately 40° of external Rotation. 4 to 6° is requisite for normal gait and supination.

In the next picture the patients knees are fully internally rotated you can see that she has an excessive amount of internal rotation on the right compare to left, confirming her femoral antetorsion.

When this patient puts her feet straight (last picture), her knees point to the inside causing the patello femoral dysfunction right greater than left. No wonder she has right-sided knee pain!

Because of the degree of external tibial torsion (14 to 21° considered normal), activity modification is imperative. A foot leveling orthotic with a modified UCB, also inverting the orthotic is helpful to bring her foot somewhat more to the midline (the orthotic pushes the knee further outside the sagittal plane and the patient internally rotate the need to compensate, thus giving a better alignment).

a note on tibial torsion. As the fetus matures, The tibia then rotates externally, and most newborns have an average of 0- 4° of internal tibial torsion. At birth, there should be little to no torsion of the tibia; the proximal and distal portions of the bone have little angular difference (see above: top). Postnatally, the tibia should twist outward (externally) a total of 15 degrees until adult values are reached between ages 8 and 10 years of 23° of external tibial torsion (range, 0° to 40°). more cool stuff on torsions here

Wow, cool stuff, eh?

Now THERE”S some internal tibial torsion!

So, this gent came in to see us with L sided knee pain after it collapsed with an audible “pop” during a baseball game. He has +1/+2 laxity in his ACL on that side. He has subpatellar and joint line pain on full flexion, which is limited slightly to 130 (compared to 145 right)

 We know he has internal torsion because a line drawn from the tibial tuberosity dropped inferiorly does not pass through or near the plane of the 2nd metatarsal (more on tibial torsions here)

What would you do? Here’s what we did:

  • acupuncture to reduce swelling
  • took him out of his motion control shoes (which pitch him further outside the saggital plane)
  • gave him propriosensory exercises (1 leg balance: eyes open/ eyes closed; 1 legged mini squats, BOSU ball standing: eyes open/eyes closed)
  • potty squats in a pain free range
  • ice prn
  • asked him to avoid full flexion

Is it any wonder he injured his knee? Imagine placing the FOOT in the saggital plane, which places the knee FAR outside it; now load the joint an twist, OUCH!

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.

What would you do? This is what we did.

History:

This 7 year old girl is brought in by her mother because of knee misalignment while skiing, L > R. No history of trauma; normal term birth with no complications. No knee pain. Of incidental note, she is deaf in the left ear.

Exam findings:

She has bi-lat. external tibial torsion, left much worse than right (40 degrees transmallolear angle vs 22 degrees. for info on measuring torsions, click here). remember, you should be able to draw a line from the tibial tuberosity down through the 2nd metatarsal head. 

She has a 5mm anatomical leg length deficiency on the right (see top above left).

She has femoral antetorsion right side with very little external rotation, approximately 10 degrees,  internal rotation is in excess of 50.  Left side has normal femoral versions (for a review of femoral versions and torsions, click here).  See last 2 pictures which are full internal and external rotation respectively.

She has a mild uncompensated forefoot varus (cannot really see from the pictures, you will need to take our word for it) with a relatively cavus arch to her foot(see center and last picture on right.

Neurologically, she appeared to have integrity with respect to sensation, motor strength and deep tendon reflexes in the lower extremities.

Assessment:

Pathomechanical alignment as described.  Severe left external tibial torsion. MIld to moderate right. Femoral antetorsion right.

Plan:

We are going to build her a medium heel cup full length modified UCB orthotic inverting the cast bi-lat. left greater than right.  We gave her  balance and coordination exercises, heel walking, lift/spread/reach and one leg balancing. She will follow up for a dispense.  Her mother will try to get a better fitting ski boot as the one she has currently is two sizes too big. She will return for a dispense. She should consider wearing the orthotics in everyday footwear as well. We will do a follow up post in a few weeks. 

The Gait Guys. Teaching you something new in each and every post. Like this post? Tell and share it with a friend. Don’t like this post? Let us know!

Wow! What would you do?

This is part 1 of a 2 part post. Look for the other one a few minutes after this one with a video up top for the conclusion

PRESENTING PROBLEM: This 54 YO female patient presents with with left sided knee pain.  She had a total knee replacement (TKR) done in 2011.  She’s had a significant amount of discomfort on the medial aspect of the knee since then. She had an MRI of the hip done thinking the problem was there, and found nothing.   She is walking with a bad limp, left leg is half inch shorter than the right.  Pain is worse at night, changes with weather. 

She has knee pain on the lateral aspect (points to tibial plateau and joint line) with swelling that goes down to the ankle left side.  She has been wearing a “Good Feet” OTC orthotic on the left side which she states helps quite a bit.

Generally speaking, stretching and analgesics make the discomfort better.    Ibuprofen 400 mg. b.i.d. can take the edge off  Soft sided brace (neoprene sleeve) makes a difference as well. The hard sided brace gives her difficulty.

WORK HISTORY: She works for a preschool.  Her job involves standing and getting up and down a lot.  

FAMILY HISTORY:  She has left sided lid ptosis, this evidently is familial.  

PHYSICAL EXAM:  She stood 5’ 1” and weighed approx. 150 pounds.

Viewing the knees bi-lat., the left knee is markedly externally rotated.

She does have a left short leg; tibial and femoral.  She has bilateral tibial torsion (look at the tibial tuberosities and drop a line straight down; it should pass through the 2nd metatarsal head) and marked internal tibial torsion on the left side (>60 degrees) with femoral retrotorsion (less than 8 degree angle of femoral head with the shaft) on this side.  There is no rotation of the thigh or leg past zero degrees midline. .  She had 10 degrees of tibial varum on the left hand side.  Her Q-angle is 10 degrees on that side.  There is plantar flexion inversion of the foot.  Left lower extremity has less sensation secondary to the her TKR  surgery.

Gait evaluation reveals a fair amount of midfoot pronation noted on the left hand side in addition to an intoed gait.  She has to lean her body over to the left to get the right leg to clear.

Some mild weakness noted of hip abduction musculature left hand side gluteus medius, middle and anterior fibers. Knee stability tests were negative.

Neurologically, otherwise, she had full integrity with respect to sensation, motor strength and deep tendon reflexes in the upper and lower extremities.

Please see part 2 of this post for additional info including our assessment and what WE did.

 The Gait Guys. Making it real, each and every post here on the blog.

special thanks to SZ for allowing us to publish her case, so others can learn

More on the “little guy”

We have been following this little guy for some time now. If you have not been keeping up, perhaps you should read herehere and here 1st. 

So, what do we see in these latest pictures?

Top left: neutral view.

  • He enjoys flip flops; probably not the best thing for a developing kiddo, in light of the excessive engagement of the posterior compartment (and reciprocal inhibition of the anterior compartment)
  • he has some tibial varum (ie bowleggedness) L > R
  • he has some developmental genu valgum whnich appears to be improving (need a Q angle review? click here)
  • no tibial torsion present on L: for a review on torsions, click here
  • still some external tibial torsion present on R (see section below on middle shots)

Top right and bottom: full internal rotation of R thigh: compare with bottom: full internal rotation of L thigh

  • he has adequate internal rotation (4 degrees needed) but not as great as left side (see bottom shot); this represents some improvement since we started
  • he has generous internal rotation of the left thigh

Middle Left: full external rotation of right thigh

  • note the position of the knee and the position of the foot; external tibial torsion is present. for a review of torsions, click here.
  • he has limited external rotation of the right thigh (compared with the left. The knee should fall more outside the saggital plane

Middle right: full external rotation of the left thigh

  • note the position of the knee and the position of the foot; internal tibial torsion is present. 
  • he has generous external rotation of the left thigh (compared with the left)

of other significant note: most of his calcaneal valgus has resolved; longitudinal arches are improved.

What now?

  • He continues to develop normally and continues to improve since his original presentation to the office
  • Having the child continue to walk barefoot
  • Continue to wear shoes with little torsional rigidity, to encourage additional additional intrinsic strength to the feet
  • He should continue to limit “W” sitting, as this will tend to increase the genu valgus present
  • We reviewed 1 leg balancing “games” and encouraged continuing agility activities, like balance beam, hopping, skipping and jumping on each leg individually
  • added in using a push and pedal bike
  • added in heel walking exercises

Ivo and Shawn. Bald. Good looking. Extraordinary Gait Geeks. Taking the world of gait literacy by storm with each and every post.