Pain at toe-off; Stopping Big Toe Impingement with the extensor hallucis capsularis.

Photo: note the AET coming off the EHL tendon in the diagram

What if there was a mechanism in place by which to pull structures out of the way of a joint moving to end range ? If you know your biomechanics, you know this is a true phenomenon on several levels. We know of one at the knee, the articularis genu has been written about having function of drawing the suprapatellar bursa and joint capsule/synovial tissue cephalad (upward) during knee extension preventing an impingement phenomenon during full quadriceps contraction in knee extension loading. 

What if there were a similar mechanism in the big toe ? When teaching we are sometimes asked what joint, that when it goes sour, creates more devastation to the entire biomechanical chain than any other joint. I like to choose the big toe/1st metatarsophalangeal joint because failure to fully push off the big toe at full joint range impairs hip extension, stride and step lengths, and creates compensations far and wide ipsilaterally and contralaterally in the body. Most everyone knows about bunions, turf toe, hallux valgus, sesamoiditis and the like, but there are many other things that can make this joint painful. Today we bring you another “clearing mechanism” that acts to pull synovial and capsular tissues out of a joint that is nearing end range.
As seen in the anatomy dissection photo above, the extensor hallucis capsularis (EHC) is an accessory tendon slip off of the extensor hallucis longus (EHL). Interestingly, one study found that 8% of the dissections showed the EHC came off of the tibialis anterior tendon slip. This EHC accessory slip typically originates off the long extensor tendon (EHL) and traverses medially to the dorsomedial joint capsule region. Some studies suggest it is found in 80-98% of people. We propose it is most likely present in everyone because of the critical nature of its function. We propose that perhaps it may be missed on traditional dissections because of its blending with fascial tissues and because of its sometimes trivial size and girth. Just like when we fully extend our knee we want to be sure the articularis genu will draw the synovial capsular tissue up and out of the patellar/femoral approximation, the EHC has been shown on intra-operative testing to exert a pretension on the metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint capsule similarly pulling the synovial-capsular tissue free from the end range dorsiflexing toe. Without this function, synovial-capsular impingement can occur and create pain and an inhibitory arthrogenic reflex to the EHL, tibialis anterior or any other muscles around the joint for that matter. This can act and feel like an acute “turf toe” (hyper-dorsiflexion event) and yet, not be true turf toe osseous impingement.
So if your client has pain at the dorsal joint on end range extension of the great toe, meaning things like toe-off, doing push ups from the ball of the foot, jumping, kneeling or squatting with the hallux in forced dorsiflexion etc, this tendon slip (and its origin, the EHL muscle) should be on your mind and assessment of the anterior compartment for S.E.S. must commence (S.E.S.= skill, endurance and strength, our Gait Guys mantra). This is why you need to intimately understand this important video (link) and need to know how to do this exercise, the shuffle walks (video link) and build clean ankle rocker ranges of motion via S.E.S. of the anterior compartment.  Pulling on the great toe, twisting it like a radio knob, and forcing end range shouldn’t be the biggest guns in your arsenal, logically restoring all the dysfunctional components should be.

We wonder how many of the videos online of people demonstrating big toe mobilizations, toe distractions, fancy exercises and various toe circus tricks to regain motion and function and reduce pain actually truly know about the anatomy and function of the big toe and how ankle rocker and other things can impair its function.  We wonder about these kinds of things.  

Please just remember, the average uneducated viewer is merely looking for solutions to their painful parts. Those in the know have a responsibility to deliver as complete a package as possible, within reason. 

“With great powers (and knowledge) there must also come, great responsibility.”-Stan Lee  

Dr. Shawn Allen

the gait guys

Photo credit link: http://www.wisconsinfootandankleinstitute.com

www.wisconsinfootandankleinstitute.com/img/research/The-Accessory-Extensor-Tendon_fig1.jpg

references:

Foot Ankle Surg. 2014 Sep;20(3):192-4. doi: 10.1016/j.fas.2014.04.001. Epub 2014 Apr 16.
The extensor hallucis capsularis tendon—a prospective study of its occurrence and function.Bayer T1, Kolodziejski N2, Flueckiger G2.

Foot Ankle Int. 2006 Mar;27(3):181-4.
Extensor hallucis capsularis: frequency and identification on MRI.
Boyd N1, Brock H, Meier A, Miller R, Mlady G, Firoozbakhsh K.

Foot Ankle Int. 2004 Jun;25(6):387-90.
The accessory extensor tendon of the first metatarsophalangeal joint.
Bibbo C1, Arangio G, Patel DV.

Podcast 87: Podcast 87: The Kenyan’s Running Brain & “The” Anterior Compartment.

Plus, Some unknown facts about going minimalism and barefoot. We POUND anterior compartment strength today gang ! Hope you enjoy !

Show sponsors:
www.newbalancechicago.com

A. Link to our server: 
http://traffic.libsyn.com/thegaitguys/pod_87final.mp3

Direct Download: 
http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-87

Other Gait Guys stuff

B. iTunes link:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-gait-guys-podcast/id559864138

C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :
http://store.payloadz.com/results/results.aspx?m=80204

D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:
Monthly lectures at : www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”

Show notes:

On high heels and short muscles: A multiscale model for sarcomere loss in the gastrocnemius muscle

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022519314006262

The Brain Needs Oxygen

Maintained cerebral oxygenation during maximal self-paced exercise in elite Kenyan runners.

http://www.runnersworld.com/racing/the-brain-needs-oxygen
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25414248
J Appl Physiol (1985). 2014 Nov 20:jap.00909.2014. doi: 10.1152/japplphysiol.00909.2014. [Epub ahead of print]

The texting lane in China
http://www.theguardian.com/world/shortcuts/2014/sep/15/china-mobile-phone-lane-distracted-walking-pedestrians

Dialogue on endurance training,
NeuroRehabilitation. 2006;21(1):43-50. 
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16720937

Effects of dorsiflexor endurance exercises on foot drop secondary to multiple sclerosis.  Mount J1, Dacko S.

APOS Therapy
we were asked out opinion on this
http://apostherapy.com/

Foot instrinsic dialogue
Motor Control. 2014 Jul 15. [Epub ahead of print]

Quantifying the Contributions of a Flexor Digitorum Brevis Muscle on Postural Stability.
Okai LA1, Kohn AF.

There are many factors in adults that impair gait. It is not all biomechanical. This is part of our ongoing dialogue on the aging population and why gait impairments and falls are so prevalent.
Acta Bioeng Biomech. 2014;16(1):3-9.
Differences in gait pattern between the elderly and the young during level walking under low illumination.
Choi JS, Kang DW, Shin YH, Tack GR.


Is Your Foot Tripod Stable Enough to Walk or Run without Injury or Problem ?

The all to common case of the Wobbling Tripod.

Note the music we have chosen today. We tried to match the rate of the dancing tibialis anterior tendon to the tempo of the song, just for fun of course. Well, actually, for neurological reasons as well, as with a steady tempo or beat, your nervous system can learn better. Why do you think we teach kids songs to learn (or you can’t get the theme from the “Jetsons” out of your head).

This is a great video. This client has an obvious problem stabilizing the foot tripod during single leg stance as seen here.  There is also evidence of long term tripod problems by the degree of redness and size (although difficult to see on this plane of view) of the medial metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint (the MPJ or big knuckle joint) just proximal to the big toe.  This is the area of the METatarsal head, the medial aspect of the foot tripod.

As this client moves slowly from stance into a mild single leg squat knee bend the challenges to the foot’s stability, the tripod, become obvious.  Stability is under duress. There is much frontal plane “Checking” or shifting and the tibial and body mass is rocking back and forth on a microscopic level as evidenced by the dancing tibialis tendon at the ankle level.  The medial foot tripod is loading and unloading multiple times a second. 

Is it any shock to you that this person has chronic foot problems which are exacerbated by running ?  Every time this foot hits the ground the foot is trying to find stability. The medial tripod fails and the big knuckle joint (the 1st MPJ or big toe joint) is enlarging from inflammation and early cartilage wear and decay, not to mention the knee falling medially as well!  Hallux limitus (turf toe) is subclinical at this time, but it is on the menu for a later date. A dorsal crown of osteophytes (the turf toe ridge on the top of the foot) is developing steadily, soon to block out the range necessary for adequate toe off in this client.  And that means a limitation in  hip extension sometime down the road (and premature heel rise……. did you read Wednesday’s blog post on that topic ?).

*addendum:

Take the time to develop the skill. We ask our clients to work on standing with the toes up to find a clean tripod and do some shallow squats working on holding the tripod quietly. Be sure your glutes are in charge. Then, again using the toes pressed flat but be sure the tripod is still valid, esp the medial tripod. No toe curling/hammering. Keep that glute on. Move the swing leg forward during a squat, and then behind you during a squat (mimicing early and late midstance phases of gait/running). This will help your brain realize when it needs this stability and it will also act to press you off balance and will make the foot check and challenge. Do this until you feel the foot fatigue on the bottom. Then Stop. Repeat later. If the medial tripod collapses, the knee will drop inwards and excess pronation is inevitable. We modified this with our prescription of the “100 ups”…..combine the two !

Shawn and Ivo … .  comfortably numb.

Once you have been to the Dark Side of the Moon  (and hopefully you didn’t have any Brain Damage) you will know it well and know what to expect when you return again.  Meaning, when you have seen these issues over and over again, hopefully in your daily work if not regularly here at The Gait Guys, you will quickly know what things to assess and look for in your athletes.  And you might just turn into a Pink Floyd fan at the same time, or at least crave some Figgy Pudding (but you have to eat yer’ meat! How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat  yer’ meat?).

Tight ankles ? Here we do a short little video for mom.

Gain strength in the anterior compartment to achieve posterior compartment length. Stretching calf is not enough when the calf is tight due to increased neurologic protective tone, possibly an attempt to protect the ankle mortise joint.
So, if stretching is not the solution, look to increase facilitation and strength of the weaknesses in the other compartments.  You just might feel the tightness melt away without stretching at all !

Spindle responses and golgi tendon organ responses. The more you know about the nervous system the smarter your treatments will be.

The Gait Guys, using the functioning of the  nervous system to get the responses we want.