I've gotten a lot of feedback and questions about the feet in the last few weeks after I published my blogs on bunions. This week I wanted to talk about why our feet are so important for our overall health and wellness.
Our feet are literally our foundation.
They are the first thing that contacts the floor once we stand up and become weight-bearing. In addition to housing and maintaining the function of the muscles and joints that exist in our feet, there are also lots of nerves in our feet. Those nerves carry information to our brain and spinal cord that informs our brains about the structures of the environment around us.
If we are walking uphill, the nerves in the feet sense the stretch in the bottom of the feet from the hill and they begin to turn on the muscles that we use to raise our leg as we walk up the hill. If we are on uneven terrain, the nerves in the feet send messages to the brain and spinal cord that activate the stabilizing muscles in our hips that help to support us on uneven surfaces.
This is part of what makes the feet so important. As they encounter the ground around us, our feet send messages that help the rest of our body prepare for the environment that we are in. This is one of the reasons for the minimalist and barefoot trend emerging over the last 5 to 10 years. Much of our common footwear these days does not allow our feet to flex and bend and splay with the changes in our terrain. That limits the information coming in from the feet and makes our ankle, hip, and core muscles less able to anticipate the needs of the body.
Tightness in the feet and ankles can also limit this information. That is why foot and ankle mobility is so important. If your foot and ankle cannot bend and twist and splay, then those messages never get to the brain and spinal cord.
So this means there are two needs that our foot and ankle have to properly get our body ready to move.
In this blog, I will discuss how to make sure your foot and ankle get good exposure to the environment.
In my next blog, I will be going over how to make sure your foot and ankle have proper mobility.
The best way to make sure that your foot is able to sense the ground and the environment around you is to make sure that your footwear allows this to occur. This is why I recommend minimalist shoes for most feet.
When Minimalist shoes first came out, cushioning was thought to be bad, no matter what. And in my opinion, this is what caused many people to dislike minimalist shoes. Let's face it: If you are a marathon runner -- you're going to need some cushion. Thankfully, now minimalist shoes come with a wide range of features.
My recommendations for good Minimalist shoes for everyday use are the New Balance Minimus line, the Merrell vapor gloves, and splay shoes. These are really good shoes for going to work, working out, or walking or hiking. The links to find these shoes are below.
If you're looking for good Minimalist shoes for endurance sports like running, trail running, or long distance walking, I recommend Altra shoes and Topos. These are great foot-shaped shoes with no build-up in the heel and with good cushioning. The links to these shoes are below.
These shoes are a great first step to getting the most out of your foundation.
Additionally - and actually very importantly: I also recommend just walking barefoot in the grass as often as you can. Wake those feet up! Your body will thank you!
And remember, you can always check with me here at Movement Laboratory about any of your foot questions ---we're here at 918.300.4084 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to watch for my next blog about ensuring MOBILITY of your feet. It's a critical issue - and there are things you can do to increase your ability to move well on your feet!
We've all heard that old song as kids: "The foot bone's connected to the ankle bone." But what we may not know is that that song is actually very true. Our feet can affect our entire body. A great example of this is a research study that found that hyper-pronation of the foot can lead to TMJ pain in the jaw.
In this blog, I'm going to cover three of the main conditions I find on a regular basis when my patients have pain in other areas of the body - but it's actually being caused by issues with their feet and ankles.
At first glance, the knee appears to be a pretty simple joint; it looks like it's a simple hinge. But looks can be deceiving. The knee not only bends like a hinge, but it also rotates inward and outward and can translate forward and backwards.
There's a saying in the healthcare world, "The knee is a slave to the hip and ankle". A great way to see this for yourself is to stand up and try to move your knee without moving your hips or ankles. It's impossible!
If you have an unstable foot with either too much pronation or supination, this will put your knee in a vulnerable position. An over-pronated foot will cause increased stress on your inner knee and an over- supinated foot will cause increased stress on the outer knee.
Stiffness in your foot and ankle leads to pain in the front of the knee and around the kneecap. This is one of the most common types of knee pain that I see in my practice. Pain around the kneecap is often accompanied with both stiffness in your ankle and instability in the foot, so that condition needs a proper assessment by a healthcare practitioner to facilitate the quickest healing.
The hips can also be impacted by issues in the feet. Instability in the foot and ankle can lead to pain on the outer hip and posterior hip, and can also lead to pain in the groin. Stiffness in the ankle most commonly can lead to pain in the front of the hip.
When the foot over-pronates, it causes the knee to "cave in" - this leads to increased stress in the outer hip muscles (the gluteus medius) and increased stress in the back of the hip in the piriformis muscle.
When we have a stiff ankle, it causes a change in the final stage of the gait cycle called "toe-off". When we step forward, our weight is supposed to shift forward while our ankle flexes; this allows our leg to push us forward. When the ankle is stiff, that can lead to excess force needed in our hip in order to step forward. That situation will cause pain in the anterior or posterior hip.
The feet and ankles can also be a primary component of low back pain. Anytime we utilize squatting motions, such as sitting in a chair, squatting down to pick something up, or jumping, our ankles need to bend.
When our ankles are stiff, in order to get our hips lowered such as to allow us to sit in a chair, we have to bend our back more than is necessary to accomplish that task. So stiffness in the ankles will cause increased stress and pain in the low back.
Instability in the feet and ankles will also cause a rotation in our pelvis. When our pelvis is not able to be in a neutral position for long periods of time, this causes increased stress in the muscles and ligaments of the low back. In this case, this causes under-pronation or over-supination, either of which can also be a contributor to low back pain.
The most important thing to understand in considering how instability, over-pronation, or over-supination, and other feet/ankle conditions can affect areas like the knee, hips, low back - or even the jaw - is that we may only feel pain and discomfort in the other areas. This means we may not realize that our feet and ankles are the problem because we don't feel any pain there.
This is why it's important to see a healthcare practitioner who evaluates the entire body - not just the area that is hurting. At Movement Laboratory, every new patient gets a full-body movement assessment; no matter if the complaint they're coming in for is neck pain, knee pain, or wrist pain, or another area. It's critical to check how each area's mobility range and level affects the rest of the body.
A proper comprehensive evaluation will save a ton of time in recovery. So - if you're dealing with any of the issues listed in this blog, come see us at Movement Laboratory to get feeling better as fast as possible! Just give us a call at 918-300-4084 or you can even book online at movlab.janeapp.com.
So you're killing it in the gym! Maybe you found a great CrossFit gym, or you are weightlifiting on your own. You are consistently hitting 2-5 workout days each week. You make sure to have rest days to allow your muscles to recover. Now you're ready to start increasing your weights. But, how? Increase reps, increase sets, go heavier?! There are so many options.
I recommend letting your goals show you the way. Your goals can dictate the path that's best for you:
Most training programs involve performing the bulk of your exercises in that 8–12 rep sweet spot for a few reasons.
When trying to find your starting weight, follow this program.
Using this method, you will be able to find your ideal starting weight! This will allow you to “build a base,” perfect your form, and gain confidence for weight increases to come.
Be aware of newbie gains! When you first start strength training, you’ll likely notice a more dramatic increase in strength than you will at any other point in your strength-training journey. That’s largely because during the first couple of weeks of any strength program, the bulk of your strength gains don’t come from putting on actual muscle. Those early strength gains are due to a combination of neurological changes—basically, your brain and muscles learning to work efficiently together so that the muscle cells fire and contract with more force.
What’s more, each person has a different upper limit to how much strength their bodies can gain.
So no matter what your training experience is, knowing when you’re ready to increase weight is as simple as counting reps and watching form. If you are finishing your sets and feel like you could have done 3-4 more reps with no problem, it's probably time to start thinking about an increase.
If you are ready to increase, then your goals will again tell you how.
One important note: If you feel like you are ready to make weight increases with deadlifts and squats before you’re ready to make weight increases with triceps extensions or biceps curls, don’t worry. That’s natural. Many people tend to be stronger on lower-body exercises, at least initially. You will likely see faster weight increases with compound, multi-joint lifts such as squats, bench presses, rows, and deadlifts than with single-joint isolation ones such as leg extensions, triceps extensions, and hamstring curls.
It’s best to look at weight increases in terms of a percentage of the weight you’ve been lifting. For example, going from 5 to 10 pounds with shoulder raises might be the same jump in poundage as going from 100 to 105 pounds with deadlifts, but one requires doubling the weight while the other accounts for a 5 percent increase in weight. Generally, you should limit week-to-week weight increases for any given lift to no more than 10 percent.
Sometimes the weights available to you might mean you have to make a larger increase if you want to increase at all. In that case, always listen to your body, pay attention to your form, and cut your reps accordingly so that you can get through them all without breaking form.
In fact, it’s totally normal to start using a heavier weight and then not be able to quite hit the top of your rep scheme at first. In a few weeks, you will be able to, and then you can up your weights again. For example, if you were doing 3 sets of 12 reps of overhead presses, you may only be able to handle 3 sets of 10 reps when you bump up the weight. If you’re still in that 8–12 rep range, that’s totally fine, and in time you’ll be back to feeling like 12 reps is easy and you'll be ready to once again increase the intensity.
Lifting more weight can be awesome, but lifting too much increased weight comes with some unwelcome side effects. The big one is delayed-onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. Each time you increase the amount of stress you put on a muscle, more microscopic damage occurs within the muscle cells, leading to an uptick in pain during the 24 to 72 hours following your workout as the muscle repairs itself. However, just because DOMS hurts - that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily bad. It’s a normal part of your body recovering from the stress of lifting.
Also, beware of the dangers of our human ego. It can be tempting to get so caught up in moving more weight that you start to break down in your form. Never sacrifice form to lift more weight. This is the quickest path to injury.
So there you have it. Follow these rules to safely increase those gains:
Brrrrr! This weather is crazy right now. I don't know about you guys but I've had about 5 near death experiences this last week on the ice!
Some people have not been as lucky as me!
Falling on the ice and snow is rough on the body. It's very similar to a car wreck. Even though you might land on your butt or your back, injuries may show up all over your body.
Falls, just like car wrecks, can cause whiplash. This can lead to strains and sprains in the neck and all throughout the body.
These types of injuries should not just be ignored. They can persist for years if left untreated. Here at Movement Laboratory we are experts at treating these injuries.
The first step in these injuries is calming down the pain and inflammation caused by the trauma to the muscles and joints in the fall. One of our most powerful tools for this is our Cold Laser. This therapy is amazing at decreasing inflammation and speeding up healing for the muscles and joints.
We have lots of other tools to help with reducing pain and inflammation. From acupuncture, to kinesiotape, and electronic muscle stimulation we can fight that inflammation naturally here at Movement Laboratory.
Once the pain levels decrease, we get right to work on restoring your body to regular function. After trauma our bodies get tight and stiff. We want to restore your regular movement as soon as possible.
Finally we work on strengthening your body so your less prone to injury in the future. The first part of our treatment plans is putting out the fire. In this last part, we want to now make you fireproof! Each patient gets an individually tailored exercise plan to regain their function and make them stronger than they were before!
If you've had a slip and fall in this crazy weather, don't just hope you'll feel better eventually, come see us at the Movement Laboratory and get back to feeling great!