I recently convinced Registered Physiotherapist and creator of The Foot Collective Nick St. Louis to come to Halifax to run The Foot Collective Seminar (TFC). We spent the day focusing on discussing how we as health care practitioners can help restore and rewire our own, but more importantly our patients feet and hips!
The Feet Are Our Foundation
Our feet are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints, and 4 different layers of muscles. They are important for sensory input between our body and the surface we are interacting with, stabilizing the posture of the body, and assisting with ambulation and most of our functional movements.
The biggest problem today with feet is that dysfunction normally presents itself with no pain. How many of you are victims of not taking care of your own body until there is a symptom or limitation present? For the feet, things to look out for include :
- a decrease in balance
- changes in the way you walk
- tightness or stiffness
- visible deformities in the structure of your feet (think bunions)
The best way to get ahead of your foot dysfunction is to take care of your feet before they become a problem!
1. Decreasing the sensation and proprioception to the feet through thick-soled shoes, added cushioning, and added support
2. Decreasing mobility in the joints of the feet through modern shoes that are rigid and include narrow toe boxes that minimize movement within the feet themselves.
3. Decreasing ankle mobility with a lift or heel, resulting in joint and soft tissue restrictions.
What Else Can Impact Your Foot Dysfunction & Pain?
Have you heard the saying: “Sitting is the new smoking”?
Spending too much time seated can reduce our hip mobility into extension and external rotation, as we sit with our hips in flexion and neutral rotation. Sitting too much, which many of you are required to do for your careers, results in loss of mobility and creates muscle imbalances. These muscle imbalances and loss of mobility will result in a loss of stability in the hips, which can seriously impact dysfunction down the chain into the knees, and ultimately the feet.
4. Decreased extension in the hips result in a compensatory gait pattern. Changing the way you walk can change the way you distribute weight through the feet, contributing to dysfunction and pain.
5. Decreased hip stability and function have been shown to increase knee valgus, internal rotation of the lower extremity, and pronation of the feet, which results in fallen arches and flat feet. Most people are unaware that their fallen arches are unlikely hereditary, and more likely a result of gluteus muscles that aren’t firing in patterns we require them for. Not convinced?
Try this at home: stand with your feet hip width a part and the toes facing forward. Squeeze your gluteus muscles (buttocks) and watch what happens to the arches of your feet!
Tips On What Can You Do To Help?
- Be aware of the signs and symptoms common with patterns of dysfunction.
- Modify common behaviours that are negatively impacting your joint mobility, strength and stability.
- Use and move the muscles and joints in your feet by spending time barefoot.
- Use and move your hip joints and the muscles supporting them.
- Come into Choice Health Centre for an assessment to find out your specific deficits and spend time playing on our TFC Beam to make it all come together!