Foot pain

Stop Foot Pain Without Expensive Tools

Foot pain has created an entire industry from shoes to specially trained physicians. We have blamed flat feet for arch pain. We have created arch supports and orthotics to prop up the arches which help temporarily. We have created shoes with special heel supports, arch supports and supports if you supinate or pronate. Again, a temporary fix. People are now being told to not walk barefoot, especially on hard surfaces. These are all temporary fixes as they are only addressing the symptom and not the cause.

The first thing to do is start bt understanding why the foot hurts. Rarely is the site of pain, the cause. The calf muscles control most of the movements of the feet. There are 4 calf muscles. When I was young, I thought there was only one muscle as that was how it was always presented to me. Maybe the coaches thought the same thing.

The inside calf muscle, the Plantaris, controls the height of the inside of the foot. When this muscle is short, the person will tend to walk on the outside of the foot. This can cause pain on the outside of the foot, pain in the arch, or pain in the ankle. By hitting the outside of the foot, there is a lot of pressure placed on very small bones with little fat for cushioning. On top of those issues, walking on the outside of the foot can lead to bunions, nerve pain, and calluses on the big toe. If this is happening, the shoes will wear out on the outside first.

The outside calf muscle, the Tibialis Posterior, controls the outside of the foot. If this muscle is short, the person will walk on the inside of the foot causing pain in the big toe, inside of the heel, and ankle. Over time, this will cause damage to the knee and ankle.

The 2 middle calf muscles, Soleus and Gastrocnemius, control the vertical movement of the foot. When these 2 are short, things like Plantar Fasciitis, knee pain, Achilles Tendonitis, knee pain, low back pain, and even neck pain can occur. These 2 muscles can cause a slow of the body movement and overall pain.

The amazing fact about the calf is how few people in the country actually stretch them. Most trainers, coaches, and physical therapists teach a calf by standing on a slant board, step, or leaning against the wall with one foot back. Unfortunately, these stretches never stretch the outside or inside calf muscle which leads to many foot problems that people suffer. By lengthening these 4 muscles, the ankle can be free to move through its full range. The scary thing is few people can actually move their ankle through the full range. I love to watch people walk. Too many use a short stride and will lead with the nose. This causes neck pain and low back stiffness. A person may feel they are taking longer strides and they are based on the ankle’s range of motion. However, if they are leading with their noses, chances are their stride is too short.

So how are the calves stretched? I would suggest getting a yoga strap, rope, or anything that does not stretch. Stretching with a stretchy band is strength training and the muscles will tighten. When I stretch my calves, I sit on the floor with my back against the wall. If you cannot sit on the floor, then sit in a hard-backed chair with an ottoman. The key is to have back support and not lean back.

Next, place the rope around the ball of one foot, gently pull the toes back towards the body. Hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. A few things not to do. Do not pull hard enough to lift the heel off the floor or ottoman. Do not use the leg muscles to stretch, remember this is about letting go. Do not force the movement with strength as it will cause the muscles to go into strength training mode.

Next, rotate the foot to the right and repeat the stretch, holding 3-5 seconds and repeating 8-10 times. Finally, rotate the foot to the left and repeat the stretch. Now do the other foot so the body will be in balance.

Stretching is about letting go with the brain by relaxing the muscles and feeling the muscle extend gently. Forcing the stretch will only cause the muscles to tense up and not allow you to free up the muscle. I would do these every morning and evening for 2 weeks or until they feel looser. I would follow this up with practicing how to walk with a longer stride. in a future blog, I will discuss how best to increase the stride.

Check out my videos on my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop, and visit my website at http://www.musclerepairshop.com.

Back Pain, Foot pain

Golfer’s Ankles Affects your Distance

Every golfer practices to improve the mechanics of their swing, but what about the mechanics of your body?

When I have been on a golf course, I still see people placing one of their clubs behind their neck and twisting their backs. The thought is to loosen their back before playing. There are a few reasons why this doesn’t really work and I will touch on it here, but I want to get to the ankles and their importance to your swing. First, the twisting of the back seems weird as every golf pro teaches us to rotate around our spin like an axis. There should no serious twisting of the spine. Secondly, people who do this twisting, do it rather quickly, they are releasing the muscles with their brain, so they are actually strength training which will tighten the muscles they are trying to loosen. SO really this stretch is a non-golf stretch and it is not even a stretch to boot.

Now on to the ankles.   The rotation of the body during the golf swing comes from the inner thighs, inner calves, and outer calves. In my last post, I wrote about the inner thighs, so today I want to go into the calves and feet which the ankles control.

In your calves, you have 4 calf muscles. The inside calf controls the inside movement and lateral movement of the foot. The outside calf muscle controls the outside movement and lateral movement of the foot. Each of these muscles goes into the arch of your foot. Thee are muscles in your feet that run from your knee to your toes and controls the tops of your feet and the arch muscle, with a few others, that control the bottom of your feet. It is important to understand that in order to improve the distance on the ball.

If you stand barefoot and go through a practice swing, focusing on the feeling in the bottom of your feet, you will feel your weight shifting through the foot from inside to out on one and vice versa on the other.  This ability to work the muscles in your feet and calves is what gives the ankle the flexibility to increase your range of motion at the club head increasing your clubhead speed as the club addresses the ball. As you are going through your swing the inside calf muscle has to be able to release which will allow the outside calf muscle to pull which frees the ankle. The range of motion you have in your ankle, the more lubrication your body puts in the ankle joint.  This makes your swing easier with less effort, but more importantly, it increases the club head speed due to the increased range of motion.

The question is, how do you get there? Calf stretching is a very misunderstood part of the human body. You will see some people place their toes on a curb, slant board, or step to stretch their calves. Others will lean against the wall with their feet pushed away from the wall to stretch. These can be good for your Achilles Tendon, but they are not calf stretches. In fact, I would venture to say that 98% of Americans have never stretched their calves properly. You may feel your calves with the above stretches, but you are not stretching your calves. Let me explain.

In the above-mentioned stretches, you are, at best, stretching the lower end of the 2 middle calf muscles. As a golfer, this does not help you as your motion is about twisting. With the previous stretches mentioned, no one is stretching their inner and outer calf muscles and few trainers or therapists even talk about them. Some golfers will complain of back pain and their calves could be the problem. Short calves will force you to take shorter strides. This will cause you to walk with the nose out in front of your chest. Did you know that for every inch your head is in front of your chest, the pressure at the base of your neck doubles? When a human head is sitting on top of your shoulders it weighs between 10-12 lbs. 2 inches in front of your chest, it could weigh as much as 42 lbs.  I always joke with my clients that it depends on how large is their brain.

So how do you stretch your calves? You can sit on the floor with your back against the wall or if you cannot get on the floor, sit in a hard-backed chair with one foot on an ottoman with your leg straight. Place a yoga strap, rope, or anything that is not stretchy around the ball of your foot. Do not use your leg muscles. ONly use your arms and gently pull your toes back toward you feeling the stretch from start to finish. You should feel this behind your knee. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times.  On each stretch, breathe out and allow your brain time to let go of the muscle tension. Next, rotate your foot inward and repeat the stretch. Now you should feel it on the outside of your calf. Finally, rotate your foot to the outside and repeat the stretch. You should feel it on the inside of your calf.  This is also a great stretch for Plantar Fasciitis, we will discuss that in a later post.

The reason for the 3-5 seconds hold is to avoid the stretch reflex in your muscles which will happen due to the discomfort. If you pull too hard, you will build up your arms as your legs will fight with you instead of stretching your legs.  Do not overwork yourself. You do not need to force your muscles to stretch. I see too many people hurt themselves because they are trying to force the stretch. Relax, enjoy, and watch the distant of your ball increase as you free your body.

Back Pain, Foot pain, Knee Pain

Why Golfer’s Suffer With Back Pain

Many of my clients are golfers and I usually hear how their low back pain affects their golf game. I used to play golf and I remember from my golf lessons that when you are swinging the club, you want to keep your back straight and rotate using your legs to bring the clubhead around your body. Watch a pro golfer when they swing. The club head is usually around their back to the other side of their body. This gives them more range to increase clubhead speed as it approaches the ball. When we see an amateur golfer we see the clubhead go to about the middle of their back which limits the range of building the clubhead speed. We know they are older and not as flexible, but can they improve their flexibility?

As I watch golfers swing a club, I see that their inner and outer thighs along with their inner and outer calves is what allows them to have the maximum amount of clubhead range. When I see golfers workout and stretch, I rarely see any golfer work on these two areas of their body. On the local courses, I see golfers forcing their backs to do the work. The inner thighs and outer thigh control the pelvis and when they are short, the pelvis is tilted forward which cause the low back to tighten. The calves are what allows your weight to shift on your feet. Without this flexibility, the chances of damaging your knees are pretty high. There is a way to help you improve your flexibility for golf. I have started putting videos on my YouTube channel at, The Muscle Repair Shop, to help you. Currently, the calf stretches are there and if you follow the video, you can reduce your risk of knee injuries. We will soon have the thigh and inner thigh stretches uploaded. You can visit my website at http://www.musclerepairshop.com and contact me for additional videos to help your golf game.

I love when my golfing clients tell me they have reduced their scores by 4-5 strokes. The stretching will help you with distance and control. More importantly, you can play without pain.

Back Pain, Foot pain, Knee Pain, Neck Pain, Uncategorized

Are You Prepared for Old Age?

Recently I graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Aging Sciences. I went back to school as an older student to improve my knowledge of the Aging process we all face. Aging Sciences has taken the place of Gerontology because Gerontology covered the aging process from 55 years old to death. Aging Sciences covers aging from birth to death. The most important thing I learned was that we are not prepared for what we will face as we age. Being my fifties, I have some time to improve, but for younger people, they can actually prevent themselves from many of the ailments that older people face today.

Our health care system is a symptom-based system which means it focuses mainly on solving the ache or pain with little regard towards the cause. When older people suffer from arthritis, back pain, or joint pain, we can offer drugs, braces, or surgery as a means to stop the pain. What we should be looking at are their diet and lifestyle. Unfortunately, even the doctors will say, ” at your age, what do you expect?” You should expect everything to work, however, you must be taught how to prevent these things from happening and most health care workers are not trained to teach you.

We know that inflammation can lead to heart disease, but did you know it can lead to arthritis, joint stiffness, and even back stiffness. Too many people are consuming processed foods, mainly carbohydrates, that convert into to simple sugars. These simple sugars can create inflammation throughout your body. Secondly, carbohydrates are the main portion of your diet can cause your body to burn sugars instead of fat which can lead to obesity. Just by simply reducing the number of bread, pasta, and eliminating most of the processed foods like pastries and doughnuts, you can reduce the harmful effects. Eating more vegetables like lettuce, kale, greens of different kinds will help to reduce the need to burn glucose(sugar). Remember to take baby steps to build a habit. Bad eating is a habit just like good eating. Never go cold turkey and deprive yourself as this is a recipe to fail. In 1996, I weighed 315 lbs. Over the next 18 months, I lost 105 lbs. without ever going on a diet. All I did was to learn new habits. It is not easy, but you can do it!

Lifestyle changes like taking brisk walks every day, choosing the stairs versus the elevator, and learning to relax are keys to reducing stress which can cause inflammation in the body as well. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and bring your life back into calm. This can make you more productive and efficient. Little changes daily to your lifestyle will build a lifetime of good habits without too much pain. Part of my losing the 105 lbs., was beginning to walk around my 1 bedroom apartment because I did not have the energy to walk around my building. That is where I started.

These are small changes you can do every day. The younger you start, the more positive results you will have. In fact, many of the ailments older people suffer from today would simply be eliminated with these changes. This blog will continue to break down the choices you have so you can easily transition your life into a more healthy and fulfilling life. Please leave any comment you may have or suggestions as we will delve into aging from birth to death and how to prepare yourself for the aging process no matter where you are starting from.

Foot pain

Are you suffering with heel pain?

 

adult athlete cramps field
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Nothing is worse than waking up to a pain in your heel. If you find your heel hurting when you first get out of bed, walking a long distance, or even after sitting for a while, then you may have Plantar Fasciitis. According to “Heelthatpain.com” 10% of the total population may experience it during their lifetime. The article stated that the annual cost is between $192-376 million. That is a lot of cash and a lot of people. How do you get plantar fasciitis and can you get rid of it?

Plantar fasciitis has many different kinds of remedies as we will discuss in this article. Most only work minimally due to the misunderstanding of the cause of plantar fasciitis. The most common treatments are orthotic inserts and dorsi-flexion night splints. These do not even work 50% of the time and the inserts can cost upward of $400 a set. That is a pretty low bar for that much money. “Heelthatpain.com” reported that in a study of 250 people wearing orthotic inserts for 12 weeks, the pain only reduced about 37%. On average, they reported that the inserts and night splints reduced the pain by 47%. That is pretty low results. When you are in pain, that is very low odds.

In the August 2012 edition of the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences, the average time for plantar fasciitis to heal was between 6-18 months. That is a long time! This article talked night splints and orthotics as well. It also spoke of heel cups, injections, and surgery as possible treatments. Ouch! that is not good!

There is one problem with these findings. The pain is not caused by the heel or arch of foot, that is the symptom. The pain is caused by the upper calves. The calves will tighten from walking with short strides, not using your toes to push, and wearing shoes with too much support. To be fair the article in the Journal of Research in Medical Sciences did say that the calves could be at fault, however the calf stretches that were discussed were not a calf stretch but an Achilles tendon stretch. Which again points the cause at the foot! Let me explain.

In each of your caves there are 4 muscles that control the foot. The outside and inside calf muscles determine if you walk on the outside or inside of your foot, supination and pronation if you will. The 2 middle calf muscles, Gastrocs and Soleus controls the flexibility of the ankle up and down. Each of these muscles attach  to the arch of your foot. As in the NIH article, leaning against the wall with one leg extended behind you does not stretch the calf, only the Achilles tendon. If you had Achilles tendonitis that would be great! Dropping your heel off a curb, step, or board does not stretch the calves either and it can tighten the calf when you get off each of these, which is not what you need.

Find  a yoga strap, rope, or anything that is not stretchy like rubber bands to stretch. Sit on the floor with your back against the wall  to keep your back at 90 degrees to your leg. Place the rope around the ball of the foot of the extended leg. Using only your hands, do not use your leg muscles, gently pull your toes back toward you and breathe out, Only hold for 3-4 seconds, so not to resist from the brain. Repeat 8-10 times. You should feel the pull behind your knee. Now rotate your foot  outward and repeat. You will feel this on the inside of the calf. Finally repeat with your toes rotated inward. You will feel this on the outside of the calf. Make sure to do both legs, even if only one heel hurts.

The brain is important because of the emotional side of your muscles. Once you feel the pain, your brain will anticipate the pain and contract trying to stop the pain. This will make the pain worse. Remember to pull gently and breathe out as you feel your muscles stretching from start to finish. Once your brain can see the pain improving, it will let go emotionally and you can stop the pain within 5-10 days depending on the severity of the pain.

Final thought, use a golf ball on the arch of your foot. The arch will be tight because it has been fighting with your calves. Place the ball on the floor, press down but do  not roll the ball on your arch. You are looking for sore spots. Press gently and when you find one, maintain the pressure, thenbreathe and release. This should be more relaxing as the pain subsides. Do this every morning and evening until the pain stops, then go out and have fun!