Wednesday, September 7, 2011

“The Foot bone is connected to the Thigh bone…”

By: Dr. Terry Weyman

Come on everybody, sing alone, “the thigh bone is connected to the, hip bone”! As fun as that song was, there is so much truth to it. As humans, our skeletal frame is kinetic, which means it’s all connected and moves as a whole unit. As with a race car or a bike, the more aligned it is the better it moves. The more you understand this concept, the more you can put it to use when it comes to your health and athletic performance.

Fall is here and that means school sports are upon us. The football fields are in full swing, the soccer fields are packed, Cycling is at its best and the Dew Tour is in full swing for the action sport athletes. One thing all these sports have in common is balance and lower body coordination. For ultimate balance you need to look down, down to your feet.

Our feet are the foundation to our physical movement and balance. The feet are the first joints that withstand forces thru our body during movement. These forces, if altered, can cause a dramatic effect on how the rest of the body is going to move, leading to different pain syndromes. If the foundation is not able to stabilize the rest of the body, then it is not long before we start to see wear and tear on other parts of the body.

To understand how the foot is working we need to look at the Gait Cycle. The Gait Cycle is a term that represents the period of time between successive ipsilateral(same side) heel strikes; that is, it begins when the heel first strikes the ground and ends the moment that the same heel strikes the ground with the next step. So what happens to the foot that can cause pain during the gait cycle? Two of the most important motions that occur during the gait cycle are pronation and supination.

Pronation refers to the inward roll of the foot during normal motion and occurs as the outer edge of the heel strikes the ground and the foot rolls inward and flattens out. A moderate amount of pronation is required for the foot to function properly, however damage and injury can occur during excessive pronation, more commonly know as hyperpronation. An easy way to check if you are hyperpronating is to look at the back of the Achilles tendons. If they are bowing inwards, you are hyperpronating! Also look at your shoes, either dress or athletic, look at the wear pattern and see if it is even with the other foot. Is there excessive wear or is the bottom of the shoe wearing evenly. If your foot pronates excessively then this will flatten out the arch and stretches the muscles, tendons, and ligaments underneath the foot. This condition leads to Achilles tendonitis, plantar fascitis, medial knee pain, lateral hip pain (bursitis and ITB syndrome) and lower back pain.

Supination is the opposite of pronation and refers to the outward roll of the foot during normal motion. A natural amount of supination occurs during the push-off phase of the running gait as the heel lifts off the ground and the forefoot and toes are used to propel the body forward. However, excessive supination, which is called hypersupination (excessive outward rolling) places a large strain on the muscles and tendons that stabilize the ankle, and can lead to chronic ankle sprains.

Prevention and Treatment

1)A comprehensive gait analysis must be done to determine if your foot is either over pronating or supinating. Have a skilled Doctor watch you walk, evaluate your shoes, check your alignment to insure your kinetic chain is functioning at its best

2) Specific Biomechanical adjustments to the foot, ankle, knee, and low back to help restore normal motion through out the body.

3)Specifically made orthotics (if needed) are tailored to your foot and to the kind of activities you like to participate in. Sometimes, just changing shoes or an over the counter insert is fine, but make sure the selection is right for your condition.

4) Specific exercise and stretches to help restore strength and flexibility to the Foot. DON’T forget this step. The lower body must be given proper therapy to achieve specific goals for your sport. Old patterns must be broken and new proprioceptive goals must be achieved for ultimate success.

Taking care of your feet and fixing any of the above biomechanical faults, maybe the most important goal to achieve maximum output for your sport. If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, please, listen to your body, and don’t wait for it to lead to something else.

Dr. Terry Weyman is the clinic Director of the Chiropractic Sports Institute and is the Sports Chiropractor on staff at Pepperdine University in the Athletic Training room. For More information go to CSI website at

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