Barefoot Science, General

Enhancing Sensory Stimulation to Improve Balance in Multiple Sclerosis

Balance impairment is a common symptom in patients living with Multiple Sclerosis.   From an increased fall risk to reduced independence, compromised dynamic stability can place a heavy emotional burden on these individuals.

When developing a balance and fall reduction program for MS clients, research has shown that approaching it from a sensory perspective is the most effective.

Below are the top three sensory stimulation pathways that can be used to optimize balance and stability in your MS clients.

eyeSensory Gateway #1 – Vision

According to the Multiple Sclerosis Society, vision problems are some of the most common symptoms associated with MS.  The most common eye complications include optic neuritis, diplopia, nystagmus and internuclear ophthalmoplegia.

Our eyes are designed to move and accommodate for light, providing us with as much sensory detail about our environment as possible.  A decrease in visual acuity has been associated with impaired balance and delayed accuracy in motor patterns.

A 2018 study by Herbert et al. demonstrated the efficacy in the integration of eye movement exercises and visual stimulation in improving balance for those with MS.    The study that focused on the BEEMS (balance and eye motion exercises for MS) integrated the following exercises for improved sensory integration and brain balancing.

Sensory Gateway #2 – Vestibular

 The first sensory system to develop after conception is the vestibular system.  Often earreferred to as the gateway to the brain, the vestibular system is critical in how our brain and body relates to gravity.

In MS, vestibular disturbances typically present as vertigo, balance disorders, and the presence of nystagmus (rapid involuntary movements of the eyes).  When considering the implications of vestibular disturbances it is important to understand if the cause is related to disturbances in the peripheral vs central vestibular system.

The vestibular system can be divided into two main systems: the central system (the brain and brainstem) and the peripheral system (the inner ear and the pathways to the brainstem).   A 2008 study by Zeigelboim et al. found that vestibular disturbances related to MS were disruptions in the peripheral system, with a higher prevalence in female patients.

The following exercises are recommended to address the vestibular disturbances associated with MS.   You will notice that many of these exercises also integrate the visual system, as all of our sensory systems a linked in function with one input system enhancing the other.

Sensory Gateway #1 – Touch

104821576The final sensory system is one that is quite familiar to those who follow EBFA Global’s work and allows us to tap into the homunculus of the motor cortex.

Our hands and feet are some the most sensitive sensory gateways of the human body and allow us to connect vision with an exteroceptive world.   Neuropathies and disruptions in peripheral proprioceptive and vibratory input are often associated with MS and should be addressed before symptoms present.

The skin on the plantar foot and palmar hand contain four main mechanoceptors:

SAI – two-point discrimination & texture

SAII – skin stretch

FAI – low-frequency vibration

FAII – high-frequency vibration

Sensory Stimulation Balance Program for Multiple Sclerosis 

The following exercises integrate visual, vestibular and touch sensory stimulation into every exercise.   All of the exercises can be progressed from seated to standing to legs crossed and tandem to single leg stance.

Equipment needed:   Naboso Barefoot Mat, Ball (Textured), Card

To learn more about the sensory input systems and how they relate to brain, body and balance please visit:   www.ebfaglobal.com or www.nabosotechnology.com

Dr Emily Splichal

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Barefoot Science

Beyond Biomechanics | Addressing Foot Pain with Sensory Stimulation

I want you to picture a human foot.   Now picture a person standing barefoot, and then walking barefoot.   Do you see the foot striking the ground and flexing under impact, only to re-stabilize and push off just a few milliseconds later?

earthing

Often times when we think of human movement we can’t help but to be drawn to the thought of joints moving and muscles contracting.   Or in the case of foot function we are quick to consider the mechanics of flat feet, high arches, pronation and supination.   However when we delve deeper into the science of human movement there is more than meets the eye.

The Two Sides of Foot Function   

 When I teach on behalf of EBFA Global or speak to my patients I always emphasize that there are two sides to foot function (and dysfunction) – biomechanical and neuromuscular.    Now both play and important role in foot function which means that both must be appreciated – however to solely treat foot pain with just one belief system in mind is inherently flawed.

In most Podiatric Medical Schools we are taught foot function and foot pathology solely pronfrom a biomechanical perspective.   This means that every patient is tested for foot mobility and told to stand statically to determine arch height and foot type.   Based on this foot-focused biomechanical assessment and foot classification system the patient cause of injury and treatment protocol is determined.   Some of the favorite treatment recommendations include motion-controlled footwear and custom-posted orthotic both of which are prescribed with the hopes of controlling foot-focused biomechanics and thereby reducing their foot pain.

Beyond Biomechanics

The other side of foot function is one that is driven from a neuromuscular perspective and integrates the science of sensory stimulation and fascial systems.   In the case of neuromuscular function every patient would be assessed for sensitivity of plantar mechanoceptors as well as co-activation patterns between the foot and the core.  The role of minimal footwear, myofascial releasing, breathing patterns and compensation patterns more proximal would all be considered.

So which is more appropriate?  Well it depends.   In certain cases there will be a stronger argument towards a more biomechanical influence and in others it is more sensory.  This means it really is a marriage between the two approaches that provides the greatest patient outcome.

Sensory Stimulation in Foot Pain

My practice and Podiatry career is built around bringing an awareness to the important role sensory stimulation has on foot function and foot pain.

With every step we take impact forces are entering the foot as vibration.  This vibrational noise stimulates unique mechanoceptors on the bottom of the foot and is used to coordinate the loading of impact forces through coordinated contractions of the intrinsic (small) muscles of the bottom of the foot.   This co-contraction leads to a stiffening or strengthening response of the foot.

Researchers such as Nigg et al. and Robbins et al. have demonstrated a direct relationship between sensory stimulation of the plantar foot and intrinsic muscle strength concluding that one is necessary for the other.   This means that if our footwear or orthotics disconnect us from sensory stimulation – as in the case of cushioned footwear – this can actually weaken our foot making us susceptible to plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis and stress fractures.

Beyond Vibration Stimulation

feet-mechanoreceptorsVibration stimulation is an extremely important sensory stimulation that enters our foot however it isn’t the only stimulation.   Another important stimulation is the ability for our foot to determine texture and if a surface is rough or smooth.   This information is used to help maintain dynamic balance (think walking on ice).

Enter the merkel disk mechanoceptors.   These superficial sensory nerves are used to determine what’s called 2 point discrimination which is translated to roughness or the texture of a surface.  Surface texture and insole texture is one of the most studied aspects of foot stimulation and posture or gait.  From decreased medial lateral sway in patients with Parkinson’s or MS to reduced prefrontal cortical activity in atheltes post-concusion the applications are promising!

One area that hasn’t been focused on for sensory stimulation and foot function is foot pain.  I am here to change the awareness around this concept and share the powerful application of sensory stimulation and foot pain.

As we mentioned earlier sensory stimulation of the foot leads to a contraction of the intrinsic muscles of the foot.   Intrinsic muscle contraction is not only is a criticial step in the damping of impact forces but has also been shown to increase the medial arch and build co-activation contractions in the core.

 The Evolution of Textured Insoles

In October 2017 Naboso Technology launched the first-ever commercially available OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAtextured insole!   Naboso Technology essentially brought the science of touch and years of textured insole research to the market place giving new hope to people with foot pain.

Available in two strengths – Naboso 1.0 (1mm texture) and Naboso 1.5 (1.5mm texture) Naboso Insoles are designed to be worn without socks (or at the most very thin socks).  They fit into all footwear, are freely movable in all planes of motion and are only 3mm thick.

Learn more about the power of texture!    

http://www.nabosostechnology.com

#lifeissensory

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Barefoot Science, Foot Function & Fascial Lines Series

Feet, Fascia & Functional Movement Summit | London

Get ready for the first-ever Feet, Fascia and Functional Movement Summit coming to London on Sunday January 21, 2018!

As part of the EBFA Global Mentorship this one-day event features the global leaders in fascial fitness and functional movement including:

Dr Robert Schleip (via teleconference) of Fascial Fitness

Gary Ward of Anatomy in Motion

–  James Earls of Born to Walk

Dr Emily Splichal of EBFA Global

Experience lectures on the unique perspectives of these four educators and how each applies the concept of fascial integration into functional movement and human locomotion.

Let’s say hello to our Presenters!

 

Don’t miss out on this invaluable training!

Sunday January 21, 2018  | 8am – 6pm

GRANGE HOLBORN HOTEL
50-60 Southhampton Row
London, UK

Registration Fee: $300 USD

REGISTER NOW!!

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Barefoot Science

The Evolution of Touch, Emotion and Barefoot Science

“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes

This is one of my favorite quotes.  In fact I love any quote that has to do with learning, expanding oneself and seeking self-improvement.  I have always held the belief that our ability to learn never stops, and would go so far as to say it is our responsibility to continue to learn and challenge our knowledge base.  This is especially true for professionals in health and wellness as our understanding of the human body, physiology and pathology is always expanding.

This is why EBFA’s education has continuously grown and expanded from simply foot biomechanics and short foot exercise to brain, breath, emotion and the neuroplasticity of barefoot science.

As I prepare for the re-brand of EBFA for January 2018 I want to share some exciting insight into the power of barefoot science and how our ability to discriminate surfaces, textures and touch is linked to emotional stability ind children and adults.

From Survival to Sophisticated

tumblr_ljt7kglHlv1qep95ho1_1280Touch is a powerful input system that 1.  allows us to navigate and manipulate our environment (i.e. feeling the sharpness of rocks under our feet cues us to walk slower) and 2. allows others to navigate and manipulate our environment (i.e. feeling someone grabbing you strongly warns you of a possible attack).

Now when it comes to evolution – touch is no different.   The art of touch has gone from simply survival (is this a threat or not) to more finite and discriminative.  This higher processing of touch refers to both the hands and feet – allows us to coordinate complex tasks such as micro-dissection surgery to the ability to read braille.

In present day man both the protective and discriminative aspects of touch still exist through a relationship that researchers call a dualism.   This dualism of touch requires balanced interpretation of touch.   Any deviation towards protective > discriminative and the individual has a heightened emotional “fight or flight” response to touch.

Enter the Tactility Defensive Child

The best example of this touch imbalance or altered relationship with touch can be observed is in a tactility sensitive or defensive child.   Have you ever seen or experienced a child who doesn’t like the texture of certain fabrics on their skin or doesn’t eat certain foods because of the texture?    Have you seen or experienced a child that doesn’t like to be hugged by other children or gets anxious and hostile when in close proximity to other people?

These are just a few of many examples of touch triggering a sympathetic / survival / fight or flight response in a child.

maxresdefaultResearch has shown that when these children are touched or touch a texture that they are defensive to, they will get a spike in cortisol levels which is indicative of a stress response.

It is well understood and accepted that elevated cortisol – even in children – can negatively effect the immune system (think auto-immune conditions and allergies), fat deposition (increase in childhood obesity) and learning / memory (ADHD, Autism, depression).

This is why I always say sensory before cognitive.   In order to allow the optimal cognitive development of children (learning, memory, attention) we need to ensure the foundation of sensory stimulation – and to their relationship to sensory stimulation is healthy.

(To learn more on this topic please check research Sensory Integration by A.J. Ayres)

Using Barefoot Science to Re-Balance Touch & Emotion

When it comes to Sensory Integration there are three main areas that need to be optimized during childhood development – vestibular, proprioceptive and tactile.

What’s interesting is these are the main somatosensory input systems to allow human locomotion – with human locomotion being linked to higher level cognitive functioning and emotional awareness.

The bare foot is a powerful tactile (touch) and proprioceptive-rich area of the body that in upright stance is the only contact point between the body and the ground.

Increased and earlier footwear use in children coupled with less foot sensory stimulation and exploration has paralleled the rise in ADHD, Sensory Processing Disorders, emotional disconnection and aggression in children.

Could there be a link?    I would say so!

But it is not too late.   We can use the understanding of barefoot science to help children and adults with sensory processing disorders as well as anyone along this spectrum.

Below are a few guidelines I recommend for integrating barefoot stimulation with these individuals:

  • Start with small doses and increase duration
    • Those with tactile defensiveness can reach sensory fatigue very quickly so start slow and gradually increased based on their response.  Also allow them to control the amount of stimulation.
  • Ensure the feeling of safety is re-enforced throughout their barefoot stimulation and combat any anxiety that may arise
    • Discuss the concern of anxiety and have them mentally prepared for the barefoot / sensory stimulation that will be happening throughout the session.  Talk about how it is a positive association and describe the texture or sensations they are feeling under their feet.
  • Avoid sharp / defined textures in the beginning but rather shutterstock63299443start with morestrong / broad stimulation
    • Progress from flat stones to smaller stones progressively based on their acclimation to textures
  • Re-inforce how barefoot stimulation is linked to safety and integrate foot stimulation into any vagal tone training, diaphragmatic breathing or cranial sacral therapy programming

To learn more about how practitioners are using the Naboso Proprioceptive Mat and tactile stimulation for the sensation of “safety” please look at Lois Laynee’s Restorative Breathing Program (www.restoringbreathing.com)

 

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Barefoot Science, Great Toe Mobility

How To Help Your Bunion Booty With Bunion Bootie

It’s Saturday morning and you are on your way to your favorite instructor “Toning Tony”‘s killer body conditioning class.   Famous for his squat series at the end of class you continue to endure this weekly punishment as you are committed to get the “glutes of your 20s” back.

toningYou are in the middle of the squat series trying to keep up with Toning Tony’s cues when suddenly Toning Tony comes up to you and enthusiastically asks “do you feel the burn in your glutes”?

You take a moment and soon realize – no.    No, you don’t feel “the burn”.

If fact you aren’t feeling much of anything happening in the glutes when squatting!

How is this possible?!

Perplexed that aren’t feeling anything in the glutes when doing squats you quickly kiss goodbye the glutes of your 20s.

But wait…..don’t give up just yet.   I may have a solution for you.

Having taught fitness for the last 16 years, competed in fitness competitions and being a practicing Functional Podiatrist, I have a keen eye for the integrated function of the human foot with the glutes.

First off, did you know that women in general have a harder time engaging their glutes Squats Workoutsthen men?    So not fair!

If you are a woman reading this blog and continuously feel squats in your quads and not in your glutes – you are not alone!

I just need the ladies to pay special attention to the below information and soon you’ll be feeling “the burn” in your glutes.

Secondly, did you know that there is a direct relationship between the stability of the foot and the stability of the pelvis?   We’ll go into this relationship much more in future blogs but for now just trust me on this association.

The impact of this foot / pelvis relationship means that if the foot is not stable – as in the case of flat feet and / or bunions! – the hip and pelvis unlock – making it difficult for the glutes to contract!

Photo_07_05_16_2

What I am about to describe is what I call a “Bunion Booty”

A Bunion Booty is a lazy butt.   A Bunion Booty has difficulty engaging and building the strength to climb stairs without stressing the knees.

A Bunion Booty has difficulty stabilizing the SI joint during walking or running, causing pain when moving.   And a Bunion Booty definitely likes to bunt its work to the hamstrings making them work harder than they need should be, and increasing the risk of hamstring strains.

Do you have a Bunion Booty?     Take our quick quiz below!

  1.  Do you notice a bunion or deviation of the big toe in one or both of your feet?
  2. Do you have flat feet or notice that your arches have fallen?
  3. Do your feet easily fatigue and / or you get arch pain after standing short periods?
  4.  Do you have knee pain when doing squats or going up or down stairs?
  5. Have you been diagnosed with knee osteoarthritis?
  6. Do you have SI joint pain or low back pain?
  7. Do you notice your glutes don’t have the shape of your younger years?
  8. Do you feel a sense of “laziness” in your glutes when walking, climbing, squatting?

If you answered yes to 4 or more of the above questions – you, my friend, may have a Bunion Booty!

So how exactly does a bunion make the glutes weak?

There is a deep connection between the muscles that stabilize the big toe (namely the abductor hallucis) and the deep muscles of the core.

If you look at the picture to the right take note of the abductor hallucis muscle Abductor-hallucis-e1380568713548running the length of the medial arch.    This muscle not only acts as an important stabilizer of the medial arch but also helps maintain alignment of the big toe joint.

Now in the case of flat feet, weak feet or feet that have spent years in tight shoes, this muscle can weaken.   As the abductor hallucis muscle starts to weaken a bunion begins to form.

As the bunion progresses the tendon of the abductor hallucis starts to shift into a position that makes the foot even weaker.   It actually shifts from the side of the big toe to under the big toe!   (We’ll discuss this in more detail in a future blog)

Essentially the bigger the bunion, the more the abductor hallucis tendon shifts and the weaker the foot.   The weaker the foot, the weaker the glutes.

So what can be done?

This is where I turn to my go-to product for patients with bunions – the Bunion Bootie!

Introducing the Bunion Bootie.    A smart but simple product that is sleek in design and extremely functional.   The unique design of the Bunion Bootie allows you to wear it while walking, working out, barefoot or in shoes.

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When you slide the Bunion Bootie over the big toe and around the back of the foot you can see an immediate re-alignment of the big toe (see picture to the right).

The result?

The abductor hallucis gets pulled into the position it needs to be in order to engage, activate and connect back to your glutes.

Please note that results may vary based on size and severity of the bunion, however one thing that is for certain is that by begin to place the big toe in a more proper alignment you are making the foot more stable.

A stable foot over time can lead to a more stable pelvis.

Want to take this one step further, I encourage all of my patients with bunions to learn how to consciously engage the muscles of their feet to further stabilize their pelvis.

Through an exercise called Short Foot you can learn to re-strengthen the foot and connect it back to the core.   To learn more about Short Foot please see the video below.

You can learn more about my approach to patients with flat feet and bunions in my book Barefoot Strong, available on Amazon.

As you begin to integrate Bunion Bootie and foot strengthening into your routine I recommend gradually adjusting to both concepts.   Start by using the Bunion Bootie for 30 minutes a day, at night.   Begin to notice how you feel when walking around your home with the Bunion Bootie on.   Increase your time in the Bunion Bootie and supplement it with Short Foot exercise.

To learn more about Bunion Bootie or to purchase this product please go to:  www.bunionbootie.com 

To learn more about integrating barefoot exercise to rebuild your foot / core connection please go to : www.barefootstrong.com 

As always – stay barefoot strong!

Dr Emily Splichal, DPM , MS

 

 

 

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Foot Function & Fascial Lines Series

Protect Your Peripheral Nerves | Top 5 Supplements for Optimal Foot Function

We all know that keeping our feet strong is key to proper posture, optimal movement patterns and staying pain-free as we age.   In my workshops I’m a huge advocate of Barefoot BabyBoomers and keeping barefoot stimulation a key part of our lifestyle.   However to truly stay #barefootstrong as we age we need to do a little more than simply train sans footwear.

Biohacking Your Barefeet 

With changing nutritional values, toxins in our food and combating everyday stress we no longer can rely on diet and exercise to ensure our youngest, healthiest selves.   This is where I advise my patients to turn to vitamin supplementation and simple ways to #biohackthebody.

Below are some of my favorite supplements that are all designed to enhance nerve function, reduce inflammation and combat free radicals before they damage our peripheral nerves and fascial network.

Supplement #1 – Wild Blueberry Extract 

IMG_4214You may have heard that blueberries are brain food.    What makes blueberries so beneficial is that they are packed with polyphenols or compounds unique to plants.   Polyphenols which can also be found in coffee, dark chocolate and spices carry some of the strongest anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

A 2004 study by Youdim et al. found that wild blueberry supplementation enhanced neurogenesis in the aging brain with their flavonoids being able to cross the blood brain barrier.  Now you may have been told that we do not grow new brain cells or our peripheral nerves cannot regenerate – this is not true!   The research in the field of  neurogenesis is a super exciting area of medicine and is showing some exciting advances in aging, neuropathy and neurodegenerative diseases.

To maximize the benefits of blueberry polyphenols I recommend taking wild blueberry extract daily to avoid the excess sugars of eating so many blueberries daily.   Also make sure the blueberries are *wild* as these contain the highest levels of polyphenols!

Recommended Life Extension Wild Blueberry Extract

Supplement #2 – Krill Oil 

krillThis is one of my newest fav supplements for my patients.   Krill oil is similar to fish oil supplements in that they are packed with beneficial Omega-3 fatty acids (DHA & EPA).  However unlike fish oils, krill oil phospholipids have a special carotenoid called astaxanthin attached to it.   Astaxanthin is an extremely powerful antioxidant that – get this – can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB)!   This makes Krill Oil so powerful to maintaining nerve function.

In addition to crossing the BBB omega 3’s have such a powerful anti-inflammatory benefit that they make a great replacement or alternative to traditional NSAIDs such as Advil, Aspirin or Aleve.    These anti-inflammatory benefits have shown to reduce arthritis pain, nerve inflammation and connective tissue pain.

Recommended Dr Mercola Antartica Krill Oil 

Supplement #3 – R-Lipoic Acid

This was one of my favorite supplements when I was going through medical school and was a big forerunner when it came to anti-aging supplements.   It’s great to see that it is still one of the strongest anti-oxidants on the market – and has actually been formulated to be even more powerful when taken in its sodium-R-lipoate form!

Neuropathy has a oxidative stress theory which means that to keep the nerves of the feet (and hands) healthy we need to keep our oxidative stress low!   Super R-Lipoic Acid is more bioavailable, stable, and potent, achieving 10–30 times higher peak blood levels than pure R-lipoic acid.

I also recommend taking R-lipoic acid with the next supplement and nerve-protective powerhouse ALC!

Recommended Life Extension Super R-Lipoic Acid 

Supplement # 4 – Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) 

ALC is another favorite supplement when I was going through medical school and doing research in diabetic peripheral neuropathy.    Again super excited to see it’s still one of the best nerve-protective supplements on the market.

ALC like all of the above supplements has the unique ability to cross the BBB which means it’s crucial to nervous system health.   Studies have shown that ALC may have potential in exerting unique neuroprotective, neuromodulatory and neurotrophic properties that are not limited to just the central nervous system.   Study after study has shown great effects of ALC on peripheral neuropathy patients.

Recommended Life Extension Acetyl-L-Carnitine

Supplement #5 – L-Cittruline (Watermelon) 

aterWatermelon is one of my favorite pre-workout drinks due to its effect on vasodilation and circulation!  The vasodilation effect of watermelon is found in the amino acid L-Citruline which is a precursor to nitric oxide (think Viagra!).

Nitric oxide is integral to relaxing blood vessels which is necessary for healthy blood flow to the heart, muscles, nerves and throughout the entire body.  Nitric oxide helps the blood vessels maintain their flexibility so that blood flow is unrestricted – even to the smallest vessels to the peripheral nerves.

To get enough L-Citrulline for optimal circulation you’d need to eat 6 cups of watermelon or you can cut out the sugar and take a supplement.    Amino acids are always recommended to take on an empty stomach for maximum absorption.

Recommended Source Naturals L-Citrulline 

To learn more about how to protect your nervous system from inflammation and oxidation and how to #biohackyourbody please visit http://www.dremilysplichal.com

Stay #barefootstrong !

Dr Emily Splichal

 

 

 

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Foot Function & Fascial Lines Series

From Primal to Bipedal | Why we need to get off the ground and walk more!

Before you start throwing stones at me assuming that I’m bashing or discrediting any of the primal movement programs out there – please hear me out.    Anything I’m about to say does not mean I do not value the role primal movements and ground work has on restoring optimal movement patterns.   However, where these programs fall short is that ultimately we need to GET UP and being able to navigate the world of ground and gravity.   We need to be able to optimize the coordination required to load and unload impact forces, stabilize on a single leg and get from point A to point B.

When we look at the evolution of the human neuromuscular system, fascial lines and the skeleton we can see that the primary purpose behind human movement is WALKING.

From the medial rotation of the ilium creating the lateral fascial line and allowing single leg stance to the abduction of the foot’s 1st ray creating the spiral fascial line and lateral fascial line allowing the stability for a rigid lever – everything – I repeat everything favors locomotion – and we need to train the body as such.

When was the last time you walked?    I mean REALLY walked?  

walkingI’ve been blessed with the opportunity to evaluate the gait of thousands of people from all over the world and there are a few key compensations that I see in too many people.    So many people have lost the rotational element of gait.   I’m talking locked up t-spines, restricted triplanar motion of the pelvis, tight ankles and even tighter subtalar joints.

Rotational loading and unloading of the fascial system is how we transfer impact forces and the potential energy of gait.   If we lose this rotational element of gait the entire movement efficiency pattern breaks down and restrictions, compensations and connective tissue fatigue results.

So what’s causing this restriction in rotation?

Sitting, a sedentary lifestyle, driving, injury, compensation – there’s a lot of things that cause a restriction in rotation.   However there is a KEY one that is missed so often and cannot be addressed through rolling, crawling and being on the ground.

This driver of restricted rotation is so important that it is what leads me to say GET OFF OF THE GROUND AND JUST WALK!   What is it?   Short strides!

The impact of shortened stride length!

Think of the type of walking you, your clients, your family does in a typical day.    You walk around your home.   You walk around the office.   You walk around the store.    This type of walking is not the walking EVOLUTION intended.

These small stacotic steps are insufficient to optimally 1) hydrate your fascia  2) load rotational forces in the body  3) stimulate the neuromuscular system.

To maintain an optimal gait you need to STIMULATE your gait.   You need to tap into all the fascial systems with each step you take – a process that can only be achieved and a long enough stride length.

The Optimal Stride for Fascial Fitness

walk

To better understand this let’s take a look at the point in gait in which the optimal stride is happening.

One foot is initiated heel contact with the ankle dorsiflexed, hip flexed, pelvis medially rotated and posteriorly tilted.   With the foot, leg and pelvis in this position the posterior fascial line is tightened, locking the SI joint and preparing for ground contact.

Meanwhile the opposite leg is in 1st MPJ dorsiflexion ankle plantarflexion, hip extension, pelvis lateral rotation and anteriorly tilted.   With the foot, leg and pelvis in this position the psoas, plantar fascia and functional fascial lines are primed to release elastic energy upon swing phase.

Now the SHORTER the stride you take you tighten your rotations of the t-spine, pelvis and foot eventually leading to fascial tightness and compensations.

Since walking is THE most functional movement we do every day with the average adult taking 5,000 – 8,000 steps per day – improper stride length is what’s f’ing up your body.

These small steps we take to our cars, around the office or at home are killing our fascial system.    It is a cycle that can only be temporarily alleviated by rolling and crawling on the ground.

Imagine this.    You take your client through all the rolling patterns, dynamic bodyweight movements, foam rolling – all which are so great for the body – and then they leave the session and go back to waking small steps and in insufficient stride length.    They just REVERSED all the work you did.

The solution?

Walk.    And I mean really walk.   Put on your favorite shoes, grab your earbuds and walk.   Do not go on the treadmill, I need you to walk outside.   Find the pace that feeds into a momentous state.   You will feel when your body has switched and is now flowing in your fascial.   It is an effortless gait that is working WITH the ground and impact forces, not against it.

And then just walk.

Want to learn more about human locomotion, the evolution of gait and how to optimize rotations through walking.   Become a Barefoot Training Specialist with EBFA!    We are the Leaders in Barefoot Education and #fromthegroundup programming.

http://www.ebfafitness.com

Say #barefootstrong

Dr Emily Splichal

 

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