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!

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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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Barefoot Science

Biohacking Your Body with Barefoot Science

We are all on the eternal hunt to looking good, moving well and feeling young – however as responsibilities (job, school, family, friends) increase the time allocated to health and fitness often decreases.   Surprisingly we expect the same results with less time in the gym but is this really even possible?

Perhaps it is.

Enter…..biohacking!

What is biohacking?  

Biohacking, as the name suggests, is “hacking” or finding a way to more efficiently manipulate human biology.  This can include areas of sleep, nutrition, mental health, strength, recovery.

If you are new the concept of biohacking – please think of this as a positive thing!   Don’t get wrapped up thinking it is a mad scientist in his garage implanting computer chips into his own body.

Think of biohacking as a empowering concept which allows one to enhance or improve the efficiency of different aspect of health.   It means taking ownership of your body and the aging system.

Can biohacking apply to fitness?

Absolutely!

In the case of fitness some examples of biohacking include drinking caffeine to give you energy during a workout.   Or taking branch chain amino acids after a workout to enhance muscle repair and hypertrophy.   Or using kinesiology tape to enhance proprioceptive stimulation and muscle activation.

Seems less mad scientist-y doesn’t it?

One area of biohacking that I am particularly a fan of is the application of barefoot science to improve your workout.    As I mentioned at the start of this blog the one thing we never have enough of is TIME.

By integrating barefoot training into your workout you will hack your way into a more efficient workout allowing you to achieve faster fitness goals.   Below are my top 4 biohacks integrating barefoot science.

Biohack #1 – Barefoot release to improve your balance  

Next time you hit the gym start your workout start with just 5 minutes of trigger point footrelease the bottom of the foot.      A 2015 study showed that 5 minutes of manual trigger point release was associated with an immediate improvement in single leg stability and postural control.

Since having someone do the trigger point release isn’t efficient we’ll instead use RAD Rounds by RAD Roller (www.radroller.com)    These small rounds of different sizes can be used to apply pressure to different intrinsic muscles of the foot.    I recommend 5 minutes in the morning, evening and before exercise.

To see a video on this please see below!

Biohack #2 – Barefoot whole body vibration to enhance micro-circulation and tendon strength

In the world of proprioception whole body vibration is one of the most efficient ways to stimulate the nervous system.   Since our foot is also the gateway to proprioceptive stimulation I recommend doing your WBV activation barefoot and using PowerPlate which is a multi-planar harmonic vibration platform.

A 2007 study by Lohman showed that just 3min of WBV at 30Hz enhanced skin, nerve and tendon micro-circulation resulting in enhanced tendon tensile strength and decreased arterial stiffness.   All of which is a very powerful response before any workout.

Learn more about WBV and PowerPlate at www.powerplate.com

To learn more on this topic you can view the following webinar below!

Biohack #3 – Improve your core strength with barefoot foot to core sequencing

The core.   The center of stability and the center of power.   When it comes to any dynamic movement or exercise – core strength and stability are critical to the way force is generated or transferred through the human body.

The foot.   The base of stability and only contact point between the body and the ground.   Studies have shown that it is more efficient to strengthen the core via the foot in what EBFA calls “foot to core sequencing”.   The access into foot to core sequencing is via an exercise called short foot.

To learn more about short foot and how to integrate it with exercises please see below!

Biohack #4 – Improve your balance with small nerve proprioception

Postural control and dynamic stability require the integration of four input systems – visual, vestibular, joint proprioceptors and plantar foot skin.   Of these four one of the most important but often overlooked systems is the skin on the bottom of the foot.

The skin on the bottom of the foot contains thousands of small nerve proprioceptors all of which are sensitive to different stimuli.   One of the most important stimuli coming into the foot is vibration (see WBV above).    We use vibration not only to know how hard our foot is striking the ground but also in the maintenance of dynamic balance.

As soon as we put on our shoes our nervous system inherently becomes slower.   This delayed neuro stimulation of the foot is small or micro which means it is hard to detect by the average client or patient – however it is happening.   Accumulatively this results in micro-trauma and micro-compensation.

To biohack your nervous system whenever you are barefoot training integrate small nerve plantar stimulation with Naboso Technology.   Whenever performing barefoot exercises such as short foot or any foot to core sequencing this is the perfect opportunity to pull out your Naboso Barefoot Training Mat.

If you want to bring this stimulation to your shoes, Naboso Technology also makes small nerve proprioceptive insoles which have been shown to improve postural control and stability (Coming Summer 2017)

To read more on Naboso Technology please click  – HERE

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Barefoot Science

How “tuned in” is your nervous system? Advances in barefoot science.

Cell phones, billboards, TV ads, fit bits.     Now, more so than every before, our nervous system is continuously being over-stimulated with information.   This over-stimulation of  information actually has the opposite effect on the nervous system, leading to a shut down or “tuning out” of the external noise which we experience on a daily basis.

This concept of “tuning out” can also be applied to someone who lives in an urban setting and eventually doesn’t notice the constant honking and construction of the busy city streets.   Or a mother who is able to function with screaming children in the background.

 The Essential Noise of Human Movementimages

If we take this one step further, we can also apply this concept to human movement and
the demands of our nervous system to maintain dynamic balance and postural control during walking.

In the case of human movement the “noise” that enters the nervous system would be proprioceptive information such as vibration, joint capsule stretch, texture, tension etc.   This proprioceptive noise is essential for proper activation of muscle sequences and time to stabilization for efficient loading and unloading of impact forces.

The Foot is the Gateway to Essential Noise

feet-black-and-white-toes-close-upWith the foot as the only contact point between the body and the ground – much of this “noise” enters our nervous system through the feet.   If this foot “noise” is tuned out or unable to be sensed by the nervous system inaccurate movement patterns and delayed time to stabilization (i.e. injury) is the result.

One of the biggest causes or reasons for the inability to sense the essential noise of human movement is footwear.   Thick, cushioned, supportive footwear with smooth insoles completely “tunes out” the foot during dynamic movement.

The cushion in shoes absorbs the vibration noise during foot contact.   Smooth insoles and socks block the skin stretch and texture perception during locomotion.   And thick soles shift proprioceptive feedback away from the foot and into muscle tendon reflexes – which are large nerve, reactive, slower responses.

 Textured Insoles Tune the Foot to NoiseIMG_1918

This April 2017 Naboso Technology will be launching small nerve proprioceptive insoles
which are designed to continuously provide the essential noise of the foot during dynamic movement.  This better allows the nervous system to auto-adjust with each shift in center of gravity or with each foot contact with the ground.

A 2015 study by Lipsitz  et al. found that using low grade vibratory insoles providing sub sensory “noise” improved postural control and reduced gait variability in seniors.     Another study by David et al. further explored the role of textural “noise” of insoles and the role the had on ankle proprioception in male soccer players.   Interestingly, those subjects with textured insoles reported faster ankle joint position sense and higher force production.

“Tune In” with Barefoot Training Every Day

Another great way to keep the foot “tuned in” to stimulation is to integrate barefoot stimulation on a daily basis.  This means no socks.   No shoes.   No soft squishy mats.

Barefoot stimulation enhances the proprioceptors on the feet – keeping them sharp, responsive and functioning as an integrated part of your natural movement.

To learn more about the Naboso Barefoot Insoles please visit www.nabosotechnology.com

To join our mailing list to be alerted of Pre-Order Options for Naboso Barefoot Insoles please email orders@nabosotechnology.com or follow us on social media!

Facebook and Instagram

Stay #barefootstrong!

Dr Emily

 

Bibliography

David et al.  ‘‘Essential noise’’ – enhancing variability of informational constraints benefits movement control:  Br J Sports Med 2004;38:601–605

Lipsitz et al.  A shoe insole delivering subsensory vibratory noise improves balance and gait in healthy elderly people.Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2015 Mar;96(3):432-9

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Barefoot Science, Foot Function & Fascial Lines Series

Time To Stabilization & Athlete Injury Risk

dancerA majority of my podiatry practice is built around treating athletes and chronic athletic injuries.   From professional dancers to marathon runners all athletes – regardless of sport or art – require the same thing – rapid stabilization for optimal loading and energy transfer.  

Why is rapid stabilization so important? 

During dynamic movement such as walking, running or jumping the ability to rapidly load and unload impact forces requires a baseline of stabilization.   With a rate of impact forces coming in at < 50 ms during walking and < 20 ms during running it is no wonder the rate of stabilization must be fast!

To put this a little bit more in perspective.   Our fast twitch muscle fibers don’t reach their  peak contraction till about 50 – 70ms.   So if impact is coming in at rate < 20 ms during running and your hip / knee / ankle and foot are not already stable before you strike the ground – it is too late!     It physiologically is not possible to react to impact and stabilize fast enough.

A client or athlete who is reacting to impact forces will often present with ITB syndrome, runner’s knee, peroneal tendinitis, stress fractures, shin splints – and that’s just naming a few!

Considering Time to Stabilization (TTS)

In my workshops I often say that “we are only as strong as we are stable” or that “stabilityacle is the foundation through which strength, force and energy is generated or transferred”.

The precision, accuracy and anticipation of stabilization must be so well programmed into the nervous system that peak stability is happening before contact with the ground.   This is referred to pre-activation and is associated with a faster TTS.

The opposite of pre-activation stabilization is reactive stabilization and is how many – if not most – of my patients or people in general are moving.   When we think of the rate of neuromuscular coordination even a small delay (think milliseconds) will result in tonic (exaggerated) muscle contractions, micro-instability and inefficient loading responses eventually leading to neuromuscular and connective tissue fatigue and injury.

So how can you improve client and athlete TTS?

1. Pre-activate base to center stabilization pathways aka foot to core sequencing

This is THE basis to EBFA Certifications Barefoot Training Specialist and BarefootRx.   With our feet as our base the activation and engagement of our feet to the ground is key to center or core stabilization.    Fascially the feet and core are connected through the Deep Front Line and must be integrated and sequenced as part of a proper warm-up or movement prep.

To learn more about foot to core sequencing please view HERE

2. Consider surface science to optimize foot feedback

All surfaces are designed differently with certain surfaces actually blocking and damping IMG_1753the critical proprioceptive input between foot and ground.    When we think of softer surfaces and mats research has shown a direct correlation between softer surfaces and delayed / prolonged loading responses.

Harder surfaces.  Surfaces that allow the transmission of vibration.  And surfaces with textures allow more accurate and precise proprioceptive input.   Thus led to the innovation of Naboso Technology by EBFA Founder Dr Emily Splichal

Ideally if Step 1 – pre-activation of our stabilization pathway could be done on a Naboso surface this would be ideal.    More information can be found at www.nabosotechnology.com

3. Footwear to allows optimal feedback and foot function

If follow Step 1 & 2  and activate the neuromuscular system barefoot and from the ground up we then want to ensure this carries over as soon as we put on our shoes and begin our sport or activity.

Imagine if you activate the proper neuro pathways but then put your client into a thick cushioned shoe.  This essentially shuts off and defeats the purpose of Step 1 & 2.   We need IMG_1767to ensure a proper shoe is worn to allow this carry over into sport.    So think flexible, minimal cushioning. possible textured insoles (check out Naboso Insoles launching Spring 2017)

Additional ways to begin to train pre-activation training and shortening the TTS is covered in our EBFA Certifications.    From the ground up landing techniques, foot to core sequencing, single leg decelerations + more are critical to injury prevention and optimal performance.

To learn more about EBFAs Certifications and workshops coming up near you please visit www.ebfafitness.com     Our workshops can be found in over 30 countries and taught in over 12 languages.

Isn’t it time for your clients and athletes to become BAREFOOT STRONG!

 

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Barefoot Science

The Barefoot Advantage: Understanding Surface Science

footwearscienceIt’s been well accepted that footwear changes the proprioceptive input between foot and ground.   Despite consumer associations between cushion and comfort, a 1997 study by Robbins et al. has demonstrated that increased cushion in shoes actually decreases foot position sense and alters overall stability.   This same study by Robbins et al. further demonstrated that the ideal shoe for improving balance and stability is a thin, hard-soled shoe.

From Shoes to Surfaces

We can take the concept of stiffness and cushion from shoes to surfaces.  When it comes to surface science and innovation much attention has been given on the topic of landing techniques and surface stiffness.  Similar to shoes, when it comes to surfaces – stiffness wins again!

Surfaces vibrate and deform upon contact with the degree of vibration being dependent on surface stiffness.   Anyone who has taken a workshop with EBFA should remember that vibration is how our foot proprioceptors and nervous system knows how hard we are stirking the ground.  This information is critical to optimizing landing technique and the subjecquent loading response.

matA review article by Marinsek et al. found that the ideal mat for optimal landing techniques in elite gymnasts was a stiffer mat that not only created vibrations but also had the capability of damping the excess impact forces.   Marinsek et al. further emphasized the need for pre-activation muscle tension occurring up to 170ms before foot contact.  This concept which is often research by Nigg et al. is a critical component to the Barefoot Training Specialist® Certificiaion by EBFA.

Proprioceptive Responses to Texture

Another feature of surface design that must be considered, especialy when it comes to barefoot training, is texture.

Texture perception is one of the stimuli unique to the small nerve proprioceptors of the plantar foot.   A key thing to remember when it comes to texture is that not all texture is the same!

A 2011 study by Hatton et al. set out to find the most effective texture when it comes totexture improving proprioceptive feedback from the foot.   Hatton et al. compared two different shapes and sizes of texture (pictured right).

What was fascinating is that Texture 1 improved balance and stability while Texture 2 actually threw off balance!

It is important to note that the greatest improvement in balance with Texture 1 was when the subjects eyes were closed.   The reason for this observation is that when you take away one of the input systems (eyes, ears, joints, skin) the nervous system seeks out the other input systems.   In this case it was the plantar foot that was over-recruited to maintain balance.

Application to Practice

To recap some of the features you want to look for in a surface especially when barefoot training or during barefoot sports include:

  • Stiffness – to allow optimal vibrations
  • Damping – to offset the excess vibration during dynamic movement
  • Texture  – to uniquely stimulate the small nerve proprioceptors in the plantar foot

Naboso Technology launches into Surface Innovation 

We are extremely proud to announce that the newly launched Naboso Technology created by EBFA Global includes all these surface science features.   From the unique patent-pending material of the Naboso Yoga Mat to our Naboso Flooring (coming soon!) we are changing the way fitness, performance and rehab looks at surface science.

To learn more about Naboso Technology or to order your Naboso Yoga Mat please visit www.nabosotechnology.com

In health,

Dr Emily Splichal

Founder EBFA Global

http://www.ebfaglobal.com

 

References

Hatton, A.  Standing on Textured Surfaces: Effect on Standing Balance in Healthy Older Adults (2011). Age Ageing 43: 363 – 368.

Marinsek, Miha. Basic Landing Characteristics and their Applications in Artistic Gymnastics. 2(2): 59-67.

Robbins, S.  The Effect of Footwear Midsole Hardness and Thickness on Proprioception and Stability in Older Men (1997).  J Testing Evaluation 25(1): 143 – 148

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Barefoot Science

Are you barefoot with a purpose? The science behind intentional foot activation

The dust has settled.

Gone are the days of viral debates and forums on the benefits vs. risks of barefoot running.  Newspapers such as the New York Times have shifted their focus away from ripping into minimalist shoes and Vibram’s lawsuit is “old news”.

With no more talk about barefoot running – does this mean that benefits of “barefoot” cease to exist?

Far from so!

squatIt is finally time to shift the direct association made between the words “barefoot” and “barefoot running”.   To much of my surprise people STILL think that EBFA’s Education is centered on “barefoot running” despite our Certifications being called Barefoot TRAINING Specialist® and BarefootRx®.

It is time to expand our minds – set aside pre-conceptions and images of people running on concrete without shoes – and take a moment to understand and EXPERIENCE the power of training barefoot.

For those who are yet to experience the power of the plantar foot – I warn you – your life and your movements will forever be changed.

I’m not kidding.

The Evolution of Barefoot Strong

B-barefoot-strong-yellowBack in 2009 when I first started lecturing on barefoot training my focus was primarily on the direct stimulation of the skin on the bottom of the feet and it’s role in balance.  It’s funny when I look back at my old presentations.   I have to laugh at how LIMITED my perspective was back then.  Sure I saw the proprioceptors in the plantar skin – but I wasn’t even scraping the surface of how powerful the foot is in movement and performance!

The pivotal point in the Evolution of Barefoot Strong was when I actually stepped away from (meaning quit) my surgical residency training to go back to graduate school and get my Master’s in Human Movement.   To leave a medical residency in the middle of training was a decision that could have potentially cost me the ability to ever practice medicine – but in my heart I knew I needed to do this.   In my journey I knew I had to connect some of the dots in my knowledge and perspective on human movement.  (For those who are curious I later when back to complete my residency training and practice medicine in NYC)

These next 2 years were dedicated to the exploration of human movement as it relates to foot, barefoot science and fascial integration.  The research I uncovered took my Podiatric Medical Degree to a level I never dreamed possible.  With this new in-depth knowledge of foot fascial integration, neurology and neuromuscular coordination I knew I was onto something powerful.  What I discovered was that the biggest secret to being barefoot – is that you have to be barefoot WITH A PURPOSE.

What does this mean?

Science of Intentional Foot Activation

footyogaThere is a powerful interconnection between the deep foot stabilizers (intrinsics) and the deep core stabilizers (pelvic floor, deep rotators etc) – I refer to this as our local stabilization pathway.  What fascinating is that in yoga they refer this as Pada Bandha (foot) and Mula Bandha (pelvic floor).

In dynamic movement such as walking the only contact point between the body and the ground is our foot – therefore foot stability is crucial to proper transfer of impact forces.   When it comes to quickly and efficiently transferring these impact forces during walking – the faster our feet and core can “talk” to each other the better our walk, the decreased the risk of injury and the more efficient our gait (less energy).

The exercise for integration our feet and core is called short foot.   I know I speak about short foot A LOT – but it is THAT important of an exercise.    Check out the video below on how to integration foot to core sequencing via short foot.

Want to take it beyond walking?

Every exercise or injury rehab program – regardless of region of the body – will benefit from foot to core sequencing.   Be it shoulder stability or s/p ACL surgery – all joints in the body require fast pre-activation of the deep core stabilizers.   Since our feet are the only contact with the ground the feet actually play a critical role in how quickly we can stabilize the core when standing or moving closed chain.   (Think pitcher throwing a ball or a tennis player swinging a racket)

So the next time you go to the gym or have you weekly rehab session if you are already training barefoot – I challenge you to ask yourself.   Are you barefoot with a purpose?   Are you integrating an intentional foot contraction during your exercise?

I recommend start your session by integrating 5 minutes of foot to core exercises (see video above) or integrate it throughout the exercises (think kettle bell swings).

Want to take it EVEN further?   Learn the science of foot assessments, foot-typing and reflexive stabilization by attending a Barefoot Training Specialist® or BarefootRx® Rehab Specialist Certification!

Find a workshop near you! 

Stay #barefootstrong!

Dr Emily Splichal

Founder EBFA

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Barefoot Science, Foot Function & Fascial Lines Series

Local Reflexive Stabilization & Movement Efficiency

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 12.24.22 AMWhether we consciously realize it or not we all want to move better, feel stronger and stay pain-free.   We all seek the ability to do the activities we love – whether that be going for a long walk with a loved one or competing in an obstacle race.

It is my mission to help professionals and patients alike achieve what I call movement longevity by better understanding the concepts of movement efficiency and local reflexive stabilization.

What does it mean to be efficient?

To be efficient means to effectively use energy.   When we think about bipedal locomotion the energy that we need to get from Point A to Point B is found from the ground we walk on.

Bipedal locomotion or walking is considered a series of falls with each foot contact (foot fall) providing the energy needed to take the successive step.   As our foot contacts the ground we are encountering 1 – 1.5x our body weight in impact forces. These impact forces are converted from potential energy to elastic energy, providing a recoil effect to bring the swing leg forward.

forceWhen we look at the force peak curve of a walking gait cycle what’s quite fascinating and perhaps under appreciated is that even though our body brings in 1 – 1.5x our body weight in energy (heel contact) we actually release 2 – 2.5x our body weight when we push off (forefoot propulsion)!

What this means is that our body is somehow is able to double the energy that it is provided with!   How is this possible?   And why is this even important?

Understanding Fascial Elasticity

The concept I described above is referred to as the catapult effect and truly is the meaning of movement efficiency.   To move efficiently does not meant to just take in energy and release it with little loss of energy.   It actually means to take in energy and double it!

This ability to double potential energy allows a basketball player to slam-dunk a ball or a triple jump jump 50+ feet.  This catapult effect lies within our connective tissue – namely our myofascia.

To effectively understand the catapult effect and the oading response during bipedal locomotion one must first understand what’s referred to as the Muscle Tuning Theory .   This theory was researched and developed by Dr Benno Nigg out of the University of Calgary Canada.

What the Muscle Tuning Theory demonstrates is that in order to effectively damp the impact forces encountered during initial contact we must have sufficient foot and ankle stiffness.   We must contact the ground with enough foot and ankle isometric contractions to allow the rapid loading of impact forces (potential energy) into our connective tissue.

Because our foot and ankle muscles are firing isometrically during the loading response what actually allows the joint movements of deceleration (ankle dorsiflexion, STJ eversion, tibial internal rotation) is the elasticity of our connective tissue (fascia / tendons).

normal-foot-pronation-at-midstance-sample_view
This fascial loading is dependent on the degree of elasticity or rubber band effect in our connective tissue.   However simply having fascial elasticity is not enough.  In order to effectively load our fascia with potential energy we must first achieve sufficient fascial tension.

Fascial Tension = Stability

If I were to say that to have fascial elasticity we must first have fascial tension – this may seem contradictory.   How can our fascia be both elastic and stiff at the same time!

What if I were to word it another way.   In order to effectively load impact forces (potential energy) we must be STABLE!   Let me take it even further with this statement – Stability is the foundation through which power, force and resistance is generated.

In other words to move efficiently and transfer energy we must have sufficient stability.   In the words of Dr Perry Nickelston I think that deserves a BOOM!

This above statement is what I try to achieve in all of my patients.   To help my patients become pain-free I know I must teach them to achieve proper stability.   But not only do we need proper stability – we need deep joint stability.   And not only do we need deep joint stability – we need fast deep joint stability.

This is what I refer to as Local Reflexive Stabilization.   Local – referring to our local stabilizing muscles and reflexive meaning fast or subconscious.

Understanding Local Reflexive Stabilization 

The concept of local vs. global stabilizers was first introduced by Dr Vladamir Janda and then later expanded upon by Shirley Sahrmann.

Screen Shot 2016-04-25 at 12.05.53 AMThe  following image demonstrates some of the biggest differences between local and global stabilizers.   What’s fascinating is that when we consider the Deep Front Fascial Line we can see it is formed by all the local stabilizers.   The foundational concept in EBFA’s Barefoot Training Specialist Certification is to train stiffness and reflexive sequencing between the foot and core.

By intelligently tapping into our local stabilization system we will find ourselves with enhanced stability – and therefore better be able to load impact forces during dynamic movements.

Because it is so easy to slide out of local stabilization and into global stabilization the below 3 exercises should be used as a daily reset or activation for the local reflexive stabilization needed for bipedal locomotion.

3 Way to Enhance Local Reflexive Stabilization

Step 1 – Diaphragmatic Breathing

Step 2 – End Range Expiration (with pelvic floor activation if possible)

Step 3 – Diaphragmatic Breathing / End Range Expiration & Short Foot

To learn more about EBFA’s education and our Barefoot Training Specialist Certification please visit http://www.ebfafitness.com

As always – stay #barefootstrong!

Dr Emily 

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