Foot Function & Fascial Lines Series, General

Are you doing short foot correctly? | Clearing the confusion

I think it goes without saying that I have a passion for sharing the power of foot activation and how it fascially connects to central core stabilization.  My go-to for foot activation is none other than – short foot!

Considered by some as merely of foot-specific exercise and not one that is integrated or applicable to total body function, I think it’s time to clear the confusion around this exercise – and foot function in general!

Having taught short foot to professionals, patients and athletes all around the world for over 10 years, I’ve seen it all.   I’ve literally taught short foot to over 25,000 people and have seen every confusion, mis-cueing, compensation pattern and foot type.

Because I understand the power of proper short foot activation, I get a little let’s say passionate when I see and hear professionals cueing short foot incorrectly.

What gets me even more worked up is that those that are cueing short foot incorrectly are professionals who are being followed and trusted as “experts” in the industry.

The Dunning-Kruger Effect

Having thousands of Instagram followers and posting cool pictures that favor natural foot function does not make one a foot expert.   Yet what these professionals are posting and saying is being taken as gospel, possibly because they are being stated with such confidence it must be correct.  Right?

Sadly most of the posts and statements that are being made are black and white concepts.  The foot is supposed to do X and therefore Y.    I wish it was that easy, but the human body is far too complex to be X = Y.    There is a lot of grey when it comes to programming, cueing and yes – overall foot function.

What is the risk of posting pictures and statements or teaching concepts that are black and white or X = Y?   People can get hurt.   Trust gets broken.   Confusion gets created.

Clearing the Confusion on Short Foot

It’s time to set the record straight.    I”m going to go into the proper way to cue and execute short foot.    My cueing technique is backed by anatomy, science and a deep understanding of true foot function.    No conclusions are being made based off of associations.

Disclaimer:   After reading this, if you realize that have been doing short foot incorrectly. It’s okay!   This is not an attack on anyone or a criticism to any professional out there – even to the ones that are cueing short foot incorrectly.   I just want short foot to be represented in its true form so that we get the optimal benefits and reduce the risk of injury. 

Step 1 – Teach 1 foot at a time. 

I usually cue to go into a split stance so that you can focus on just the front foot initially.

Why we want to teach one foot at a time is that the mind-muscle connection of executing short foot bilateral is too high for many clients.   To start with one foot allows the focus to be centered on a more local foot engagement.

Step 2 – Slightly bend the knees to unlock them 

When we do short foot we create a locking mechanism up the lower extremity.   If you do short foot on a fully extended knee you are essentially locking a locked joint.   This can create shear to the meniscus and create injury to our clients.

As the Hippocratic Oath states “thou shalt do no harm” – so I kindly remind you to slightly bend the knees.

Step 3 – Place the foot in neutral and find the foot tripod

foot-tripod-bottom-points

Ensuring the rear foot is not pronated during short foot is critical – reason being is that a pronated foot is unlocked and unstable with the muscles in a lengthened position.    This makes in ineffective to engage short foot.

After the rear foot is put into a neutral position, then it’s time to find the foot tripod.  This means to center body weight under the 1st metatarsal head, 5th metatarsal head and heel.

Disclaimer: This is NOT to be confused with the foot staying on the tripod throughout the exercise – or to push the tripod down during short foot. 

Step 4 – Lift the toes, spread them out and place them on the ground 

To further complete the base of support and centered foot position we need all digits to be spread wide and long.    We will shortly see that the true action of short foot is in the digits which is why this is going to be an important aspect of the short foot cue.

Step 5 – While exhaling, push the tips of the toes down into the ground 

The true cue for short foot is in the long flexors (FHL, FDL) which insert into the plantar, distal aspect of the toes.   These muscles anchor or root the tips of the toes (think toenails) down into the ground.

img_7139.jpgThe pushing of the distal tips of the toes into the ground not only activates the long flexors but it also engages the plantar fascia via the reverse windlass mechanism.   Both the action of the long flexors and plantar fascia is to increase the arches of the foot (longitudinal and transverse) which ultimately lifts us off of the ball of the foot.

What we should see when we push the tips of the toes down into the ground is that the 1st metatarsal head lifts off of the ground.

Now to be clear, I don’t want YOU to lift the 1st metatarsal head off of the ground – I want it to be a reaction of the contraction.

If YOU lift the 1st metatarsal head off of the ground, chances are you are going to over engage short foot and can create too much hypertonicity.

Now this is where the cueing goes wrong!

Many – I repeat – many professionals are cueing short foot as pushing the 1st metatarsal head down into the ground.   This is wrong.  This is incorrect.  This does not transverse to function.   This is a literal translation of the foot tripod and a gross misrepresentation of true function of the foot.    (More on this soon!)

Step 6 – Incorporate the pelvic floor 

The final step we want to integrate with short foot is the deep core.   To be truly integrated we need the entire Deep Front Line to be a part of this short foot exercise.  This means that as we exhale, we want to focus on lifting our pelvic floor and pushing the tips of our toes down into the ground.

The result?

All of the central domes in our body stack.   The arch, the pelvic floor, the diaphragm – and technically our palate all lift during activation.

Clearing the Confusion! 

So now that we know the proper way to cue short foot.   It’s time to clear the confusion how short foot.   The most common incorrect cue that I hear is pushing the 1st metatarsal head down as the activation.

I am not sure who started this trend but it is wrong.

Yes we do start by finding our foot tripod – but that doesn’t mean we should literally push into the foot tripod as the form of foot activation for foot stability.

DFL

So why not?     We need to defend our reason of why not!

Answer #1 –  Deep Front Line.    

Short Foot is a Deep Front Line activation.  Remember the true purpose of activating our feet is to get them to “talk to” our core or center.

If we look at the Deep Front Line, the muscles of the feet that we see are the Flexor Hallucis Longus, Flexor Digitorum Longus, Posterior Tibialis and Anterior Tibialis.

As mentioned earlier, the cueing I use for short foot is to push the tips of the toes down into the ground.  The reason?  Because this is the action of the flexors!

When we push the 1st metatarsal down into the ground we are activating the peroneus longus muscle.

Do you see that muscle in the Deep Front Line?   I don’t either!

Answer #2 – 1st Ray Plantarflexion & the 1st MPJ

To further understand the purpose of 1st metatarsal plantar flexion (or pushing the 1st met down) we need to understand the true functional reason behind this action.

When does our 1st metatarsal FUNCTIONALLY want to plantar flex?

During push-off!

The action of 1st metatarsal plantar flexion is to allow the 1st MPJ to dorsiflexion – an action that occurs during push-off.   When we take a step, run or jump our great toe dorsiflexes to create a rigid lever for forward (or vertical) progression.

I did a whole blog series on the 1st MPJ where I went into the actions of slide, glide and jam but essentially one of the most critical steps in dorsiflexion of the big toe is 1st metatarsal plantar flexion.    However.   We must pause there.   This 1st metatarsal plantar flexion is actually not DOWN but rather it is BEHIND us.

1st mpj

 

If you see in the image to the right, 1st metatarsal plantar flexion is actual BEHIND us as
we shift our COG forward, this is how we truly dorsiflex the great toe.

How does this relate back to short foot?  This means that to train the 1st metatarsal to literally push down into the ground has no true functional transfer.

Answer #3 – Sesamoids 

The final reason of why I do not cue pushing the 1st metatarsal head down has to do with the sesamoids.   The sesamoids are two small bones that sit within the Flexor Hallucis Brevis tendons and sit directly under the 1st metatarsal head.

Like the patella (knee cap) the sesamoids are not intended to be passive weight bearing bones but rather ones that transfer force during functional movement.

sesamoidThe image to the left shows that the sesamoids are the lowest bones in the foot and if there is intentional 1st met plantarflexion into the ground (due to a miscue of short foot) then there is increased force to these small bones.

This can greatly increase the chance for sesamoiditis and sesamoid fractures – two conditions that are a b*#! to treat.

In addition, some of the clients and patients being cued to push down into their 1st metatarsal head during short foot may actually have a functional plantarflexed first ray which can be exacerbated with improper short foot cueing.   The negative impact of a plantar flexed 1st metatarsal (ray) is functional hallux limitus, which can lead to a myriad of compensation patterns during walking.

Did I confuse you more?

If the above was a little like “what the hell is she talking about” then good!   This is is how confusing the foot is!

It is not black and white.   It is not X = Y.

It is grey with a lot of exceptions with any cue or exercise.   This is why I created the Barefoot Training Specialist® Certification and have trained a very niche group of qualified Master Instructors under EBFA Global.

Are you more of an auditory learner?

Tune in below for a video summary I did on this exact topic.

Still confused?    Email me!     dremily@ebfafitness.com

In summary, honor the power of the foot.   Consider who you are using as your sources.   Ask questions.   And don’t take anything anyone says as gospel.   Ask for the WHY?

Stay #barefootstrong

Dr Emily Splichal, DPM, MS, CES

 

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Barefoot Science, General

Toe Walking and Tactile Input

Walking on the toes as a child may be considered a normal phase of learning to walk, however in the child past 3 years old the absence of heel contact at initial contact is not normal.

According to Williams et al. (2010) an average 7% of children present with a toe walking toe walkinggait.  Any child walking on their toes should be assessed for medical causes of the gait pattern.

Some of the most common causes of toe walking include:

  • Equinus (structural limitation is ankle dorsiflexion)
  • Upper motor neuron trauma (cerebral palsy)
  • Neurogenic factors (autism)

But what if all of the above possible causes are ruled out?

What could be the driver of the toe walking?

This is where the diagnosis idiopathic toe walking (ITW) comes into play.    ITW means there is no known cause for the child’s gait pattern and absence of heel strike at initial contact.

Treatment Options for Toe Walking

If there is no known cause for a child’s toe walking it makes treatment options difficult. For ITW, most practitioners focus on ankle mobility as the most addressable option.

This means treatment options for these children include:

  • Physical therapy and manual release work
  • Stretching and night splints
  • Botox injections to calves
  • Achilles tendon lengthening

All of these treatment options have downsides including skin irritation, compliancy and invasive risks of infection and scarring.    Specialists are now looking for new treatment options for these children.  Treatment options that are simple, non-invasive and will have increased compliancy.

New Treatment Options for ITW

Researcher Dr Cylie Williams of Monash University in Australia has been exploring new treatment options that look specifically at the tactile input in these children.   It is proposed that by changing tactile input through the feet, one could change the neurological input and potentially influence the gait pattern.

Dr Williams’ initial exploration into this topic was related to whole body vibration fullsizeoutput_1805(WBV).   In her prior research she has noted varying vibration threshold in children who are idiopathic toe walkers and those with a normal heel toe gait.   The benefits of WBV are promising to this pediatric population however the only downside is that the effect is short term, temporary and requires a WBV platform such as Power Plate.

Dr Williams is seeking new tactile stimulation methods and has turned to Naboso Neuro Insoles.   Starting early 2019 Dr Williams will be researching the effects of Naboso Insoles as a simple, non-invasive intervention for ITW.

Sensory Seeking Children

As the inventor of Naboso Technology and our sensory products, my interest is of course in those children who are sensory seeking and the possible role the Naboso Insoles and Mats can have on the behavior and movement patterns in these children.

Lane et al. (2009) has identified three main types of sensory processing disorders in children with autism:

  • Sensory sensitive (covering ears to loud noises, restricted food preferences)
  • Sensory under-responsive (failure to react to pain)
  • Sensory seeking (rocking, hand flapping, noise-makingchildrens insoles

Due to the correlation between autism, sensory processing disorders and toe walking the possible application of Naboso for these children is exciting.    As the research around ITW and tactile input continues to be explored we will hopefully have new data to share on this topic.

In the mean time we encourage any professional working with ITW children to consider the possible role of Naboso Children’s Insoles and our Naboso Textured Mats.

In health,

Dr Emily Splichal, DPM, MS 

Citations:

Lane, Alison et al. (2009) Sensory Processing Subtypes in Autism. J Dev Autism Disorder 40: 112 – 122.

Williams, Cylie et al. (2010) Idiopathic Toe Walking and Sensory Processing Disorder. J Foot and Ankle Res  3: 16

 

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Barefoot Science, General

NeuroRehabilitation with Naboso Technology

Balance impairment and gait instability are common symptoms in patients living with Parkinson’s Disease (PD).   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 PD clients, research has OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAshown that stimulation of the foot with texture shows promising results.   Study after study has demonstrated that the seemingly simple intervention of texture is actually quite powerful in its postural effects.

Why the Plantar Foot? 

Our hands and feet are some the most sensitive sensory gateways of the human body and allow us to connect our visual and vestibular systems with the exteroceptive (external) world.

The skin on the plantar foot is packed with unique nerve endings called mechanoceptors or touch receptors.   There are four main mechanoceptors found on the bottom of the feet.

SAI – which is sensitive to two-point discrimination & texture (Naboso!)

SAII – which is sensitive to skin stretch

FAI – which is sensitive to low-frequency vibration (walking impact forces)

FAII – which is sensitive to high-frequency vibration (running impact forces)

Texture & the Plantar Foot 

Texture such as that of two-point discrimination (Naboso) have been shown to improve posture and sway in those with Parkinson’s Disease.

A 2011 study by Hatton et al. showed that pyramid-like textures had the greatest efficacy on reducing postural sway in PD patients.   This was both the eyes shut and unstable environment.

A 2013 study by Qui et al. compared the effects of smooth versus textured insoles on balance and stability in those with Parkinson’s Disease.  Qui et al. found that the greatest effect was with textured insoles on unstable surfaces with eyes open and eyes closed.

A 2017 study by Silva et al. showed that continuous use of textured insoles over a one week period not only improved gait but also improved foot sensitivity and sensation.

Naboso Textured Insoles

Insole Pic 2To date, Naboso Insoles are the only commercially available textured insoles that are designed to enhance posture, improve gait and reduce falls in people with neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s Multiple Sclerosis, neuropathy, and post-stroke.  There is so much exciting textured insole research but until Naboso none of this information was commercially applicable to these PD patients.

At Naboso we are so excited to see that the effects of Naboso Insoles match that of the research!    Below are a few videos of just how powerful the Naboso Insoles are at improving gait in those with Parkinson’s Disease!

Coming Soon! – Naboso Clinical Insoles 

With these exciting results above Naboso Technology is working on a new version to their already existing Insole line – NabosoNeuro.   These clinical insoles will be specific to the enhanced somatosensory demands of Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis, diabetes (neuropathy), post-stroke + more!

To learn more about the benefits of Naboso Insoles in neurorehabilitation please click HERE

To carry Naboso Insoles in your office for patients and clients please contact Naboso Technology for our wholesale rates – orders@nabosotechnology.com

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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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Flow Your Way to Happiness

Flow.     Animal Flow?    FlowFit?    Vinyasa Flow?

Everyone in the fitness industry is “flowing” but is a movement flow state the same as a  mental flow or a superfluidity state?    Does flowing through a series of yoga poses do the same to the brain as when a base jumper jumps off a cliff or when a surfer rides a 100 foot wave?

Achieving a true flow state of mind is not simply a movement meditation.

Flow state of mind is a higher state of consciousness that is lies between the anxiety caused by a challenge being too difficult, and the boredom caused by the challenge being to easy.    The mental state of flow is marked by peak creativity and a timelessness that is driven by risk, deep focus and balance between challenge & skill.   And then most importantly flow is associated with a deep feeling of happiness.

“Happiness comes from within oneself” – Mihaly Csikszentmihaly

Beyond Moving Meditation 

I first had a fascination with the concept of flow – or being “in the zone” – when I was a Par8148538-kwLG-U110471073117TIG-620x349@Gazzetta-Web_articolocompetitive gymnast in high school.  I craved the indescribable clarity and timelessness that I experienced when I was about to perform a tumbling pass or execute a skill on the uneven bars.

After leaving gymnastics and entering general fitness (running, cycling, lifting weights), I had a deep emotional struggle with the greater purpose behind working out.   None of it was satisfying this craving I had for deep focus or flow.   Sure I would experience the classic “runner’s high” or the endorphin rush of cycling but it just wasn’t the same.

None of these movements gave me the indescribable focus of when I was a gymnast in flow staring down the runway to the vault.

In 2010, I remember sitting in the on-call room with one of my co-residents who was a jui jitsu fighter and we were talking about being “in the zone” and how we craved this deeper state of focus – almost like we were craving a drug.

Several years later a good friend of mine Dan Edwardes of Parkour Generations introduced me to the book The Rise of Superman: Decoding the Science of Ultimate Human Performance by Steven Kotler and my fascination in the topic of flow was re-ignited.  I began to understand the difference between flow, superfluidity, meditation and the classic runner’s high.

Risk as a Feature of Flow

There are 17 triggers to enter a flow state however according to Kotler the three biggest triggers to flow are:

  1. Risk of consequence or to see a challenge in the activity
  2. Deep focus
  3. Balance between challenge : skill ratio

When there is a risk of injury or challenge this requires full immersion of the person in the activity, therefore allowing them to enter flow.   This deep presence is associated with a loss of self-consciousness and a sense of timelessness.

This makes sense when it comes to my association of flow with gymnastics.   It was the perfect balance between challenge, risk, skill and deep focus.    But how can I carry this concept of flow to my present life as I am no longer a competitive gymnast?

We will explore this shortly.

The Brain in Flow

brain-waves-chartAs the brain enters a flow state, brain waves shift from beta to the alpha: theta border which is the only level in which gamma waves can exist.

Gamma brain waves bind together far reaching ideas in our brain allowing faster creative processing and strategies.

In Kotler’s book Rise of Superman he gives examples of survival strategies by those in death defying situations and how time almost slowed down allowing them to see clearer strategies for survival.  Strategies they probably wouldn’t have thought of in a non-flow state.

It’s almost like in flow the brain gets out of it’s own way! 

Author of The Athlete’s Way, Christopher Bergland references this “brain getting out of it’s own way” as a decrease in prefrontal cortex activity.    The more subconscious we become in our movements there is an associated shift in brain waves that unlocks fluidity of thought and action.

We speak about this a lot in EBFA Education stating that excessive prefrontal activity or over-cognition actually slows our reaction time and decreases the automaticity of movement.   Entering flow or understanding flow is another way to enhance the automaticity of movement in our athletes, seniors and all clients.

The Father of Flow 

We mentioned that flow is often associated with risk and challenge but what are other characteristics to finding flow?

And how is flow associated with happiness?    As that is the point of this blog after all!

To answer this question we need to go to the Father of Flow – Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihaly.   Csikszentmihaly dedicated his career to studying flow, happiness and what’s referred to as positive psychology.

“The best moments in our lives are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times… The best moments usually occur if a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.” ~ Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

What Csikszentmihaly found is that people who frequently experienced the flow state were happier and had a higher perceived state of contentment.   They were less materialistic and were driven by what’s referred to as intrinsic motivations, or simply performing an act for the simple joy of the act itself.

Intrinsic Motivation is the Secret to Happiness – and Flow! 

It seems like everyone is on the eternal hunt for happiness.    We know our emotional state is in a constant shift based on the perceived homeostasis of our autonomic nervous system which is fed through interoception.

As stated above by Csikszentmihaly those who find flow are happier – those who are led by intrinsic motivation are happier.

I think it’s time we look at what motivates us to do what we do?

Do you play a sport to get recognition from others?   Do you take yoga or barre class because it’s trendy or you want others to acknowledge your physique?  Do you work hard at our job for the incentive of a bonus?

Or….do you do what you do simply for the love of that action?

The latter is referred to intrinsic motivation.    Doing something simply for the joy of the action in itself – also known as being autotelic – is linked to happiness.   The reward to a chosen action is simply to fully experience that action.

Finding Flow in Movement 

We already mentioned two characteristics that help you find flow – risk & intrinsic motivation.   But what are other ways to begin to find flow?

How can you increase the element of challenge, focus and intrinsic motivation in your own life?    Only you an answer that.

My Happiness Journey | Freedom through Flow

To further validate the theory of flow and it’s association with happiness I want to share my own personal journey to hopefully inspire others who may find themselves seeking the meaning to happiness or inspire others to find the power of movement and flow.

Back in the Summer of 2014 I was involved in a series of domestic violence altercations with my then fiance’ eventually leading to my hospitalization and his arrest.   Due to the severity of the situation it triggered a massive primitive sympathetic stress response to my nervous system – putting me into a constant state of panic attacks and PTSD.

Everyday for 1 year my life was a living hell, filled with the conscious re-assessment of my bodies homeostasis to see if I was going to get thrown into another panic attack.  Any shift of my body that elevated my heart rate would cause me to consciously think I was going to fall into a panic attack.   After several ER visits I knew I had to do something about my emotional state and total sympathetic overdrive.

Instead of turning to psychotherapy I turned to movement therapy.

Almost 3 years ago to the date I took  my first aerial silks class.   I don’t remember exactly emily silkswhat drew me to aerials or how I knew to seek out this art form.    But what I do remember is that it has forever changed my life.

The risk and challenge of climbing, dropping and “flying” 20 feet in the air forced me to be present in the moment and enter deep focus.   There was a continuos balance between challenge and skill which continued to drive me further into flow.

For the first time in years I can now say that I have experienced true happiness fed directly by flow and intrinsic motivation.   I now carry this concept of intrinsic motivation and the state of flow into everything I do – from writing, to presenting at a conference, to teaching my BARE class and of course to aerials silks.

To date, I longer experience anxiety, have panic attacks or PTSD.   I am in full control of my emotional awareness and interoceptive perception and feel so free.

***

To learn more about how motion evokes emotion, intrinsic motivation and autotelic personalities, flow and superfluidity –

Join us on our 3-Part Webinar Series: 

INTEROCEPTION | The Art of Controlling Emotion with Motion 

Thursday July 13, 20, 27

***If you missed any week you get the recordings!    

All are recorded and accessible indefinitely***

JOIN THIS WEBINAR NOW! 

 

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Interoception: The Emotional Side of the Human Myofascial System

As movement specialists we have grown to build a deep appreciation for the proprioceptive network in the human body.    From the perception of vibration and texture to the integrated tension along fascial lines, proprioception is truly the sixth sense in human movement.

As important as proprioception is, what if I told you there is an even more powerful side to this myofascial web?

What if I told you that the myofascial system actually plays a much larger role in emotion – rather than motion?

Introducing Interoception

interoceptionAccording to Dunn et al. interoception is a sense of the physiological condition of the oneself.   It is an ubiquitous information network used to represent one’s body from within.

It is the ability to detect subtle changes in bodily systems, including muscles, skin, joints, and viscera.  It includes a range of sensations including warmth, coolness, pain, tickle, hunger, thirst, sexual arousal, muscular activity, heartbeat, distension of bladder, distension of stomach and sensual touch (Schleip et al.)

So how does interoception compare to proprioception?

Interoception        vs.           Proprioception

        Free nerve endings                      Myelinated small nerves

     Activates insular cortex                  Somotosensory pathway

  ½ – 1 second delay                           30 -90 m/s

Body mind system                    Dance / Pilates

Reiki /Energy Worker             Dance / Pilates

If we look above we can see that there are quite a few differences between interoceptors and proprioceptors.   One of the biggest differences is that interoceptors are free nerve endings and transmit information with a delay, whereas proprioceptors quickly process information within milliseconds.  This supports the proprioceptive role in the accuracy of human movement.

According to a recent article by Schleip et al. our myofascial web actually has a much higher concentration of interceptors vs. proprioceptors.    80% of the peripheral nerves found in fascia are actually free nerve endings – with 90% of these being interoceptive!

This puts the fascial innervation at 1:7 ratio or proprioceptors to interoceptors.

The Power of Human Touch

QJg9ht3ITESymX-KcCtb35KNzs4Often referred to as the primitive skin, this interoceptive network is what drives our need for social touch and the release of oxytocin.    Many massage techniques especially those which are lighter in nature are thought to affect the interoceptive system.

The human viscera fascia is one of the most concentrated areas of the interoceptive network with shifts in the viscera often being confused for irritable bowel syndrome or indigestion when it is really an emotion such as stage fright or excitement of a upcoming exam.

In Schleip’s recent article he states that an ‘interoceptive moron’ is unable to differentiate visceral sensations from signs of an empty stomach, ‘butterflies’ or empathy driven ‘gut feelings’ about another person’s dilemma

Putting Interoception into Practice

The concept of interoception in general is a new topic but one that I believe is going to start showing up more and more in the movement industry.   As our appreciation for mind body connection and fascial fitness programs expands this is an inevitable side of our fascia that will continue to be explored.

Want to learn more about interoception please join Dr Emily for a FREE educational webinar on Thursday July 6 at 9pm EST

Register for this webinar HERE

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Barefoot Biomechanics, General

Biomechanics of the Stiletto Strut

stilettoAnyone who has followed by work since before 2012 knows that I love shoes!

I may be barefoot strong but come Friday night, I, like most women across the world, am strapping on my sexiest stilettos for a night out on the town.   Blame it on fashion and living in NYC for over a decade, but I can’t deny that my knees get weak as I walk through the Shoe Department at Bergdorfs!

Associated with power, confidence and sex appeal nothing ruins a perfect pair of pumps like a young fashionista stumbling around in her 5 inch platforms.   If you are looking to improve your stiletto strut, understanding the biomechanics of the foot & ankle may be the ticket to the perfect stride.

In today’s blog I’m going to combine two of my passions – stilettos & biomechanics – to give you a scientific approach the catwalk and why biomechanics play a bigger role than we realize when achieving the perfect stiletto strut!

The Case of the Stiletto Duck Walk

I’m sure we’ve all seen the woman walking in heels with her feet turned out – or every time she takes a step the foot drops down into pronation.   The cause for this “stiletto duck walk” is related to the biomechanics of the great toe joint and the extreme heights of today’s heels.  Big toe

Normal walking on flat ground requires at least 30 degrees of great toe dorsiflexion.  Slide into stilettos and the demands on great toe dorsiflexion increases – often requiring up to 90 degrees dorsiflexion!

If you have limited great toe mobility (whether it be in flats or heels) and you are trying to enter the propulsive phase of gait but do not have the joint mobility – you will compensate!

Two of the most common compensations for limited great toe mobility is to turn your feet or pronate during push-off – leading to the stiletto duck walk.

So what can be done to avoid the stiletto duck walk?

1.  Lower the height of your heels.

photo-2Heels that exceed 3 inches start to defy natural foot biomechanics which is why the higher height of heels must have platforms and a forefoot rocker built into the shoe (see picture to the left)

For women with flat feet I often recommend keeping the heel height lower as this foot type is inherently unstable which compromises great toe mobility.

2.  Shorten your stride

Another great tip for decreasing the demands on great toe mobility when in high heels is to keep your stiletto stride short.   The longer the stride, the greater the demands on great toe mobility.

Learn more about wearing high heels with flat feet – http://www.howcast.com/videos/500316-How-to-Walk-in-Heels-with-Flat-Feet-High-Heel-Walking

The Forward Lean

The next common mistake I often see in the stiletto strut is the forward lean.  This dropping of the chest is often associated with the stiletto strutter trying to walk faster than the heels are biomechanically allowing.    Biomechanical studies have shown that when walking in heels the woman is forced to shorten her stride length and increase stride frequency.

Increased stride length not only requires great toe flexibility (see above) but also hip extension flexibility.   As soon as we slide into our heels the ankle assumes a plantar flexed position forcing the pelvis into an anterior tilt.   This anterior tilt shortens the hip flexors thereby limiting hip extension.

What can be done to avoid the forward lean when walking in heels?

1.  Minimize the heel height 

The higher the heels the greater the shift in the pelvis.   Each additional inch in heel height is further shortening the hip flexors and reducing hip extension flexibility.   If your pelvis already naturally gravitates towards an anterior tilt then keeping the heel height 3 inches will not only save your stiletto strut but it will also dramatically decrease the load to your lower back.

2.  Keep the hip flexors flexible 

If you are going to wear heels often then make sure to keep the hip flexors flexible.   Repeated stiletto wear will overtime shorten the muscles on the front of the hip making successive high heel wear more difficult.    I encourage women to do at least 5 minutes of hip mobility exercises (stretching) before and after wearing their heels.

To learn more stiletto recovery tips –

To experience my Stiletto Recovery Workout DVD please visit – http://www.amazon.com/Stiletto-Recovery-Workout-Emily-Splichal/dp/B009ZXGLU6

3.  Own the shorter stride 

This final tip is often difficult for me sometimes as I’m always moving and walking super fast, however if the heels force you to shorten your stride you might as well own it.    The shorter stride gives you time to spice up your walk and add a little sex appeal or personality to the walk!

 The Weafalls-off-high-heels-2k Ankles

The final common mistake seen in the stiletto strut are the weak or wobbly ankles.   Again blame it on biomechanics and foot type as the extreme plantar flexed and inverted foot position can be difficult for certain foot types to control.

If you find yourself weak in the ankles and pitter pattering around in your heels out of fear of falling then the below tips should help you build some ankle strength and confidence in your strut!

1.  Minimize heel height

Just like the previous two stiletto strut errors, decreasing heel height is probably one of the best ways to correct all stiletto strut errors and compensations.   Remember that for every inch you increase heel height you drastically change the demands placed on the foot and body.

For the novice stiletto lover I suggest not going above 3 inches.   In addition, the thickness in the heel can greatly help build confidence in your walk with many women stating the greatest stability in wedges / espadrilles.

2.  Barefoot training

Another tip that I love and have built my Catwalk Confidence Workout around is barefoot training for foot, ankle and core strength – all necessary components to walking confidently in your heels.

Studies have shown that our feet and core and deeply integrated and that the stronger the feet are the faster the core / hips can stabilize when walking.   This translates to a more graceful walk (think tango dancer)!

To learn more barefoot training tips for improving your stiletto strut please check out my DVD – Catwalk Confidence.

http://www.amazon.com/Catwalk-Confidence-Workout-Emily-Splichal/dp/B009ZXBEUS/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1425976693&sr=1-2&keywords=Dr+Emily+Splichal

In closing a few final tips for keeping your feet and body stiletto strong :

1.  Recover your feet daily by standing on a golf ball

2.  Keep your hips flexible by do hip flexor stretches or foam rolling your quads

3.  Weekly barefoot training keeps the small muscles of your feet and core working together

4.  Never compromise in shoe fit as the damage it can do the feet is not worth the fashion

To learn more about feet and stilettos please check out my recent segment on The Meredith Viera Show!

 

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