General, Naboso Technology

Enhance Standing Desk Benefits with the Naboso Standing Mat

If you have a desk job, chances are you sit too much during the day. In the past, that situation wasn’t considered particularly healthy, but it was not thought to be actively harmful. However, recent research shows that sitting for extended periods can make you more likely to become obese and develop diabetes and heart disease. As a result, you can expect a shorter lifespan.

One effective way to combat this health problem is to switch up all that sitting and trade it in for standing. More employers are encouraging employees to use standing desks because of the health benefits of avoiding prolonged sitting. Enough research has been done to suggest that a standing desk can make a significant change to your health and your work productivity. The benefits are only enhanced when you add a standing desk mat.

HEALTH BENEFITS

Standing instead of sitting does burn more calories an hour and also helps your blood sugar return to normal more quickly after eating. These changes are beneficial for everyone but particularly for those with type 2 diabetes. For years, researchers have said that a sedentary lifestyle contributes to heart disease and that standing helps to combat this health issue.

In addition, those with back and neck pain may benefit from using a standing desk, at least for part of the day. Studies have indicated that workers experienced less pain after just a few weeks of using a sit-stand desk.

INCREASED PRODUCTIVITY

According to a British study, workers who switched to standing desks reported increased productivity after a year. They also noted that they felt more “engaged” while in the workplace. The simple act of standing does keep people more alert and possibly able to function at a higher level than their seated counterparts. Also, if people perceive that the standing desk helps them be more productive, their work will likely reflect that belief. The standing desk benefits workers both physically and mentally.

INTEGRATING A STANDING DESK MAT

While standing is healthier than sitting, being on your feet for long periods each day can cause physical issues as well, such as lower back pain, varicose veins, and swollen feet. Your posture also contributes to these problems. Standing at work for any length of time also demands that you maintain an awareness of your foot posture, footwear and body alignment. Using the right standing mat can help optimize foot strength and posture when on your feet for long hours.

 

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The combination of a standing desk and the Naboso Standing Mat 1.5 increases your comfort and protects your health during the workday. Created with advanced, patent-pending material, this 21″ x 24″ standing desk mat does not intrude into your workspace. It provides the type of cushioning that your feet need to prevent pressure on your lower back, feet, and legs. Your feet won’t grow tired easily, in part because the mat stimulates the bottom of your feet as you work, keeping your nervous system alert and fully functioning. You can also perform standing barefoot exercises that increase this all-important foot activation and help your feet recover at the end of a long day.

If you spend a significant part of your workday sitting down, you are inviting certain health problems that stem from a sedentary lifestyle. For many workers, using a standing desk for several hours a day can help prevent these issues, which include obesity, heart disease, back and neck pain, and diabetes. The standing desk is not a miracle cure, but using one is a positive step toward achieving good health, particularly if you protect your feet, legs, and back with a Naboso standing desk mat. The mat provides cushioning and foot stimulation that addresses these health issues while keeping you comfortable and alert. When you choose to stand during work, you are choosing to be healthier and more productive–improvements your employer should be happy to support.

Learn more about the Naboso Standing Mat HERE

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Barefoot Science, General, Naboso Technology

Three of the Best Ways to Strengthen the Foot Muscles

Physical inactivity is becoming a greater risk around the world, affecting more adults than ever before. Modern lifestyle relies heavily on technology. The downside of it is that it’s no longer necessary to be active to earn a living.

But the good news is, modern technology backed by scientific research can enhance and support a healthy lifestyle.

The Irony of Increased Exercise

If you do more sports activities, you must be aware of how to keep your body safe and healthy while exercising. Studies show that the most common sprains and strains are related to sports: the ankle joint accounts for 72 percent of all injuries.

How serious is this in the United States alone? Two million individuals suffer ankle injuries every year, and the cost to repair your feet muscles are far from cheap. A single sprain leads to setbacks at work, family life, and general life satisfaction.

You might recognize the initial symptoms of swelling and ankle pain when jogging excessively, or working out in the gym. If not treated, an ankle sprain can lead to secondary conditions. These include tendinitis, medial tibial stress syndrome, and medial knee pain. Up to 80 percent of patients who suffer a small ankle sprain will develop chronic ankle instability. More will experience permanent foot injury.

So how do we address this growing health problem? The best way is to ensure that while you are exercising, you are also strengthening your foot muscles. Balance, power, and strength are all factors in helping you perform physical exercises without the risk of injury. Here are three ways to do that, backed by scientific proof:

  1. Barefoot Training

Can training without sports shoes on benefit your feet muscles?  Absolutely!

Science has proven that it is far from normal for humans to be wearing closed or Barefoot Strong Covercovered shoes all day long. Shoes support our feet, but they also restrict movement. They decrease flexibility, and inhibit our muscles from performing as they should.

This is why many physical therapists recommend exercising barefoot. Look at yoga or Pilates athletes. Their agility and balance is enhanced when their feet aren’t restricted by shoes. Similarly dancers are barefoot or wear flexible shoes that promote — not inhibit — movement.

When you train barefoot, you enhance sensory stimulation, improve joint health, and optimize balance. And when you are more stable, you’re less likely to suffer injuries due to a fall. To learn more about barefoot training check out the book Barefoot Strong by Dr Emily Splichal.

  1. Short Foot Exercise

Many active people suffer from plantar fascial pain and metatarsalgia. This is often due to a weakness of the small foot muscles. Short foot exercise (SFE) or “foot doming” is one of the most effective foot exercises which can improve this. The exercise conditions your feet muscles for endurance. It requires no equipment and you can do it anywhere — even seated.

How does SFE work? Start by finding your foot tripod which is under your first toe, first img_7134.jpgtoe and heel. Lift the toes, spread them out and place them back down onto the ground. Using your intrinsic foot muscles, start to push the tips of the toes down into the ground. Hold for 10 seconds. Relax and repeat 5 times per side. If you experience cramping, simply relax and try again later. To see a full video on how to perform SFE click HERE

In one study, short foot exercise was used to address chronic foot instability. Thirty adults were monitored during exercise for eight weeks. Scientists measured the quantitative somatosensory of joint position sense, vibration sensory thresholds, balance, and ankle instability. The group that performed the short foot exercise showed significant improvement in all the categories. SFE was more effective than regular physical therapy for treating ankle sprain patients.

  1. Texture Stimulation

Your feet can affect everything else in your body. How you exercise will directly affect the pressure on your knees, hips, low back, and neck, so it can lead to many injuries.

When exercising, pay attention to the skin on the bottom of your feet. It is critical for balance, posture, motor control and human locomotion. Using scientifically-backed texture technology during exercise protects your soles. It ensures you get the most out of your workouts, every time. Naboso Technology has both textured mats and insoles that are perfect for strengthening your feet and body.

The Naboso mat was developed by Podiatrist and Human Movement Specialist Dr. Emily Splichal. It has a unique, patent-pending material based on texture research and surface science. The unique texture will stimulate your body’s nervous system through the skin on the bottom of your feet. When using it, you may notice an improvement in your Naboso Czech Picpostural control, stability and strength.

Here are three ways you can use the Naboso Mat:

  • To optimize foot stimulation during standing barefoot exercises
  • When exercising with kettlebells, sandbags, or Olympic lifting
  • While doing barefoot bodyweight exercises such as step-ups or lunges

Similarly, Naboso Insoles work by stimulating the nerves in the bottom of your feet. They not only improve balance but positively impact gait patterns, ankle proprioception and force production.

You can think of Naboso Technology like “braille for the feet”. Naboso material lets your feet “read” the ground. With every movement, you become stronger, more flexible, and empowered.

For more information about Naboso Technology, visit our website and explore our product line today.

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General, Naboso Technology

8 Ways to Manage Arch Pain

Living with constant foot pain limits your ability to do simple tasks such as running, playing sports or even just walking. Many people live with foot pain because they assume it’s just a part of life, but that isn’t the case. There are treatments available to help minimize foot pain in a safe and healthy way. The following guide walks you through eight ways to treat your foot pain naturally.

#1 – Wear Shoes that Fit Properly to Prevent Arch Pain

Wearing shoes that are too tight or too large creates excess pressure and improper support that leads to arch, toe and even ankle pain. Properly fitting shoes provide ample shoeroom for toe splay while favoring freedom of motion.

Choose shoes that hug your foot tightly on the sides without cramping your toes. Try to wiggle your toes after lacing the shoes. If wiggling is impossible or painful, the shoes are too small for you. If you notice your foot slides around in the shoes when you wear them, you need a smaller size shoe. Your feet should stay in place as you walk.

Some of our favorite shoes that support natural foot function include Xero Shoes, Vivobarefoot and Feelgrounds

#2 – Learn How to Walk Properly

To reduce pain in your feet, walking properly is essential. When walking, allow the heel of your foot to hit the pavement first, followed by the ball of your feet and finally your toes. Bend at your ankle so the amount of pressure you apply throughout your foot transitions as you roll from your heel to the balls of your feet. Keeping your feet stiff while walking causes pain and stress unnecessarily in different areas and leads to arch pain over time.

#3 – Consider Losing Weight

Unfortunately, the amount of weight on your body impacts the pain you feel in your feet immensely. Every extra pound on your body puts more stress on your feet, joints and bones. Someone who is overweight is four times more likely to have flat feetthan someone who is not. Increased weight puts increased pressure on the ball, arch and heel of the foot. This increased pressure leads to foot pain that diminishes drastically with weight loss.

Losing even a small amount of weight reduces foot pain because there is less weight to carry. If you experience foot pain, working out in a pool or doing exercises that require little to no standing is great for weight loss. Once you start to lose weight, more intense exercise is possible because there is less weight on your muscles, joints and feet.

#4 – Massage Your Foot Arches Daily

Massaging the arches of your feet improves circulation, reduces tenderness and makes walking less painful. Use your fingertips to apply pressure to the ball and arches of your foot. Applying pressure helps to loosen the muscles and provide stimulation within the foot.

Another great massage technique to try at home is massaging your foot with a tennis ball skucover_roller_rador RAD Roller.  Sit down in a chair and place the roller on the ground in front of you. Take off your shoe and place the arch of your foot on top of the roller. Push slightly on the ball with your foot and roll back and forth, applying pressure to your arch. At first, slight pain is common in the arch, but as you continue the massage, nerve stimulation occurs, allowing the muscles to loosen, which ultimately reduces pain in the arch. Repeat the process with the other foot. Massage your aches every day for maximum relief and optimal stimulation.

#5 – Use Naboso Textured Insoles to Stimulate Your Foot

Arch pain is common in the feet when proper support doesn’t occur. Shoes of today have

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Naboso 1.5 Insole

style in mind more than support. Insoles added to shoes improve support and reduce foot pain over time. Naboso textured insoles help improve foot sensitivity through nerve stimulation that can help minimize arch pain. Having proper foot support reduces the likelihood of a fall occurring and helps to improve balance. The hard construction of the insoles provides support, while the textured design promotes stimulation.

Custom orthotics often require a prescription for construction to take place, whereas the Naboso textured insoles do not. They are available in a variety of sizes to ensure an accurate fit for maximum support and comfort. It’s best to actually measure your feet rather than base the pair of insoles you buy on the size of the shoes you currently wear. This ensures the insoles fit properly and provide maximum support.

#6 – Make Stretching a Part of Your Daily Routine

Arch pain often occurs when the muscles in the foot become tight. Stretching helps to loosen the muscles and thus improve arch pain. To stretch your feet, take the time to stand with your feet side-by-side. Step one foot out in front of you while leaving the other foot in place. Gently lift and lower the toe of the foot that you stepped forward a few times. This stretches the arch of the foot to reduce muscle tightness. Repeat the process with the other foot.

If your feet hurt too badly to stand for extended periods of time, sit on the ground with your legs outstretched. Point your toes toward the sky and then attempt to point them away from you and hold the position for a few seconds. Pull your toes back toward the sky and then pull them back toward your body.

Another great stretching technique is to stand at the edge of a stair with just the tips of your toes on the stair. Allow your body weight to push the heel of your feet down as much as possible while keeping your toes in place. Lift your heels without moving your toes to stretch and strengthen the balls and arches of your feet. Exercise both feet at once or one at a time, depending on the strength of your feet. Do these stretches as often as needed for maximum pain relief.

#7 – Treat Your Feet with Natural Oils

Natural oils are great for treating muscle pain naturally. It’s important to invest in oils designed for topical use to ensure they are safe to use directly on your skin. The label on the bottle of oil states if it is safe for topical use or not. Peppermint oil has anti-inflammatory properties that soothe the foot, while reducing swelling and inflammation. Rosemary oil improves circulation throughout the foot that reduces arch tenderness and pain. Lavender oil is also anti-inflammatory and reduces muscle and joint pain.

There are many different ways to administer natural oils. Add a few drops of oil to your favorite lotion and rub it on your tender feet. Place a few drops in a foot bath and soak your feet for 30 to 40 minutes to allow the heat from the water and the natural calming properties of the oil to do their jobs.

#8 – Exercise Your Feet

Every part of your body needs regular exercise and your feet are no different. Exercising your feet strengthens them and reduces pain in the long run. Having a strong arch is essential when it comes to running or walking pain free. A short foot exercise is a great way to strengthen the small muscles that lift the arch of your foot.

To activate the short foot exercise, you focus on one foot at a time. Take one foot and IMG_7134focus on placing the heel of the foot into the ground. Then lift your toes and spread them apart. Place the toes onto the ground spread apart and focus on pushing the big toe down as much as possible. When this happens, the weight on the foot begins to transfer and shift to the toes and the heel. The arch starts to lift as you focus the weight away from it and feel the ball of the foot start to lift from the ground. Hold the position in place for 10 seconds at a time for five times per foot. Do this exercise before every workout and a few times throughout the day for maximum relief.

Strengthening the arches of your feet takes time. Be diligent when it comes to your foot health to ensure the pain in your arches doesn’t worsen over time. Do all of these steps in conjunction with one another for maximum results. It’s important to continue a stretching and strengthening regiment with your feet even after the pain decreases to ensure it doesn’t return or worsen over time.

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Barefoot Science, General

Foot Drop Recovery | A New Approach to Reconnecting to your Foundation

If you’re unable to lift the toe end of your foot off the ground, you could have a condition known as foot drop. Foot drop itself isn’t typically considered a disease. Rather, it’s the symptom or side effect of a bigger issue.

Foot drop is typically characterized as an abnormal gait. A case of foot drop (or “drop foot”) is where the forefoot drops due to irritation, weakness, or damage to the nerves or muscles of the lower leg. Learning what causes it and how to treat it is essential to getting better.

Understanding Foot Drop

If you suffer from foot drop, or drop foot, you will struggle to lift up the front part of your foot. As you walk, it may even drag the ground. This usually leads to a “stepping gait” in order to compensate, which is when a person lifts their knee higher in order to bring the foot fully off the ground–as if climbing stairs. This gait may lead to your foot slamming against the floor as you put your leg down.

The cause of foot drop will influence a lot of factors associated with your case. For instance, foot drop can sometimes appear very suddenly or, in some cases, it’s a condition that gradually worsens. Regardless of the cause, ignoring foot drop can lead to the underlying condition worsening with time.

Depending on the cause, foot drop can affect just one foot or both of them. You may find that the skin on your toes or top of your foot feels numb. It can be temporary or permanent. A physician will likely prescribe a brace in order to hold your foot in the proper position as you walk and move around.

What Causes Foot Drop?

Foot drop occurs when something happens to the muscles responsible for lifting the front of the foot. These muscles can become weak or even paralyzed due to certain conditions, including the following.

The Peroneal Nerve

The peroneal nerve is responsible for controlling muscles to lift the foot and injuring it is surprisingly easy at any age. The peroneal nerve brances out of the sciatic nerve. The peroneal nerve wraps around from the front of your shin to the back of your knee. It’s close to the surface of the skin, which makes it easy to damage.

It’s so easy to injure that you may suffer from damage while playing sports or even during childbirth. Many other activities can also put you at a higher risk of peroneal nerve damage. If you have damaged your peroneal nerve, you’ll likely experience pain or numbness on the front of your shin all the way down to the top of your foot.

Nerve Compression and Injury

Most commonly, foot drop gets caused by compression of the peroneal nerve in the leg. For instance, damage can occur to this nerve during hip replacement or knee replacement surgery. Additionally, you may suffer from a “pinched nerve,” which is an issue that occurs in the spinal region, and experience foot drop as a result.

However, other risk factors are much more common. Simply crossing your legs habitually can put you at a higher risk of foot drop because this can compress the peroneal nerve in the upper thigh region. So, too, can prolonged kneeling or squatting. Laying tile, picking berries, and other occupations that require you to do so frequently could heighten your risk.

Finally, you might experience foot drop after wearing a cast on your lower leg. If you wear a plaster cast that runs from below the knee to the top of your foot, it can put pressure on the peroneal nerve, which could lead to foot drop.

Muscle or Nerve Disorders

People with diabetes are at a particularly high risk for nerve disorders that can cause foot drop. Additionally, muscular dystrophy is an inherited disease that can lead to foot drop. This disease causes progressively weaker muscles and, in turn, ends up weakening the muscles needed to lift the front of the foot.

Polio and Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease can also cause foot drop. This is why having any case of foot drop addressed is a necessity–it could clue you in to a much more serious condition.

Brand and Spinal Cord Disorders

Any disorder that affects the spinal cord and/or brain can lead to foot drop. This includes ALS, or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, along with stroke, multiple sclerosis, Cerebral Palsy, and other conditions.

How to Treat Foot Drop

Foot drop is not always permanent. The type of treatment your doctor pursues will depend on the cause of your foot drop. However, addressing the problem early will always give you a greater chance at speedy recovery.

A doctor may suggest a lightweight brace to hold the foot in its proper position. This is the most common treatment route. Alternatively, they may suggest physical therapy to help strengthen weakened muscles in the leg and foot. A physical therapist may also use a device that stimulates nerves in the leg.

In severe cases, your doctor may suggest surgery in an attempt to repair a damaged nerve or decompress it. If a case of foot drop gets diagnosed as permanent, they may suggest surgery to fuse the ankle joint to the foot or they may attempt to improve stability and gait by taking tendons from stronger muscles and transferring them into the problem area.

More commonly, doctors will suggest orthotics to address foot drop.

How Can Orthotics Help Foot Drop?

Regardless of the cause, foot drop treatment almost always involves an ankle foot foot-drop-splint-250x250orthosis (AFO) for bracing. These braces provide stability and toe clearance to help normalize the gait. They come in many different forms.

Understanding how AFOs work is essential to learning how such a product could benefit you. To do so, it’s important to realize that the ankle joint sees two standard forms of motion. These motions are plantarflexion (to describe downward movement) and dorsiflexion (to describe upward movement).

Plantarflexion is the motion of the ankle joints when your toes point downward. Dorsiflexion is the motion of the ankle joins when the foot points upward. As you lift your foot off the ground, dorsiflexion needs to occur so that your toes don’t drag the surface. Typically, foot drop results from weakness or paralyzation of the muscles responsible for dorsiflexion in the ankle joint.

There are multiple types of AFOs your doctor may suggest in order to address your foot drop.

Orthotics with a Short Leg and Fixed Hinge

The first is a “short leg” AFO. This design is shorter in height and features a fixed hinge. This AFO fits easily into most shoes and is fairly light. It gives you more control over your foot and it’s great for foot drop and flat feet.

This AFO works to position the foot at a 90-degree angle to the leg and keep it there. This also helps to control inward foot rotation, which is common in patients who have foot drop as a result of a stroke or Charcot-Marie-Tooth.

With the fixed hinge, however, this brace does not allow for plantarflexion or dorsiflexion. That means the gait won’t be as natural as some other braces may allow. Additionally, taller individuals (over six feet) will struggle with this brace because it is short.

Orthotics to Assist Dorsiflexion

Some AFOs are actually designed to assist dorsiflexion and are aptly named Dorsiflexion Assist Functional AFOs. They feature a hinge reminiscent of a spring. This hinge works to promote dorsiflexion (raising the foot) when you lift your foot off the ground. In other words, it mimics the motion you would naturally make when walking.

As a result, this AFO produces a more normal gait pattern. This design is ideal for someone with mild to moderate foot drop and it can also benefit a person with a generally flat or unstable foot. However, this design typically won’t work for tall people (over six feet) or people who weigh more than a certain amount (typically 225 pounds or more).

Orthotics to Stop Plantarflexion

This AFO design concentrates on preventing plantarflexion in the foot. In other words, it does not allow the foot to point downward, thereby preventing toe dragging. It features a hinge to enable normal dorsiflexion. This design tends to be a bit bulkier than some others but it can be effective for those who suffer from a severe case of foot drop.

Energy Return Orthotics

This AFO is perhaps one of the best designs as it is extremely lightweight in construction and provides immense control. There are usually different sub-models that vary depending on how severe a case of foot drop is. In general, an energy return AFO will use the natural flex of the AFO material itself in order to assist dorsiflexion.

Typically, you will find this type of AFO is actually constructed of carbon graphite materials. This makes them both lightweight and very good at providing dorsiflexion assistance.

Traditional Orthotics

Traditional AFOs are also known as posterior leaf spring AFOs. These orthotics have been around for years and are still effective today. However, newer designs allow for more comfortable usage and are typically lighter.

With that said, a physician may still recommend a posterior leaf spring construction for someone who has both foot drop and knee instability. There are also modern designs made specifically for those with foot drop and unstable knees.

Orthotics for Unstable Knees

Most often, a physician will suggest a “solid AFO” if you have both unstable knees and foot drop. This design will stop plantarflexion and also limit or stop dorsiflexion. If you have an unstable knee alongside a complete loss of dorsiflexion strength (or severely limited strength), this design may work best for you. While bulkier than others, it gives superior control while moving around.

How Textured Insoles Are Beneficial for Foot Drop Braces

In the likely event that your physician recommends an AFO brace, it’s important to also conconsider the role of textured insoles as part of your treatment. This is because textured insoles add the added benefit of stimulating the skin on the bottom of the feet, brining increased neurostimulation.

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Naboso 1.5 Insole

Naboso™ Textured Insoles are the perfect option. Designed by Podiatrist Dr Emily Splichal, Naboso™ Textured Insoles are specifically designed to enhance proprioceptive stimulation of the feet.

What Is Proprioceptive Stimulation?

The skin on the bottom of your foot is home to plantar proprioceptors, which are critical to proper balance, posture, motor control, and human locomotion. However, all footwear blocks the necessary stimulation of the plantar proprioceptors to some degree. The result is a delay in communication between the ground and the nervous system. In turn, this delay can lead to poor balance, inefficient movement, and joint pain.

Proper stimulation of the plantar proprioceptors is essential to whole body wellness and, especially, to supporting healthy movement. Dr Emily Splichal designed Naboso Insoles in a way that they are able to uniquely stimulate the plantar proprioceptors.

With advanced research, Naboso Insoles have shown that they can improve gait patterns and balance. As such, Naboso Technology offer a range of insoles all of which benefit not only medical conditions and athletes, but for people of all ages.

The Benefits of Medical Orthotics

Properly designed orthotics are beneficial to everyone, but they play a special role in recovery or management for those suffering from foot drop and other mobility issues.

Textured insoles do more than support the foot or arch. With all of your weight bearing down on your feet, textured insoles work to alleviate pain that resonates through the foot, ankle, leg, and back. The right insert will help you to correctly align your feet and legs naturally, leading to better posture and improved balance.

By supporting the arch and heel of the foot, textured insoles help to absorb shock and distribute the immense pressure felt by your foot across your entire sole. The design of a properly fitted textured insoles will also help to prevent bunions, calluses, corns, and ulcerations thanks to the evenly distributed weight, which helps to prevent and alleviate pressure points.

All of these things typically promotes greater mobility, allowing people to stay on their feet for longer and be more active while eliminating pain and other impacts they used to suffer from when moving around.

The Importance of Proper Fit

You should never just pull a pair of generic insoles off the shelf and expect them to benefit you. The key to effective orthotics is proper construction and fit. A prefabricated option can work wonders, so long as you properly measure your foot bed to ensure that the fit is right.

If you choose an insole too small or too big, the placement of the arch support and the general shape of the insole can be uncomfortable and even worsen joint pain and other conditions. As such, you should always check size guides and ask for help when needed.

When in doubt, ask a professional for guidance and assistance in choosing the right textured insoles for your needs. If you pair your AFO with the right textured insoles, you will experience immense relief, greater stability, improved mobility, and better results as a whole.

Finding The Right Textured Insoles

Once you have spoken to your physician about addressing your drop foot, seek their guidance in finding the appropriate AFO for your needs. With that information, you can then proceed with looking for the right textured insoles that will enable you to get the most out of your rehabilitation or management program.

If you need help finding the right textured insoles, look no further than Dr Emily Splichal and Naboso Technology. Take a few minutes and learn more Naboso™ Textured Insoles

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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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