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Feet ... do we ever really stop to think how amazing our feet are! They take us everywhere, carry us around day to day and yet more often than not we take them for granted. It's only when they start to protest and cause us pain that we seek help and advice ... and sometimes not even then!
Did you know there are 26 bones in the foot? That's a lot for the brain to control! The purpose of all these bones is to give us options when walking on a variety of different surfaces, these options allow us to adapt to the surfaces we stand on, that is if the bones, soft tissue structures and brain are all able to adapt. Unfortunately, years of 'abuse' often realists in our feet being less adaptable than we would like, stiffening up, poor arch control, poor tendon strength, bony compression - the lost goes on. Basically ... discomfort, it's our feet finally protesting and letting us know we are not treating them well!
So what does a foot want? What would keep our feet happy?
Generally feet like variety, they don't like to be stuck in the same shoe day in and day out. They like to use their mobility, their variability and their skill set, which means allowing them to walk on a variety of different terrain and in a variety of different footwear! They like to be stretched, strengthened, wobbled and moved in all which ways and at the end of the day they like to be rewarded with a pedicure (oh no wait ... that's just my feet, not a general rule of thumb!)
They like supportive (but not too supportive) footwear. They like the rest of the body to work with them, allowing loads from the ground to be transferred up the kinetic chain. They like to be kept strong yet supple, flexible yet controlled and dynamic yet steady!
SO how does one give one's feet all this? PILATES ... what better form of movement than Pilates to keep your 26 foot bones, and all their soft tissue attachments and neuromuscular connections moving well!
Want to know more ... ask one of our friendly Physiotherapists or Pilates instructor, they are a wealth of knowledge and would love to get you started on the road to you maintaining happy feet today!
Foot pain, its such a common complaint! With the Sutherland to Surf coming up, we thought we would put two great running minds together, BPS Tensegrity's very own James Wood (Physiotherapist and Exercise Physiologist) and Sports Podiatrist Ryan Quintano, to get the inside scoop on how to prevent and alleviate your foot pain!
JW: What is the biggest problem you see in the runner’s feet you treat?
RQ: Plantar fasciitis/fasciopathy (Heel pain). Heel pain (or Plantar Fasciitis) is the most common foot pain complaint.
Plantar Fasciitis is simply caused by overstretching of the plantar fascia ligament under the foot. When too much traction is placed on the plantar fascia micro-tearing will occur, resulting in irritation, inflammation and pain.
Things that cause of plantar fascia include;
- over-use: too much sports, running, walking or standing for long periods
- unsupportive footwear
- over-pronation (feet roll over, the arches collapse and the foot elongates)
JW: What’s the best piece of foot advice you could give most runners?
RQ: Work on your overall running technique, your foot can’t move well if the rest of your body doesn’t move well. Participating in movement therapies such as Pilates and Yoga which work on your overall body awareness as well as technique are a great asset and often unload your feet, helping to prevent and alleviate nasty foot pains!
JW: What is your favourite running shoe at the moment?
RQ: There is no perfect running shoe but as a general rule I look for these 4 things:
- Can you stand on your toes and balance? Make sure the sure flexes at the same point as your foot.
- Your feet shouldn’t feel like they are rolling in or out, they should feel comfortably supported.
- Line Up. When you walk your hip, knee, and ankle should feel like they line up on top of each other.
- Comfort.The shoe shouldn’t feel plonky, bulky or uncomfortable!
RQ: What is your opinion on using Nordics for hamstring rehab?
JW: They are a good exercise to isolate and strengthen your hamstrings in rehab. Whether I use them depends on how functional they are. If they aren’t a building block to the person's end goal then I would choose a strength exercise that is more relevant to the individual.
RQ: In tendon rehab, how do you use isometric, concentric, eccentric, and plyometric exercise?
JW: Isometric exercises are really useful in the early (often painful) stages of rehab. They are known to decrease pain but they also reduce strength loss that might otherwise occur with resting completely. I then add a combination of heavy eccentric loads, moderate concentric/eccentric and plyometric. The final progression is to sports specific exercises.
RQ: How do you progress your exercises towards functional tasks?
JW: The end functional goal is always in mind when developing the rehab program. So, the early exercises need to be the building blocks for the later more functional exercises that you’re aiming for. Having said that, it’s important early in the program to recover strength and mobility in all ranges of movement – not only the ones required for the persons sport.