When the big toes head...East? Whats the deal?

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What is this?

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A sandal gap deformity or hallux varus creates an expanded first interspace between the hallux and the rest of the toes. It is a likened to the gap caused by wearing a sandal but is actually a normal variant. It can occasionally be developmental. In the fetus, it can be a soft marker for other fetal anomalies such as Downs syndrome, an amniotic band or ectrodactyly. It’s considered benign, however in this individual could have been developmental.

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Notice how he has external tibial torsion (when his knees are pointing forward his feet point to the outside). External tibial torsion generally, because of the orientation of the foot, causes the center of gravity to fall medially thus the need for something to push and stabilize you more laterally, such as toes two through five abducting : )

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#halluxvarus #strangelookingfeet #hallux #thegaitguys #sandalgapdeformity





Barp EA, Temple EW, Hall JL, Smith HL. Treatment of Hallux Varus After Traumatic Adductor Hallucis Tendon Rupture. J Foot Ankle Surg. 2018 Mar - Apr;57(2):418-420.

https://radiopedia.org/articles/sandal-gap-deformity?lang=us

Munir U, Morgan S. Hallux Varus. StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-.
2019 May 6.

Ryan PM, Johnston A, Gun BK. Post-traumatic dynamic hallux varus instability. J Clin Orthop Trauma. 2014 Jun;5(2):94-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jcot.2014.05.005. Epub 2014 Jun 15.

Holy twisted tibias Batman! What is going here in this R sided knee pain patient?

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In the 1st picture note this patient is in a neutral posture. Note how far externally rotated her right foot is compared to the left. Note that when you drop a plumbline down from the tibial tuberosity it does not pass-through or between the second and third metatarsals. Also note the incident left short leg

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In the next picture both of the patients legs are fully externally rotated. Note the large disparity from right to left. Because of the limited extra rotation of the right hip this patient most likely has femoral retro torsion. This means that the angle of her femoral head is at a greater than 12° angle. We would normally expect approximately 40° of external Rotation. 4 to 6° is requisite for normal gait and supination.

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In the next picture the patients knees are fully internally rotated you can see that she has an excessive amount of internal rotation on the right compare to left, confirming her femoral antetorsion.

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When this patient puts her feet straight (last picture), her knees point to the inside causing the patello femoral dysfunction right greater than left. No wonder she has right-sided knee pain!

Because of the degree of external tibial torsion (14 to 21° considered normal), activity modification is imperative. A foot leveling orthotic with a modified UCB, also inverting the orthotic is helpful to bring her foot somewhat more to the midline (the orthotic pushes the knee further outside the sagittal plane and the patient internally rotate the need to compensate, thus giving a better alignment).


a note on tibial torsion. As the fetus matures, The tibia then rotates externally, and most newborns have an average of 0- 4° of internal tibial torsion. At birth, there should be little to no torsion of the tibia; the proximal and distal portions of the bone have little angular difference (see above: top). Postnatally, the tibia should twist outward (externally) a total of 15 degrees until adult values are reached between ages 8 and 10 years of 23° of external tibial torsion (range, 0° to 40°).

Wow, cool stuff, eh? Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#tibialtorsion #tibialversion #kneepain #thegaitguys #gaitanalysis

Ode to the Popliteus

Remember the popliteus? To recap, it contracts at the initial contact phase of the walking gait cycle, to act as an accessory PCL (look HERE

https://www.thegaitguys.com/search?q=popliteus&f_collectionId=57d4982c91b18610c6ee3e0f

to read about that), then contracts eccentrically to slow the rate of internal rotation of the femur on the tibia until midstance, so as not to macerate the meniscus; It then contracts concentrically to accelerate the external rotation of the femur on the tibial plateau so it rotates faster then the tibia, to protect the meniscus as well. So, internal rotation of the femorotibial complex from initial contact to midstance and external rotation of the complex from midstance to preswing. Got it?

Now look at the video of this gal with L sided medial knee pain and past history of a left tibial plateau fracture in her youth. Do you see it? Hmmmm; doesn’t look like internal rotation does it? Don’t see it? Remember that the whole complex SHOULD be internally rotating until the swing phase leg passes the stance pase leg. See it now? Considering that the popliteus tested weak on the clinical exam, does this surprise you?

Agreed that there are many factors initiating internal rotation (and thus pronation) of the stance phase leg from initial contact to midstance, like plantar flexion, adduction and eversion of the talus, contraction of the lower leg anterior compartment muscles, eccentric contraction of the quads and hamstrings, just to name a few, can you see how (a least theoretically) one bad player can ruin the team?

Yes, popliteus rehab, along with abdominal core and foot core endurance exercises are in her future.

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#popliteus #kneepain #kneeproblem #thegaitguys #gaitanalysis

Neuroma! Triple Threat....

Can you guess why this patient is developing a neuroma on the left foot, between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals?

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This gal presented to the office with pain in the left foot, in the area she points to as being between the 3rd and 4th metatarsals. It has been coming on over time and has become much worse this spring with hiking long distances, especially in narrower shoes. It is relieved by rest and made worse with activity.

Note the following:

  • She has an anatomical short leg on the left (tibial)

  • internal tibial torsion on the left

  • left forefoot adductus (see the post link below if you need a refresher)

Lets think about this.

The anatomical short leg on the left is causing this foot to remain in relative supination compared the right and causes her to bear weight laterally on the foot.

The internal tibial torsion has a similar effect, decreasing the progression angle and again causing her to bear weight laterally on the foot, compressing the metatarsals together.

We have discussed forefoot adductus before here on the blog. Again, because of the metararsal varus angle, it alters the forces traveling through the foot, pushing the metatarsals together and irritating the nerve root sheath, causing hypertrophy of the epineurium and the beginnings of a neuroma.

In this patients case, these things are additive, causing what I like to a call the “triple threat”.

So, what do we do?

  • give her shoes/sandals with a wider toe box

  • work on foot mobility, especially in descending the 1st ray on the left

  • work on foot intrinsic strength, particularly the long extensors

  • treat the area of inflammation with acupuncture

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

#forefootadductus #metatarsusadductus #neuroma #gaitanalysis #thegaitguys #internaltibialtorsion

Things seem to come in 3's...

Things tend to occur in threes. This includes congenital abnormalities. Take a look this gentleman who came in to see us with lower back pain.

Highlights with pictures below:

  • bilateral femoral retrotorsion

  • bilateral internal tibial torsion

  • forefoot (metatarsus) adductus

So why LBP? Our theory is the lack of internal rotation of the lower extremities forces that motion to occur somewhere; the next mobile area just north is the lumbar spine, where there is limited rotation available, usually about 5 degrees.

Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys.

#tibialtorsion #femoraltorsion #femoralretrotorsion #lowbackpain #thegaitguys #gaitproblem

this is his left hip in full internal rotation. note that he does go past zero.

this is his left hip in full internal rotation. note that he does go past zero.

full internal rotation of the right hip; note he does not go past zero

full internal rotation of the right hip; note he does not go past zero

note the internal tibial torsion. a line dropped from the tibial tuberosity should go through the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd.

note the internal tibial torsion. a line dropped from the tibial tuberosity should go through the 2nd metatarsal or between the 2nd and 3rd.

ditto for the keft

ditto for the keft

a line bisecting the calcaneus should pass between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal shafts. If talar tosion was present, the rearfoot would appear more adducted

a line bisecting the calcaneus should pass between the 2nd and 3rd metatarsal shafts. If talar tosion was present, the rearfoot would appear more adducted

less adductus but still present

less adductus but still present

look at that long flexor response in compensation. What can you say about the quadratus plantae? NO bueno…

look at that long flexor response in compensation. What can you say about the quadratus plantae? NO bueno…

Ditto!

Ditto!

An often overlooked culprit...In hip and hamstring insertional pain


The "Deep 6". In order from proximal to distal; the piriformis, obturator internus, gemelli superior, obturator externus, gemelli inferior and quadratus femoris. They are primarily external rotators but have a small footprint and act primarily as stabilizers. Here is what we think and what we have to say about them...



Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys



#deepsix, #gait, #thegaitguys, #hipexternalrotators, #hipstabilizers, #running



Keep your eyes up and your toes up...,And it doesn’t hurt to use your abs

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While out cross country skiing after a few inches of fresh fallen snow it dawned on me, especially when going uphill on my cross-country skis, lifting your toes up definitely pushes the head of the first metatarsal down and helps you to gain more purchase with the scales on the bottom of the skis. It also helps to press the center portion of the camber of the ski downward so that you can get better traction. Thinking about this further, lifting your toes up also helps you to engage your glutes to a greater degree.

Try this: stand comfortably with your knees slightly flexed. Lift up your toes leaving the balls of your feet on the ground. Do you feel the first metatarsal head going down and making better contact with the ground? Can you feel your foot tripod between the head of the first metatarsal, head of the fifth metatarsal and the calcaneus? Now let your toes go down. Squeeze your glute max muscles. You should still be able to fart so don’t squeeze the sphincter. You can palpate these muscles to see if you’re actually getting to them. You can do this by placing your hands on top of your hips with your fingers calling around forward like when your mom used to put her hands on her hips and yell at you. Now relax with your toes up again leaving the balls of your feet on the ground. Now engage your glutes. See how much easier it is?

Now stand with your feet flat on the ground and put your hands on your abs, specifically your external obliques. Now raise your right leg. Do you feel your external oblique engage? Now, lift your toes up leaving the balls of your feet on the ground. Now lift your leg. Do you feel how much more your abs engage?

Little tricks of the trade. That’s why you listen here and why your patients/clients come to see you. Now go out and do it!

Dr. Ivo, one of The Gait Guys

#gaitanalysis, #crosscountryskiing, #skiing, hallux, #engage, #abs

A primer on tibal torsions and versions....

We get tired of reading posts on squats, lifting, lunges and the whole “have your toes in”, “Have your tires pointing out”, “keep your feet straight” sort of advice for best performance. The truth of the matter is, when the knee is in the saggital plane, you will have the best results and cause the least amount of damage to the knee and menisci. In our opinion, if you are not paying attention to femoral and tibial torsions and versions, you are missing the boat.

This is not a post for the faint of heart, but hopefully will help clear up some questions you may (or may not) have had. Grab a cup of your favorite beverage and enjoy...

The tibia and femur are more prone to torsional defects, as they are longer lamellar (layered) bones as opposed to the cancellous bone that makes up the talus. These often present as an “in toeing” or “out toeing” of the foot with respect to the leg; changing the progression angle of gait.

Tibial versions and torsions can be measured by the “thigh foot angle” (the angulation of the foot to the thigh with the leg bent 90 degrees: above right) or the “transmalleolar angle” (the angle that a line drawn between the medial and lateral malleoli of the ankle makes with the tibial plateau).

At a gestational age of 5 months, the fetus has approximately 20° of internal tibial torsion. As the fetus matures, The tibia then rotates externally, and most newborns have an average of 0- 4° of internal tibial torsion. At birth, there should be little to no torsion of the tibia; the proximal and distal portions of the bone have little angular difference (see above: top). Postnatally, the tibia should twist outward (externally) a total of 1.5 degrees per year until adult values are reached between ages 8 and 10 years of 23° of external tibial torsion (range, 0° to 40°).

Sometimes the rotation at birth is excessive. This is called a torsion. Five in 10,000 children born will have rotational deformities of the legs. The most common cause is position and pressure (on the lower legs) in the uterus (an unstretched uterus in a first pregnancy causes greater pressuremaking the first-born child more prone to rotational deformities. Growth of the unborn child accelerates during the last 10 weeks and the compression from the uterus thus increases. As you would guess, premature infants have less rotational deformities than full-term infants. This is probably due to decreased pressure in the uterus. Twins take up more space in the uterus and are more likely to have rotational deformities.

Of interesting note, there is a 2:1 preponderance of left sided deformities believed to be due to most babies being carried on their backs on the left side of the mother in utero, causing the left leg to overlie the right in an externally rotated and abducted position.

Normal ranges of versions and torsions are highly variable. Ranges less than 2 standard deviations are considered internal tibial torsion and greater external tibial torsion.

Internal tibial torsion (ITT) usually corrects 1 to 2 years after physiological bowing of the tibia (ie tibial varum) resolves. External tibial torsion (TT) is less common in infancy than ITT but is more likely to persist in later childhood and NOT resolve with growth because the natural progression of development is toward increasing external torsion.

Males and females seem to be affected equally, with about two thirds of patients are affected bilaterally and the differences in normal tibial version values are often expected to be cultural, lifestyle and posture related.

The ability to compensate for a tibial torsion depends on the amount of inversion and eversion present in the foot and on the amount of rotation possible at the hip. Internal torsion causes the foot to adduct, and the patient tries to compensate by everting the foot and/or by externally rotating at the hip. Similarly, persons with external tibial torsion invert at the foot and internally rotate at the hip. Both can decrease walking agility and speed if severe. With an external tibial torsion deformity of 30 degrees , the capacities of soleus, posterior gluteus medius, and gluteus maximus to extend both the hip and knee were all reduced by over 10%.

So, there you have it. Ina nutshell, the basics that will take you far and wide on your journey to better performance and biomechanics for yourself and your patients/clients.

 

So, you do weighted carries?

METHODS:

Participants were instructed to ascend and descend a three-step staircase at preferred pace using a right leg lead and a left leg lead for each load condition: no load, 20% body weight (BW) bilateral load, and 20% BW unilateral load. L5/S1 contralateral bending, hip abduction, external knee varus, and ankle inversion moments were calculated using inverse dynamics.

 

Nothing earthshaking here (1) , but a few takeaways:

  • Asymmetric loading of L5-S1 will most likely become more significant if the individual has a L5-S1 facet tropism, where one (or both) of the facets is (are) facing saggitally, as loading will be be even greater.  This has been associated with disc derangement (2) and degeneration (3).

 

  • The body does seem to adjust for the load, but it takes at least to the second step. We need to make sure the proprioceptive feedback loops (joint and muscle mechanoreceptors and their associated pathways) are functioning well. Manipulate, mobilize, facilitate, inhibit as appropriate.

 

  • The increased varus moment and hip abduction on the unweighted side are most likely to move the center of gravity more to the midline, which makes sense. This may become problematic with folks with increased internal tibial torsion, especially with femoral retroversion/torsion as they already have limited internal rotation available to them at the hip

 

 

 

 

 

 
1. Wang J, Gillette JC. Carrying asymmetric loads during stair negotiation: Loaded limb stance vs. unloaded limb stance. Gait Posture. 2018 Jun 19;64:213-219. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2018.06.113. [Epub ahead of print]
2. Chadha M, Sharma G, Arora SS, Kochar V. Association of facet tropism with lumbar disc herniation. European Spine Journal. 2013;22(5):1045-1052. doi:10.1007/s00586-012-2612-5.
3. Berlemann U, Jeszenszky DJ, Buhler DW, Harms J (1998) Facet joint remodeling in degenerative spondylolisthesis: an investigation of joint orientation and tropism. Eur Spine J 7: 376-380.

 

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Individuals often carry items in one hand instead of both hands during activities of daily living. Research Question The purpose of this study was to investigate low back and lower extremity frontal plane moments for loaded limb stance and unloaded limb stance when carrying symmetric and asymmetric loads during stair negotiation.

METHODS:

Participants were instructed to ascend and descend a three-step staircase at preferred pace using a right leg lead and a left leg lead for each load condition: no load, 20% body weight (BW) bilateral load, and 20% BW unilateral load. L5/S1 contralateral bending, hip abduction, external knee varus, and ankle inversion moments were calculated using inverse dynamics.

RESULTS:

Peak L5/S1 contralateral bending moments were significantly higher when carrying a 20% BW unilateral load as compared to a 20% BW bilateral load for both stair ascent and stair descent. In addition, peak L5/S1 contralateral bending moments were significantly higher during step one than for step two. Peak external knee varus and hip abduction moments were significantly higher in unloaded limb stance as compared to loaded limb stance when carrying a 20% BW unilateral load.

SIGNIFICANCE:

General load carriage recommendations include carrying less than 20% BW loads and splitting loads bilaterally when feasible. Assessment recommendations include analyzing the first stair step and analyzing both the loaded and unloaded limbs.

The Adductor Magnus; Not just for adduction anymore...

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Yet another paper (1) to support the notion that the adductors (particularly the adductor magnus, in this paper), act as external rotators (especially eccentrically), not internal rotators as is commonly purported in many anatomy texts (2) . Remember that the lower extremity is internally rotating (as a whole) from initial contact to midstance and externally rotating from midstance to pre swing. SOMETHING needs to help attenuate some of that internal rotation (and pronation) that occurs during the 1st part of stance phase and assist in external rotation (and supination); now you can add the adductor magnus to the popliteus, deep six external rotators, anterior and posterior compartments of the lower leg to the hamstrings and quads.

"This study suggests that adductor magnus has at least two functionally unique regions. Differences were most evident during rotation. The different direction-specific actions may imply that each segment performs separate roles in hip stability and movement. These findings may have implications on injury prevention and rehabilitation for adductor-related groin injuries, hamstring strain injury and hip pathology."

 

1. Benn ML, Pizzari T, Rath L, Tucker K, Semciw AI1 . Adductor magnus: An emg investigation into proximal and distal portions and direction specific action. Clin Anat. 2018 Mar 9. doi: 10.1002/ca.23068. [Epub ahead of print]

2. Leighton RD. A functional model to describe the action of the adductor muscles at the hip in the transverse plane.Physiother Theory Pract. 2006 Nov;22(5):251-62.



 

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How can feet relate to golf swing?

This 52 year old right handed gentleman presented with pain at the thoracolumbar junction after playing golf. He noticed he had a limited amount of “back swing” and pain at the end of his “follow through”.

Take a look a these pix and think about why.

Full internal rotation

Full internal rotation

full external rotation

full external rotation

full internal rotation

full internal rotation

full external rotation

full external rotation

neutral

neutral

neutral

neutral

Hopefully, in addition to he having hairy and scarred legs (he is a contractor by trade), you noted the following

  • Top: note the normal internal rotation of the right hip; You need 4 degrees to walk normally and most folks have close to 40 degrees. He also has internal tibial torsion.
  • second picture: loss of external rotation of the right hip. Again, you need 4 degrees (from neutral) of external rotation of the hip to supinate and walk normally.
  • third picture: normal internal rotation of the left hip; internal tibial torsion
  • 4th picture: limited external rotation of the left hip, especially with respect ti the amount of internal rotation present; this is to a greater degree than the right
  • last 2 pictures: note the amount of tibial varum and tibial torsion. Yes, with this much varum, he has a forefoot varus.

The brain is wired so that it will (generally) not allow you to walk with your toes pointing in (pigeon toed), so you rotate them out to somewhat of a normal progression angle. If you have internal tibial torsion, this places the knees outside the saggital plane. (For more on tibial torsion, click here.) If you rotate your extremity outward, and already have a limited amount of range of motion available, you will take up some of that range of motion, making less available for normal physiological function. If the motion cannot occur at the knee or hip, it will usually occur at the next available joint cephalad, in this case the spine.

The lumbar spine has a limited amount of rotation available, ranging from 1.2-1.7 degrees per segment in a normal spine (1). This is generally less in degenerative conditions (2).

Place your feet on the ground with your feet pointing straight ahead. Now simulate a right handed golf swing, bending slightly at the waist androtating your body backward to the right. Now slowly swing and follow through from right to left. Note what happens to your hips: as you wind back to the right, the left hip is externally rotating and the right hip is internally rotating. As you follow through to the left, your right, your hip must externally rotate and your left hip must externally rotate. Can you see how his left hip is inhibiting his back swing and his right hip is limitinghis follow through? Can you see that because of his internal tibial torsion, he has already “used up” some of his external rotation range of motion?

If he does not have enough range of motion in the hip, where will it come from?

he will “borrow it” from a joint more north of the hip, in this case, his spine. More motion will occur at the thoracolumbar junction, since most likely (because of degenerative change) the most is available there; but you can only “borrow” so much before you need to “Pay it back”. In this case, he over rotated and injured the joint.

What did we do?

  • we treated the injured joint locally, with manipulation of the pathomechanical segments
  • we reduced inflammation and muscle spasm with acupuncture
  • we gave him some lumbar and throacolumbar stabilization exercises: founders exercise, extension holds, non tripod, cross crawl, pull ups
  • we gave him foot exercises to reduce his forefoot varus: tripod standing, EHB, lift-spread-reach
  • we had him externally rotate both feet (duck) when playing golf

The Gait Guys. Helping you to store up lots “in your bank” of foot and gait literacy, so you can help people when they need to “pay it back”, one case at a time.

(1) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2223353/

(2) http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3705911/

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Holy twisted tibias Batman! What is going here in this R sided knee pain patient?

In the 1st picture note this patient is in a neutral posture. Note how far externally rotated her right foot is compared to the left. Note that when you drop a plumbline down from the tibial tuberosity it does not pass-through or between the second and third metatarsals. Also note the incident left short leg
In the next picture both of the patients legs are fully externally rotated. Note the large disparity from right to left. Because of the limited extra rotation of the right hip this patient most likely has femoral retro torsion. This means that the angle of her femoral head is at a greater than 12° angle. We would normally expect approximately 40° of external Rotation. 4 to 6° is requisite for normal gait and supination.

In the next picture the patients knees are fully internally rotated you can see that she has an excessive amount of internal rotation on the right compare to left, confirming her femoral antetorsion.

When this patient puts her feet straight (last picture), her knees point to the inside causing the patello femoral dysfunction right greater than left. No wonder she has right-sided knee pain!

Because of the degree of external tibial torsion (14 to 21° considered normal), activity modification is imperative. A foot leveling orthotic with a modified UCB, also inverting the orthotic is helpful to bring her foot somewhat more to the midline (the orthotic pushes the knee further outside the sagittal plane and the patient internally rotate the need to compensate, thus giving a better alignment).

a note on tibial torsion. As the fetus matures, The tibia then rotates externally, and most newborns have an average of 0- 4° of internal tibial torsion. At birth, there should be little to no torsion of the tibia; the proximal and distal portions of the bone have little angular difference (see above: top). Postnatally, the tibia should twist outward (externally) a total of 15 degrees until adult values are reached between ages 8 and 10 years of 23° of external tibial torsion (range, 0° to 40°). more cool stuff on torsions here

Wow, cool stuff, eh?

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Now THERE”S some internal tibial torsion!

So, this gent came in to see us with L sided knee pain after it collapsed with an audible “pop” during a baseball game. He has +1/+2 laxity in his ACL on that side. He has subpatellar and joint line pain on full flexion, which is limited slightly to 130 (compared to 145 right)

 We know he has internal torsion because a line drawn from the tibial tuberosity dropped inferiorly does not pass through or near the plane of the 2nd metatarsal (more on tibial torsions here)

What would you do? Here’s what we did:

  • acupuncture to reduce swelling
  • took him out of his motion control shoes (which pitch him further outside the saggital plane)
  • gave him propriosensory exercises (1 leg balance: eyes open/ eyes closed; 1 legged mini squats, BOSU ball standing: eyes open/eyes closed)
  • potty squats in a pain free range
  • ice prn
  • asked him to avoid full flexion

Is it any wonder he injured his knee? Imagine placing the FOOT in the saggital plane, which places the knee FAR outside it; now load the joint an twist, OUCH!

Abdominal Activity and Gait   We came across this cool study today, after a well educated patient asked about abdominal activity during gait.    Here is the bottom line:  low level activity in the rectus abdominis and external oblique throughout the gait cycle, more concentrated activity of the internal oblique at initial contact/loading response (heel strike).    This makes sense, since the external oblique occupies more real estate and has a larger cross sectional area; it most likely has a role in stabilization both in rotational  like emoticon  planes as well as the saggital plane (Z). Perhaps the action of the internal oblique at initial contact is to assist in external rotation of the pelvis on the stance phase leg, as the the opposite leg goes into swing?  “Cluster analysis identified two patterns of activity for the internal oblique, external oblique and rectus abdominis muscles. In the lumbar erector spinae, three patterns of activity were observed. In most instances, the patterns observed for each muscle differed in the magnitude of the activation levels. In rectus abdominis and external oblique muscles, the majority of subjects had low levels of activity (<5.0% of a maximum voluntary contraction) that were relatively constant throughout the stride cycle. In the internal oblique and the erector spinae muscles, more distinct bursts of activity were observed, most often close to foot-strike. The different algorithms used for the cluster analysis yielded similar results and a discriminant function analysis provided further evidence to support the patterns observed”  Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2002 Mar;17(3):177-84. Abdominal and erector spinae muscle activity during gait: the use of cluster analysis to identify patterns of activity. White SG1, McNair PJ.

Abdominal Activity and Gait

We came across this cool study today, after a well educated patient asked about abdominal activity during gait.

Here is the bottom line:
low level activity in the rectus abdominis and external oblique throughout the gait cycle, more concentrated activity of the internal oblique at initial contact/loading response (heel strike).

This makes sense, since the external oblique occupies more real estate and has a larger cross sectional area; it most likely has a role in stabilization both in rotational like emoticon planes as well as the saggital plane (Z). Perhaps the action of the internal oblique at initial contact is to assist in external rotation of the pelvis on the stance phase leg, as the the opposite leg goes into swing?

“Cluster analysis identified two patterns of activity for the internal oblique, external oblique and rectus abdominis muscles. In the lumbar erector spinae, three patterns of activity were observed. In most instances, the patterns observed for each muscle differed in the magnitude of the activation levels. In rectus abdominis and external oblique muscles, the majority of subjects had low levels of activity (<5.0% of a maximum voluntary contraction) that were relatively constant throughout the stride cycle. In the internal oblique and the erector spinae muscles, more distinct bursts of activity were observed, most often close to foot-strike. The different algorithms used for the cluster analysis yielded similar results and a discriminant function analysis provided further evidence to support the patterns observed”

Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2002 Mar;17(3):177-84.
Abdominal and erector spinae muscle activity during gait: the use of cluster analysis to identify patterns of activity.
White SG1, McNair PJ.

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What would you do? This is what we did.

History:

This 7 year old girl is brought in by her mother because of knee misalignment while skiing, L > R. No history of trauma; normal term birth with no complications. No knee pain. Of incidental note, she is deaf in the left ear.

Exam findings:

She has bi-lat. external tibial torsion, left much worse than right (40 degrees transmallolear angle vs 22 degrees. for info on measuring torsions, click here). remember, you should be able to draw a line from the tibial tuberosity down through the 2nd metatarsal head. 

She has a 5mm anatomical leg length deficiency on the right (see top above left).

She has femoral antetorsion right side with very little external rotation, approximately 10 degrees,  internal rotation is in excess of 50.  Left side has normal femoral versions (for a review of femoral versions and torsions, click here).  See last 2 pictures which are full internal and external rotation respectively.

She has a mild uncompensated forefoot varus (cannot really see from the pictures, you will need to take our word for it) with a relatively cavus arch to her foot(see center and last picture on right.

Neurologically, she appeared to have integrity with respect to sensation, motor strength and deep tendon reflexes in the lower extremities.

Assessment:

Pathomechanical alignment as described.  Severe left external tibial torsion. MIld to moderate right. Femoral antetorsion right.

Plan:

We are going to build her a medium heel cup full length modified UCB orthotic inverting the cast bi-lat. left greater than right.  We gave her  balance and coordination exercises, heel walking, lift/spread/reach and one leg balancing. She will follow up for a dispense.  Her mother will try to get a better fitting ski boot as the one she has currently is two sizes too big. She will return for a dispense. She should consider wearing the orthotics in everyday footwear as well. We will do a follow up post in a few weeks. 

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Wow! What would you do?

This is part 1 of a 2 part post. Look for the other one a few minutes after this one with a video up top for the conclusion

PRESENTING PROBLEM: This 54 YO female patient presents with with left sided knee pain.  She had a total knee replacement (TKR) done in 2011.  She’s had a significant amount of discomfort on the medial aspect of the knee since then. She had an MRI of the hip done thinking the problem was there, and found nothing.   She is walking with a bad limp, left leg is half inch shorter than the right.  Pain is worse at night, changes with weather. 

She has knee pain on the lateral aspect (points to tibial plateau and joint line) with swelling that goes down to the ankle left side.  She has been wearing a “Good Feet” OTC orthotic on the left side which she states helps quite a bit.

Generally speaking, stretching and analgesics make the discomfort better.    Ibuprofen 400 mg. b.i.d. can take the edge off  Soft sided brace (neoprene sleeve) makes a difference as well. The hard sided brace gives her difficulty.

WORK HISTORY: She works for a preschool.  Her job involves standing and getting up and down a lot.  

FAMILY HISTORY:  She has left sided lid ptosis, this evidently is familial.  

PHYSICAL EXAM:  She stood 5’ 1” and weighed approx. 150 pounds.

Viewing the knees bi-lat., the left knee is markedly externally rotated.

She does have a left short leg; tibial and femoral.  She has bilateral tibial torsion (look at the tibial tuberosities and drop a line straight down; it should pass through the 2nd metatarsal head) and marked internal tibial torsion on the left side (>60 degrees) with femoral retrotorsion (less than 8 degree angle of femoral head with the shaft) on this side.  There is no rotation of the thigh or leg past zero degrees midline. .  She had 10 degrees of tibial varum on the left hand side.  Her Q-angle is 10 degrees on that side.  There is plantar flexion inversion of the foot.  Left lower extremity has less sensation secondary to the her TKR  surgery.

Gait evaluation reveals a fair amount of midfoot pronation noted on the left hand side in addition to an intoed gait.  She has to lean her body over to the left to get the right leg to clear.

Some mild weakness noted of hip abduction musculature left hand side gluteus medius, middle and anterior fibers. Knee stability tests were negative.

Neurologically, otherwise, she had full integrity with respect to sensation, motor strength and deep tendon reflexes in the upper and lower extremities.

Please see part 2 of this post for additional info including our assessment and what WE did.

 The Gait Guys. Making it real, each and every post here on the blog.

special thanks to SZ for allowing us to publish her case, so others can learn

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How do you measure tibial torsion anyway?

With all the talk on the Crossfit blog about the knees out debate, we though we would shed some light on measuring torsions, beginning with tibial torsion, since this does not seem to have been taken account of in the discussion and we feel it is germane. 

Yo may have seen some of our other posts in tibial torsion here or here; this post will serve to help you measure it. 

Looking at the top left picture: we can see that the axis of the tibial plateau and the transmalleolar axis (an imaginary line drawn through the medial and lateral malleolus) are parallel at birth (net angle zero) and progress to 22 degrees at skeletal maturity, resulting from the outward rotation of the tibia of about 1-1.5 degrees per year. This results in a normal external tibial version of about 17-18 degrees (you subtract 5 degrees for the talar neck angle, talked about in the link above). Note that this is the normal or ideal angle we would expect (hope?) to see. Go 2 standard deviations in either direction and we have external and internal tibial torsions.

You can go about taking this measurement in may ways; we will outline 2 of them. 

  1. In the upper left picture, we see an individual who has their knee flexed to 90 degrees over the side of a table while seated. This represents the tibial plateau angle. You the use a protractor to measure the angle between the tibial plateau and an imaginary line drawn through the medial and lateral malleoli. This is the transmalleolar angle. You then subtract 5 degrees from this number (remember the talar neck angle?) to get the angle of tibial version (or torsion).
  2. In the lower left and right pictures, we have the patient supine with the knees pointed upward and tibial plateau flat on the table. Then, working from inferiorly, use a goniometer to measure the angle of the transmalleolar axis. Again, we subtract 5 degrees for the talar neck.

We would encourage you to read up on torsions. This post, which we wrote over a year ago, is probably one of the most important ones on tibial torsions. 

Torsions. Important stuff, especially when you are talking about the axis of the knees in activities like a squat. Remember, the knee is a hinge between 2 multiaxial joints (hip and ankle) and will often take the brunt of the (patho)mechanics, as it has fewer degrees of freedom of movement. If you have external tibial torsion and you push your knees (angle your feet) out further, you are moving the knees outside the saggital plane. You have better have a very competent medial tripod! If you have internal tibial torsion, angling the feet out may be a good idea. Know your (or your patients/clients/athletes) anatomy!

The Gait Guys. Bald, Good Looking and Twisted. Here to help you navigate your way through better biomechanics.