Low back pain and asymmetry.

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Do oarsmen have asymmetries in the strength of their back and leg muscles?
IF these oarsmen were more symmetrical would they not be in pain?

From the study below:
"Patterns of asymmetry of muscle activity were observed between the left and right erector spinae muscles during extension, which was significantly related to rowing side (P < 0.01). These observations could be related to the high incidence of low back pain in oarsmen."

Here we have a supported study of asymmetry and injury/pain. This is what we have been saying (asymmetry matters) in the last few days with our posts on asymmetry. This study eludes to a finding that strength can test normal and symmetrical, but EMG activity can show patterns of asymmetry that can result in problems/pain.

Have you ever rowed? I mean truly rowed, in a shell, on the water, not on land or on a Concept 2 rower? It is just not the same, especially if you have an unilateral asymmetrical loading arc, like an oarsman pulling from port or starboard. I have rowed on the water just like this, briefly, one summer in a camp for young teens. I rowed on my home town course, on the World famous Royal Canadian Henley Regatta. I was the 2nd seat, starboard, in an 8 man shell. 8 oars in the water, 8+1 guys, one oar a piece, alternating port and starboard. I was behind the stroke. I hated it. Perhaps the hardest thing I had ever done sport wise to that point, largely because this dude setting the pace was jacked on caffeine, or something else, I think. No one works harder than rowers if you ask me, they are some of the fittest athletes in the world. Why? because it is a whole body effort.
Ok, enough of the fluff.

Now imagine rowing like this for many years in high school, college and/or competitively. Forcefully pulling on one oar, across an arc of pull out one side of the boat, thousands of times a day for many years. If that isn't something that will develop asymmetry I do not know what might. Oarsman are under near constant high end effort pushing and pulling loads (push with the legs, pull with the arms). There are few, if any, sports with such high end constant effort than rowing.

From the Parkin et al study:
"The aim of this study was to establish whether asymmetry of the strength of the leg and trunk musculature is more prominent in rowers than in controls. Nineteen oarsmen and 20 male controls matched for age, height and body mass performed a series of isokinetic and isometric strength tests on an isokinetic dynamometer. These strength tests focused on the trunk and leg muscles. Comparisons of strength were made between and within groups for right and left symmetry patterns, hamstring: quadriceps ratios, and trunk flexor and extensor ratios. The results revealed no left and right asymmetries in either the knee extensor or flexor strength parameters (including both isometric and isokinetic measures). Knee extensor strength was significantly greater in the rowing population, but knee flexor strength was similar between the two groups. No difference was seen between the groups for the hamstring: quadriceps strength ratio. In the rowing population, stroke side had no influence on leg strength. No differences were observed in the isometric strength of the trunk flexors and extensors between groups, although EMG activity was significantly higher in the rowing population. Patterns of asymmetry of muscle activity were observed between the left and right erector spinae muscles during extension, which was significantly related to rowing side (P < 0.01). These observations could be related to the high incidence of low back pain in oarsmen."- Parkin et al.

Extra sauce:
I "caught a crab" many times when a novice oarsman and was nearly vaulted out of the boat on one fatal event. A crab is the term rowers use when the oar blade gets “caught” in the water. It is caused by a momentary flaw in oar technique and the paddle end of the oar is pulled into the depths instead of skimming just below the surface. Catching a crab has happened to anyone who has ever rowed. A crab may be minor, allowing the rower to quickly recover, or it may be so forceful that the rower is ejected from the boat as the handle end catches the oarsman under the arms lifting them out of the boat.

J Sports Sci. 2001 Jul;19(7):521-6.
Do oarsmen have asymmetries in the strength of their back and leg muscles? Parkin S1, Nowicky AV, Rutherford OM, McGregor AH.

Hallux amputation. What would you expect to present in this case ?

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The stuff we get/see.
Hallux amputation.
What would you expect to present in this case ?
We will dive into this one next week, but here are some cursory things to consider:

It is the right foot.
-Without the hallux, we cannot wind up the windlass and shorten the distance between the first metatarsal and heel, thus the arch will splay (more permanently over time we suspect) and we cannot optimize the arch height.
This will promote more internal spin on that limb because of more midfoot pronation and poor medial foot tripod stabilization.
- more internal limb spin means more internal hip spin, and more demand (which might not be met at the glute level) and thus loads that are supposed to be buffered with hip stabilization, will be transferred into the low back, and or into the medial knee. Look for more quad protective tone if they cannot get it from the glutes. Troubles arise when we try to control the hip from quadriceps strategies, it is poorly postured to do so, but people do it everyday, *hint: most cyclists and distance runners to a large degree)
- anterior pelvis posturing on the right, perhaps challenging durability of the lower abdominals, hence suspect QL increased protective tone, possible low back tightness or pain depending on duration of activities
- there is so much more, we are just wetting your appetite here on this one.
see you next week on this one gang !

Ivo and i are in the studio for another podcast this afternoon, hope you got to #137 this week ! lots more goodies to come !

cheers, shawn and ivo

Photo permission by patient

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The “Dodgy Foot”, a UK runner’s dilemma.

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We get “help me” emails from all over the world on a regular basis. Recently we received this photo from a runner in Oxford, UK, often we cannot help, but when there is a story to tell that everyone can learn from, we offer what we can. This runner was frustrated, explaining a “dodgy foot”. We like the word.

dodg·y däjē/

-dishonest or unreliable; potentially dangerous; of low quality.

We can likely guarantee you that the solution here to this runner’s form issue is not wholly at the foot which appears “in toed” and slanted and appears ready to kick the back of the right heel, not to mention the knees that are about to brush together. Thus, merely working on their foot strike would be so remedial and corrupt that it would a crime.

Ivo and I do not take on cases via the internet because we cannot give all the information because we cannot examine the client, many do offer such services but people are not being given the whole story and we pledged long ago not to be part of the problem. Anyone who recommends exercises from things they see on a video gait analysis are basically doing the same disservice in our opinion. But sometimes, as in this case, their inquiry offers a opportunity for dialogue. This is one of those cases. I will not be presenting a solution, because I do not have the examination information I need, but I will propose a thought process that further investigation may afford progress towards some answers.

This appears like a non-pathologic cross over gait in my mind until proven otherwise, there may be other sources, causes and components, but when it quacks like a duck you’d be silly not to check for webbed feet. There are many component parts that leave someone with a cross over type gait (ie a narrow based gait, that if taken further, might as well result in running on a line). This runner even confirmed upon questioning that the left foot scuffs the inside of the right ankle/shin often, both sides scuff in fact but more left shoe on right shin. No Einsteinian epiphany there.

This means a narrow swing through (adducting) left limb.
This might mean stance and swing phase gluteus medius communication problems.
This might mean swing leg foot targeting problems.
This often suggests right, but sometimes both right and left, frontal plane pelvis sway problems which means pelvis control is challenged which means core lumbar stability control is challenged.
This means adaptive arm swing changes from the clean norm. Arm swing to a large degree is driven by the lower limb motor patterns, despite what some people will propose (dive into our archives to find some of those research articles).
This does NOT mean this runner has pain, or pain yet, or maybe never will have pain but there are many determinants of that which I will discuss below.

But, make no mistake, this is flawed gait mechanics, but that does not translate to injury, speed, outcome or pain. But when they come with those complaints attached, one would be foolish not to at least consider these biomechanics as a source.
The left swing leg is clearly targeting a more medial placement, meaning limb adduction (active or passive or both is to be determined) and this is a product of the cross over gait (unfamiliar with the cross over gait ? SEARCH our blog for the term, you will need a few hours of free time to get through it all). Some would call the cross over gait a lazy gait, but I would rather term it an efficient gait taken too far that it has now become a liability, a liability in which they can no longer stabilize frontal plane sway/drift. A wider gait on the other hand, as in most sprinters, is less efficient but may procure more power and the wider base is more stable affording less frontal plane drift. Just go walk around your home and move from a very narrow line walking gait to a wide gait and you will feel a more powerful engagement of the glutes. Mind you, this is not a fix for cross over gaits, gosh, if it was only that simple !

This runner might investigate whether there is right frontal plane drift, and if it is in fact occurring, find the source of the drift. It can come from many places on either limb. (This client says they are scuffing both inside ankles, which is not atypical and so we likely have drift on both right and left). We have discussed many of them here in various places on the blog over the years. Now as for “Why” the foot looks in toed, well that can also come from many places. Quite simply the adducted limb once it leaves toe off (a toe off that is most often a "low gear toe off", meaning not a medial/hallux toe off), can look like this. But, perhaps it is also a product of insufficient external rotation maintenance occurred during that left stance phase, affording more internal rotation which is being unchecked and observed here during early swing. Remember though, if this is in fact a cross over gait result, in this gait the limb approaches the ground unstacked (foot is too far inside a left hip joint plumb line) the foot will greet the ground at a far lateral strike and in supination. Pronation will thus be magnified and accelerated, if there is enough time before toe off. However, and you can try this on your own by walking around your home, put yourself in terminal stance at toe off. Make sure you have the foot inverted so you are toeing off the lateral toes (low gear toe off). Does this foot not look like the one in the photo ? Yes it does, now just lift the foot off the ground and you have reproduced this photo. And when combined with a right pelvis drift, the foot will sneak further medially appearing postured behind the right foot.

Keep this in mind as well, final pronation and efficient hallux (big toe) toe off does often not occur in someone who strikes the ground on a far lateral foot. I am sure this runner will now be aware of how poorly they toe off of the big toe, the hallux. They will tend to progress towards low gear toe off, off the lesser toes. This leaves the foot inverted and this is what you are seeing in her the photo above. That is a foot that is inverted and supinated and it carried through all the way through toe off and into early swing. It is a frequently component of the cross over gait, look for it, you will find it, often.

Final thoughts, certainly this can be an isolated left swing phase gluteus medius weakness enabling an adducted swing limb thus procuring a faulty medial foot placement, but it is still part of the cross over phenomenon. Most things when it comes to a linked human frame do not work in isolation. But i will leave you with a complicating factor and hopefully you will realize that gait analysis truly does require a physical exam, and without it you could be missing the big picture problem. What if she has a notable fixed anatomic internal tibia torsion on that left side. Yup, it could all be that simple, and that is not something you can fix, you learn to manage that one as a runner.

* Side bar rant: Look at any google search of runners photos and you will see this type of swing limb foot posturing often, far too often. That does not mean it is normal ! That means, that many people do this, but it cannot mean that it is optimal mechanics. And yes, you can take the stance that “I do it as well and i have no injuries or problems so what is the big deal?”. Our response is often “you do have an issue, it may be anatomic or functional, but you do have an asymmetrical gait and you think it is not a problem, YET”. And maybe you will run till you are 6 feet under and not have a problem because you have accommodated over many years and you are a great compensator, yes, some people get lucky. Some people also do not run enough miles that these issues express themselves clinically so lets be fair. But some of these people are reality deniers and spend their life buying the newest brace or gadget, trying a different shoe insert, orthotic or new shoe of the month and shop over and over again for another video gait analysis expert who can actually fix their pain or problem. And then there are those who have a 45 minute home exercise program that they need to do to keep their problems at bay, managing, not fixing anything. Or, they spend an hour a week on the web reading article after article on what are the top 4 exercises for iliotibial band syndrome for example. They shop for the newest Graston practitioner, the newest kinesio taping pattern, Voodoo bands, breathing patterns, compression socks etc. And sometimes they are the ones that say they still don't have a problem.You get the drift. Gosh darn it, find someone who knows what the hell they are doing and can help you fix the issues that are causing the problem. And yes, some of the above accoutrements may be assistive in that journey.

I have dealt with this unique toe off issue very frequently. Once you see something enough times, you learn all of the variations and subtle nuances that a problem can take on. But, trying to fit everyone into a similar solution model is where the novice coach, trainer or clinician will get into trouble. Trust us, it all starts with an examination, a true clinical physical examination. If one leaves the investigatory process to a series of screens or functional movement patterns, “activation” attempts, digital gait analysis or strength tests one is juggling chainsaws and the outcome you want is often not likely to occur. There is nothing wrong with making these components part of the investigation process, but on their own, they are not enough to get the honest answer many times. Of course, Ivo and i were not able to jump the pond and examine this runner with our own eyes and hands so today’s dialogue was merely to offer this runner some food for thought to open their mind to our thought process, in the hopes that they can find someone to help them solve the underlying problem and not merely make the gait look cleaner. Making someone’s walking or running gait look cleaner is not hard, but making it subconsciously competent and clean (without thought or effort) requires a fix to the underlying problem. We can ALMOST guarantee you that the solution here to this runner’s form issue is not wholly at the foot that looks in toed and slanted. Merely working on their foot strike would be so remedial and corrupt that it would a crime.

Dr. Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

#gait, #gaitproblems, #crossovergait, #gaitanalysis, #gluteweakness, #toeoff

Knee hyperextension? Or does this photo suggest something more ?

You walk into the exam room and see a patient standing there just like this, What thoughts immediately flood your head ?
For me, I quickly start to juggle some things like, this:

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- anterior-meniscofemoral impingement ? Are his first words going to be knee pain ?
- tibial tuberosity/osgood type traction issue due to quad dominance? Are his first words going to be knee pain?
-loss of ankle rocker? Are his first words shin pain or plantar foot pain?
- tibialis posterior tendinitis ? Is he going to point to the medial ankle gutter or lower medial shin as his pain area?
-likely anterior pelvis tilt (hence weak lower abdominals), weak glutes, low back pain ?
-hamstring tightness, cramps, pain, posterior knee pain?

Just rambling real fast this morning after seeing this picture on an old hard drive.
Train your brain to think fast, think of possibilities top to bottom, don't wait for your patient to tell you where their problem is.
I play this game when i ask all my patients to walk to the back of the office to my exam room. I am watching, thinking, mental gymnastics.
Our jobs are to solve puzzles, put meaningful pieces together, to solve problems.
I use the analogy of building a puzzle. You open the box, search out the straight peripheral edges, then clump together colors, patterns. Your history and examination and gait observation should be about a process of putting together the most likely clinical picture and puzzle. And then you start to execute. Sometimes you have to walk things back, but you have to start somewhere.
But, if you wait until you get into the room, wait for the patient to say, "anterior knee pain" to start your thinking, it is easy to get tunnel vision and forget all of the other possible pieces of the puzzle that might be playing into that anterior knee pain.
REmember this, how your client moves , poorly or well, is not the problem, it is just how they are moving with the pieces and patterns available to them or how they are avoiding patterns that are painful. How they move is not the problem, it is their strategy. It is our job to find out why they are moving that way, and if it is relevant to their complaint.
Start big, funnel to small.

Shawn Allen, the other gait guy
#gait, #gaitanalysis, #gaitproblems, #clinicalthinking, #buildingpuzzles

The banana hallux. When the big toe curls upward

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Note: over-extension of the hallux and over-flexion of the 2nd toe. How can they both be so different at rest ? read on

This is common, but not commonly addressed. And, it can become a cause of symptoms.
Note how curled up into extension the hallux appears. This is just a representation of hyperextension of the distal phalange at the IP joint (interphalangeal joint).
This often occurs in hallux limitus/rigidus, where there is insufficient extension through the 1st MTP joint (metatarsophalangeal joint). In that condition, they client attempts to toe off, needing extension (dorsiflexion) at that joint, and they do not have it, so the extension can be found through arch collapse (1st metatarsal dorsiflexion) or through extension at the IP joint. Over time, form follows function and you will often see this presentation.

However, we do not need to see impaired ROM function at the 1st MTP joint, as in this case. This foot had full 1st MTP ROMs.
In this case, this toe represented massive imbalance between the long and short flexors and extensors. Specifically, increased use and strength in the EHL (extensor hallucis longus) and weakness and unawareness of how to even engage the short extensor (EHB).
Similarly, the pairing met the one we always see with this, that being weak and even difficulty of awareness to engage the FHL (flexor hallucis longus) and over-activity of the FHB (short flexor-flexor hallucis brevis).
There pairings: weak: EHB and FHL & overactive: EHL and FHB over time will result in this presentation.

In gait, you will note poor compentence and purchase of the hallux on the ground and thus a sharing of that load through overflexion hammering of the 2nd digit through increased FDL activity (note the great evidence of this with the thick obvious callus at the tip of the 2nd toe).
These clients can also often have pain at the plantar aspect of the Metatarsal head because of sesamoid imbalanced loading (sesamoiditis) as well as frank pain at the MTP joint dorsally or plantarward. One will often note a medial pinch callus on these feet medial to the metatarsal head, from a rotational spin toe off. Hallux valgus and bunion formation are also not uncommmon at all in this incompetent hallux presentation.
PS: the solution is so much more complex and involved than just towel-scrunches and marble pick up games. I mean, come on, we can do better that this team !
This requires some serious reteaching of how to use the foot, arch, tripod, windlass and foot-ground engagement skills.

Shawn and Ivo, the gait guys

#gait, #gaitproblems, #gaitcompensatins, #gaitanalysis, #bunions, #halluxvalgus, #sesamoiditis, #turftoe, #halluxlimitus, #pinchcallus, #bananatoe, #metatarsalgia, #thegaitguys, #hammertoe

The rigid flat foot. Why an orthotic may not work well at all.

Just because the foot is flat (arch collapsed) does not mean you have a right to try and lift it !
This is a perfect example of a foot that is troubled. It is a rigid flat foot deformity. This acquired over a long period of time. Sometimes tibialis posterior insufficiency over time finally gives way to an incompetent tib posterior, with eventual arch gradual collapse into a pes planus flat deformity, and then time takes its effect to contracture and shorten tissue and arthritic change makes it permanent.
This arch will no longer lift, it is a rigid pes planus. IT will not tolerate an orthotic, SO DO NOT PRESCRIBE ONE ! Even a mild orthotic lift will feel like a golf ball under this arch.
And, to take this one step further, a rockered shoe is, in part, the right idea, but not when the foot does not sagittally toe off. This foot is permanently locked into a full limb external rotation because of hip arthritic change. The point is that his foot progression angle is 45 degrees++, and the rocker will not work if it cannot rocker in the sagittal plane.
This guy wanted an orthotic, and i would not give it to him, and you shouldn't either. He will wear it for 1 minute and throw it away.

Shawn Allen, the other gait guy

#gait, #anklerocker, #forefootrocker, #footprogression, #archcollapse

You are mostly likely not getting to your big toe at push-off if you are doing this.

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You are mostly likely not getting to your big toe at push-off if you are doing this. And, if you have a painful big toe, you will do it as well. Oh, and Head-over-foot related, yup. Read on . . .

Yes, the cross over gait. Yes, when you are into a cross over gait you are most certainly head over foot. And that is most likely not a good thing.

If you are not closer to stacking the hip over the knee, and knee over the foot (like in the photo "SUI" bib runner) you are not likely getting to much of your big toe at terminal stance loading, when you could be getting more power at push off.
Said another way, if you are attacking the ground with the feet closer together, as if you are running on a line (as in the photo) you are going to be more on the outside of the foot (note the lateral foot contact), show a similar wear/loading pattern as in these shoes, and hardly load the medial foot tripod effectively.
Go ahead, walk around your office or home right now . . . . with a very narrow step width and see how little you can load into the bit toe-medial foot tripod (note how little effective glute engagement you get as well). Then, walk with a wider step width, note the easier more effective big toe-medial tripod loading, and, not the glutes come into play.

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Thus, head over foot/cross over gait is foolish for effective gait. You have a big toe, don't you wish to use it ? One has to find that balance between an economical step width that still allows an effective toe off event in walking and running. A very narrow cross over-style gait does not afford us this.
So, should it be any surprise to any of us that someone with pain in the big toe or medial tripod complex will choose a narrow step width to avoid the painful loading ? No, no surprise there at all.
We have been writing about the cross over gait for 10 years, bringing little pieces of research to the forefront to prove our theories on it as the research presents itself. We first brought it to you with our 3 part video series here. Search our blog, type in "cross over gait" into the search box on the site www.thegaitguys.com and get a LARGE coffee before hand, you are going to be reading for several hours.


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More on the scourge of Flip Flops. Riding the inside edge of the sandal. Mystery hunting with Dr. Allen.

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Tis the season upon us. Riding the inside edge of the sandal.
You can see it in the photo, the heel is a third of the way off the sandal.

You either have it or have seen it. It is frustrating as hell if you have it. Your heel rides on only half of your flip flop or summer sandals. You do not notice it in shoes, only in sandals, typically ones without a back or back strap. This is because the heel has no controlling factors to keep it confined on the rear of the sandal sole. There is no heel counter on open backed shoes and sandals, the counter keeps the heel central on the back of the footwear. There is a reason this inside edge riding happens to some, but not everyone. It is best you read on, this isn’t as simple as it might seem.

These clients may have restricted ankle rocker (dorsiflexion), restricted hip extension and/or adductor twist (if your reference is the direction the heel is moving towards). I could even make a biomechanical case that a hallux limitus could result in the same scenario. So what happens is that as the heel lifts and adducts it does not rise directly vertically off the sandal, it spins off medially from the “adductor twist” event. This event is largely from a torque effect on the limb from the impaired sagittal mechanics as described above, manifesting at the moment of premature heel rise resulting in an slightly externally rotating limb (adducting heel). The sandal eventually departs the ground after the heel has risen, but the sandal will rise posturing slightly more laterally ( you can clearly see this on the swing leg foot in the air, the sandal remains laterally postured). Thus, on the very next step, the sandal is not entirely reoriented with its rear foot under the heel, and the event repeats itself. The sandal is slightly more lateral at the rear foot, but to the wearer, we believe it is our heel that is more medial because that is the way it appears on the rear of the sandal or flip flop. Optical illusion, kind of… . . a resultant biomechanical illusion is more like it.

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You will also see this one all over the map during the winter months in teenagers who swear by their Uggs and other similar footwear, as you can see in the 2nd photo above. This is not an Ugg or flip flop problem though, this is often a biomechanical foot challenge that is not met by a supportive heel counter and may be a product of excessive rear foot eversion as well. This does not translate to a “stable” enough shoe or boot, that is not what this is about. This is about a rearfoot that moves to its biomechanical happy place as a result of poor or unclean limb and foot biomechanics and because the foot wear does not have a firm stable and controlling heel counter. This is not about too much pronation, so do not make that mistake. And orthotic is not the answer. A heel counter is the answer. The heel counter has several functions, it grabs the heel during heel rise so that the shoe goes with the foot, it give the everting rearfoot/heel something to press against, and as we have suggested today, it helps to keep the rearfoot centered over the shoe platform. To be clear however, the necessary overuse and gripping of the long toe flexors to keep flip flops and backless sandals on our feet during the late stance and swing phases of gait, clearly magnifies these biomechanical aberrations that bring on the “half heel on, half heel off” syndrome.

There you have it. Another solution to a mystery in life that plagues millions of folks.

Shawn Allen, the other gait guy

Look at his guys right leg, the lower leg and foot.

Look at his guys right leg, the lower leg and foot.

This photo was part of an insert in an old Altra shoe box when we got our shoes.


Is that internal tibial torsion, a fixed bony issue that is causing what appears to be the intoe? Or is it a drop of the right hemipelvis into anterior tilt, to try to get more hip extension, which often leads to full leg internal rotation from the hip ? Is it from a weak left hip complex, particularly the abductor players? Remember, internal hip rotation and hip extension can be paired events. Internal hip rotation is a precursor event, in gait, to hip extension. But this is beyond the normal hip extension-internal limb rotation pairing.

There is no way to know except to examine him.
Coaching this out is a mistake until you know what it is.
Prescribing a corrective exercise to attempt to correct it is also a huge mistake without examining the person hands on, and determining whether this is a fixed bony issue, or a functional pattern of choice/power/biomechanics.
It could also be a compensation to another issue, such as I eluded to in a possible weak right lower abdominal interval, allowing the pelvis to tip too far forward.
We have to understand anatomy, biomechanics, compensations and we have to examine our clients.
If a coach tries to train this out, because they do not like the way it looks, it is foolish. Just plain foolish. And if a coach notes this, but does nothing about it, and merely adds training and strength to the "potential" dysfunction, do not be surprised if injury arises. It might not, but adding strength, load and training onto faulty mechanics can have a consequence. There will be those who say, " if it is not a problem, don't fix it". Our response is, sure, that might work, and then again it might not work. Just take responsibility and honest self inventory if that athlete might injure. And learn from it. We are all students.
Do not add strength to dysfunction.

How do you know ? In this case, one has to get educated on osseous torsions and versions, anatomy, biomechanics, to start. Listen, read, learn. We do these things all the time, every day here on The Gait Guys.

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

#gait, #gaitproblems, #gaitcompensations, #tibialtorsion, #internaltibialtorsion, #intoed, #running, #sprinting, #thegaitguys, #hipextension, #powerleak

the current understanding of how tendons respond to loading, unloading, ageing and injury

A muscle contract, transfers load across the tendon into the attachment to another bone on the other side of a joint, sometimes across 2 joints. There can be a mechanical flaw/injury in the muscle or tendon, or the joint, if inflamed, can neurologically inhibit that muscle-tendon team. The journal abstract has a nice diagram looking at the potential cellular and molecular changes at the tendon interval.
"Here we review the current understanding of how tendons respond to loading, unloading, ageing and injury from cellular, molecular and mechanical points of view. "- S. Peter Magnusson, Michael Kjaer


The opposite upper and lower limbs model each other. Today we discuss adduction. See the photo.

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The opposite upper and lower limbs model each other. Today we discuss adduction. See the photo.

This is a discussion we had last March 11 and 12, 2019 on this photo. Today, lets look closer at the photo.

Runners, athletes . . . Even in your drills, do it correctly !
Last week we discussed this and its relation to the Bird Dog exercise. This is no where near the same pattern as Bird Dog, as we discussed, the Bird Dog is neurologically incorrect. Today, Adduction is the topic at hand.

This runner is performing a skill, a proper neurologic skill when it comes to patterning limbs the way we repeatedly move in walking, running, and often (but not always) sports. If you want to know why Bird Dog is an outlier neurologically, go back and find our post last week on the topic.

Today, look at the right knee, he has allowed it to adduct. We discussed why this is a lazy pattern, unless he has a purpose for not abducting the hip (possibly addressing something we are unaware of). Now look at the left arm, it too is adducted towards the midline. When left to its patterned and balanced based ways, the brain will use balance and patterning to model the limbs with their counterpart. This is the neurologic "shaping" we have discussed previously. The upper limb can help to shape the movement of the lower, but we know there is the opposite effect as well. We also know that the lower limb has a higher "leading" affect, it runs the show more. This is why we feel coaching arm swing is not the best way to go about changing someone's gait issues/form.

Try what he is doing, stand up and try it. You will see that the upper limb and lower limb better follow the modeling and shaping when they are both doing the same things (in this case, hip and shoulder flexion, and adduction). Now, keep the right thigh flexed and adducted, and ABduct the arm, you will find a subtle balance challenge and it will feel like there is a slight disassociation, because you have taken one limb away from the midline. Now, instead, adduct the left shoulder, but abduct the right thigh/hip. It is harder to do, again. Not leaps and bounds harder, but you had to think about it, because one limb is moving toward the midline and the other is not , all the while in a static balance position. Now yes, some will argue that this was not hard at all, and this kind of thing happens in sport all the time, agreed. Sometimes balance and proprioception (i.e. the vestibular system) trumps neurological patterning because of the hierarchy in the CNS. BUT don't miss our point, that there are underlying neurologic patterns and principles that dictate limb function when we are not paying attention to it. This is our point, and you will see it in your clients when they walk and run. And you see it in this guys case, because we would bet that he was not doing this left shoulder left hip adduction on purpose. He was doing it because it felt right, felt normal, felt balanced, and it is neurologically sound. But, he could do better, if he abducted the left arm and right hip, he be earning a more pattern as a runner. And, he would reduce the tendency of the cross over gait pattern, because, as you can see here, if that right foot heads to the ground, he is going to be very narrow step width in his gait, and that COULD mean potential problems and power leaks.
One more thing, do not be surprised that the right arm is abducting while it is extending, this is spin off of the adduction of the other limbs we discussed today. If he likely remedies them, the right arm will no longer abduction, likely.
And, these same concepts play out if you are adducting your arms across your body when walking or running, if the arm is pulling hard across the midline, do not be surprised if your step width is narrow. Hence, if you wish to run with more glutes and a wider more powerful gait, reduce the arm adduction and the legs will have to follow from the "shaping" influence of the arms.

Rocker shoes reduce Achilles tendon load in running and walking in patients with chronic Achilles tendinopathy.

Rocker shoes reduce Achilles tendon load in running and walking in patients with chronic Achilles tendinopathy.

Most likely this is common knowledge for most followers here on The Gait Guys and our podcast (another one will launch this weekend btw).

Screen Shot 2019-04-12 at 8.43.42 AM.png

But reducing the plantar flexion moment in the late stance phase of running and walking can make notable changes in the loading response to the posterior plantarflexor mechanism (the gastroc-soleus-achilles complex). A rocked shoe, according to this study, can reduce the plantarflexor moment without substantial adaptations in triceps surae muscular activity.
This of course brings to mind the HOKA family of shoes that have purposefully added a gentle rocker mechanism to some of their shoe line, some with an early and some with a late stage metarocker built in. Are you a HOKA hater? We were not fans in their early development because of the volume of stack height foam, but they have many more options in their line up now. But do this for us, do not pass judgement until you put one of these metarockered shoes on, and you will understand the function of it, and their place for your chronic posterior compartment clients. Don't reflexively judge until you try them. It is good to have options for your clients, because "stop running" is not an option for runners, for our runners, unless all else has failed.

Shawn Allen, the other Gait Guy

#thegaitguys, #gait, #hoka, #metarocker, #achilles, #tendinitis, #gaitproblems, #gaitanalysis, #calfpain, #running

J Sci Med Sport. 2015 Mar;18(2):133-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jsams.2014.02.008. Epub 2014 Feb 14.

Rocker shoes reduce Achilles tendon load in running and walking in patients with chronic Achilles tendinopathy.

Sobhani S1, Zwerver J2, van den Heuvel E3, Postema K4, Dekker R5, Hijmans JM6.

Increased unilateral foot pronation can cause cephalad asymmetries.

Screen Shot 2019-04-07 at 9.44.59 AM.png

Increased unilateral foot pronation affects lower limbs and pelvic biomechanics during walking. Nothing earth shaking here, we should all know this as fact. When a foot pronates more excessively, the arch can flatten more, and this can accentuate a leg length differential between the 2 legs. But it is important to note that when pronation is more excessive, it usually carries with it more splay of the medial tripod as the talus also excessively plantarflexes, adducts and medially rotates. This action carries with it a plantar-ward drive of the navicular, medial cuneiforms and medial metatarsals (translation, flattening of the longitudinal arch). These actions force the distal tibia to follow that medially spinning and adducting talus and thus forces the hip to accommodate to these movements. And, where the hip goes, the pelvis must follow . . . . and so much adaptive compensations.
So could a person say that sometimes a temporary therapeutic orthotic might only be warranted on just one foot ? Yes, of course, one could easily reason that out.
-Shawn Allen, one of The Gait Guys

#gait, #gaitanalysis, #gaitproblems, #thegaitguys, #LLD, #leglength, #pronation, #archcollapse, #orthotics, #gaitcompensations, #hippain, #hipbiomechanics

Gait Posture. 2015 Feb;41(2):395-401. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2014.10.025. Epub 2014 Nov 3.
Increased unilateral foot pronation affects lower limbs and pelvic biomechanics during walking.
Resende RA1, Deluzio KJ2, Kirkwood RN3, Hassan EA4, Fonseca ST5.

Running cadence doesn't matter? Maybe.

Does running cadence matter? Not as much as previously thought (in terms of speed and efficiency, but this is not a comment on altering biomechanics to avoid or manage running through injury. One of the first things we ask of a runner, who insists they will be running with their injury while we attempt to get ahead of it, is to increase their cadence and land with more finesse (if they are a heavy "plunker", which often happens on longer runs when people fatigue).

“Some ran at 160 steps per minutes and others ran at 210 steps per minute, and it wasn’t related at all to how good they were or how fast they were,” Burns said. “Height influenced it a little bit, but even people who were the same height had an enormous amount of variability.”

"Another unexpected finding is that by the end of a race, cadence varied much less per minute, as if the fatigued runner’s body had locked into an optimal steps-per-minute turnover. It’s unclear why, Burns said, but this deserves further study."


Loss of terminal knee extension: How quickly can you process the facts ?


Some quick thoughts that must go through your mind on your examination. These thoughts must be ingrained, so that you can quickly juggle the other issues you client is coming in with that may very likely be related to the loss of left knee terminal extension.

more knee flexion may likely mean more ankle dorsiflexion , and that means more more anterior shin compartment strength is necessary to stop a quick progression to the forefoot (consider their clinical symptoms), this may mean pronation occurs more quickly (consider their clinical symptoms), it may mean more abrupt quadriceps loading since the loading does not start in more reasonable knee extension which means the quad is short now and that means increased patellofemoral compression possibilities (consider their clinical symptoms), this may mean more hip flexion on initiation of stance phase (consider their clinical symptoms), this may lead to more anterior pelvis tilt posturing and thus increased lordosis (consider their clinical symptoms), this flexed knee means that the leg is shorter which will through off pelvis symmetry (consider their clinical symptoms), this may mean more work for the contralateral hip abductors (consider their clinical symptoms), this may mean more frontal plane pelvis drift to the short leg side (consider their clinical symptoms), it will also mean 2 different step lengths which means 2 different hip extension patterns which means 2 different heel rises, and it will likely mean altered arm swing on both sides which can create changes into thoracic rotation (and of course the cervical spine sits on top of that) etc etc etc, so consider their clinical symptoms . . .


just wanted to quickly rattle off how fast your brain must juggle things, otherwise your exam is going to be knee-centered and tunnel visioned. Keep in mind, your client may not even have knee complaints, perhaps one or more of the above. But this is a perfect example of why you must examine the WHOLE client.

Perhaps this gives you even deeper understanding (combined with yesterdays "parallax binocular vision 2D post" as to why we will not give online corrective homework or consultations. There is just no way all of these things can be considered over video, Skype, Zoom or anything of the sort. Gait analysis must be done in person and encompass a hands on exam, if you do not want to miss something possible critically important, in our opinion, for what that is worth.

Shawn Allen, the other gait guy

#kneeextension, #gait, #gaitanalysis, #gaitproblems, #gaitanalysis, #gaitcompensations, #correctiveexercises, #thegaitguys

Podcast 145: Tendons, Heel Drop and their impacts on the posterior chain,

Heel lifts, Sole lifts and their impact on the EMG of the posterior chain.

Keywords: gait, gait analysis, gait problems, running, ankle, tendinopathy, heel lifts, sole lifts, EMG, paraspinal activity, gluteal inhibition, posterior chain, anterior pelvic tilt, tight quads, diagnostic ultrasound

Links to find the podcast:
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Just Google "the gait guys podcast".

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Our website is all you need to remember. Everything you want, need and wish for is right there on the site.
Interested in our stuff ? Want to buy some of our lectures or our National Shoe Fit program? Click here (thegaitguys.com or thegaitguys.tumblr.com) and you will come to our websites. In the tabs, you will find tabs for STORE, SEMINARS, BOOK etc. We also lecture every 3rd Wednesday of the month on onlineCE.com. We have an extensive catalogued library of our courses there, you can take them any time for a nominal fee (~$20).

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Libsyn Directory URL: http://directory.libsyn.com/episode/index/id/9027890

Show notes:

Current trends in tendinopathy management
Tanusha B.Cardosoa, TaniaPizzarib, RitaKinsellab, DanielleHopec, Jill L.Cook


Insightful paper on how tendon adapts to loading and unloading. Discusses a lack of evidence supporting eccentric training as the treatment of choice for injury and notes that tendon response to loading is not normalized until ~6-12 months after injury
The impact of loading, unloading, ageing and injury on the human tendon
S. Peter Magnusson, Michael Kjaer

Effects of heel lifts on lower limb biomechanics and muscle function: A systematic review
Chantel L.Rabusinac, Hylton B.MenzacJodie A.McClellandbcJade M.TanacGlen A.WhittakeracAngela M.EvansaShannon E.Munteanuac

The influence of high and low heeled shoes on EMG timing characteristics of the lumbar and hip extensor complex during trunk forward flexion and return task
AnnaMikaa, Brian C.ClarkbcŁukaszOleksy

The effect of heel lifts on trunk muscle activation during gait: A study of young healthy females
Christian J.Bartonac, Julia A.CoyleaPaulTinley

A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Crossover Studies Comparing Physiological, Perceptual and Performance Measures Between Treadmill and Overground Running

Plantarflexor strength and endurance deficits associated with mid-portion Achilles tendinopathy: The role of soleus - ScienceDirect

Crawling patterns and the Bird Dog look alike, but they are clearly not. Do you understand this ?

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 9.48.00 AM.png

Crawling and Bird Dog, a subtle but important difference.

Can you see it ?
When we crawl, as in the photo, we use the following pattern:
- the right shoulder is in extension (but it is fixed on the ground, it is the body that is moving forward/extending over this fixated point, it is approximating the flexing right hip as the knee moves up towards the hand)
- the left hip is in extension, pairing appropriately with the right shoulder extension.
- similarly, the left shoulder is in flexion (it is over head in this photo, just like in the other photo of the runner similarly doing the same patterning but standing up, meanwhile the right hip is in flexion.
* take the photo of the runner in the green shirt, and put him in a quadruped crawling pattern as you will see that it is the same pattern as the one of me in the crawling posture.
* This is not bird dog, as seen in the photo, do not confuse them.

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 9.44.31 AM.png

The Bird Dog exercise is not neurologically correct for the reason of training the proper crossed patterning from a neuro perspective. Note that in the 2nd photo, the bird dog, the same left arm is in flexion, but his left leg is in EXTENSION ! If you want to use the bird dog to teach core engagement, that is one thing, but do not think you are coordinating normal gait patterns or the proper crossed response. This is why we do not use the Bird Dog with our patients, it goes against training fundamental gait patterns.

Screen Shot 2019-02-24 at 9.44.19 AM.png

This first photo of me in the black shirt is normal, natural, neurologically correct, cross crawling. Don't believe us ? Get on the floor and crawl like an infant, it is no where near the bird dog exercise, in crawling the coupled crossed extension and flexion responses are NOT conflicting. So, just because the Bird Dog "sort of looks like crawling" do not get it confused with crawling, because it is not. It is a mere balance exercise, some use it for the core stability, but it is one based on UN-fundamental neurologic patterning we use every day.......something called gait, and running, things we do in our sports. So understand what message you are sending to the CNS.
We are not saying the Bird Dog does not have value, not at all, but if you are not thinking about what it actually is doing, you might be driving patterns you do not want.

Pigeon holed into a particular running form. Some thoughts.

We should not pigeon hole everyone into one of the major (often discussed) "running forms". Every person's running form has some unique parameters that work for them (and perhaps some components that do not work for them and lead to injury), and asking their body to do something else that you "deem" better for them because it looks right/better can at times lead to new issues or complications in resolving their complaints. Work with their system, their anatomy. Help them correct mechanical flaws related to their problems/complaints/injuries. Do not try to get everyone into one of the classically pristine and magazine cover running forms. As Allan on our FB page said, "gait correction requires work". And may we say this . . . . that prescribing corrective exercises does not mean they will spill over into their gait with positive changes. There must be teachable time that is hands on to help them blend over the corrective work into new gait patterns. This is a skill that takes a long time to learn and figure out, and each client is different and each client requires different cues and different exercises to tap into the desirable cues for them. This is why internet/youtube corrective exercise prescribed homework (ie. do this exercise to correct your iliotibial band syndrome) often does not work and sometimes creates new problems down the road. Why? . . . because there are holes missing when there is not a hands on exam to ensure the corrective work is the right work, and, just as importantly, it takes time and skill to show, demo, and translate how and why the homework will take over into a new gait pattern. Translation, corrective exercises do not guarantee a new gait pattern or new running form. There are so many bad examples we could use, "just going to the mechanic does not guarantee they will fix your car", "changing your tires does not necessarily make you a safer driver", "watching some youtube videos on learning to drive does not mean you actually know how to sit in a car and drive".

"You do not have a shoe problem, you have a "thing in the shoe problem", meaning, it is you."

We say this so often in our offices.
"You do not have a shoe problem, you have a "thing in the shoe problem", meaning, it is you."
Translation: compromised mechanics leading to tissue overloading.
But we all have to strongly consider that injury is a result of the loading you have not trained gradually into, failure to adapt and accommodate, excessive mileage without adequate tissue recovery,

From the article:
"So Napier and co-author Richard Willy from the University of Montana reviewed the highest-quality research featuring randomized controlled trials and systematic reviews.
"What we see is that there's really no high-level evidence that any running shoe design can prevent injuries," Napier said."

Now, to be honest, in our (the gait guys) opinion, there are times we do recommend a change in the foot wear for a client, and it is often because it appears to be working against someone mechanics and is a contributory factor in their injury or complaint. And sometimes that shoe recommendation is a temporary one, and sometimes a permanent one. We can use a shoe to help us get to a better/faster end point. After all, when we sprain an ankle sometime a brace or crutches are helpful and protective, of temporary value. A wisely chosen shoe can act the same if we are dealing with an acute achilles tendinopathy or a painful bunion for example. And in those cases we might recommend a shoe that can give us an assist. Sometime, when appropriate perhaps it is a shoe with a stronger medial post, perhaps one with a higher or lower heel drop/delta, or more or less stack height, or perhaps a mid/forefoot rocker built into the shoe. The truth is, people come in with functional or "fixed" pathology and sometimes pairing up a shoe to help us around some conflicting biomechanics can be temporarily, and sometimes permanently, helpful. But, the shoe is never the only answer, a wise clinician has many things they can utilize, all the way up the kinetic chain sometimes.
The more you know, the better you can assist someone.

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

#Nigg, #barefoot, #shoes, #stackheight, #heeldrop, #achillestendinitis, #bunion, #pronation, #supination, #running, #gait, #thegaitguys, #gaitanalysis, #gaitproblems, #gaitcompensation

Can the design of a running shoe help prevent injury? A B.C. researcher says he has the answer

Kelly Crowe · CBC News · Posted: Dec 15, 2018 9:00 AM ET


Adding strength to dysfunction ?


Are you adding strength to dysfunction? Will you be apologizing?
We have been saying this for at least a decade now, glad Michael Boyle feels the same way (see his tweet below).
See ? we are not alone and crazy ! Other smart people are thinking the same things. This is just logic to us and seems Mike feels the same way. We do not fully understand the nay-sayers and push back on this topic.
And so, if you are not examining your client, rather just "movement screening" them and then making corrective exercise prescriptions based off of mere screen outcomes, you are likely, in our strong opinion, risking merely building strength on top of how they already are moving, which is quite possibly dysfunction.
Now, many will argue, a more durable pattern, even if it is dysfunctional, is less likely to be injured. And we can agree with that. But, if you are going to spend all that time, why not just fix the darn problem and then add durability on top of that sound loading pattern in the first place?

Are you going to leave that spare tire on the car just because it drives fine? There is a reason you don't tow a trailer with a spare tire on, and there is a reason you do not drive it at 100mph either. Get the original tire fixed darnit ! Do not settle with, "hey it works fine right now! Leave it alone!" (doh !)

Adding compensations to compensations can have ramifications down the road.
Do you want to be apologizing down the road? Scratching your head asking, "is this a result of what i recommended?"

It should make you think more about what you are doing, everyday. It sure keeps us in line, everyday.
Makes you ask the hard question of why you are recommending something.
Sorry for the continuous 10 year rant on this. But it is nice to know we are not alone.

shawn allen, one of the gait guys.

#gait, #gaitcompensations, #gaitproblems, #dysfunction, #compensations, #strengthfirst