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:

Screen Shot 2019-05-16 at 2.53.10 PM.png

- 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

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

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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

What do the hip flexors have to do with the knee extensors ?

"It is not about your test, it is what your client displays in your test that matters. They will try to find a way. The load has to go somewhere, and they will find a place to put it, they always do. Finding out how your client cheats, compensates, recruits and fails is the value of the assessment."

This is just a small example of how I approach a client through small assessment window.
As best as I am able, knowing the absolute limitations of a supine examinations translation to vertical loading, I will approach a client's ability to stabilize in all 3 planes of movement. Today, i will micro-dissect a thought process.

The straight leg resistance test (SLR):
just a few incomplete thoughts on a SAGITTAL perspective (so as to avoid writing a book).
I will do it looking at **pelvis posture (anterior, posterior, oblique), lumbar spine posture (incr/decr lordosis), if they can keep their knee locked in a position, does the pelvis rotate, do they want to deviate into internal or external rotation at the hip, do they plantar or dorsiflex their ankle or toes. Lots to see here in how a client will recruit, and this is just a small snapshot of things they might do. Yes, head position, arm position were left out , again, to avoid a longer post today.
I will add consistent (as best as possible) resistance in the SLR test , with full locked knee, at hip 30, 45 and then full straight leg SLR (at the client's hamstring tension limit), then again at 45 degree knee lock with partial hip flexion, 90 degree hip and knee. I am changing loading vectors frequently to see if their is a directional loading failure. I am looking for their ability to provide ample resistance, and how they might cheat (see above).
But here is how my mind works through the test on the most basic level, which will give me insight on the above cheats** the client may employ.
* In the MOST SIMPLEST thought of the assessment, can they EFFECTIVELY stabilize the pelvis to the lumbar spine, can they stabilize the femur into the pelvis, can they stabilize the tibia onto the femur? It is how they choose to engage the system that matters, and that might be partly why their "Screen" shows up shoddy and may be a window into their pain.
The question is, if they fail, where are they failing and what tissues are overburdened or over protecting ? Where is the load, and where NOT is the load, going ?

"It is not about your test, it is what your client displays in your test that matters. They will try to find a way. The load has to go somewhere, and they will find a place to put it, they always do. Finding out how your client cheats, compensates, recruits and fails is the value of the assessment. This is how you need to be thinking when you perform many of the mostly useless orthopedic tests in the textbooks.

This is key,
a SLR screen will not show you any of this, it will just show you their range of motion, nothing more, not how they did it, what parts worked harder than other parts, and which parts are weak, injured or inhibited, for example. It is not what a client does, it is how they go about it that has the most value to you in helping them.

Today's article below is what spurred my rant today. It gives light that most already know, that everything is connected. And perhaps we can translate it into deeper thoughts for our clients, namely, what part is not doing its job, and where are they not connecting the parts, and where are they putting the loads ?

From the Ema study:
"Our findings indicate that hip flexion training results in substantial neuromuscular adaptations during knee extensions similar to those induced by knee extension training."-Ema et al.

We need a stable and strong core-spine-pelvis connection to display powerful knee extension, and, we need a stable and strong femur-pelvis connection as well. So, where is your client doing more or less of the work, and is it related to their hip, low back or knee pain? Or are they tossing it into the ankle perhaps? This is the beauty of the game we all play every day, if we are actually paying attention.

Now, remember my discussion last week about "adding strength to dysfunction" ? Where is your client going to put the load?, the answer, where they can/able. And that doesn't exactly mean where they should be putting it. Mindless prescription of corrective exercises is a real problem in my opinion.

Shawn Allen, the other gait guy.

#gait, #gaitproblems, #gaitanalysis, #correctiveexercises, #running, #hipflexors, #kneeextension, #SLR, #corestrength, #thegaitguys

Scand J Med Sci Sports. 2018 Mar;28(3):947-960. doi: 10.1111/sms.13008. Epub 2017 Nov 22.
Neuromuscular adaptations induced by adjacent joint training.
Ema R1,2, Saito I3, Akagi R1,3.

A flexed leg is a shorter leg: When loss of knee extension really matters.

A flexed knee is a shorter leg, period.
A knee with any loss of terminal extension, is more bent knee, and thus a shorter leg, period.

Stand up, bend one knee 10 degrees, you have shortened the global top to bottom length of that leg.
So when walking, you will plunk down onto that shorter leg, and there will be a cost.

This is old hat for our long time readers, but it is a good reminder to look for loss of terminal knee extension.

I just saw a lady with a uni-knee replacement of 5 months. Failing some aspects of rehab, they are stuck. There is hip,knee and ankle pain on walking.
She had a loss of terminal knee extension, thus a short leg, true shortness.
I placed a 2mm full sole length rubber-cork lift in the shoe (*DO NOT USE JUST A HEEL LIFT, please, for the love of God and all that is beautiful on this earth stop using just heel lifts and causing plantarflexion at the ankle. Heel lifts are specific unicorns you only use when you are trying to get more plantarflexion at the ankle, or want to rush someone to the forefoot, or want a shorter posterior compartment (amongst other stupid things you probably do not want in your client mechanics)).
She put the shoe back on with the 2mm sole lift in the shoe and walked 20 steps and started to tear up. No pain.

Sometimes things are simple. We more closely restored the leg length by adding more vertical height. Yes, the problem still exists, but its global effects are somewhat muted. She stopped premature heel rise, could feel her glutes, stopped the abrupt plunk onto the leg, *stopped the sudden abrupt knee flexion loading that was crippling her.

I then took it out, "shoe'd" her up again, and she was dumbfounded, all the pain returned as did her awareness of what she was coping with.

Now, sent her away with the sole lift to accommodate for 2 weeks, and we will restart the rehab once things have time to get used to the "new norm". Now the rehab will work, we think. Time will tell

One thing is for sure, and now yesterdays post rings more clear and true, if you build strength on compensation, you earn and own that compensation.

The Gait Guys

#gait, #gaitproblems, #gaitcompensations, #strength, #heellift, #solelift, #TKA, #hippain, #shortleg

Photo courtesy of Pixabay, beautiful photo isn't it !?

Gluteal tendinopathy and the Cross Over gait pattern.

Gluteal tendinopathy, often lateral hip pain at or around the region of the greater trochanter. (note: the pain referral of this problem can dispurse far and wide, from low back and even into groin or to the knee). It is not gluteal bursitis, the research barely supports that. You'd be better off using the term "greater trochanteric pain syndrome" (yes, its an ICD10 code).

The problem often involves the abductors, the gluteus medius and/or gluteus minimus tendons as weakness or poor co-contraction stabilization patterning creates a compressive adduction of the tendons and gr.trochanter. But, know this, mere strengthening is not the entire answer, and it is not supported as the cause or cure, it is just part of the solution. As with most problems, resolution is about load, how we load, load over time, tolerance to load, time under tension, loads we can manage, loads we are unprepared for. These are variables certainly pertinent to novice runners and athletes (though for some everyday folk even walking can be vulnerable) but also high level athletes who either mal-adapt, compensate, over protect or under-recover.
About 10 years ago I began my dive into something I was seeing often, something that did not seem to have a name from what I was able to determine, but one that was fraught with mechanical loading issues that was part of my athletes' symptom collage. I referred to it by what it appeared to be, a "cross over gait", and since then have written a few dozen pieces, at least, that go into the problem, pathomechanics, and correction for my athletes and patients. I have often referred this to as a "failure to stack the lower limb joints", but that is so remedial and non-descript. Almost a decade ago I did the 3 part video series (part 1 is below) and it brought a lot of light to gait problems in runners and a huge variable in unresponsive gluteal tendonopathies, amongst others. One can strengthen the glutes all they want, but if the pattern of pathologic loading is not amended, altered, improved, then the model will fail.
And here is another factor that is interesting brought forth at a recent conference,
"@Bill_Vicenzino Imaging over-estimates compared to clinical presentation - MRI positive for Gluteal Tendinopathy in 77% of cases but clinical presentation only positive in 52%"

Watch my 3 part series, starting with the video below. Get to understand the cross over gait variables and you will get better at remedying gluteal tendonopathy. It is more than just prescribing half a dozen glute exercises.

Shawn Allen, the other gait guy.

#gait, #thegaitguys, #gaitproblems, #gaitanalysis, #glutealtendinopathy, #hippain, #crossovergait, #hipadductors, #hipabduction, #greatertrochanter, #hipbursitis

Hip Abductor Strength In Individuals With Gluteal Tendinopathy: A Cross-sectional Study. Kim Allison et al.

Approaching hip pain differently.

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 12.59.05 PM.png

You might have fewer struggles with your hip pain clients if you start approaching the hip joint as the intersection of a long pole (the leg) with a ball on the end (the femoral head) and the pelvis' acetabulm/labrum sitting/balancing on top of the ball.
The game is to get the stick (the leg) stable and stiff enough that you can control the positioning of the frontal, sagittal and rotational planes of that ball on the end, and achieve enough control/skill, strength, stability, endurance of the interface of the pelvis socket (the pelvis' acetablum/labrum) on top of this ball. The key to success in this area is the understand that the pelvis, and the body mass above it, is terribly disadvantaged to find controlled equilibrium on top of the ball (femoral head). Thus, achieving sufficient skill of the muscles bridging the two, adequate endurance in them to last the duration of the challenges, and certainly sufficient strength of those muscles to control shear, compression, stability and controlled mobility are key components to successful and pain free hip function.
One has to think of things in a closed chain, one's limb is fixed on the ground, and one needs to see that the game is to control the pelvis and the massive entire torso mass on top of this small ball in a controlled fashion, while we are moving and changing position.
This is the game.

*This is why single leg lifts and rehab are so key in the success of a client. Remember, gait and running and most sports are for the majority of the time, spent in single leg loading.

Shawn Allen, the other #gaitguys

#gait, #thegaitguys, #gaitproblems, #gaitcompensations, #gaitanalysis, #hippain, #hipbiomechanics, #Singlelegloads, #unilateraldeadlifts, #stancephase,

photo, courtesy of

Gait help: How and where to carry a cane, and why.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 2.45.32 PM.png

Test Question from this photo:

This lady on the right is using her cane and purse correctly IF, she has a degenerative hip on the RIGHT or LEFT ?

Answer: LEFT hip

Why, because the cane in the right hand pressing down creates a ground reactive force back up through the cane, helping to tip her torso to the left, the passive cane-generated lean in effect reduces the left gluteus medius compressive load across a painful degenerative hip. Result, less painful gait.

But, she is also brilliant to use the purse in the left hand, to effectively PULL her torso over the left hip (again, limiting g.medius joint compressive forces through more passive means).
End result, less compressive pain loading across a degenerative joint.
*IF we were her daughter we would help by putting a 10 pound brick in the purse, just to help of course.

IF she however has a painful degenerative right hip, school her.

Slipped capital femoral epiphysis

Slipped captial femoral epiphysis and gait.

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 2.24.49 PM.png

Yesterday in the clinic a young teenager was brought into the office with a gait problem. Or so it seemed. The patient was walking with a "peg legged" locked knee gait on the right side. It was as if she was wearing a straight leg knee immobilizer. There was no knee bend during gait, she was not in much pain. A month prior, when the problem started, she recalls "straining" the right thigh during tennis. There was a sudden sharp jabbing pain in the mid thigh, and over the next 2 days , much thigh and lateral hip pain. Radiographs of the femur were unremarkable by another doctor. Physical therapy exercises by another facility have been fruitless.
On the exam table there was a terrible pelvis distortion pattern and the affected leg looked, no kidding, 1 inch longer on the table. The knee and quad during exam were splinted, she did not want the knee bent. or so I thought.
As the exam went on, it became clear that it was not the knee that did not want bent, it was hip flexion that she did not want, she was just unaware it was the hip, because the pain would only come on into the thigh during the exam.
I proceeded to gently press over the anterior femoral head, and she screamed.

This is a SCFE until proven otherwise. This was a 13 year old, with sudden onset of thigh pain after an abrupt load. I have seen this a few times in practice, and they have often presented in just this manner. Growth plates have to be high on the list in teenagers, especially when pain remains ongoing, and there are extraordinary joint splinting and compensations such as in her gait. She was clearly splinting through the quads, in an attempt to completely unload the gluteal generated hip joint compression. She could not activate or contract her quadriceps, at all ! She wanted no part of compression or load across this hip joint. The locked knee gait was her attempt to depend on more quad generated hip/limb stability during loading.

If you are training or treating teens, the growth plate always has to be on the differential diagnosis list.
* this is not her radiograph above, i am still waiting to hear from someone.

Gait Posture. 2017 Oct;58:358-362. doi: 10.1016/j.gaitpost.2017.08.026. Epub 2017 Aug 26.
Gait deviations in transverse plane after SCFE in dependence on the femoral offset. Hummel S1, Rosenthal D2, Zilkens C2, Hefter H2, Krauspe R2, Westhoff B2.

What ischial-femoral impingement might look like as aberrant shoe wear.

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 6.05.35 PM.png

Can a cross over occur on one side of the body ? Sure, this case is a perfect example. The heavy lateral shoe wear on the left is a huge clue. But remember, what you see is not the problem, it is the result of their problem(s).

. . . a talented marathoner came into our office complaining of a long standing deep posterior right hip pain and an equally longstanding left chronic lateral ankle and foot pain. The ankle had been treated regularly for chronic peroneal tendonitis with various manual therapy modalities and yet the right hip seemed to be left out of the equation in terms of treatment.

After taking a detailed history this runner unknowingly pretty much told us they had all the qualifications of ischial-femoral impingement (IFI). What they did not realize was that they had a cross over gait style that was a significant contributor to the clinical problem.

Here is a nice rewind case for your Friday read.



What ischial-femoral impingement might look like as aberrant shoe wear.

A few weeks ago we wrote an article on ischial-femoral impingement. For you to best understand today’s blog post you really should go back and review this interesting clinical phenomenon, here is the link to that piece.

Three weeks ago a talented marathoner came into our office complaining of a long standing deep posterior right hip pain and an equally longstanding left chronic lateral ankle and foot pain.  The ankle had been treated regularly for chronic peroneal tendonitis with various manual therapy modalities and yet the right hip seems to be left out of the equation in terms of treatment.

After taking a detailed history this runner unknowingly pretty much told us they had all the qualifications of ischial-femoral impingement (IFI).  What they did not realize was that they had a cross over gait style that was a significant contributor to the clinical problem.  

Lets now have a look at the shoe wear patterns above. On the left shoe, (a shoe we love, New Balance Fresh Foam (find your next pair at NewBalance Chicago)) we see that the entry zone or crash zone of rear foot impact is heavily worn, especially laterally. Heavy entry zone wear can be from several things, but one thing we always check for and assume until proven otherwise is a cross over gait. It can also just be from excessive rearfoot inversion at foot strike but when excessive there is usually a reason for it, especially when unilaterally as seen here. This foot is not stacking under the knee and hip, it is striking more midline to a plumb line dropped from the hip joint. This creates a steep medial angle of attack. The question is why ? Well, in the history the right hip pain began first and then the left ankle pain, so one should at least consider a compensatory timeline, that being the foot is a compensation in the gait cycle from the painful hip.

This client on examination tested pretty obviously for a right frontal plane drift, meaning when the right foot impacts there is not enough lateral line support to hold the hip/pelvis over the foot and so the pelvis drifts laterally to the right in this case. This can be fought by inverting the foot. This is a strategy to try and stop the lateral drift.  In this case, excessive wear is seen on the entire lateral side of the right shoe to represent this compensation. Changing this clients foot wear, shoe, orthotic is not fixing the problem, in fact it is impairing their ability to compensate and could create more problems, and even another deeper layer of compensation. Again, the inverted/supinated right foot moves the weightbearing line laterally, by moving the foot’s center of pressure from within the confines of the foot tripod towards the lateral border of the foot tripod, in attempt to restack the loading over the laterally drifted hip (hence the right lateral shoe wear pattern). Unfortunately this does not solve the reason for the lateral drifted pelvis. That solution has to come from improved stablization of the hip, pelvis and core and since they tested weak on the right side abdominals, gluteus medius, gluteus max and other  accessory lateral stabilizers,  work must be done there. Interestingly, this runner is stuck into a vicious cycle. The lateral drift to the right is allowing the left hemi-pelvis to dip and this is challenging rotational control of the stance limb and it is causing ischial-femoral impingement (suspecting of the quadratus femoris).  It was clear on examination that there was impairment of the quadratus femoris and obturator externus upon detailed testing and deep palpation was pin point tender over these structures.  Resistance to rotational challenges to the limb, especially iso and eccentric internal rotational challenges, were very poor when it came to coordination, endurance and certainly strength.

Remember, when you are spending time going sideways (right frontal plane drift), you are not spending time moving forwards. This could cause an early right departure and force and early left stance engagement.  But it goes deeper than that in this case.  Here, the right frontally drifting pelvis will pull the left swing leg across the midline with it, creating a left cross over gait.  This will make more sense if you watch our popular video here. Link

So, when this left swing leg is forced into the cross over gait variant, it will force a strong lateral heel strike, as evidenced on the left shoe wear. This is a compensation to what is going on in the right side body mechanics.

Can a cross over occur on one side of the body ? Sure, this case is a perfect example.

Can a cross over gait on the left in this case, cause a vicious cycle and in itself create an environment whereby a right ischio-femoral impingment occurs ?  Sure, neuronal plasticity can be a bitch, it can work in your favor, and against you.

This is not a tough case, if you have seen the beast before and you recognize all of its parameters. If you have not seen the beast before, this case is a nightmare with all these pieces (deep buttock pain, impingement, frontal drift, cross over, strange shoe wear pattern, opposite ankle peroneal pain etc).  Do you have to get this right every time with a bulls eye diagnosis and remedy? Heck no, we flounder every day with new things and variants of old. Sometimes the layers of compensations are so deep that it takes weeks before a recognizable layer presents itself. Patience on both the client and the doctor are necessary.  

So what we have here is a fairly classic shoe wear pattern of a right laterally drifting pelvis and a cross over left leg. In this case it was from a weak right core and pelvis drift creating an environment for the generation of a right ischial-femoral impingement syndrome, driving a left peroneal tendonopathy scenario from the ensuing left cross over gait.  

Remember, don’t fix your clients shoe wear pattern and certainly do not make shoe recommendations from what you see in their shoe wear pattern. Recommending a different shoe to fix this clients problem is a mistake. As is prescribing an orthotic, different foot bed, adding wedges and postings to the shoe or foot bed can also be  mistake. Define the source of the problem, before you go start tinkering around with the bottom of the kinetic chain. Want more ? Try taking our National Shoe fit program to get deeper into this kind of stuff.

We were lucky enough to get this runner’s problem spot on. After many failed attempts by others, this case was 50-75% resolved in one session with the right homework and a great understanding by the runner of their problem. They fully engaged themselves in the understanding of the problem and what they needed to be aware of in their walking and running gait. They were diligent with their homework and understood how it would help the presentation. They presented again to the clinic this week for a focused session to drive the problem further out of town and they are now on their way to the Boston Marathon with a smile and tools to fix the problem. There is a little more fine tuning to do here, but we can wait until they return from Boston.

Good luck in Boston everyone !

We hope this case helps you help someone else, that is the point after all.

Shawn and Ivo, the gait guys


Do you really understand a runner's hips ? Coaching out things you don't like to see doesn't make it a "fix".

"All the technique in the world doesn't compensate for the inability to notice"- Elliott Erwitt

Screen Shot 2018-04-06 at 8.25.49 AM.png

Excerpt: "So if your remedy for this runner is to just add a "loaded Farmer's carry" on the opposite side, your thinking is right if it is a strength issue in the contralateral hip. IF it is an endurance issue you need a lighter weight and more unilateral Farmer's carrying. If it is a weight management issue, you may be poking the bear. Maybe it is a multitude of issues. "

There are loads of folks taking 'this' seminar series, or 'that' one, striving for 'this' certification or 'that' one. This is trememdous, it keeps the professions moving. But, all the technique in the world doesn't mean a thing if one cannot see, feel, test, or most importantly comprehend and express a client's primary flaw(s) in mobility and stability. The right tools in unskilled hands are useless, and arguably present risks for clients.

We have said this many times, too many for certain, that what you see in your client is not their problem, it is their means of moving within their present abilities and dysfunctions for whatever reason (ie. lack of skill, endurance, strength, power etc). We have also said that a mere exercise, test or screen doesn't take one to the end zone either, they are also a mere piece of the bigger puzzle. An exercise or test also may only tell you what they are capable (or incapable of), but not why their pain or challenges exist. Thus, taking a failed test, and making it your client's new exercise does not necessarily create an environment for a remedy, it can in fact create one of a more durable compensation. And that is ok, if that is what you are searching for, if that is the emergency bandaid you need before the marathon in 3 weeks, but if you are swinging for the remedy, you may have to trudge the extra yard.

Last week we taught about some basic hip principles during our online class. Take this runner photo for example, below is a basic principle you must glean from the photo. It is a principle based off of remedial joint biomechanics, as incomplete as it is, the thought process should be one you consider and certainly comprehend. In this photo, this runner appears to have insufficient stance phase hip abductor (HAM) strength or endurance. This is in part notable because of the adduction of the contralateral thigh (this is a faulty swing leg pendulum mechanical event, and will undoubtedly lead to a cross over gait and a plethora of other gait problems).

Here is one question that should always come to mind:
Are the stance phase hip abductors strong enough, or have enough endurance, to offset the body mass ? (see the line diagrams). Look at the diagram formula, and let us discuss.
If the pelvis is to remain level (mostly), the D1 and D2 lever arms do not change, the D1 lever arm is always shorter and thus the HAM (Hip abductor muscle strength) will always have to be a large number to offset the BQ (body weight). If BW gets too large, there will be no HAM large enough to offset BW and the pelvis will dip, as in this runner's photo. So, it can be a weight issue, a HAM strength issue, a HAM endurance issue or both. Someone is going to win, and someone is going to pay if the system is not balances and durable. We see this in the failed frontal plane running mechanics all the time in our offices, this is a plague in runners. It is a major source of the spine, pelvis, hip knee and foot issues we see in runners. To fix these clients, you have to understand their mechanics. The latest rehab toy that you bought at after a jazzy seminar pitch doesn't replace the requisite knowledge one needs to have to understand a clients problem. Screens won't get you all the way, tests and pattern assessments won't get you all the way either. You have to do your learning part, the knowledge must precede your interventions.

So if your remedy for this runner is to just add a "loaded Farmer's carry" on the opposite side, your thinking is right if it is a strength issue in the contralateral hip. IF it is an endurance issue you need a lighter weight and more unilateral Farmer's carrying. If it is a weight management issue, you may be poking the bear. Maybe it is a multitude of issues. But, if it is a mobility issue, adding your Farmer's carry doesn't guarantee you will get the client to the promised land, and if it is a stability issue, perhaps you get close.
* This article does not chase down deeper evaluation concepts such as narrow step width, femoral torsions, tibial torsions, swing phase gait mechanic failures, sagittal plane (A-P pelvis control) or rotational plane challenges to the system (failure to control limb rotation at the hip or at the foot) just to name a few. This article ONLY looked at the frontal plane concept, so hopefully one is gleaning how complex these biomechanics are. Hopefully one is gleaning at this point that this is not a spot corrective exercise prescription game, "here is the visually disturbing pattern, here is the exercise to eclipse that pattern". There does need to be some brain engagement in the process to do this right, and this means education and hands on clinical examination.

The Farmer's carry is a beautiful exercise when placed correctly in a client's regimen. There are many who say we take this game too completely, too precisely, too far, that we make this too complex and if one listens to us that one might develop stage fright to execute any intervention. Well, sorry, but we stand our ground. This is not an easy game. Too many people come to see us after intermediate regimens of training and lifting develop problems, problems that were not present at the initiation of their attempts to better they body. If one is being honest with themselves, they should ask themselves, could this have been prevented? Was the work prescribed part of the eventual deliverance? Injuries occur when loads exceed durability, skill, endurance, strength, power etc. One could make the case that if the prescriptions are correct, if the progressions are correct, that injury should be a rare thing. But injuries are not uncommon and those of us who are prescribing corrective exercises and workout regimens have to take self accountability if we are being honest with ourselves.
Don't get us wrong, we are just as much a pupil on this bus as anyone else, we make mistakes all the time. But everyday we force ourselves to pause, consider, double check, reassess, to make sure that the developing patterns are sound, strong, durable and progressive, and ready for more. And when we get it wrong, we reexamine, and try again. It is all one can do.

Stir about your own clinical world with a jaundiced, questioning eye, and you should do just fine. And if you cannot get it right, get it close, prescribe something safe and watch and test for clues of developing problems in the near future. This we all call . . . . learning/ practice.

"All the technique in the world doesn't compensate for the inability to notice"- Elliott Erwitt

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

Is this a gluteus medius foot targeting problem in swing phase or is this a loss of internal hip rotation? Or . . . .

Is this a gluteus medius foot targeting problem in swing phase or is this a loss of internal hip rotation? Or . . . .

You have to examine your client to know what to treat, a gait analysis or a series of screens is not enough. The saying "an exercise is a test and a test is an exercise" has some sharp edges around it. A screen doesn't tell you what exercise a client necessarily needs or should be prescribed.
This stuff really does matter.
What you see is not the problem , it is their compensatory strategy in coping with a problem. When someone has a pebble in their shoe and they walk on the outside edge of their shoe to avoid the pebble the solution is not to tell them to stop walking on the outside of the shoe, the solution is the de-pebble the shoe. Corrective exercises can be a similar path to this pebble analogy. One must look deeper and beyond what we see in our clients, we merely see how they have adapted, not the problem. A Trendelenburg leaning gait is not met with a solution to prescribe a corrective exercise to correct the lean, the solution is to see why the client is reducing the compressive loading across the hip. Stop giving corrective exercises if you are not examining your client. Yes, that means you need to have hands on diagnostic skills. Sorry.

Loading the wrong pattern drives a compensation, and maybe another problem or a compensation to the compensation deeper.

Loading the pattern that is corrective, the one that solves the deficit leading to the gait you see should be your target. Corrective exercises are supposed to be corrective to the problem, not to the gait aberation you see. Without the exam to solidify proper path, corrective exercises often are directed at the things we see, not the aberation that drove what we see. Be part of your clients solution.
If you aren't examining your client, you don't know for certain what you are actually doing.

This is me, Dr. Allen, i am walking in a matter to prove my point.
Do i have a loss of right internal hip rotation (thus the externally rotated limb?). Do i have a swing leg gluteus medius weakness that is allowing me to adduct the limb rendering a mere foot targeting problem? Do i have weak peronei ? A weak glute max ? A right frontal plane drift that i am avoiding by turning my leg out so i can use my quads to help the deficient glutes better block the frontal plane drift ? I could go on an on as to possible causes.
Or do i merely have a pebble in my shoe?
Mic drop.

To give a corrective exercise you have to know what is wrong. That means you have to have the knowledge and the hands on skills to diagnose the "why". So you can prescribe the correct "how".

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

Where the knee hinges matters.

It is easy to see the big things, but, we sometimes forget that the small things matter.
Sometimes it take an obvious glaring asymmetry to make us appreciate that the small asymmetries can make the same or similar impact over a long period of time. Rivers can carve out canyons over time.

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Here we see the gross difference that polio can make in leg size and in leg length. We must remember that changing a leg length also changes the symmetrical relationship of where the 2 knees hinge. A foot that pronates more than the other leg can lower the knee hinge point just a little because the talus drops further from its vertical height. We know very well that it for certain alters the hinge direction, posturing it more medially, but we cannot forget that a cranky knee on a side where the foot is flatter or pronates more excessively than the other is not to be ignored.
In this photo, we have dotted the knee at the same point on the patella. It is clear the knees will not hinge at the same time, thus stride and step lengths will change, and step width will be impacted. The pelvis will also spin more to one side on a pelvis that is lower on one side. This will impact lumbar spine sagittal happiness and stability/mobility. Hip and pelvis drift are real things in this case, and need your attention. *Just like a client that has a painful foot, a more pronated foot, more tibial torsion on one side etc. these things matter, and they often matter years down the road when many thousands of miles have been clocked into the subtle asymmetry. Sometimes these little things matter in our athletes too, who put the pedal to the floor asking the body for more.

Come hear our lecture tonight on You have to sign up early to get in. We won't disappoint. See you then. 7pm central time.

Sagittal gait change in arthritic hips.

Asymmetries are the norm, whether they are anatomic or functional. This however does not mean that there may, or may not, be present or future consequences to the asymmetries.  It can take time for compensations to develop to accommodate these compensations, and it may take even further time for the body to present (and perhaps not present) consequences to the compensations.

In this study, progressing osteoarthritis in the hip began to eat away as some functional parameters that might otherwise have allowed for more symmetrical step and strike lengths, and one must not forget step width has to be in this discussion as well. 

"The patients walked significantly slower than the controls (p=0.002), revealed significantly reduced joint excursions of the hip (p<0.001) and knee (p=0.011), and a reduced hip flexion moment at midstance and peak hip extension (p<0.001). Differences were primarily manifested during the latter 50% of stance, and were persistent when controlling for velocity." - Eitzen et al.

Thus, to walk a straight line, some adaptive compensations will have to occur in the body to enable a linear progression. This might mean altering hip extension patterns, altering hip rotation relationships within the affected hip and thus of the contralateral hip (which might lead to pelvis distortion patterning), pelvis drift in the frontal plane, pelvis drift in the sagittal plane (APT, PPT), asymmetries in spinal rotation and thus arm swing, to name a few just regionally at the hip-pelvis-spine interval. Adaptations must be made. The question is, does your gait assessment afford you the insight to be addressing the problem, or merely their visible compensation, that is the hard part.  And remember what we always say, you gait analysis is only going to show you what your client is doing, not why they are doing it. Thus, fixing what you see is likely not fixing
"the why".

"Reduced gait velocity, reduced sagittal plane joint excursion, and a reduced hip flexion moment in the late stance phase of gait were found to be evident already in hip osteoarthritis patients with mild to moderate symptoms, not eligible for total hip replacement. " - Eitzen et al.

* Differences were primarily manifested during the latter 50% of stance, and were persistent when controlling for velocity.

BMC Musculoskelet Disord. 2012 Dec 20;13:258. doi: 10.1186/1471-2474-13-258.
Sagittal plane gait characteristics in hip osteoarthritis patients with mild to moderate symptoms compared to healthy controls: a cross-sectional study.
Eitzen I1, Fernandes L, Nordsletten L, Risberg MA.

Internal hip rotation and low back pain.

Internal hip rotation and low back pain.

No brain surgery here if you have been on our station for the last several years. We pound home the critical importance of internal hip rotation all the time, here and in our clinic.
When the foot is on the ground, loading, the opposite leg is in swing. Part of this swing phase requires the hemipelvis on that swing side to also advance forward as well. This means that the stance phase leg will see the pelvis rotating atop of the static femoral head, this rotation is internal hip rotation. If one does not have sufficient internal hip rotation then the heel will be lifted prematurely, the foot might undergo an adductory twist (the heel moves medially into adduction which can look like the foot spinning "relatively" outward into external rotation) to name just a few (of many possible) pattern consequences. The loads can also move up into the lumbar spine, because, if the rotation is not there in the hip, or not buffered there, it either moves down into the limb or up into the pelvis and spine, or both. There are many strategies and patterns of loading responses available to the framework, it is your job to find them, source out the problem, and remedy. One must look for and understand the importance of sufficient internal hip rotation in your client, and the ramifications when it is not sufficiently present.
This study brings this principle to mind.

Gluteal tendonopathy and the frontal plane pelvis posturing.

See that foot turned out into the frontal plane ? Ya, all the time. Finding the cause is where the meat is though.

"Individuals with gluteal tendinopathy use different frontal plane kinematics of the hip and pelvis during single leg stance than pain-free controls. This finding is not influenced by pelvic dimension or the potentially modifiable factor of body mass index, but is by hip abductor muscle weakness."

Wiping out the pinky (5th) toe from the evolutionary tree. What the 5th toe does for your COM (center of mass)

Just the other day we saw this article in Popular Science written by Sally Zhang. Sally obviously does not read our blog, but she got a lot of stuff right.

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“If you’re born without a pinky toe or have an accident and it’s removed, you can completely do everything you wanted to do,” Dr. Anne Holly Johnson, instructor in orthopaedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, says.

Above you will see a photo of one of the gait guy’s feet. It is quite clear from the photo that competent use of the pinky toe is not necessary for adequate, and possibly exceptionally skilled, foot function. But . . . .

Archived blog link:

Do I Really Need My Pinky Toe?

Just the other day we saw this article in Popular Science written by Sally Zhang.  Sally obviously does not read our blog, but she got a lot of stuff right.

“If you’re born without a pinky toe or have an accident and it’s removed, you can completely do everything you wanted to do,” Dr. Anne Holly Johnson, instructor in orthopaedic surgery at Harvard Medical School, says.

Above you will see a photo of one of the gait guy’s feet.  It is quite clear from the photo that competent use of the pinky toe is not necessary for adequate, and possibly exceptionally skilled, foot function.  Here, check out this video of our foot in these 2 videos (here and here) for some advanced foot function (sans pinky toe). As you can see in the photo above, this 5th toe has likely never felt the ground, this is a fixed deformity.  Flexor and extensor function of the toe are intact, but it does not reach the ground and so assistance in gaining adequate purchase of the 5th metatarsal on the ground is absent. 

This brings us to a deeper question, what about the 5th metatarsal then? Is it necessary ?  Our answer even without deeper research is a solid “yes”. The foot tripod is severely compromised without the 5th metatarsal. The lateral stability of the foot is impaired without the 5th MET.  The natural locking of the calcaneocuboid joint mechanism will be impaired, the peroneal muscles that provide such critical lateral ankle and foot stability will have fascial planes and tendon attachments disengaged, the natural walking gait lateral to medial foot progression would be impaired, propulsion would be impaired and the list goes on and on. And, not even on the local foot/ankle level. Because, if you take out the function and stability of the lateral foot the hip is very likely to suffer lateral (frontal plane) stability deficits. Meaning, the gluteus medius and abdominal obliques will have more difficulty guarding frontal plane drift when in stance phase rendering all of the “cross over gait” risks (link) highly probable.  

So, not much exciting stuff here today. The presence of a functioning pinky toe does not appear to be critical but don’t take away its big brother neighbor, the 5th Metatarsal or trouble is just around the corner. Don’t believe us? Just ask anyone with a non-union fracture (Jones fracture) of the 5th metatarsal.

The answer goes back to the evolutionary history of humans, explains Dr. Anish Kadakia, assistant professor in orthopaedic surgery at Northwestern University. "Primates use their feet to grab, claw, to climb trees, but humans, we don’t need that function anymore,“ Kadakia says. "Clearly we’re not jumping up and down trees and using our feet to grab. We have toes embryologically, evolutionary for that particular reason because we descended from apes, but we don’t need them as people.”

The gait guys, working with 4 toes on each foot, one step ahead of evolution it seems.

Dr. Shawn Allen

one of the gait guys


Treatment of internal rotation gait due to gluteus medius and minimus overactivity

Having enough stable internal hip rotation is just as important as having enough external rotation. Lack of sufficient internal rotation is a real problem during gait and in athletes. This deficit can wreak havoc on the entire kinetic chain. What doesn't occur or what doesn't get buffered in the hips plays out in the knee or in the pelvis.
Don't forget that there are many important internal hip rotators that need your clinical eye on assessment: the vastus lateralis, anterior bundle of the g.medius and g.minimus, TFL to name a few. If you have difficulties visualizing how these muscles drive internal rotation you are not looking at the model from the foot fixated on the ground, you are still seeing things from an open kinetic chain perspective. Just remember, it is even more complicated than that, we are constantly moving through cycles of stability and mobility, with all muscles crossing a joint providing cylindrical give and take (concentric-iso-eccentrical) mobility while at the same time providing adequate stability control through safe joint centration. It is a symphony of events.

Here today, these thoughts were triggered when we came across an old (1998) article on components driving internal rotation in cerebral palsy. In this case, driving too much rotation.

Treatment of internal rotation gait due to gluteus medius and minimus overactivity in cerebral palsy: anatomical rationale of a new surgical procedure and preliminary results in twelve hips.

Joseph B. Clin Anat. 1998. Treatment of internal rotation gait due to gluteus medius and minimus over-activity in cerebral palsy: anatomical rationale of a new surgical procedure and preliminary results in twelve hips.

Labral tears and altered motion during loading.

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"One might argue, that we sit the majority of our days with our femur and thus our femoral head pressed forward into the anterior and roof of the acetabulum. This becomes particularly suspect when in a conforming chair, such as a "bucket" seat in a car." -Shawn Allen

This article follows nicely with yesterday's post about hip joint control and anterior hip pain.

The premise behind this study referenced below was to determine if contact forces and electromyography (EMG) muscle amplitudes were altered during lunging activities in clients with painful labral tears compared to hose who are symptom free.
The unsurprising conclusions of this study ("contact forces and EMG muscle amplitudes are altered during the lunge for patients with symptomatic labral tears") are mostly predictable. But one should, we would hope, propose the chicken or the egg theory here.  Are these clients having pain because they are loading into the labral tear, or is the pain from poor joint stabilitation (and thus possible impaired normal mobility and motion) which incidentally lead to the labral loading and thus tear ?  We propose this one all the time. Why? Because we get a decent population of clients with typical "suspect" anterior hip labral pain and after rehabbing them, the pain resolves. So in these cases, was it a labral tear? Labral irritation? Or just a faulty loading response?
*However, we also get enough clients who present with an MRI in hand that confirms a labral tear, and we take them through the same process, and many of them also stabilize and have pain resolved. This then proposes the end question from them "So, was my pain from the labral tear at all? Or was it because had a poor stabilization capability, which lead to the tear/irritation?" 
And that folks, is the big question that has to be asked in all cases, and that is the unanswerable question.  But, should the process change regardless? If your client is going to head into surgery for the tear, should they not be fully rehabbed in the first place? And if the rehab works, is surgery even necessary ?  In the successful cases, we just stare openly at the client and smile, we let them answer the question. After all, they know the answer anyways.

Make no mistake. not everyone responds to our, or your, care. And, not every labral tear is incidental. Not every labral tear is undamaging to the femoral head and to the longer term health of the joint.  But, taking a few weeks and dedicating some good work into your client's skill, endurance, strength, power and loading responses often either give your client answers or prepare them for a great outcome post-operatively. 

In a nut shell, these can be tricky challenging cases. People sit and use the glutes as a cushion all day. We sit the majority of our days with our femur and thus our femoral head pressed forward into the anterior and roof of the acetabulum (depending on our sitting posture and chair choice).  They load similarly in their cars in challenged ways. They do not move well or often enough. They have weak glutes and abdominals and their ability to control the pelvis in safe loading is poor.  So many patients, and non-patients are on this bus, in fact, the majority of us are on it as well.  It feels like we are seeing more and more of these anterior hip problems, and we are not surprised as the average human moves less, is getting weaker and less durable and robust physically, and they sit more, and drive more.  This anterior hip pain clinical entity should really be no surprise to anyone anymore.
To be thorough, this study did "surface electromyography electrodes were placed over the gluteus medius, gluteus maximus, adductor longus, and rectus femoris muscles of the patients' involved limb and matched limb of asymptomatic controls."  This makes this an incomplete study with incomplete conclusions. As we said yesterday, without information on the mighty psoas and iliacus to name a few other big players, this study is somewhat suspect, but overall, we do not thing the results would come out too terribly different.

-Shawn and Ivo, the gait guys

Do Neuromuscular Alterations Exist for Patients With Acetabular Labral Tears During Function?
Arthroscopy. 2016 Jun;32(6):1045-52. doi: 10.1016/j.arthro.2016.03.016. Epub 2016 Apr 27.  Dwyer MK1, Lewis CL2, Hanmer AW3, McCarthy JC4.

A return to "the Kickstand Effect". So your foot is turned out, externally rotated ?

Amputee War Veteran Sergeant Christopher Melendez Became a Pro Wrestler Read more at

Amputee War Veteran Sergeant Christopher Melendez Became a Pro Wrestler

Why is my foot turned out ?  A 3rd return to the solitary externally rotated foot.

Below you will find our 2 prior articles on this topic, but this is a relatable concept to other thing which we have embedded in many of our blog posts and podcasts over the last decade of sharing what we know.

In the photo above the brave Army Veteran Sergeant Melendez one can see the concept brilliantly as he only has one limb.  One can see the concept in full play, he must balance his body mass over one point, not two like the rest of us lucky folk.  In trying to balance over one point, if the foot is straight forward (if one is blessed with close to neutral torsional bone alignment) one will have good stability in the sagittal plane (forward /back) but will be at risk to fall, drift or sway into the frontal plane. Here Sergeant Melendez displays the foot and limb turn out into the frontal plane so that he can use the quadriceps to help him protect into that frontal plane, plus, by situating his base posture in more of an externally rotated position (likely losing internal rotation capability over time, unless forcibly maintained through specific exercises) he can more fully and skillfully engage all 3 divisions of the gluteus maximus and medius, and perhaps hamstrings and adductors and who knows what else, to maintain a more stable and likely less fatiguable posture. Go ahead, try it for yourself, this is easier to balance and maintain that a straight sagittal foot posturing. The one trouble he might have, is not deviating too much, or too often, into a frontal plane drift hip-pelvis posture. This will put much aberrant compressive load onto the roof of the femoral head-acetabular interval, where most of us begin a degenerative hip arthritis journey, unfortunately. 

Side note:   So you might think your client has FAI ?  Maybe start here, our thinking might lead you done a helpful path to get started. Search our blog for FAI as well.

here are the 2 prior articles on the topic, with video.  Watch for this one, it is everywhere out in the world, walking amongst us.  
Thank you for your service Sergeant Melendez.  Here is the article written by K. Thor Jensen, on Crave Online.

Shawn & Ivo, The Gait Guys

The extra-articular hip impingements

There continues to be a plethora of research and dialogue on the femoral acetabular impingements (FAI), the intra-articular impingements.  But we must not forget about the extra-articular impingements about the hip. A common one we see is the Ischiofemoral variety whereby the quadratus femoris muscle gets pinched between the ischial tuberosity and the femur.  We wrote about it, see the link below.  This one gets mistake for proximal hamstring tendonopathies by some we suspect. We suspect, however this is pure speculation, that the two most common are #1 and #3.

This article outlines some of the common extra-articular impingement syndromes:

 1) Ischiofemoral impingement: as we discuss in our article

 "2) Subspine impingement: mechanical conflict occurs between an enlarged or malorientated anterior inferior iliac spine and the distal anterior femoral neck.

3) Iliopsoas impingement: mechanical conflict occurs between the iliopsoas muscle and the labrum, resulting in distinct anterior labral pathology.

4) Deep gluteal syndrome: pain occurs in the buttock due to the entrapment of the sciatic nerve in the deep gluteal space.

5) Pectineofoveal impingement: pain occurs when the medial synovial fold impinges against overlying soft tissue, primarily the zona orbicularis. "

Ischiofemoral Impingement

Current concepts in the diagnosis and management of extra-articular hip impingement syndromes.  Nakano N1, Yip G1, Khanduja V2.
Int Orthop. 2017 Jul;41(7):1321-1328. doi: 10.1007/s00264-017-3431-4. Epub 2017 Apr 11.