The Short Foot Exercise

Here it is, in all its glory...Our version of the short foot exercise. Love it or hate it, say it “doesn’t translate”, we find it a useful training tool for both the patient/client as well as the clinician. It awakens and creates awareness of the sometimes dormant muscles in the user and offers a window to monitor progression for them, as well as the observer.

Remember that the foot intrinsics are supposed to be active from midstance through terminal stance/pre swing. Having the person “walk with their toes up” to avoid overusing the long flexors is a cue that works well for us. This can be a useful adjunct to your other exercises on the road to better foot intrinsic function.


Dr Ivo Waerlop, one of The Gait Guys

Sulowska I, Mika A, Oleksy Ł, Stolarczyk A. The Influence of Plantar Short Foot Muscle Exercises on the Lower Extremity Muscle Strength and Power in Proximal Segments of the Kinematic Chain in Long-Distance Runners Biomed Res Int. 2019 Jan 2;2019:6947273. doi: 10.1155/2019/6947273. eCollection 2019

Okamura K, Kanai S, Hasegawa M, Otsuka A, Oki S. Effect of electromyographic biofeedback on learning the short foot exercise. J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2019 Jan 4. doi: 10.3233/BMR-181155. [Epub ahead of print]

McKeon PO, Hertel J, Bramble D, et al. the foot core system: a new paradigm for understanding intrinsic foot muscle function Br J Sports Med March 2014 doi:10.1136/bjsports-2013- 092690

Dugan S, Bhat K: Biomechanics and Analysis of Running Gait Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am 16 (2005) 603–621

Bahram J: Evaluation and Retraining of the Intrinsic Foot Muscles for Pain Syndromes Related to Abnormal Control of Pronation http://www.aptei.ca/wp-content/uploads/Intrinsic-Muscles-of-the-Foot-Retraining-Jan-29-05.pdf


#shortfootexercise #footexercises #footrehab #thegaitguys #gaitanalysis #gaitrehab #toesupwalking



https://vimeo.com/342800960

Got Short leg?

Ahhhh. They get it!

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Our favorite quote from this article " Understanding limb-length compensation
We encourage you to pay as much attention to any abnormal compensation pattern as you do to the LLD itself. It is well documented that abnormal biomechanics, such as you would find in a compensatory pattern, can result in vibratory forces and microtrauma along the closed kinetic chain (Figure 1). The spinal facet; hip, knee, ankle and foot joints; and their associated muscles may suffer repetitive microtrauma resulting in sprain, strain, or degenerative joint disease. By addressing compensatory neuro-musculoskeletal function, you may be able to assist the patient with a cascade of dysfunction through the musculoskeletal system.

We also encourage you to make use of gait assessment technology to quantify, document, and monitor patients’ progress. Application of reproducible, documented metrics is essential to communicate effectively within a multidisciplinary system that is committed to practicing evidence-based medicine."

http://lermagazine.com/cover_story/assessing-limb-length-discrepenacy

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Holy Leg Length discrepancy!

These pix come to us from one of our brethren, Dr Scott Tesoro in Carbondale of a 73 yr old golfer with mild LBP and a  L knee replacement three yrs ago. He has a VERY short R leg (close to an inch).

What you are seeing is he ultimate compensation for a short leg. Note how he takes the shorter side and supinates it (to the max!). You can see the external rotation of the lower leg and thigh to go along with it. If you look carefully and extrapolate how his left leg would look “neutral”, you can see he has internal tibial torsion on this (right) side as well. He has some increased midfoot pronation on the right compared to the left, but not an excessive amount.

A full length sole lift would probably be in order, as well as potentially addressing some of his compensations. Wow, what a great set of pictures !

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Hmmm..What’s going on here? Can you see it?

Welcome to Monday, Folks, and News You Can Use! Sometimes, it’s the subtle things that make all the difference.

Take a look at this patients right leg versus left legs (knees in particular). What do you see?  Can you notice the subtle bend in the right knee?  Can you see how she hyperextends the left? Can you see that she has an anatomical deficiency (Tibial) of the left tibia? This is a common finding if you look for it.

 Noticing subtle changes like these in your examination can make all the difference in your outcomes. This particular patient happens to have right-sided knee pain. On examination (difficult to see from the photos) she has increased amounts of mid foot pronation.  She presented with right sided back pain running from the supra iliac region up along the right lumbar paraspinal’s. You can manipulate this patient forever and her problem is not going to improve until you address the cause.

 Develop keen sense of observation. Become a “student of the obvious”.  Keep your eyes and ears open. Expand your clinical skill set.  Sometimes, when all we have is a hammer, everything starts to look like a nail. 

Can you believe they missed this? Sometimes you just need to look. This gal has knee pain on the R a “funny gait” and right sided low back pain in the sacro iliac joint fr the last 3 years. She felt like she needed to keep her right leg bent and her left straight all the time. She was unable to hike or walk distances longer than 1 mile or time longer than 30 minutes without slowing down and having pain. She has had reconstructive surgery on the right knee for an ACL/MCL, physical therapy, medication, counseling and even stroke rehabilitation/gait retraining. On exam she has a marked genu varus bilaterally. Knee stability is good anterior/posterior drawer; valgus/varus stress. One leg standing with both eyes open is less than 15 seconds, eyes closed is negligible. She has an anatomically short L leg; at least 2 cm which is both tibial and femoral. She was unaware of this and noone had adressed it in any way. She was given a 10mm sole length lift for the L leg and propriosensory exercises. She was encouraged to walk with a heel to toe gait. She felt 50% better immediately and another 20% after 2 weeks of doing the exercises. She had gone on several 5 mile hikes for over 2 hours with minimal discomfort. Nothing earth shaking here. Just an exam which covered the basics and some common sense treatment. Too bad they are not all that easy, eh? The takeaway? Look and listen. The problem was on the side opposite her complaint, as it can be many times. Look at the area of chief complaint 1st, but then look everywhere else : ).

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Simple Foot Exercises are effective!

Conclusion “These results suggest that the toe spread out (TSO) exercise can be recommended for preventing or correcting HV deformity at an early stage.”

We know and teach that foot exercises work. Here is a nice objective paper (click underlined for abstract) on two exercises we prescribe often.

Here is our variation of the TSO exercise we call the “Lift, Spread and Reach” exercise

Stand comfortably with your feet about shoulder width apart

Stand on your foot tripod with your toes extended. Concentrate on feeling pressure at the center of the calcaneus, the head of the 1st metatarsal and the head of the 5th metatarsal

Lift your toes as high as possible

Spread out (abduct) your toes as much as possible

Reach forward with your toes as far as possible

Place your toes back don on the ground as flat as possible.

repeat 10 X

You can augment the exercise with a rubber band around the toes to provide resistance after you can perform the exercise competently.

Happy exercising!

Ivo and Shawn



Kim MH1, Kwon OY, Kim SH, Jung DY.: Comparison of muscle activities of abductor hallucis and adductor hallucis between the short foot and toe-spread-out exercises in subjects with mild hallux valgus

J Back Musculoskelet Rehabil. 2013;26(2):163-8. doi: 10.3233/BMR-2012-00363.