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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Right arch pain, can you see a possible reason in this video?

Do you see a possible reason for right foot pain? There is something not kosher to be seen. It doesnt mean it is valid, or the cause, or that it is primary or secondary, but it should be something that cues up a clinical exam focus to rule in/rule out.
Answer below (don;'t read further, test yourself)
the right hallux does not fully extend. And we know that hallux dorisflexion at the 1st MTP joint engages the windlass, and helps to plantarflex the 1st MET and raise the arch and prepare the foot for loading and for forefoot transition. If the hallux doesn't extend sufficiently (like in a hallux rigidus, painful turf toe etc) then we can have some loading issues. Just something to think about. In this case, it was the cause and answer. But might not always be such.

You need toe extension, more than you might think.

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There is a major difference in these 2 photos.One foot is ready for foot loading, the other has one foot over the starting line, and is going to possibly have the risks related to inappropriate loading.

In clients with one of several possible issues related to poor control of the arch during weight bearing loading, it is not all too uncommon for us to bring to their attention that not only do they NOT utilize toe extension appropriately, and at the right time, they just simply have poor strength and endurance of the toe extensors (we will not be bringing up the complicated orchestration of the long and short toe extensors today, lets just keep it loosely as looking at them as a whole for today).

We know we say it an awful lot, that clients need more toe extension endurance and strength. But more often than not, they need more awareness of how little they are actually using their toe extensors during foot loading. This is why we despise flip flops and foot wear without a back strap on them, the flexors have to dominate to keep the footwear on the foot.  And, if you are into your toe flexors, you are definitely not into your toe extensors.

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You can easily see in this photo that there is a major difference in the integrity and preparation of the foot arch prior to foot loading in these 2 sample photos. One the toes are up in extension, the other the toes are lazy and neutral.  The toe up photo demonstrates well that when the toes are extended, the Windlass mechanism draws the forefoot and rearfoot together and raises the arch. Go ahead, lift your toes, it will happen on you as well (unless your arch is so collapsed that the first metatarsal actually dorsiflexes during toe extension, in this case, you are a whole different management tier). From this arch raised position, the first metatarsal is adequately plantarflexed, this means the joint complexes proximal and distal to the metatarsals are all in the right position to load and cope with loads. In the toe neutral picture, these components are not prepared, the arch is already getting ready to weight bear load from a half-baked position. One cannot expect the foot complex to load well when it is starting from a position of "half way there". One should start the loading of the foot from the starting line, not 3 steps over the line and not 3 steps before the starting line.  There is no athletic or mechanical endeavor that does well when we start the challenge too soon or too late, timing is everything.

How you choose to prep your foot for contact loading, and yes, there is some conscious choice  here, one is lazy the other is optimal, can determine to a large degree if you or your client is about to fall into the long list of problems related to poorly controlled pronation (too much, too soon, too often, too fast). Any of those bracketed problems lead to improper loading and strains during time under tension.

We will almost always start our clients on our progressing protocol of arch awareness and we will loosely say arch restoration, and attempts at better optimizing the anatomy they have, with toe up awareness.  Many clients will have poor awareness of this component issue, on top of poor endurance and frank weakness. The arch is to a great degree build from a lifting mechanical windlass effect, from the extensors and foot dorslflexors, not from the foot flexors. This is one of our primary beefs with the short foot exercise of Janda, there needs to be a toe extensor component in that exercise (search our blog for why the short foot exercise is dead). The short foot exercise is not actually dead, all exercises have some value when placed and performed properly, but the short foot exercise is based off of the toes being down and utilizing the plantar intrinsics to push the arch up and shorten the foot, this is a retrograde motion and it is not how we load the foot, but, it does have value if you understand this and place it into your clients repertoire appropriately.  This is also why we have some conceptual problems in stuffing an orthotic under someones arch to "lift it up", ie. slow its fall/pronation.  There are times for this, but why not rebuild the proper pathways, patterns and mechanics ?

Teach your clients about toe extension awareness. TEach them that they need to relearn the skill that when the toes drop down to the ground that the arch does NOT have to follow them down, that the client can relearn, "toe up, arch up . . . . . then toes down, but keep the arch up".  IT is a mantra in our office, "don't let your arch play follow the leader".  Reteach the proper neurologic disassociation between the toes and arch.

Perhaps the first place you should be starting your clients with foot and ankle issues, is regaining awareness of proper toe extension from the moment of toe off, maintaining it through swing, and then keeping it until the forefoot has purchase on the ground again, and not any time sooner than that ! If their toes are coming down prior to foot contact, it is quite likely their arch is following the leader.

So, if your client comes in with any of the following, to name just a few:  tibialis posterior tendonitis, plantar fascitis, heel pain, forefoot pain, painful bunions, arch pain, hallux limitus, turf toe, . . . . and the list goes on. Perhaps this will help you get your client to the starting line.

Shawn & Ivo, thegaitguys.com


The Great toe’s effect on external hip rotation.

We have a simple video for you today. 

When we assess our clients for gait and locomotion we do a quick screen of all the big player joints, from the toes at least up into the thoracic spine to start. Loss of mobility/range of motion means probable functional impairment. 

In this video we display the effects of the Windlass Mechanism of the great toe. A windlass mechanism according to Wikipedia is:

a type of winch used especially on ships to hoist anchors and haul on mooring lines and, especially formerly, to lower buckets into and hoist them up from wells.

In this case, dorsiflexing the big toe spools the plantarfascia and flexor hallucis longus and brevis around the metatarsophalangeal joint (1st. MTPJ), thus pulling the heel towards the forefoot thus raising the arch. When the arch raises, the talus moves cephalad (upwards) and because of the supinatory movement orientation, it spins the tibial externally which in turn spins the femur externally. This is what you see in this video, note the blue dots being carried laterally with the limb external rotation.

The point here today, if you have loss of external hip rotation, it could be crying for you to evaluate the range of motion of the 1st MTP joint , it could be crying for you to evaluate the skill of toe extension, strength or endurance or all of the above. Impairment of the 1st MTP has great inroads into ineffective locomotion. You must have decent range of motion to effectively supinate, to effectively toe off, to externally rotate the limb, to effectively acquire hip extension to maximize gluteal use.  Thus, one could easily say that impaired hallux/great toe extension (skill, ability, endurance, strength) can impair hip extension (and clean hip extension patterning) and result in possible terminal propulsive gait extension occurring through the lumbar spine instead of through the hip joint proper.

Think of the effects of two asymmetrical great toe extensions, comparing the great toe left to right. Asymmetry in the limbs, pelvis, hip extension and perhaps worse, the lumbar spine, is a virtual guarantee.  Compare hallux extension side to side, if you can achieve symmetry through skill, endurance and strength retraining, you must do it. If you have a hallux limitus, a bunion or anything that impairs the symmetry of great toe extension side to side, you have some interesting work to do. 

You have to know what you have in your client, and know what it means to their locomotion.  Seeing or recognizing what you have must translate into understanding and action. 

Play mental games with clinical entities.  In this case, if at terminal toe off you did not have full hallux extension like in this client, and thus you did not get that last little final external rotation spin in the limb at the hip … . . what could that do to your gait ? Go tape your toe and limit terminal extension (terminal dorsiflexion) and walk around, to feel it in yourself is to get first hand experience. 

Shawn Allen, one of the gait guys

Podcast 69: Advanced Arm Swing Concepts, Compensation Patterns and more

Plus: Foot Arch Pathomechanics, Knee Pivot Shift and Sesamoiditis and more !

A. Link to our server: 


Direct Download: http://thegaitguys.libsyn.com/podcast-70


B. iTunes link:


C. Gait Guys online /download store (National Shoe Fit Certification and more !) :


D. other web based Gait Guys lectures:

www.onlinece.com   type in Dr. Waerlop or Dr. Allen,  ”Biomechanics”


Today’s Show notes:

1. “Compensation depends on the interplay of multiple factors: The availability of a compensatory response, the cost of compensation, and the stability of the system being perturbed.”
What happens when we change the length of one leg? How do we compensate? Here is a look at the short term consequences of a newly acquired leg length difference.
2. Medial Longitudinal Arch Mechanics Before and After a 45 Minute Run

3. Several months ago we talked about the pivot-shift phenomenon. It is frequently missed clinically because it can be a tricky hands on assessment of the knee joint. In this article “ACL-deficient patients adopted the … .* Remember: what you see in their gait is not their problem, it is their strategy around their problem.

4.Do you know the difference between a forefoot supinatus and a forefoot varus?
"A forefoot varus differs from forefoot supinatus in that a forefoot varus is a congenital osseous deformity that induces subtalar joint pronation, whereas forefoot supinatus is acquired and develops because of subtalar joint pronation. ”

5. Pubmed abstract link: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24865637
Gait Posture. 2014 Jun;40(2):321-6. Epub 2014 May 6.
Arm swing in human walking: What is their drive?
Goudriaan M, Jonkers I, van Dieen JH, Bruijn SM

6. This is Your Brain On Guitar