Proof that the contralateral limbs are programmed. Wait, are you guys showing dog gait video today ? yup, and for good reason.

This is how good our eyes are trained at gait stuff.  How good are yours ? Can you pick out what we saw immediately when watching this clip ? It is something really cool, perhaps proof that contralateral limbs, upper and lower,  are programmed and automatic. Even in dogs apparently. Did you see it ?  You may have to have to watch the video several times.

The dog initially is striking with the left forelimb while pairing that with right hindlimb just after (remember, this is running gait, not walking) . Kind of like how in human gait the left arm swing is in sync with the right leg swing (both in either flexion or extension, at the same time). We believe the central pattern generator for gait occurs in an area of the spinal cord at the junction of the the thoracic and lumbar spines (just like in the large sauropod dinosaurs!) click here for more info

But what is really cool is that there is a sudden change at 0:23sec.  The dog changes midstride to strike first with the right forelimb and immediately alters the hind limb to strike first with the left. Can you see it ? Look again. Isn’t the nervous system amazing!

Just as in humans the pattern change seems to be immediate and subconscious.  The rhythm and sync is predictable. It appears that even in animals the arm swing topics of weeks ago on in-phase and anti-phase of the shoulder and pelvic girdles hold true.

Did you see it immediately ? It may take you time to train your eyes like ours, but if you watch enough videos perhaps you too will have gait observation superpowers. 

Limb swing, even in animals, offer information to learn from and extrapolate to humans. Bipeds, quadrupeds….we don’t discriminate.

Shawn and Ivo……..gait experts……. on many levels.

Not another Cross over runner ! Yup, and some new pearls on the topic.

Watch this video (and we will post her second video shot from the side in a separate blog post) so you can see some of the components we will talk about today.

Quite often in the Cross over gait the runner has great difficulty getting into the glutes (max and medius) effectively.

In this video today from Runblogger, we see yet another runner who is lacking skill and strength in the appropriate muscles and patterns to run efficiently.

  1. In this video it is clear that she has the classic Cross-Over stride flaw. This video is nice because there is a line present to support our cause, the feet at basically falling on a line instead of below the hips. We see the typical far lateral foot strike in this runner that is classic for Crossing over.  This more lateral strike, even though it is a nice midfoot strike (see the side video shot in the other video of her we post), causes pronation to occur quicker and longer than normal and can create an abductory twist when the heel departs from the ground. However, we do not see the abductory twist like we saw in the Lauren Fleshman videos.  Why not ? because this runner has the foot progression angle at zero, perhaps negative 5 degrees (what we are saying is that she is toe’d-in). This is appears to be from her having mild internal tibial torsion. And a negative foot progression angle will help hold the arch through pronation and in this case is protecting from the abductory twist of the foot at heel rise. There is most likely a forefoot varus here as well (note the inversion at strike). Most likely it is functional; she appears to have inadequate motion in the rear and midfoot, so the pronation must occur somewhere and we see it here in the forefoot.

 Pretty cool to see how a subtle change in one’s anatomy can play out differently.  Go back and watch the Fleshman video blog of weeks ago and watch for the abductory twist of the feet.

2. In this runner, what we really wanted to discuss however is the poor motor control of the gluteus medius and maximus (maximus will be in #3). We can clearly see in this video that during all phases of stance, the pelvis is dipping on the contralateral side. This downward drop is creating a greater gluteus medius lever arm and thus greater demand on the gluteus medius, and in this case a failed attempt (if the opposite hip were hiked, the lever arm would be reduced and put lesser demand on the gluteus medius, less fatigue factor). New to this concept ? Click here.Think now about the reciprocal pairing with the adductors and you could understand why her adductors are probably shortened as well; the adductor magnus especially, as it has a secondary motion of external rotation, and it is probably being substituted here to help decelerate the internal spin of the lower extremity

As the longer lever pairs with the body weight factor, there is a vertical descent of the body and this must be made up by eccentric control of the gluteus maximus (the option of optimal choice) or it is dumped into the quadriceps and they are expected to cope with the body mass descent by slowing knee flexion.  She appears to be opting for the later, not a good choice.

3. Now switch over to the frontal plane (side) shot of this runner in the other blog post. Can you clearly see that the quadriceps are being asked to control the decent? Look at the vertical oscillations of her body. Look at the amount of knee flexion occuring at impact.  It is clear that the gluteus maximus is not dampening this drop and this can be seen by the amount of hip flexion noted here. We always think of the glutes as extensors but in gait they are huge dampeners of the rate and degree of hip flexion.

This is very inefficient running.  She could be much more effective and faster if she works on these issues.  If she can just pair improved gluteus medius to control the frontal plane pelvis drop, and improve the maximus to control the sagittal drop there would be more energy to move forward and less wasted into overcoming the ground reaction forces (which she is maximizing) as dictated by Newton’s Laws.

are we the only ones seeing this stuff ?  hopefully you are starting to get real good at this stuff. 

The Gait Guys, saving one runners life (and hips and knees) one day at a time.

Shawn and Ivo

The Gait Guys on Movement, Physiologic Overflow & Muscle Function.

Movement is largely isotonic, meaning that muscles maintain a steady state of contraction (“same tone”) throughout a physiological range of motion; in other words, our body mass does not change as we move through space. Exercise is specific as to the type of contraction (isometric, isotonic, isokinetic) and speed on contraction. Different rehabilitative exercises we prescribe can have different results based on the points or angles of application. This video discusses some of these points. See us also on You Tube: The Gait Guys

Watch for a Podcast of classic Shawn and Ivo at noon!

SCARY gait of the week.

OK, so we do not even have one complete gait cycle to look at, but what an excellent clinical example.

Here is an example of someone who has not earned the right to forefoot strike. Go ahead, step through the video a few frames at a time.

First notice the abductory twist of the Left foot as it leaves the ground (toe off). You will also notice that the left foot also leaves the ground with a low gear toe off instead of a strong push off the big toe/medial foot. Now watch the external rotation and abduction of that extremity (:05) so it can plan for the next footstrike and try and clear the Right leg.  Why is this ?  Well, we do not have a complete gait cycle but if you were to draw a line down the middle of the treadmill you would see that this is a great example of some of the things that occur during the CROSSOVER GAIT.  Yup, we are back pounding this flawed gait technique. It is common to strike the ground on the far lateral foot and then pronate quickly through the midfoot. It is also common to increase the foot progression angle. 

One might suspected forefoot varus as seen from :03-0:05, with the sudden forefoot pronation of the Right foot. It does look mostly controlled however, the steep Right forefoot varus positioning the the air before contact could bode more for the mechanics that go with the CROSSOVER gait.  (CrossOver gait you say ? Haven’t seen our 3 Part Cross Over gait video series on YouTube ?  click here for Part 1)

DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!!!  Ditch the prison socks, read our treadmill article coming out soon in Triathlete magazine so you know the true problems of treadmills, and learn to run with good technique.

Have a marvy day, you footgeek, you

Ivo and Shawn

A young lady with knee recurvatum. Even at the airport you are not safe from The Gait Guys ! Standing waiting for my parents luggage I had to do a double take when i saw this excessive genu recurvatum of the knees. Of course it was much worse in person because of the added dimension that a photo cannot give.  This poor gal probably doesn’t even know she needs us.  What do we see here and what assumptions can we extrapolate (assumptions from mere standing of course)  ?: We are going to keep it to things from pelvis down or we will be here all day. Anterior pelvis tilt. She appears to be sitting back into her pelvis so to speak, doing so we can see an increased lumbar lordosis pressing the pelvis anterior.  Combine this with suspect weak lower abdominals and the pelvis drops in the front. This position is often met with isometric contraction of the gluteals helping to maintain the forward/anterior shifted pelvis. The above, will create an abnormal (possibly increased) tensile load on the hamstrings since the ischeal tuberosities are being drawn cephalad (up). This can create a net posterior shift of the knee joint since she is in relative hip extennsion. The knees are likely locked into hyperextension. This will create meniscal tensions and certainly cause increased patellofemoral pressures.  This can also create the rarely diagnosed, but often present, anteriormeniscofemoral impingement syndrome. In this type of presentation the anterior compressive forces are so great compared to what should be balanced forces around the entire joint that the superior leading edge of the anterior mensicus (can affect medial or lateral menisci) begins to become impinged and irritated as the femur rolls and translates too far anterior. You have to know it exists to make the diagnosis. She will be in relative ankle plantarflexion instead of balancing the tibia neutrally over the talus.  Relative constant plantarflexion means shorter posterior compartment (gastroc-soleus) and usually weak anterior compartment (tibialis anterior and long extensors of toes).  If she is a runner we bet shin splints were on her holiday list of things to resolve. This gal will likely have problems controlling pronation we suspect because of such assumed imbalances. These are just the sagittal plane flaws we can assume. There are more but this is plenty to think about right now. I was going to walk behind to take a pic so we could make some assumptions about the frontal plane, but people all around were already getting suspicious of me snap photos of so many of them.  Remember, these are just assumptions from a single static photo. Like in video analysis, anything you pic up on film is just a compensation. It does not tell you what you have wrong until you can test them for neuromuscular integrity and motor pattern assessments.  Do not hang your hat on photos or video analysis. Do the extra work that is required.  After all, you know where ASSUMPTIONS get us. Oh, and we must not forget to once again thank Mr. UGG boot for helping add another dimension of challenge to this lovely lady ! Although this assumption would be better made off of a frontal plane photo. Beware of geeks in the airport and shopping malls snapping photos and video. It is likely us, The Gait Guys. Shawn and Ivo

A young lady with knee recurvatum. Even at the airport you are not safe from The Gait Guys !

Standing waiting for my parents luggage I had to do a double take when i saw this excessive genu recurvatum of the knees. Of course it was much worse in person because of the added dimension that a photo cannot give.  This poor gal probably doesn’t even know she needs us. 

What do we see here and what assumptions can we extrapolate (assumptions from mere standing of course)  ?:

We are going to keep it to things from pelvis down or we will be here all day.

  1. Anterior pelvis tilt. She appears to be sitting back into her pelvis so to speak, doing so we can see an increased lumbar lordosis pressing the pelvis anterior.  Combine this with suspect weak lower abdominals and the pelvis drops in the front. This position is often met with isometric contraction of the gluteals helping to maintain the forward/anterior shifted pelvis.
  2. The above, will create an abnormal (possibly increased) tensile load on the hamstrings since the ischeal tuberosities are being drawn cephalad (up). This can create a net posterior shift of the knee joint since she is in relative hip extennsion.
  3. The knees are likely locked into hyperextension. This will create meniscal tensions and certainly cause increased patellofemoral pressures.  This can also create the rarely diagnosed, but often present, anteriormeniscofemoral impingement syndrome. In this type of presentation the anterior compressive forces are so great compared to what should be balanced forces around the entire joint that the superior leading edge of the anterior mensicus (can affect medial or lateral menisci) begins to become impinged and irritated as the femur rolls and translates too far anterior. You have to know it exists to make the diagnosis.
  4. She will be in relative ankle plantarflexion instead of balancing the tibia neutrally over the talus.  Relative constant plantarflexion means shorter posterior compartment (gastroc-soleus) and usually weak anterior compartment (tibialis anterior and long extensors of toes).  If she is a runner we bet shin splints were on her holiday list of things to resolve. This gal will likely have problems controlling pronation we suspect because of such assumed imbalances.

These are just the sagittal plane flaws we can assume. There are more but this is plenty to think about right now. I was going to walk behind to take a pic so we could make some assumptions about the frontal plane, but people all around were already getting suspicious of me snap photos of so many of them. 

Remember, these are just assumptions from a single static photo. Like in video analysis, anything you pic up on film is just a compensation. It does not tell you what you have wrong until you can test them for neuromuscular integrity and motor pattern assessments.  Do not hang your hat on photos or video analysis. Do the extra work that is required.  After all, you know where ASSUMPTIONS get us.

Oh, and we must not forget to once again thank Mr. UGG boot for helping add another dimension of challenge to this lovely lady ! Although this assumption would be better made off of a frontal plane photo.

Beware of geeks in the airport and shopping malls snapping photos and video. It is likely us, The Gait Guys.

Shawn and Ivo

A case of plantar foot pain during gait. This client came to see us after a surgical proceedure to remove a dead (osteonecrosis) medial sesamoid under the 1st metatarsal head and a later surgery to fix a progressing hammer toe of the 2nd digit. What we really want you to see is the huge divot/depression under the 2-3 metatarsal heads. Also note the accumulation and relocation of the normal MET head fat pad now located distal to the MET heads.  It is as if the fat pad is trying to hitch a ride on the toes now ! This is a case of Metatarsalgia secondary to fat pad displacement (displaced from the divot area to the flexor crease) secondary to surgical sequelae.  What is additionally cool in this case is the fact that this client has an almost complete webbing of the 2-3 toes so many of the normal independent muscular functions are no longer independent. After the surgeries this person presents with tremendous loss of flexor and extensor function of the 2-3 toes.  Lumbrical testing was most obviously impaired, completely absent in fact, in these 2-3 toes. On the ground the patient was also unable to achieve any flexion-press of the toes into the ground, he was able to flexion/hammer curl which will obviously put them at risk for hammer toes in the future.  But what is important here is that without the ability to PRESS the toes into the ground particularly while in stance phase the lumbricals will not help to hold the fat pad in its normal location under the MET heads. Nor will they be able to to perform their other major functions, namely: thinking from a distal to proximal orientation (a closed chain mode of thinking), they actually plantarflex the metatarsal on the fixed phalynx, assist in dorsiflexion of the ankle, and help to keep the toes from clawing from over recruitment of the flexor digitorum longus. This client’s MET head pain is obviously caused by lack of cushioning of the head since the fat pad is displaced. There are plenty of other biomechanical abberancies now, the Windlass mechanism will never be the same becuase it is without one of the sesamoids, the hallux short flexor (FHB) is impaired on the medial head without the sesamoid so hallux flexion will become a problem.  Do we really want to see such compromise of the medial tripod ? Heck no, we need sesamoid implants ! There is a novel idea ! When a sesamoid is taken out we need to replace it ! Think about it ! There is so much more to this case, but we will stop here. It’s Christmas after all ! This poor lady was told to wish from Santa for a medial sesamoid implant under the tree and a sudden spontaneous activation of the lumbricals to retract the fat pad back under the MET head so as to reduce her pain.  Hey, wishing can’t hurt ! Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all gang, whatever your faith we wish you well, from Shawn and Ivo…… The Gait Guys (PS: we included below more from the body of the article we wrote long ago called “The Lost Lumbricals”.  So for those of you who wish to geek out more on Christmas, read on … ______________ EXCERPTS FROM “THE LOST LUMBRICALS” The lumbricals of the foot attach proximally to the sides of adjacent  tendons of the flexor digitorum longus (with the exception of the 1st, which only attaches to the medial side) and attach distally to the medial aspect of the head of the proximal phalynx and continue on to the extensor hoods in toes 2 through 5. Their typical function is described as flexion of the proximal phalynx and extension of the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints. They have the unique ability to compress the metatarsal-phalangeal and interphalangeal joints. These are “open chain” functions as described, unless you are in the habit of waving to people with your toes, they often are used quite differently in the gait cycle with the foot affixed to the ground. The lumbricals are most active from midstance to preswing. That means they act predominantly in the closed chain. The lumbricals, along with the other intrinsic muscles of the foot, play a role in maintaining the medial longitudinal arch of the foot.  Along with the interossei, they play a role in stabilization of the forefoot during stance phase and rearfoot during preswing. One author has proposed that overpronation is due to a lack of neuromuscular control of the intrinsic foot muscles to stabilize the tarsal and metatarsal bones and therefore modulate the speed of pronation. Thinking from a distal to proximal orientation (a closed chain mode of thinking), they actually plantarflex the metatarsal on the fixed phalynx, assist in dorsiflexion of the ankle, and help to keep the toes from clawing from over recruitment of the flexor digitorum longus. Clawing toes during gait, which are considered abnormal, are defined as extension of the metatarsophalangeal articulation, and flexion of the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints result from a foot attempting to stabilize itself during the terminal stance and preswing phases of gait.  This is an attempt to help propel the body forward, often accompanied by overactivity of the flexor digitorum longus, tibialis posterior, flexor pollicus longus, and gastroc soleus groups. Overactivity of these groups causes reciprocal inhibition of the long toe extensors and ankle dorsiflexors (tibialis anterior for example), causing the toes to buckle further and a loss of ankle dorsiflexion; in short, diminished ankle rocker. Now think about the changes in the gait cycle in the above scenario. There will be a resultant shortened step length, diminished ankle rocker, increased forefoot rocker and premature heel rise. This will necessitate an increased extension at the metatarsophalangeal joints, shifting the tendon of the lumbricals upward and behind the transverse metatarsal joint axis, causing even more extension now at this joint. Chronically over time, this causes displacement of the fat pads anteriorly from under the metatarsal heads and is one of the main reasons metatarsal head pain (metatarsalgia). In the past have you made the apparent simple diagnoses of metatarsalgia, shin splints, stress fractures or Morton’s neuroma without knowing a more plausible cause ?  Do you now feel you have better answers to these clinical phenomena ? Now think about changes up the kinetic chain and the potential musculoskeletal implications of muscle inhibition, overfacilitation and joint dysfunction, often with neurological sequelae. With lumbrical dysfunction (weakness) and the resultant lack of ankle dorsiflexion, you have less hip extension.  So, you borrow some from the lumbar spine, with increased compressive forces there and an increase in the lordosis, which causes an increase in the thoracic kyphosis and cervical lordosis. We still need to get this leg up and forward to continue our progression ahead, so now we fire our hip flexors instead of the abdominal obliques. And because there needs to be cooperation of the abdominals and hamstrings to maintain pelvis neutrality, this further fuels inhibition of the gluteals thus further compounding the loss of hip extension. Now how about a little increased shoulder flexion on the contralateral side to assist getting that leg forward? Don’t forget that we have altered the thoracic kyphosis and thus changed scapulo humeral mechanics. Now neck/shoulder pain all from bad feet?  Maybe. These muscles developed and exist for a good reason, do your best not to dismiss them and their function the next time you see a tortured foot. When patients have continued dysfunction, consider the base and where it all begins. Consider function in the context of where it occurs. Proper evaluation of the feet and gait can provide valuable clues as to the etiology or manifestation of continued problems. Important? You decide.

A case of plantar foot pain during gait.

This client came to see us after a surgical proceedure to remove a dead (osteonecrosis) medial sesamoid under the 1st metatarsal head and a later surgery to fix a progressing hammer toe of the 2nd digit. What we really want you to see is the huge divot/depression under the 2-3 metatarsal heads. Also note the accumulation and relocation of the normal MET head fat pad now located distal to the MET heads.  It is as if the fat pad is trying to hitch a ride on the toes now ! This is a case of Metatarsalgia secondary to fat pad displacement (displaced from the divot area to the flexor crease) secondary to surgical sequelae. 

What is additionally cool in this case is the fact that this client has an almost complete webbing of the 2-3 toes so many of the normal independent muscular functions are no longer independent. After the surgeries this person presents with tremendous loss of flexor and extensor function of the 2-3 toes.  Lumbrical testing was most obviously impaired, completely absent in fact, in these 2-3 toes. On the ground the patient was also unable to achieve any flexion-press of the toes into the ground, he was able to flexion/hammer curl which will obviously put them at risk for hammer toes in the future.  But what is important here is that without the ability to PRESS the toes into the ground particularly while in stance phase the lumbricals will not help to hold the fat pad in its normal location under the MET heads. Nor will they be able to to perform their other major functions, namely: thinking from a distal to proximal orientation (a closed chain mode of thinking), they actually plantarflex the metatarsal on the fixed phalynx, assist in dorsiflexion of the ankle, and help to keep the toes from clawing from over recruitment of the flexor digitorum longus.

This client’s MET head pain is obviously caused by lack of cushioning of the head since the fat pad is displaced. There are plenty of other biomechanical abberancies now, the Windlass mechanism will never be the same becuase it is without one of the sesamoids, the hallux short flexor (FHB) is impaired on the medial head without the sesamoid so hallux flexion will become a problem.  Do we really want to see such compromise of the medial tripod ? Heck no, we need sesamoid implants ! There is a novel idea ! When a sesamoid is taken out we need to replace it ! Think about it !

There is so much more to this case, but we will stop here. It’s Christmas after all ! This poor lady was told to wish from Santa for a medial sesamoid implant under the tree and a sudden spontaneous activation of the lumbricals to retract the fat pad back under the MET head so as to reduce her pain.  Hey, wishing can’t hurt !

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you all gang, whatever your faith we wish you well,

from Shawn and Ivo…… The Gait Guys

(PS: we included below more from the body of the article we wrote long ago called “The Lost Lumbricals”.  So for those of you who wish to geek out more on Christmas, read on …

______________

EXCERPTS FROM “THE LOST LUMBRICALS”

The lumbricals of the foot attach proximally to the sides of adjacent  tendons of the flexor digitorum longus (with the exception of the 1st, which only attaches to the medial side) and attach distally to the medial aspect of the head of the proximal phalynx and continue on to the extensor hoods in toes 2 through 5. Their typical function is described as flexion of the proximal phalynx and extension of the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints. They have the unique ability to compress the metatarsal-phalangeal and interphalangeal joints. These are “open chain” functions as described, unless you are in the habit of waving to people with your toes, they often are used quite differently in the gait cycle with the foot affixed to the ground.

The lumbricals are most active from midstance to preswing. That means they act predominantly in the closed chain. The lumbricals, along with the other intrinsic muscles of the foot, play a role in maintaining the medial longitudinal arch of the foot.  Along with the interossei, they play a role in stabilization of the forefoot during stance phase and rearfoot during preswing. One author has proposed that overpronation is due to a lack of neuromuscular control of the intrinsic foot muscles to stabilize the tarsal and metatarsal bones and therefore modulate the speed of pronation.

Thinking from a distal to proximal orientation (a closed chain mode of thinking), they actually plantarflex the metatarsal on the fixed phalynx, assist in dorsiflexion of the ankle, and help to keep the toes from clawing from over recruitment of the flexor digitorum longus.

Clawing toes during gait, which are considered abnormal, are defined as extension of the metatarsophalangeal articulation, and flexion of the proximal and distal interphalangeal joints result from a foot attempting to stabilize itself during the terminal stance and preswing phases of gait.  This is an attempt to help propel the body forward, often accompanied by overactivity of the flexor digitorum longus, tibialis posterior, flexor pollicus longus, and gastroc soleus groups. Overactivity of these groups causes reciprocal inhibition of the long toe extensors and ankle dorsiflexors (tibialis anterior for example), causing the toes to buckle further and a loss of ankle dorsiflexion; in short, diminished ankle rocker.

Now think about the changes in the gait cycle in the above scenario. There will be a resultant shortened step length, diminished ankle rocker, increased forefoot rocker and premature heel rise. This will necessitate an increased extension at the metatarsophalangeal joints, shifting the tendon of the lumbricals upward and behind the transverse metatarsal joint axis, causing even more extension now at this joint. Chronically over time, this causes displacement of the fat pads anteriorly from under the metatarsal heads and is one of the main reasons metatarsal head pain (metatarsalgia). In the past have you made the apparent simple diagnoses of metatarsalgia, shin splints, stress fractures or Morton’s neuroma without knowing a more plausible cause ?  Do you now feel you have better answers to these clinical phenomena ?

Now think about changes up the kinetic chain and the potential musculoskeletal implications of muscle inhibition, overfacilitation and joint dysfunction, often with neurological sequelae. With lumbrical dysfunction (weakness) and the resultant lack of ankle dorsiflexion, you have less hip extension.  So, you borrow some from the lumbar spine, with increased compressive forces there and an increase in the lordosis, which causes an increase in the thoracic kyphosis and cervical lordosis. We still need to get this leg up and forward to continue our progression ahead, so now we fire our hip flexors instead of the abdominal obliques. And because there needs to be cooperation of the abdominals and hamstrings to maintain pelvis neutrality, this further fuels inhibition of the gluteals thus further compounding the loss of hip extension. Now how about a little increased shoulder flexion on the contralateral side to assist getting that leg forward? Don’t forget that we have altered the thoracic kyphosis and thus changed scapulo humeral mechanics. Now neck/shoulder pain all from bad feet?  Maybe. These muscles developed and exist for a good reason, do your best not to dismiss them and their function the next time you see a tortured foot.

When patients have continued dysfunction, consider the base and where it all begins. Consider function in the context of where it occurs. Proper evaluation of the feet and gait can provide valuable clues as to the etiology or manifestation of continued problems. Important? You decide.

Are aging runners less economical ?

As the year comes to an end many will begin to think about their future health. Many will start running. Starting is often the hard part, trying to get the old machine working again can take a little time. And as we age, it is not uncommon to get demoralized by the decline of our abilities and performance. This study in the Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research gives hope to us all as we age and for those that are just starting out. Bottom line, it is just going to take a little work.

The study shown below concluded that the runners over 60 were just as economical as even the youngest ones in the study. Oxygen utilization was just a efficient. The obvious problem is that as we age the other parts are not quite as youthful. Muscular strength, muscle mass, tissue elasticity, cartilage pliability etc all reduce and so power output and other parameters reduce.  The good thing is that with sensible training, all areas can be improved which when combined with a system that is still economical into our aging years, we can all still see some pretty bright days ahead of us.  Sure the parts are going to be more apt to breakdown and tolerate less, but even into the golden years, our discussions about training smarter, not harder still hold true.
We have attached the info for the article if you want to find it for your clientele or for your office or gym.                                                                                                                                       
J Strength Cond Res. 2011 Nov;25(11):2971-9.

Aging and factors related to running economy.

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship that age has on factors affecting running economy (RE) in competitive distance runners. Fifty-one male and female subelite distance runners (Young [Y]: 18-39 years [n = 18]; Master [M]: 40-59 years [n = 22]; and Older [O]: 60-older [n = 11]) were measured for RE, step rate, lactate threshold (LT), VO2max, muscle strength and endurance, flexibility, power, and body composition. An RE test was conducted at 4 different velocities (161, 188, 215, and 241 m·min(-1)), with subjects running for 5 minutes at each velocity. , , , 

Bottom line from the study: The results from this cross-sectional analysis suggest that age-related declines in running performance are associated with declines in maximal and submaximal cardiorespiratory variables and declines in strength and power, not because of declines in running economy.                                                                             

 

Gretchen Reynolds wrote a great article for the NYTimes last week on this topic.  The link to her article is above. “For Older Runners, Good News and Bad.”

This video pretty much sums up our entire philosophy. Skill, Endurance, Strength; in that order. Why? Skill requires the largest diameter afferent (sensory) nerves to accomplish (Ia and Ib afferents from muscle and joint mechanoreceptors); they are the fastest pathways; Endurance comes from larger sized Type I (and sometimes Type IIa) endurance muscle, which are oxygen dependent (aerobic) and are rich in myoglobin, glycogen, mitochondria and capillaries; Strength last, because it comes from smaller, Type IIb fibers, and is largely glycolytic (depends on anaerobic respiration) and is dependent on the other 2 (skill and endurance).

When you take amazing skill and body awareness and combine it with strength and flexibility and control you can do these kinds of wild things.

Exploring the links between human movement, biomechanics and gait.

The Gait Guys

Gait, Running or Biomechanical problems ? Today we talk of Torsions and Versions…. (excerpted from the forthcoming second edition of our book) We’ve all heard of, and probably have used, the terms torsion or version especially in the vernacular of antetorsion or anteversion and retrotorsion and retroversion. We (including authors and researchers) often like to use these terms interchangeably. Technically speaking, we have all been wrong. Believe it or not, there was actually a group of folks in 1979 called the Subcommittee on Torsional Deformity and Pediatric Orthopedic Society whose mission was to set people straight on the differences between torsion and version. Version is actually the normal difference in angulation of the proximal and distal portions of a long bone. Torsion is said to be present when this measurement falls outside 2 standard deviations of the normal version. Versions are present in utero and are considered part of the developmental process. For example, the femur has approximately 30 degrees of anteversion at birth (ie the femoral condyles are rotated 30 degrees medial to the plane of the femur head). During the normal developmental process, the femur “untwists” at a rate as slow as 1-3 degrees per year to approximately a 20 degree by age 6, leading to a “normal” angle of 8-12 degrees of anteversion. Of course this can occur slower or faster or to a greater or lesser degree as well resulting in a torsion, which may or may not have symptomatic sequela later in life. Regardless, these torsions are very important transverse plane deformities from a gait biomechanists point of view in regards to resultant compensations which occur in the lower kinetic chain and more proximally. These versions and torsions can affect any long bone, but most important to us, the femur and tibia. Of interesting note, there is a 2:1 preponderance of left sided deformities believed to be due to most babies being carried on their backs on the left side of the mother in utero, causing the left leg to overlie the right in an externally rotated and abducted position. Now maybe you will think twice about the position of the feet of a newborn when placing them on their stomach, as this posturing will effect their development over time and potentially contribute to adult torsional deformity! How’s the sleeping position of your child? Do they consistently sleep on one side? Is their thigh drawn up and internally rotated with a compensatory external rotation of the foot relative to the tibia? Wow, and you thought as long as you fed them well and didn’t let them watch too much TV that all would be OK! Torsions and Versions…. They are not just for breakfast anymore… Yes, we ARE a little twisted……Ivo and Shawn

Gait, Running or Biomechanical problems ? Today we talk of Torsions and Versions….

(excerpted from the forthcoming second edition of our book)

We’ve all heard of, and probably have used, the terms torsion or version especially in the vernacular of antetorsion or anteversion and retrotorsion and retroversion. We (including authors and researchers) often like to use these terms interchangeably. Technically speaking, we have all been wrong.

Believe it or not, there was actually a group of folks in 1979 called the Subcommittee on Torsional Deformity and Pediatric Orthopedic Society whose mission was to set people straight on the differences between torsion and version. Version is actually the normal difference in angulation of the proximal and distal portions of a long bone. Torsion is said to be present when this measurement falls outside 2 standard deviations of the normal version.

Versions are present in utero and are considered part of the developmental process. For example, the femur has approximately 30 degrees of anteversion at birth (ie the femoral condyles are rotated 30 degrees medial to the plane of the femur head). During the normal developmental process, the femur “untwists” at a rate as slow as 1-3 degrees per year to approximately a 20 degree by age 6, leading to a “normal” angle of 8-12 degrees of anteversion. Of course this can occur slower or faster or to a greater or lesser degree as well resulting in a torsion, which may or may not have symptomatic sequela later in life. Regardless, these torsions are very important transverse plane deformities from a gait biomechanists point of view in regards to resultant compensations which occur in the lower kinetic chain and more proximally.

These versions and torsions can affect any long bone, but most important to us, the femur and tibia. Of interesting note, there is a 2:1 preponderance of left sided deformities believed to be due to most babies being carried on their backs on the left side of the mother in utero, causing the left leg to overlie the right in an externally rotated and abducted position.

Now maybe you will think twice about the position of the feet of a newborn when placing them on their stomach, as this posturing will effect their development over time and potentially contribute to adult torsional deformity! How’s the sleeping position of your child? Do they consistently sleep on one side? Is their thigh drawn up and internally rotated with a compensatory external rotation of the foot relative to the tibia? Wow, and you thought as long as you fed them well and didn’t let them watch too much TV that all would be OK!

Torsions and Versions…. They are not just for breakfast anymore…

Yes, we ARE a little twisted……Ivo and Shawn

We are giving up one of our deep secrets today.  We figure you guys are worth it.

There is a reason we have followed Allen Lim from his days of Team Radioshack and even before that with Team Garmin.  His work on temperature regulation in athletes was fascinating and his knowledge in nutrition is pretty solid too. Everything Allen does, we recommend to our athletes.  We keep our high school and college athletes in air conditioned vans and hotel rooms until moments before big meets (while other teams have their athletes sitting in the heat and sun), we recommend super hydration days before long races, super cold water before races to promote gastric dumping and reduced core temperature, and we teach them about the hydration and glycogen time frame windows. Mere fractions of a temperature spike reduce performance.  It is all good science. If you are one of our patients and athlete, you get the talk over and over again. If Allen is doing it, we look at it pretty closely.

Watch this video and find the company name in the interview.

don’t say we don’t give away the farm from time to time !

The Secret double agent Gait geeks ……. always looking for the edge for our peeps.

Shawn and Ivo

Gait, Running and Muscle fiber types & Why you want to train to mimic your sport.

This weeks neuromechanics explores muscle fiber types, the characteristics of each, and what that means for training. How does that relate to gait?

Our lower extremity muscles are a mix of strength and endurance muscles and each must be trained (or retrained) appropriately. If you lack endurance capacity in your gluteus medius (commonly seen with fatigue and manifesting as a pelvic dip), strength training will not help the problem… in fact, it will make it worse! Larger cross sectional area with less mitochondria, fewer capillaries and less myoglobin only fuels more anaerobic glycolysis (read LACTIC ACID PRODUCTION); if you cannot recycle this appropriately, your endurance goes down. Remember, exercise is specific as to the type of contraction (isometric, isotonic, isokinetic) as well as the speed of contraction.

Have your attention? Watch the video!

We Are and will remain The Gait Guys: piecing it together so you don’t have to.

Functional screens will not always give you the answer, the screen might only show you another level of compensation. Only the keen at that game will get it right. What do we mean by this ? Well, lets take muscle testing and motor pattern assessments for example. When we started with muscle testing we used to look for the weakness of the muscle or pattern we were isolating. But now, with more experience and wisdom, our keen eyes are now focused on the clients attempts to “cheat” around the assessment rather than basing our assessment entirely on the isolated tests. Many athletes will quickly figure out how and where to get more strength in a given muscle test, often because they are used to compensating for a weak muscle…..studies even show that clenching your teeth, or squeezing another muscle (often called a Jendrassik Maneuver) can affect the outcome of a muscle test.  So, you have to watch for your client’s attempts to “cheat” through your assessments.  Just one more thing to think about!  In the screen above, would you know if the person had internal or external tibial torsion?  How about femoral retro or ante torsion ? In doing a screen, only the astute assessor will know what the screen is telling them.  For example, is the foot turned out because the person has external tibial torsion, or is the knee going inwards because they neutralized the foot progression angle before the test and now the knee is drifting inwards ….. it is still external tibial torsion in both cases.  What about internal tibial torsion, where is the foot, where is the knee? (More on Torsions and Versions in Thursday’s post) The squat can give you information but you might want to think about this.  Really how useful is a squat in relation to the most fundamental pattern we use the most, gait ? Well, it is not. 62% of normal gait is stance phase and of that, 51% of that is on one foot (38% of a total gait cycle). We still vividly remember when Professor Janda visited our residency program back in the 90’s for a week.   He spoke of many things but one that stuck with us was a discussion about the need for stable single leg stance function, that it was a key motor skill easily cheated.  That is not to say that the squat test is not a valuable assessment, there are just better ones in our humble opinion. You see, a functional screen does give information, but it is only the person who understands the parameters of normal and abnormal function and anatomy who can glean what the screen is telling you. Guys like Gray Cook  who are big into this stuff are going to be awesome at this because they have the background to know what the test is telling them and know the anatomical parameters that can skew the test.  What we are saying, is that it is not the test that is the gem, it is the knowledge to understand the results of the test that is the key. Oy vey, why can’t anything be simple,  huh ?! It’s Tuesday, we are The Gait Guys…….. and so much more. Shawn and Ivo

Functional screens will not always give you the answer, the screen might only show you another level of compensation. Only the keen at that game will get it right. What do we mean by this ? Well, lets take muscle testing and motor pattern assessments for example.

When we started with muscle testing we used to look for the weakness of the muscle or pattern we were isolating. But now, with more experience and wisdom, our keen eyes are now focused on the clients attempts to “cheat” around the assessment rather than basing our assessment entirely on the isolated tests. Many athletes will quickly figure out how and where to get more strength in a given muscle test, often because they are used to compensating for a weak muscle…..studies even show that clenching your teeth, or squeezing another muscle (often called a Jendrassik Maneuver) can affect the outcome of a muscle test.  So, you have to watch for your client’s attempts to “cheat” through your assessments.  Just one more thing to think about! 

In the screen above, would you know if the person had internal or external tibial torsion?  How about femoral retro or ante torsion ? In doing a screen, only the astute assessor will know what the screen is telling them.  For example, is the foot turned out because the person has external tibial torsion, or is the knee going inwards because they neutralized the foot progression angle before the test and now the knee is drifting inwards ….. it is still external tibial torsion in both cases.  What about internal tibial torsion, where is the foot, where is the knee? (More on Torsions and Versions in Thursday’s post)

The squat can give you information but you might want to think about this.  Really how useful is a squat in relation to the most fundamental pattern we use the most, gait ? Well, it is not. 62% of normal gait is stance phase and of that, 51% of that is on one foot (38% of a total gait cycle). We still vividly remember when Professor Janda visited our residency program back in the 90’s for a week.   He spoke of many things but one that stuck with us was a discussion about the need for stable single leg stance function, that it was a key motor skill easily cheated.  That is not to say that the squat test is not a valuable assessment, there are just better ones in our humble opinion.

You see, a functional screen does give information, but it is only the person who understands the parameters of normal and abnormal function and anatomy who can glean what the screen is telling you. Guys like Gray Cook  who are big into this stuff are going to be awesome at this because they have the background to know what the test is telling them and know the anatomical parameters that can skew the test.  What we are saying, is that it is not the test that is the gem, it is the knowledge to understand the results of the test that is the key.

Oy vey, why can’t anything be simple,  huh ?!

It’s Tuesday, we are The Gait Guys…….. and so much more.

Shawn and Ivo

The Solitary Turned out Right foot in a Barefoot Runner: Part 2

Here is a perfect example why we sometimes cringe when someone comes into our office with pain or problems and wearing minimalist shoes or worse yet, claims to be a barefoot runner.  This is a perfect example of a client, whether they are in your shoe store or in a medical office, that needs to be convinced to remain in their more stable trainers until the problem is unwound. 

In this video it is plain for anyone to see that the right foot/lower limb is clearly externally rotated and pronating excessively when compared to the left side.  This could be from weakness of the gluteus medius, loss of internal rotation or one of several other biomechanical flaws (be sure to review Dec 15th blog post on these topics ). However, it could also be anatomic.  This could be from external tibial torsion or a torsion at the femur.  Regardless, it is likely creating a functional short leg on the right because when we pronate heavily like this, the height of the talus and arch drops further than normal, and in this case further than the other side.  However, one could argue the opposite, meaning that this person is pronating heavily on the right to shorten that leg to be equal to an already shorter left leg. In order to know, and not guess, you have to assess your client.  As indicated above, the internal limb spinning pronation could be a compensation to gain more entire limb internal rotation from a loss of hip rotation. Yes, there could be many causes. In this latter case, prescribing an orthotic to dampen this pronatory excess would be a mistake for the hip even though it would be a logical intervention at the foot level.  Our direction would be to find the cause of the right limb turn out and hyperpronation.  Video gait analysis and guessing will not get you there.  You have to assess your clients neuromuscular ability and deficits.  If one were to bet on impaired internal hip rotation, a fairly high probability bet, then how many internal rotators of the lower limb can you name immediately without looking them up ? You will need this info at the tips of your fingers in an exam if you are going to prove or disprove the internal hip rotation theory.  Here are a few to get you started:

  • vastus lateralis
  • TFL-ITB
  • anterior head of gluteus medius
  • reflected head of rectus femoris
  • adductor brevis
  • coccygeal division of gluteus maximus
  • how many others can you name and accurately test so that you are not guessing when it comes time to assess your client ?

Welcome to the complex game we play every day with our athletes and “every day Joe’s”. It is a brain knocking game, and  you have to juggle many factors while sorting it out. ! Tomorrow we will talk a little about possible problems of Functional Screens and how they can be used to help assess, but also how they can fool you.

Have a good Monday gang….. and watch for the rampant spreading plague of the turned out foot.  It is nationwide already !

Shawn and Ivo, The Gait Guys

Arm Swing Part 3: Running Downhill on Uneven Terrain.

Today we have a pretty cool video for you. It is perfect stuff for a Sunday blog post. It is called “The Chase”. This team has done something pretty neat and this probably took alot of time to complete. Notice it is the same guy in two different outfits (red chasing black), giving the impression of him chasing himself. It is about pushing yourself to be the best you can.  But there are some clips at 2:17 we want you to pay attention to. Watch his arm swing when he is scrambling down the hill. The arm swing is tight, controlled and helps his core and balance. But there are other costs to doing this, and it gives perfect support to our blog posts from a few weeks ago on arm swing.

If you have not read our posts from December 7-8 (link) it might behoove you to read them now otherwise today’s topic will have limited meaning to you. We are building on this topic of limb swing, and how some of it is passive and some is active from a neurologic control standpoint. 

So, we are back to looking at limb swing again. Particularly arm swing today.  It is important for you to realize, as put forth in:

Huang et al in the Eur Spine Journal, 2011 Mar 20(3) “Gait Adaptations in low back pain patients with lumbar disc herniation: trunk coordination and arm swing.”

that as spine pain presents, the shoulder and pelvic girdle anti-phase begins to move into a more “in-phase” favor.  Meaning that, the differential between the upper torso twist and pelvic twist is reduced (in the drawing above the lines will laterally converge). In our opinion, in threatening motor challenges (such as running downhill at 2:17 in the video above) the body will create a reduction in spine rotation and motion due to the increased activation of the core to maintain balance and stability.  IF this anti-phase is reduced then arm swing will be reduced (as is seen when he is scrambling downhill). The central processing mechanisms do this to reduce spinal twisting, because reduced twist means reduced spinal motor unit compression and this hopefully leads to less pain but also more body control. The consequence to this reduced spinal rotation is reduced limb swing.  Think about this next time you see someone, a runner patient or athlete, with reduced arm swing especially on one side. Furthermore, according to

Collins et al Proc Biol Sci, 2009, Oct 22

“Dynamic arm swinging in human walking.”

normal arm swinging requires minimal shoulder torque, while volitionally holding the arms motionless requires 12 % more metabolic energy, proving that there are both active and passive components to arm swing.  Collins also discovered that among measures of gait mechanics, vertical ground reactive moments are most affected by arm swinging and increased by 63% without it. Wow, 63% !

So, taking this data, one could extrapolate that energy consumption is increased running downhill on uneven terrain. This may be nullified by moving with gravity and the downhill slope.  But on such uneven terrain, if you are smart and not reckless you will be expending energy to slow the downhill chaos so you can remain in control of the descent.  This goes for flat uneven or slippery terrain as well, keep this in mind when you hit some icy patches this season. Thing of The Gait Guys, and note how your body adapts to the surface. The surface has huge impact on how you use your body.

So, it is all about efficiency and protection. Efficiency comes with fluid unrestricted movements and energy conservation but protection has the cost of wasting energy and reduced mobility through a limb(s) and spine.

For you neuro nerds, remember the receptors from the central spine and core fire into the midline vermis of the cerebellum (one of the oldest parts of our brain, called the paleo cerebellum); and these pathways, along with other cerebellar efferents, fire our axial extensor muscles that keep us upright in the gravitational plane and provide balance or homeostasis. And when running downhill you had better be firing your extensors !

Shawn and Ivo …  combining almost 40 years of orthopedics, neurology, biomechanics and gait studies to get to the bottom of things….. to help you become better athletes, better coaches, and better doctors.

Gait Video Case of the day: The Frontal Plane Hinging Knee.

This is both a simple case, and difficult one. Simple because the diagnosis is easy. Difficult because there is not much you can do for it. But you still have to recognize it.

This person came to see us with a chief complaint of left hip and knee pain and right medial foot pain. It should be simple to see that the left knee is degenerative particularly in the medial compartment of the knee. You can see with the person walking that when the left leg is loaded there is a frontal (sideways) shift of the knee to the outside. This gives the appearance of a bowed (genu varum) knee. What you need to see and understand is that when they load the limb the knee moves laterally to the outside and this is going to challenge the left hip, particularly the gluteus medius, but it it is also going to press the lateral trochanter bony prominence of the hip into the bursae and soft tissue structures like the IT band.  Both of these soft tissue structures can become quite inflamed and painful. Fatigue failure of the left gluteus medius in this kind of case will lead to pelvic obliquity and abdominal asymmetry and difficulties with symmetrical core stabilization of the spine. Low back pain is not uncommon in these types of cases.

So why the RIGHT foot-ankle pain ? Well, when the left knee moves laterally the hip and pelvis move laterally very suddenly rendering a kind of functional short leg on the left but it will also, as you can see in this case, an abrupt lurch onto the right limb. This sudden lurch onto the right is because the brain knows that the left limb is unstable and challenging an improper plane for the knee (it is only supposed to hinge forward and backward) and so the weight bearing phase on the left is abbreviated. And so, when you abbreviate the stance on the left the right side is loaded sooner, longer and faster.  In this person’ case, the loading as such has been going on for so long that the pronation phase has become excessive enough to pound down the right arch and challenge the right tibialis posterior muscle. Remember that  the tib. posterior is designed to invert the rear foot (look carefully in the video, the client has lost this ability and the rearfoot is constantly everted) and it also helps to stabilize the longitudinal arch of the medial foot. In this case, the client has undergone such excessive loads into pronation that she is now hyperpronating. The tibaialis posterior has developed longitudinal intersubstance tears which now need surgery quite possibly. 

This is a left knee that needs replacing asap to not only reduce the left knee issues, but to dampen the challenges into the left hip (so surgery there is avoided) and so that the timely stance phases on each foot can be restored and ease the burden on the right tibialis posterior and arch stabilizers.

Intervention ? perhaps temporarily, reduce the lateral shift and functional drop on the left with a full sole length lift. We start with 2mm of rubber infused cork and see them again in two weeks to see if more is needed. This will reduce all of the gait aberrations noted above, but it does not fix the problem. You are managing the issues for the client, buying them time.  Adding an orthotic on the right foot can be done, to slow the pronation, but if the height of the orthotic is too much they will pronate into it and cause plantar pain from meeting the orthotic with force.

This is a pretty classic degenerative knee gait. We see this one in our offices several times monthly. Look for it ! We get some wild and worn body parts coming into our offices. Everyone walks so everyone gets a gait evaluation and an examination to prove or disprove the deviant gait appearance as part of the present clinical picture.  Once you get good at the stuff and train your eye after many years, like us you might not need a treadmill or slo-mo camera.

Shawn and Ivo, the gait guys.