Put Your Best Feet Forward
Looking for the most advanced technology to improve your sports performance? You already own it. Now, take good care of it!
One of the best advertising slogans I have ever heard of is the Vibram’s Five Finger shoes slogan “You are the Technology”. These words are so true. No need for custom orthotics or the latest greatest shock absorbing athletic shoes. Let your feet do the job they were designed to do.
“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art” – Leonardo Da Vinci
Feet are the foundation of our movement and first thing that hits the ground. The body has to react to what your feet senses whether you are walking, running, weight lifting, playing sports, or even cycling. They must be flexible and strong enough to absorb foot strike impact as well as instantly become a rigid lever in order to propel your entire body weight off the ground.
With 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons…your feet are incredibly complex! Everything in our body functions as a part of an integrated system. Take away the ability of one variable and you will impact other parts of your body.
Good footwork allows athletes the ability to control their center of gravity. Without proper footwork, they cannot fully achieved agility either. Better footwork and improved position also significantly decreases loads in other areas placed upon the body and reduces injury risks in athletes. Ever pay attention to sports announcers? The U.S. Open tennis announcers were constantly commenting about things like "great footwork" and "moving their feet" to get into position.
Keep your feet strong and let them move. If you do, you’ll not only move and perform better, but you’ll have fewer injuries to “boot”!
"Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity and I’m not sure about the former." – Albert Einstein
Throughout history, great discoveries have been met with resistance long before they were ever accepted. Today we accept that the world is round without the slightest doubt. Yet, if you asked anyone in the fifteenth century they would have told you that it was undoubtedly flat.
In an age where sports performance and medical professionals have come to rely heavily on high-tech equipment to decipher what is wrong with their athletes, we must understand that there is a big difference between knowing and understanding. While not designed to replace these screening and assessment procedures, one must recognize that you must first understand what is occurring within the body to produce the said ‘asymmetries’ before you can ever accurately treat an athlete. Even then, one should never assume that the obvious is true because the brain is constantly recalibrating 24/7 due to things like gravity and time.
Additionally, if a dysfunction is improperly assessed for long enough, the dysfunction can become worse and can result in significant injury to an athlete. Like a time bomb ticking ready to explode when the perfect storm of stress/trauma presents itself at the correct angle, amount of force, and time. For instance, when an athlete’s quadriceps tendon tears in a game when the player pushes off and changes direction in a basketball game.
Why should it surprise us that we can rely on the body’s own inner guidance to facilitate a positive response through the manual use of our hands? In my mind, this is healthcare in its most uncomplicated form. A collaborative effort between two people and then enabling the body to do what it was meant to do…recover and heal. Sometimes we are so caught up in the world of high tech ‘data’ that we forget what a highly skilled manual therapist can possess. They have an ability to assess dysfunction in ways that are just not possible with conventional medical screening equipment and their evaluations are a valuable adjuvant to any high tech medical data.
"First they will laugh… after that they will either deny or follow you." ― Kushiro Shoko
Whether working with patients who have undergone many surgeries and treatments that have physically changed their bodies or working with elite athletes, we are all human beings. Although not everyone might have a 100 million dollar contract, everyone’s human nervous system DOES work the same way. No exceptions.
Last time I checked, the brain is an incomparable guide if you understand and will take the time to carefully listen to it. And therein lies the rub…
April 28th, 2020
"When the human energy field and gravity are at war, needless to say, gravity wins every time." – Ida Rolf
What that statement above all boils down to is that we are in a constant battle with the effects of time and gravity every day. So whatever training, strength and conditioning or fitness program you ascribe to unless it in some way addresses weakness, stiffness, and alignment then you won’t get the long-term results you desire.
Example of an Injury Scenario:
- Athlete’s hamstrings become tight and painful
- Athlete gets treated for their symptoms, limited Range of Motion (ROM) and pain reduces
- Athlete’s hamstring condition continues to erode and then gets worse during training and the season despite treatment regimen
- Athlete is put on Injured List and rests a few games
- Athlete’s symptoms and pain subsides during the rest period and modified training
- Athlete returns to their sport & full-time training
- Athlete’s hamstrings become tight and painful again
Obviously, if you stop doing certain movements that hurt, then that associated movement pain will go away. However, if the pain returns once you return to sport or regular activities, then this is a clear sign that something isn’t right. The design of our body is not flawed. It is what we do or don’t do that causes pain and discomfort.
Before you randomly determine that something is basically wrong with your shoulder, back or knee or worse decide that you are predisposed to ‘fall apart’ after a certain age, let’s consider the opposite. Something you are doing or not doing is making your shoulder, back or knee hurt. Before you are so quick to cut, replace, and generally cut out a body part as obsolete, consider the contrary…your strength, range of motion, and postural alignment have eroded over time which is not allowing your shoulder, back or knee to function properly.
Our necks, shoulders, wrists, backs, hips, knees and feet are not randomly thrown together. They are parts of a very sophisticated interrelated system that is very well designed. If we are really prone to having shoulder pain, bad backs or knees, and weak ankles…then how did humans ever evolve in the first place?
So what went wrong? To poorly paraphrase Mr. Shakespeare…”the fault, dear Brutus, is not in the design of our bodies, but it lies within us.”
Any intrusion to the human body, such as injuries and surgeries, upsets the body’s natural neurological processes and also leaves residual trauma and scar tissue behind. This remaining scar tissue from surgeries, injuries, and continued repetitive motion negatively impacts neuromuscular motor control. Many times surgeries and injuries healing outcomes are positive. However, even when an outcome is considered good, it often leaves an athlete with a new set of problems later down the road.
It’s simple. If you aren’t doing the exercises with the correct alignment, then you won’t get the maximum benefits. The key to health and fitness is postural alignment. There’s more to it than just do it.