Building a solid foundation starts from the ground up.
Last night, after a great meal with some of my family, I was asked to assess my grandmother’s gait. Her gait is quite unstable. When things go wrong with the feet, movement pattern dysfunction follows up the chain. You’re only as strong as your weakest link.
I asked her to take her shoes off and walk. The first thing I noticed was her right foot was turned out, causing her arch to collapse, and she crossed her midline with each step. Because her arches were collapsing, she was creating a lot of unnecessary torque at the knee. I immediately asked if she was dealing with knee pain, knowing her answer would be yes.
You can see how there would be pain with each step; it’s as though she’s wearing down her medial meniscus or medial collateral ligament with each step. The first thing I wanted her to do was focus on keeping her right foot forward. The next thing I wanted her to do to maintain balance was not cross her midline with each step. I tried to come up with a strategy to work on that was similar to this:
It would’ve been easier if I had tape, but I worked with what I had available. When I asked my grandma if that felt better on her knee, she replied with a “yes,” and a facial expression of “whoa.” The sad part was, when she put her shoes back on, she was more likely to turn her foot out, collapse her arch, cross her midline, and lose balance again.
Range can be lost quite easily, and shoes can play a big role in movement:
But the shoes that can play the biggest role are the ones that elevate the heel the most:
If you insert work boots, Shox, or any other shoe with elevated heels, this can most certainly apply to men, too. The result? Usually it’s a shortened heel chord, feet that are either turned in or turned out, and movement compensation patterns that move up the kinetic chain (think: knees, hips, & low back). The feet are quite important in establishing proper movement mechanics. Imagine how much better your knees and hips will feel once your feet start moving well.
The next step is going to be rebuilding the feet:
And remember to take it slow. I don’t want you to run into shin splints by doing too much too soon. Make sure you follow proper progressions and have patience. If it took you years to develop a dysfunction in your movement pattern, don’t expect it to return in just a few days. And once you have that down, you can start adding in some hip strengthening work with things like side walks and monster walks:
P.s. Martin’s passion oozes out of him, I love it. And his quote at the end is brilliant.