More Shoe, More Pain
This is the first entry in a four-part series (and maybe more if we get a good response) on function and biomechanics and how those relate to those of you wearing your Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs). I will talk a lot about running and injuries suffered by runners, but if you have questions about injuries that either aren’t caused by running, or you don’t believe they are caused by running, please don’t hesitate to call or email me.
I have been fascinated by the VFFs since I first laid eyes on them. They completely go against what most of us have thought of as “normal” when it comes to our shoes. The common line of thinking is that if you pronate, let’s put you in an anti-pronation shoe. If you supinate, let’s put you in an anti-supination shoe. You need custom-made orthodics. You need more stability. The thought of wearing less of a shoe is so foreign to so many people, yet I couldn’t agree more with that thought. Years ago Nike came to Egoscue headquarters in San Diego, CA and pitched an idea for a shoe. A couple years later, the Nike Free hit the shelves. It was the first running shoe designed to allow for movement through the foot and touted “Barefoot Technology”. That was, by far, the most comfortable shoe I have ever worn…until I got my first pair of VFFs.
How many of you are struggling with any of the pains I listed above? How many of you are struggling with a pain that wasn’t mentioned? My guess is that somewhere around 75% of you reading this are hurting. If you are a runner, I’m sure you’ve been told that you “upped” your mileage too quickly and you have “Runner’s Knee” as a result. Perhaps you’re wondering how in the world you recently acquired “Tennis Elbow”, when you have been playing the game for 25 years. Or, maybe you are the weekend warrior who plays basketball every Saturday and your hip pain is chalked up to “overuse”.
But, do you really believe it? Think about it: If you upped your mileage too quickly and Runner’s Knee is the result, then both knees should be suffering instead of just one. When it comes to your tennis elbow, you didn’t get a “bad” elbow all of a sudden after all these years of playing. In addition, just like Runner’s Knee, both elbows should hurt if the game is to blame. Again, we can use the same thinking with that pesky hip pain. How can your hip pain be an “overuse” injury if both hips are running up and down the basketball court, and only one hurts, or one hurts worse than the other?
For our answer, we have to stay focused on the overall function and biomechanics of the body. For those of you wondering what function and biomechanics mean to me, I’ll tell you: Maintaining proper joint positioning (posture) throughout a movement, regardless of the activity. You are an amazingly created piece of machinery. You are designed to move, and do it without pain or limitations. And, you are designed to move BAREFOOT.
Being barefoot allows for optimum function in the body. Your metatarsals are allowed to spread, the muscles of the foot and arch are allowed to do their job, and you create a functional domino effect up the rest of the body. The ankle, knee, hip, spine, and shoulders all start to function better. Remember, “the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone…”. We can’t forget that good ol’ kid’s song when addressing musculoskeletal pain and overall function.
Take a look at these pictures. These represent our design blueprint and where our bodies should be:
Notice that in both views the shoulder sits directly above the hip, knee, and ankle (and in the side view the ear is above the shoulder). Now, take a look in the mirror and compare these diagrams with your current joint positioning. How do they line up compared to what you see? My hunch is that you’re “off” a little bit, and if my hunch is true, then I can assume that your body isn’t moving as efficiently as it can (and needs to) be.
Do your feet point out to the side? Which direction are your kneecaps pointing? You might have one hip higher than the other. And, don’t forget about your shoulders—I’m guessing they are rounded forward (if so, you’ll be seeing the back of your hands when you look in the mirror), and you might have one shoulder higher than the other in a similar fashion to your hips.
Rest assured that these deviations from the design blueprint are simply the result of muscles moving bones. All we have to do is get the muscles to engage functionally and properly to move the bones back into their designed position. We can’t brace that injured knee, or treat that pronation with corrective shoes, both of which decrease motion and function. Instead, it’s imperative that the body is allowed to function like it’s designed to. Remember that you are designed to run, jump, climb, crawl and fall…and do them all pain free.
In the coming weeks we’ll discuss how you can eliminate your shoulder pain, change your breathing pattern, and increase function in your degenerative hip simply with the combination of VFFs and The Egoscue Method. You will be well on your way to living PAIN FREE for life!
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The premise of The Egoscue Method is postural therapy: realigning the body to its original design blueprint through proper functional muscle engagement and without the use of drugs, surgery or manipulation. John Elder is the Clinic Director and Owner of the Franklin, Tennessee location. John found the Method at the age of 16 after suffering for two years with a bulging disc in his lower back. He has lived the last 16 years pain free and the last 5 years as an Egoscue Therapist sharing his story of hope with others throughout the south. Contact John today by emailing email@example.com or by calling the Nashville at 615.771.8556.