Gaitway to Health
When you feel like your body has failed you, maybe you should consider the notion that it might really be the other way around. In what way have we failed our knees? It mostly comes down to chairs and shoes, both of which make it impossible to move correctly.
Pain caused by movement in any joint means that joint is likely doing more work than it should. Why is it overworked? Because the muscles supporting the neighboring joints aren’t pulling their weight. Shoes inhibit movement of the foot to the detriment of the ankle and knee joints, while chairs inhibit the hip joint to the detriment of the knee and lumbar spine.
Let's talk about ankle mobility. A lever needs to rotate around the fulcrum and if there isn’t enough movement at the axis to accomplish this, then you'll have to compensate by moving differently.
The image below shows a goal for ankle range-of-motion. The plantar-flexed ankle is how the foot should look right before the "toe off" moment in the gait cycle. The axis of the ankle and the pulley system of the posterior leg muscles require a straight foot to generate the most force without friction.
Then there are the mechanics of the foot itself. Too often in a shoe-wearing population, the foot is no longer supple enough to conform to the ground, but stiff and chronically everted when bearing weight. This forces the subtalar joint (located below the ankle) to wobble side to side while walking.
I really enjoy making music, and when I had children, I encouraged them to play from an early age. I strewed my house with instruments of every ilk, and placed little working miniatures of my favorites in their hands by age two. Then I noticed some troubling changes in their skeletal alignment. Of course, by the time I realized I was negatively influencing their physical development, they'd both realized they really like music.
I’d never have thought that playing an instrument for fun could be anything but beneficial, yet progressive changes in skeletal alignment told a different story.
I have received a request for help to unravel knee problems. I'm going to tackle this in 3 parts, because I know, if I give out all the information at once, most people will ignore the foundational information and skip to the cherry on top of my corrective sundae, causing themselves more injury and pain. If you're serious about fixing your knees, give yourself some time to master what follows. It's not as easy as it looks!
If you are moving correctly, your knees will never bother you. If you have ever even felt a twinge in the knee, then this post is for you. Remember that no matter what you've been told in the past, your knee problems are NOT due to aging, except that your age determines how long you've been misusing your body. Also, don't blame your genes.Your problems are user-induced.
The first and easiest adjustment for knee health is your stance. A vertical leg loads the knee evenly in all directions and as a bonus, eliminates strain on the plantar fascia. Sore feet anyone?
These legs are vertically stacked, and the load is evenly distributed across the joint in all directions.
Most people's feet are about as supple as a couple loaves of stale ciabatta. That thought kept popping into my head. When I looked it up, I found that ciabatta literally translates to "slipper" bread.
Unyielding feet have been around for a long time. So long, in fact, that as a species we've collectively forgotten how a foot was designed to look and move. Whether you are young or old, an athlete or a couch potato, a fashionista or wish every day was Pajama Friday, your feet likely have much in common with your fellow man. Namely, soreness, bunions, hammer toes, plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, flat arches, arthritis, neuropathy or all of the above. Worst of all, the solution is so simple: First, stop abusing those tired ole dogs and align them so that they can do their job properly; Second, require them to move. ALOT. In novel ways.
My Quest for Whole Body Alignment began as a way to be a role model of health for my 3-year-olds (there are two of them). Since my alignment was way less than perfect, and since little kids emulate adults, I figured I better work hard to change my habits so as not to negatively influence their already perfect form.
Yet, as my alignment has improved over the last two years, theirs has declined. For better or worse, I'm not their only influence. Something as innocent as coloring has cramped their fingers, while just a few hours of sitting a day (at meals and during car rides) has shortened their psoas, hamstrings and calf muscles. But the one that REALLY burns me up, is that from September to December of 2011, around the time they turned 4, their foot position while standing and walking changed. They went from standing and walking with feet pelvis width apart and having strong lateral hip muscles, to standing and walking with feet together and having weak lateral hip muscles. This change coincided with an awareness of girl culture, a desire to wear dresses and an identification with princesses... along with sitting and looking at them in books and on TV.
If you are a Girlie Girl your tootsies touch to show just how dainty your are.