Too Much Arch Support??

August 17, 2010

Everyday it seems I talk to a patient or friend and they mention how flat their feet are and that they make sure they have good arch support in their shoes. Everyday, all the time. REALLY?! Could it be that a majority of the population has fallen arches?? I don’t buy it and neither should you.

Is it true that we set up our kids up for failure by putting them in hard, way too supportive of a shoe before they can even walk? Absolutely! I see it all the time. Just like the natural curves in our spine that need to develop as we go from crawling to walking as do the arches in our feet. As we start to walk our arches and the muscles and tissues that give them support and stability begin to strengthen and develop. Unfortunately we don’t give their feet a chance because we throw these over-supportive shoes on them. Imagine wearing a cast from your wrist up to your shoulder eight hours a day for a year. What will happen? It’s simple. The ol’ use it or lose it principle. The muscles will get smaller. Joint degeneration will begin to set in. The arm will lose that ever so important connection to your brain, etc etc. But does that mean our feet are doomed to never have strong stable arches again?

Of course the best way to help our feet is to start at the beginning with our kids. It’s good to give kid’s feet a chance to get strong as soon as they start walking and you can do that by either letting them go barefoot whenever possible or providing them with a soft sole shoe that challenges the foot. Now if you are reading this you are probably beyond just starting to walk. You have probably already exposed your feet to some potential weakness. Many people actually have weakness only in one foot which can lead to many biomechanical issues such as: leg length discrepancy, pelvic torsion, lack of tibial rotation which can inhibit the quadriceps, and many knee issues due to unilateral wear. Having weakness in both arches can cause the same as above along with having problems in your spine down to the joints in the legs. Our arches provide us with extra shock absorption to help decrease ground reactive forces produced while walking, running, and jumping. If you have fallen arches you have to provide your feet with some form of external arch support for cushion or…..you can try and re-strengthen them.

Let me back up just a second and speak to the ones who are not sure if they have fallen arches. I’m going to help you find out so that you can be on your way. Grab two index cards and a pen and mark L on top of one and R on the top of the other. In the seated position make sure your feet are flat on the floor. Find that bony prominence on the inside part of your ankle and trace with your finger one inch down and one inch forward toward the big toe. This will land you approximately in the middle of your foot at another boney landmark called the navicular bone. Use a pen and place a mark right in the middle of that bone on both feet. Now place an index card on the floor and next to that pen mark. Mark on the index card exactly where the mark on your foot is. Repeat other side. The next part would be easier to have a buddy help you out. Keeping the card next to your foot, stand up. Now mark on the card where the line on your foot has dropped. Repeat other side. Finally using a ruler measure the distance between the two lines on each card. The separation of those two lines represents how much your arch falls when you go from non-weight bearing to weight bearing. It is normal for them to fall slightly but not more than 4mm. If your measurement is 5mm or more you might have weak and unstable arches that need to be addressed.

            Ok so you have either been diagnosed by a healthcare provider or you just diagnosed your- self with fallen arches. How do you fix it? Keep in mind that this is an issue that you have created over the course of your whole life so it might take a few months to stabilize and gain optimal strength back. Here are a couple of exercises to do to rebuild that neurological connection to your foot and help strengthen. The first is balancing on one leg. This might sound simple but can be difficult if you have weak arches and is absolutely crucial for rebuilding. With no shoes on stand on one leg as long as you can.  Switch to the other side. Your goal is to work your way up to one minute. Perform a couple sets twice a day. The second is a towel curling exercise. Place a hand towel on the floor all spread out. Put your toes on the edge of the towel and begin curling your toes in until the other side of the towel reaches your toes. Switch to the other side. Perform two sets twice a day. After doing those exercises for 6 weeks, it is time to start transitioning into a neutral shoe. Add this shoe in slowly. Wear them only a couple hours a day or a mile or two while running or walking and slowly increase time and/or distance. Then potentially down the road you can move into a “natural” shoe like the Nike Free.

            While strengthening and stabilizing your arches you might notice some changes: a decrease in back pain, decrease in knee pain and hip pain, no more plantar fasciitis, increase in running/walking distance and many more pleasant side effects. Remember to have patience with this rebuilding and not to get too hurried. Jumping into a neutral shoe too soon can cause more problems. So take your time and enjoy the ride.  

Any questions about this article or general health related questions please contact Dr. Mike Gensler at mgensdc@gmail.com.

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Stressed and Tired of These Headaches!

April 5, 2010

We live in a society that encourages and almost takes pride in having high levels of stress. The American way these days is working 60 hours a week (both parents), parents shuttling their kids to different sports or activities twice a day everyday, and leaving no time for family time. All this and more equals stress, stress, and more stress. When many of us are stressed where do we feel it? Usually between the shoulder blades, neck, and the head. The more stress we have and the more stress we are unable to handle or adapt to turns into muscle tension. This muscle tension 9 out of 10 times turns into a blistering headache. Then after the storm has calmed, we sit down and relax or may the spouse gives a neck rub, the headache will go away. But unfortunately this stressful world we live in is not just here one day then never to be seen again. We have this stress every single day and these headaches day after day. Now after months or even years the headaches are more persistent than ever and do not go away so easily. They have become chronic!

Chronic headaches can give the individual a devil of a time. If you have ever noticed when you are stressed your shoulders are shrugged up and tensed. The muscle between the neck and shoulder called the trapezius is the culprit. When this muscle is under tension for long periods of time headaches can present. Other muscles more commonly known to lead to a headache are the suboccipital muscles. These little guys are at the top of your neck at the base of your skull.

When you are under stress or have poor posture (which can be a result of stress), the suboccipitals can build tension and go into spasm irritating the nerves that penetrate through and run along and around the skull causing the infamous headache. Misalignments in the upper cervical spine can also result and cause further issues to be resolved.

So what can you do? Well, stress is sometimes difficult to minimize. We are under stress all the time, the key is can your body adapt and handle it? There are many effective ways to deal with stress. Meditation, yoga, chamomile tea, exercise, and sex are a few things you can do to help the body handle stress. The key is to elicit the body’s relaxation response. To learn more about this topic I highly recommend the book “The Relaxation Response” by Herbert Benson, MD. Not all stress can be avoided, but everyone can find their inner relaxation response. Another way to deal with stress, get adjusted by a chiropractor. Doctors of chiropractic are trained to deal with the physical and chemical stress and the headaches that can result. Your diet can be a major cause of stress or it can the limiting factor that’s not allowing you to handle the stress in your life. Keep a food diary for one week and you might be surprised that you really don’t eat that well or it could be worse than you thought. Changing your diet can change your life.  

Stress is the true silent killer and headaches can be a sign that you are under too much stress. It’s your health and your body, start taking responsibility for it today.

Chronic Pain Syndromes

January 28, 2010

Per Wikipedia: “Chronic pain has several different meanings in medicine. Traditionally, the distinction between acute and chronic pain has relied upon an arbitrary interval of time from onset; the two most commonly used markers being 3 months and 6 months since the initiation of pain,[1] though some theorists and researchers have placed the transition from acute to chronic pain at 12 months.[2] Others apply acute to pain that lasts less than 30 days, chronic to pain of more than six months duration, and subacute to pain that lasts from one to six months.[3] A popular alternative definition of chronic pain, involving no arbitrarily fixed durations is “pain that extends beyond the expected period of healing.”[1]

Some of the common conditions diagnosed in the realm of chronic pain is fibromyalgia, osteoarthritis, rheumatoid arthritis, migraines, lowback pain, diabetes, etc. Some one in two americans are diagnosed with one of these conditions and that ratio could be on the rise. Why is that? Are doctors diagnosing them more? Environmental polutions? Genetics? The list of causes can go on, but if you are the one with some kind of chronic pain all you care about is how can I get better. You’ve probably been to many different kinds of doctors and suffered through many different treatments. Here you still are in chronic pain that is sucking the life out of you. Next thing you know you are “depressed” and put on more medication. Are you depressed because of a deficiency in depression meds?

Have you tried alternative medicine? Chiropractic, acupuncture, massage therapy, proper diet, herbs, and vitamins are natural alternative ways to manage chronic pain. But guess what? Not many people know this! Alternative medicine is rapidly growing, but still has a long way to go. If you are a past chronic pain sufferer that has benefited from chiropractic, acupuncture, etc please spread the word. Word of mouth travels fast and is a great way to spread the use of this medicine.

Ear Infection Treatment Alternative

December 30, 2009

Millions of children come down with ear infections every year. Millions of children receive treatment in the form of antibiotics or tubes every year. Millions of children have reoccuring infections even after being treated with antibiotics or tubes. As a parent you should be asking, “do I have any alternatives?” The answer is an astounding YES. Chiropractic is a safe, natural, and effective method of treatment that focuses on the cause of the problem and not just the symptoms.

Chiropractors who specialize in pediatrics use gentle adjustments to the spine to clear spinal dysfunction that could be causing nervous system interference. Studies have shown that adjusting misalignments in the upper cervical spine of children significantly decrease reoccuring ear infections as compared to conventional treatment. Along with the adjustments, chiropractors look at the overall health and lifestyle of the child and family.

The role of the chiropractic adjustment in the care and treatment of 332 children with otitis media.   Fallon, JM.   Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Pediatrics Vol 2, No. 2 1997 p.167-183.

  • From the abstract:   This pilot study included children from 27 days old to five-years-old, was on the effects of chiropractic adjustments on children with otitis media used tympanography as an objective measure.
  • Results:   the average number of adjustments administered by types of otitis media were as follows: acute otitis media (127 children) 4 adjustments; chronic/serous otitis media (104 children) 5 adjustments; for mixed type of bilateral otitis media (10 children) 5.3 adjustments; where no otitis was initially detected (74 children) 5.88 adjustments. The number of days it took to normalize the otoscopic examination was for acute 6.67, chronic/serous 8.57 and mixed 8.3. the number of days it took to normalize the tympanographic examination was acute: 8.35, chronic/serous 10.18 and mixed 10.9 days. The overall recurrence rate over a six month period from initial presentation in the office was for acute 11.02%, chronic/serous 16.34%, for mixed 30% and for none present 17.56%.
  • Conclusion:   The results indicate that there is a strong correlation between the chiropractic adjustment and the resolution of otitis media for the children in this study. Note: 311 of the 332 had a history of prior antibiotic use. 53.7% of the children had their first bout of otitis media between the ages of 6 months and 1 year and a total of 69.9% of the subjects in the study had their first bout of OM under a year of age. This is consistent with the findings of others

This is just one of many studies to show the effectiveness of chiropractic with children. For more information or to locate a pediactric chiropractor in your area go to http://www.icpa4kids.org.

Kinematic Sequence of the Golf Swing: Part One

November 9, 2009

The game of golf is the most challenging sport I have ever played. So many things have to come together in order for you to hit a little white ball into a small hole in the ground 500 yards away. And unfortunately it’s not the person with the highest score wins. But that is why golf is so appealing and extremely popular in all age groups. The player doesn’t have a shot clock and there isn’t a 250lb linebacker chasing you down. What golf does have is a chain of events that must take place in order for maximum power and consistent ball striking to occur. This chain of events is called your kinematic sequence or sequence of movement. This specifically takes place from the top of your backswing and through impact. About 90% of amateur golfers I have seen lack a proper kinematic sequence.

Why is it that many successful pro golfers like Jim Furyk or Kenny Perry have such an awkward looking swing, yet they are great players and consistently win? Because every great golfer, no matter what their swing looks like from the outside, has an efficient kinematic sequence. They transfer their speed and energy segmentally in proper sequence from the top of their swing through impact. Here’s a look at a proper kinematic sequence: the down swing is initiated by the lower body specifically the pelvis, then follows the trunk or torso, followed by the arms, and then finally the club. Energy is transferred from the lower body to the torso to the arms to the club. And this energy builds or accelerates as it is transferred through each segment like a whip or a wound up coil. So as the lower body accelerates to initiate the down swing, the coil begins to unwind. This activates the torso to unwind and accelerate and at the same time the pelvis is decelerating and so on down through the sequence. Swing consistency and club head speed begins and ends with this whip like action. Unfortunately most amateurs begin the down swing with the upper body thereby disrupting the kinematic sequence.  So in order to have an efficient golf swing you must have muscles that fire in the appropriate pattern or order. Next month I will get into the muscles responsible and what to you can do to fix an improper or inefficient kinematic sequence.

Off-season training for Golf

October 23, 2009

As much as I hate to say it, but golf season is coming to an end. For some of us that is a good thing. This downtime from golf gives us a chance to truly work on our game. It’s a chance to work on flexibility, power, or maybe to work through some aches and pains that we didn’t have time for because time would much rather be spent on the course. Can’t blame you there. The offseason lets us reflect back and think about “What part of my game, body, or physical conditioning do I want to improve?”.  Of course everyone has a different answer. What is yours?

Lets say you want to work on your swing because you have a sway swing fault. The first question that needs to be addressed is: what’s the cause? Once the cause is nailed down: how do we fix it? Two of the most common causes of a sway is lack of good internal rotation of the trail hip during the back swing and gluteal instability. Both easy to fix.

Ok, so you want to work on your body or some part of it. Maybe you get back or elbow pain midway through a round and your score shoots up. Same thing applies here. What is the cause and how do we fix it? A couple of the most common causes of back pain for golfers is a S-posture at set up and reverse spine angle swing fault. Most common cause of elbow pain is a scooping swing fault at impact position. Fix those issues and your game will only get better.

If you are already doing some sort of in-season training program, the transition to an off-season program is fairly simple. Starting a golf training program from scratch is a different story. If starting from scratch, depending on what is going on, you might have to do in-season/off-season combined program to get things started. There are many websites and programs out there that are good, but can be confusing as well. I highly recommend talking with your golf pro or golf fitness pro on how to get started. The off-season can be a great tool, use it wisely. Look for my next blog where I will dive into an actual training program.

Fit for Golf

July 24, 2009

Why has it taken so long for fitness or any kind of athletic conditioning program for golfers to become as main-stream as it is now? When you think of a football, baseball, or basketball player you automatically associate conditioning programs or two a day intense physical practice. You assume these men/women are in great physical shape because of the physical demand of the sport. But has it always been that way? Think back in the days of Ruth or Musial, these guys were not in the gym everyday like they are now. The same goes for all other physically demanding sports. Did some pro football player hire a trainer one day to try and increase his fitness/conditioning level thereby causing other players to do the same in order to maintain that same level of competition?
Twenty years ago, when you thought of golf you thought of it as a mental game. A game that did not require much athletic ability to play. Now when you think of golf, who do you associate the game with? Most people would probably say Tiger Woods. Ever since he came onto the scene in the late 90’s showing off his fit physique and powerful swing, people started taking more notice of golf on the physical side. Tiger was so far ahead of everyone else that he sparked a rise in the level of competition so much that made all the other golfers say “Hey, I need to get into some kind of fitness/conditioning program to keep up with this guy”.
After last weekend, the world is buzzing about Tom Watson. Do you think Tom Watson might be on some kind of golf conditioning program? You better believe it. Tom is in great shape. Turnberry is not the longest course, but it requires a lot of strength and endurance to have to hit out of that ridiculous rough. This was a great example for the golf world and to the 55 and older age groups. Since 2001, golf in that age group has increased 20%. I would like to think it has to do with golf fitness becoming an important element of the game and allowing a 59 year old like Tom Watson to be able to play as well as he is at his age.
Golf fitness has taken off so much that there is a booming market out there with people like myself that are certified through Titleist as a golf fitness instructor. Golf is such a great game that we want to do it forever. By adding in a golf fitness program, golfers are able to avoid injury and be in better shape to play the game well into a senior age. Golf will never be thought of like football with its physical demands, but it is so awesome to see it finally get the credit it so well deserves.