Your feet-why they need extra care

When we walk, our feet and ankles absorb impact and force from above and the ground. Our feet need tender loving care because of this.

During this overwhelming pandemic, walking is like a lifeline. People are walking more than ever. You can use this time to improve your alignment and movement skills, starting with your feet.

When we walk, our feet and ankles absorb impact and force from above and the ground. Our feet need tender loving care because of this. Your feet have 52 bones and over 100 ligaments, with 40 muscles and tendons connecting the muscles to these bones. They all form the foundation of the human body. Having healthy feet and ankles means that they can keep your body balanced and can withstand the pressure of standing and moving. That pressure needs to be evenly distributed throughout the lower legs all the way up to the head.  

The average American walks 3,000 to 4,000 steps a day. When you walk, the pressure on your feet increases by 50 percent, and increases even more during an hour of strenuous exercise, cushioning up to one million pounds of pressure. If the feet and ankles are not functioning optimally, it could create some problems through the entire muscular system.

Other areas of the body will be affected as they shift further out of alignment to try to maintain balance.

Our gait affects the whole body, from the moment your heel hits the ground and your weight is transferred through a system of arches that displace forces. The muscles of your feet and lower leg react as our arches drop and roll with gait. The feet and ankle also must know how to adapt to changes in surfaces, like steps or uneven terrain. If your ankles don’t bend, for example, or your knees roll inward, called pronation, not only is your walking gait off kilter, but the knees, hips, lower and upper back can be affected because of musculoskeletal imbalances.

  1. How do they look?

Take a moment to look at your feet. Notice if your big toes have bunions or calluses, or if that toe has moved towards the other toes, rather than pointing straight ahead. Are your lesser toes curled up and flexed?These conditions are called hammer, claw or mallet toes. Are your arches collapsed? Are your feet turned outward as you stand? All of these checkpoints affect the position of the knee, so you can begin to understand the importance of distributing your weight evenly through your feet.

2. Golf and tennis ball roll.

Give your feet a home massage by rolling a golf ball under your foot for a few minutes every day. This exercise helps rejuvenate the plantar fascia, a broad dense tissue on the underside of your foot, where the muscles of you lower leg attach.

Place a golf ball under your foot, and roll the ball back and forth, until you feel tender or sore spots. Pause on the sore spots, until you feel the sore spot release. If the golf ball is too painful, use a tennis ball. You can also add an active stretch by pulling your toes up while rolling.

Do this myofascia release exercise as you sit watching TV, or by your bed to do first thing in the morning.

3. Toe Stretch.

After you golf or tennis ball roll, stretch the underside of your foot to increase the flexibility of your toes and ankle. Stand barefoot, one foot forward, with your toes pushed up against the wall. Keep the ball of your foot and base of the toes in contact with the floor. Slowly lean in, moving the knee inward. Hold for 10-15 seconds, and repeat.

Take at look at the exercises at

https://vimeo.com/user77012133/review/415371796/a971589693

https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/features/fitness-guru/article_10c8774a-90b1-11ea-8d1c-3b262b6c1d24.html

Are you doing it right? How to do standing bicep curls

If you needed to work on your balance, standing on one leg, say for 30 seconds, is a good exercise. A good cue would be to imagine your stance leg as a wood post, or that you cement your foot into the ground. Besides helping improve your balance, the muscles of the lower leg play a role in helping you stand on your leg. An exercise like this, standing on one leg, offers a practical carryover to a real-life situation where you just might need to be strong on one leg. A goal of strength training is not only to improve strength, but also to improve function and prevent injury.

The barbell or dumbbell bicep curl is an arm strengthener, common in resistance training. The action involves elbow flexion, or bringing the hands toward the face. Most people stand with their feet side-by-side, or parallel, to perform them. Front-loaded exercises, like the barbell biceps curls, shift the body’s center of gravity forward, outside of your base of support. What typically ends up happening is that most people sway their trunk backward to counter the added weight in front of them, lose their postural control and end up stressing the lumbar spine.

It’s always a good idea to limit compressive forces on the back. Research shows that having weights alongside the body, rather than held out front of the body at shoulder height, is much more spine-friendly.

If you think about daily activities, such as lifting a big UPS package, or carrying something in front of you, most people would lift or stand in a staggered stance, as it is more stable.  As training is meant to improve function, it makes sense to train in positions that mimic real life, not just a single muscle.

As we age, it becomes even more important to train not just muscle, but movement. Countering muscle disuse through resistance training is a powerful intervention to combat the loss of muscle strength and muscle mass. Independence, mobility, psychological well-being and healthy life expectancy are all benefits.

Lifting groceries or a basket of laundry requires not only strength and mobility, but also good postural control, much like the front-loaded bicep curl. What foot position would give you a larger base of support so you don’t fall? What foot position would give you better stability and balance when doing tasks such as lifting?

Getting back to the bicep curl, the question of which stance was better—parallel or staggered—was recently addressed by two studies at the National Strength and Conditioning Association national conference. The studies showed that the staggered stance provides a bigger base of support anteriorly. Keep in mind that any front-loaded exercise, like the bicep curl, shifts the body’s center of gravity forward. Standing in a staggered stance helps maintain overall stability and balance. It turns out that all muscle activation is the same, no matter your foot position. This includes forward-and-back trunk sway, external obliques, lumbar erector spine, front shin and side shin activity. Whatever stance, staggered or parallel, that you are most comfortable with, without back sway, is good lifting technique. Add an image such as your legs as wood posts, or Krazy glue your feet into the ground, and your bicep curls will look and feel great.https://www.mtexpress.com/wood_river_journal/fitness-guru/article_a6726150-bf8f-11e9-b702-0348f49bc0a0.html

Preventing Tripping and Falling As You Age

Falls can be traumatic after a certain age. My father passed away from complications from a fall, one of the most common causes of severe brain injury. He hit his head while helping my mother get groceries out of their car one morning. As tragic as my family’s loss, falls happens all too often in people over 65; The Center for Disease Control reports that 1 out of 3 people over 65 will suffer falls and that they are the leading cause of injury death. Twenty -30% percent of fallers suffer the inconvenience of hip, pelvis or spine fractures that not only make it harder for them to get around, but chips away at their self-confidence. Recent studies show that strength training alone is not enough to prevent falls and improve balance among the elderly. It certainly is important to retain muscle strength as you age, because in your 50’s your strength starts to decline at a rate of 12-15% per year. But could it be that older people trip and stumble more often or is it because they are less able to recover balance after a stumble or trip? Is it because their balance is off? In a study on the prevention of falling in older folks, The Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research February 2011 stressed the importance of not only power and quadriceps strength, but balance training also.

Swing , sway and stand

A lot of factors, like falling history, muscle weakness, eyesight, number of medications, arthritis,fear of falling and home hazards all contribute to fitness decline and falls. During the actual fall, the study demonstrated that lack of lower leg strength predisposes them to fall. Their “swing phase “is off; their thighs aren’t strong enough to allow them to regain their balance. This means these older people end up taking too many small steps or arm reactions and end up tripping.

For a simple balance exercise try rising up on your toes, keeping your weight aligned over your big and second toe. This trains the sensory, or balance receptors in your ankle and foot. These muscles send out important sensory information to control standing balance. An exercise such as toe-raises, for example, trains the sensorimotor inputs, all providing valuable information about body position with respect to the supporting surface.

Stepping down off a small step is a good exercise as the study showed that the down phase of stepping in this age group is altered because of very tight ankle muscles. Stepping up onto a step is an example of a strengthening move to help strengthen the whole lower body. Although not a chipper subject, The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 4 preventative measures to avoid falls. 1. No matter how old you are, stay active 2.Make your home safer, by removing clutter from stairways and doorways, for example. Almost half of falls happen at home. 3.Have your doctor review your medications for side-effects. Some medications can make you light-headed or drowsy, which can lead to a fall.4.Have your eyes or eyeglasses checked. Poor vision can increase your risk of falling.

Connie Aronson is an American College of Sports Medicine Health and Fitness Specialist and IDEA Elite certified personal trainer. She is located at the YMCA in Ketchum, Idaho