Ask the Doc: Unlock Your Rear Foot

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by DR. THERESA LARSON|DPT,CSCS

Ask the Doc: Unlock Your Rear Foot
Movement Rx Warriors,

This episode is all about unlocking the REAR FOOT, specifically your subtalar joint. If you suffer with a limited ankle joint range of motion, if you have a decreased hip extension, if you cannot perform a pistol, if you feel an impingement on the outside of your foot, or if you have sacroiliac joint pain, this technique might just save you.

In addition to going after your subtalar joint (which is part of your rear foot – see video below), you need to be getting into the nitty gritty tissue of the lower leg such as the calf, your peroneals, anterior tibialis, and your hip flexor in order to be able to get the appropriate positions for squatting heavy objects and pounding the pavement with walking, running, or jumping around.

If you are more of a hypermobile athlete and have pretty good fight club positioning (again, see video for explanation) and do not struggle with the external to internal rotation in your feet, but you do have a problem with depth, then work on the soft tissue surrounding the lower leg with a barbell, foam roller, and/or lacrosse balls.

My prescription for these techniques is a minimum of 2 minutes for the lacrosse ball mob of the calcaneus on talus, and 50 squats with the talus moving on a blocked calcaneus to the point you feel restriction and push a little further. Do not let your feet externally rotate or shift away from pointing straight forward.

On a related note, if you have poor foot and ankle mobility due to flat feet, recent research by barefoot running experts Dr. Irene Davis and Dr. Rob Morrison shows how “activating” (i.e. lifting or doming) your arches can actually help rebuild the bottom of your feet. As someone who has flat arches and a dropped navicular bone, I also go barefoot or wear minimalist shoes as often as possible to help “teach” my feet, along with activating the arches.

The activation Dr. Davis refers to when she speaks on barefoot running is similar to the way Dr. Kelly Starrett speaks of cobra stiffness in the butt/low back or how Dr. Stuart McGill espouses creating a stiff spine when Olympic weightlifting. Similar to K-Star’s emphasis on the proper amount of cobra stiffness when standing in line at Starbucks, doming/arching the feet should be done moderately. Focus on gentle activation of your arches at 10-20% (toes should not have to curl with this level of doming), and your stiff dogs will thank you.

Originally posted to movement-rx.com on February 18, 2014. Check out Movement Rx on Facebook and follow them on Twitter at @movement_rx.

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