Ask The Doc: Are Your Feet Healthy?

Print
by THERESA LARSON, DPT, Marine Corps Veteran, CrossFit Coach

Ask The Doc: Are Your Feet Healthy?
At Movement Rx, the majority of our clients are tactical, adaptive, CrossFit, and higher level athletes. Some of our patients’ normal days are to walk 10-15 miles, run miles in the sand, or carry awkward objects and bodies. But it doesn’t take these crazy lifestyles to wear your feet down. Whether you’re a mother of three, a gym owner, an adaptive athlete, an office worker, or a Navy SEAL, your feet are a huge deal. In my parlance, keeping your feet healthy means having good foot mobility. Specifically you want the capsule, sliding surfaces of the muscle, connective tissue, nerves, arteries, and veins as mobile as possible.

How Do You Know if You Have Good Foot Mobility or Not?

Immobile feet mean worse balance and reaction time, lower speed, and less load, amongst other things.
You can see it in your own movement, and you can probably feel it as well. Perhaps you are already feeling the lagging factors of pain such as shin splints, a tight or tender Achilles tendon, plantar fasciitis, bone spurs, or tingling/numbness in your toes. If you have ever experienced any of these, you should probably check your foot mobility.

Important note: If you are having nervy symptoms in your feet, such as numbness and tingling, it may or may not be coming from your spine, so that is something you would want to get checked out if it remains after trying the tests below.

Five Easy Tests

1. Test your squat! Can you squat — feet forward — butt to feet without having your feet turn out?

  • This shows you which side might be more limited. It’s not uncommon for one foot to turn out the lower you go in the squat.

2. Can you sit at the bottom of a pistol with your foot forward and hang out for at least 30 seconds without falling over?

  • This indicates whether you have full ankle range of motion on a single leg

3. How quickly does blood flow back into the toes when you pinch them? 

  • This is a quick test for capillary refill of your feet to show the rate at which blood refills empty capillaries. To measure, place your foot above your heart — which prevents venous reflux — and press the soft pad of the toe until it turns white. What is important is the time it takes for the color to return. If it takes longer than 3 seconds to refill with color, it may be an indication you are dehydrated, so drink some water, give it 10-15 minutes, and retest. If it still takes longer than 2-3 seconds, then see your primary care physician.

4. Can you jump rope for a minute without any discomfort in your feet, knees or hips?

  • This stresses the dynamic nature of your feet and the elastic ability of your connective tissue – such as collagen, muscles, and tendons – that work together around your leg and foot.

5. If you perform the fight club stance (dome your feet or lift your arches to let feet flatten), does one move more than the other?

  • This tests whether you get full pronation and full supination.

Reduced Range of Motion Means Poor Performance (and Potential for Injury)

Here’s why:

Proprioception

Neuromuscularly, you have nerve endings in your joints and soft tissue that relay all information about the muscles, bones, and ligaments to the central nervous system (your spinal cord). These are called proprioceptors or mechanoreceptors, and your feet and ankles are full of them. Proprioception is your body’s ability to understand your own position and movement.

Your feet are the one area of proprioception that is in contact with the ground, meaning they are crucial in detecting any changes in physical displacement (movement or position) and any changes in tension or force within the body.
Immobile feet mean worse balance and reaction time, lower speed, and less load, amongst other things.

Pain
[Y]ou need to heal the tissue through performing movements under appropriate loads, over an appropriate time, with appropriate mechanics…
Pain is a lagging factor, and usually what we see in the gym or on the field are more chronic conditions of immobility or lack of stability and motor control that can lead to acute sprains, strains, dislocations, and tears. The most common chronic inefficiency is limited range of motion (immobility). Even if the pain goes away, you still need to help the tissue heal properly and improve the underlying immobility. Whether it is capsule, muscle, or ligament, you need to heal the tissue through performing movements under appropriate loads, over an appropriate time, with appropriate mechanics, or that pain will come back. If you are diligent you can make gains quickly and improve, but that does not mean jumping back into the same loads prior to injury. You need to work up to it!

What Steps Should You Take for Better Feet?

Step 1: Go after your foot’s joints first, hours before your workout, and/or often during the day. There are 33 joints in the foot, so you do not have to tackle them all at once. Just go after positioning following KStarr’s lead.

Step 2: Go after the soft tissue that impacts the foot. You want to do this after your WOD/exercise or after a hot shower or soak in the hot tub. Here are some examples:

Step 3: Perform proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation (PNF) techniques throughout the day.

[D]on’t expect that your immobile tissue will change quickly if you sit at a desk every day or have moved with poor form for a long time.
Contract and relax of the calves. Activate the front of your shin (anterior tibialis) by pulling your foot up towards your shin for 5 seconds, then relax and physically pull/push your ankle further into this position (dorsiflexion).

It takes time for tissues to change, folks. Most people will see immediate short-term improvements with the above, but don’t expect that your immobile tissue will change quickly if you sit at a desk every day or have moved with poor form for a long time. On the other hand, the more you get out and work on yourself, your positioning, your form, the better.

So enjoy running, walking, and lifting and remember: take care of your immobilities before they become the chronic pains in your heel, foot, shin, and knee.

References

1. Adler S, et el. PNF in Practice. PNF Book. 3rd ed. Chicago. Springer 2008

2. MIT Website: http://web.mit.edu/tkd/stretch/stretching_2.html

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Printable Version

We Are Scouting Top Writers

Are you passionate about fitness and have something to say? Reach a huge online community and get the discussion going - start writing for Tabata Times today!

Share this post
@TabataTimes on Twitter, become a fan on Facebook 

Contribute to this story by commenting below:

Advertise Here

Most Popular of All Time

CrossFit Rubicon shared an image on Facebook

astottprofitness published the post Training young athletes on Tabata Times
Having worked with a large group of young individuals lately I was a wake up call to see just how...
CrossFit Rubicon posted an article
North End CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

http://northendcrossfit.com/?p=2716

North End CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit 757 shared a link on Facebook

Atlas Skill & Partner Row : In 20 Min: Atlas Stone Skill Work Then with a partner for 20 min: Rotate EMOTM sprint row *Post total distance rowed to comments. Mobility Class: Monday @ 1:00 Wed. & Fri. @ 5:00

CrossFit 757 posted an article
astewart30 published the post CrossFit: Is It Really for Everyone? on
There is a lot of buzz around CrossFit. There are the lovers. There are the haters. Then there are...
hashtagmiguel published the post Why are you here? on
Why is a question most people hesitate to answer, hesitate to ask, hesitate to bring up. You can...
zmosbarger published the post It's Okay to Compete on
We’ve taken to the road again after a ten-day pit stop back home in Bellefontaine, Ohio. We...
CrossFit West Springfield posted an article
CrossFit Chesapeake posted an article
Compound CrossFit posted an article
Patriot CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Athlete Profile Name: Guch Hometown: Anchorage PCF: When did you start with PCF? G: September 2008 PCF: Favorite WOD G: None PCF: Least Favorite WOD G: None PCF: What is...

CrossFit RVA shared an image on Facebook

Jaci going over the finer points of the handstand. Great RVA Gymnastics class tonight!

CrossFit Falls Church shared an image on Facebook

Thursday, Oct 16

Brickhouse CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Lindsay's been rocking her first week at @brickhousecrossfit! Welcome to the family! #brickhouseathlete #brickhousecrossfit #crossfit

Patriot CrossFit posted an article
CrossFit Reston shared a link on Facebook

10 rounds for time of: • 3 power cleans 205/115# • 6 HR Push Ups • 9 wall ball shots 20/14# Compare to 1/27/14

CrossFit Full Circle shared an image on Facebook

JeeZ. Some squats.

Ballston CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Mark your calendar! http://ballstoncrossfit.com/tuesday-november-11-2014-630pm-veterans-day-wod-with-warriors/

CrossFit Rosslyn shared an image on Facebook

Thrusters and Muscle Ups = a good friendship. Congrats to Katie G. for getting her muscle up in the AM!

CrossFit Rubicon posted an article
CrossFit Chronic shared a link on Facebook

http://crossfitchronic.com/2014/10/16/101714-fri/

CrossFit Chronic posted an article
Ballston CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Foundations special (only $99 for 6 classes over the next few weeks)! If you have friends interested in joining BCF, encourage them to do it soon! Please share this graphic on your Facebook wall to help promote BCF around Arlington! Next course starts October 28, register before it's full! http://ballstoncrossfit.com/get-started/

CrossFit RVA shared an image on Facebook

Don't forget to come out tonight to Jaci's Handstand gymnastics class at 7:30pm!

CrossFit Chronic shared an image on Facebook

Today we said farewell to Rishi! He's off to the west coast tomorrow. We will miss you and wish you all the best!

CrossFit Full Circle shared an image on Facebook

Have you checked out our reviews? 61/66 people give us 5 stars!

CrossFit Falls Church posted on Facebook

Free workout at noon every Saturday for prospective clients. No need to sign up in advance - just show up!

CrossFit Focus shared an image on Facebook

It's Thursday, ladies!

CrossFit Pittsburgh posted on Facebook

I just wanted to say a special thanks to everyone for yesterday's Hero WOD. Thank you for remembering my Brothers. Special thanks to everyone at the 5:30pm.

CrossFit Iron City shared a link on Facebook

Thursday 10/16/14 http://wp.me/p2Jf7S-18Q

CrossFit Iron City posted an article
CrossFit Rosslyn shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit Focus shared an image on Facebook

Now that's teamwork right there!

CrossFit Focus shared a link on Facebook

Only as high as I reach can I grow; Only as far as I seek can I go; Only as deep as I look can I see; Only as much as I dream can I be.

Salvador published the post To cheat or not to cheat? The "misscounting disorder" on
You hear the signal "3-2-1...go!", the adrenaline starts pumping, you are fully beast-mode. You...
Fentress CrossFit posted on Facebook

Thursday's WOD: "Randy" For Time 75 Power snatchs 75/55 (Note Time) Then 2000m Row

CrossFit Prime posted an article
CrossFit 77 posted an article
CrossFit 77 posted an article
CrossFit LKN posted an article
CrossFit Shadyside posted on Facebook

http://crossfitshadyside.blogspot.com/2014/10/thursday-101614.html

Oak City CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

Members of the OCCF Rowing Team are at the box RIGHT NOW getting those last meters in before the Concept2 Fall Challenge ends. Nice work y'all!

Fearless Athletics CrossFit South Philly posted an article
CrossFit Athletics posted an article
CrossFit Invoke posted an article
paleobutter published the post Sicilian Stuffed Peppers on Nutrition WOD
[yumprint-recipe id='124']
Ballston CrossFit shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit Invoke shared an image on Facebook

Emily is putting in work with sand bag thrusters! #getit #workout #workhard #cfinvoke #cfiathlete #cfibootycamp #relentlesslife #crossfit #strong #barbellbabes #fitness #fitlife

Outlaw CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

TELL ALL YOUR FRIENDS! http://outlawcrossfit.com/2014/10/15/bring-a-friend-promotion/

CrossFit Rosslyn shared a link on Facebook

Thursday, 10/16/14:

CrossFit Rosslyn posted an article
Patriot CrossFit shared a link on Facebook

Pregnancy and CrossFit This post isn’t going to apply to all of you, but I think it is worth addressing, so bear with me. I’ve been approached by quite a...

CrossFit Novem posted an article
CrossFit Old Town shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit Love shared an image on Facebook

LV III – 10.16.14 Competition Programming Swim Intervals 50 meters x 15, Rest is :30 - :60 between each Inflammation Maintenance Mobility Weakness Work - spend 20:00 improving range of motion "Optional" - Performance Upper Body Strength Programming

CrossFit Focus shared an image on Facebook

CrossFit RTP shared an image on Facebook

The community keeps you coming back! Check out our community at our FREE intro class this Saturday at 10:50 am!! Tag a friend who wants to try crossfit. #CrossfitRTP #Crossfit #DurhamNC #Community #TeamPlayer

@TabataTimes on Twitter

Watch the latest episode of GPTV