New video on how motion primes muscle. Basic principle in function that is often overlooked in the exercise world. You cannot jump up without first ‘jumping down’. Try to see what your vertical jump is with straight legs. Same with kicking or throwing. You will notice the trend of motion priming muscle in all function. So if you want to jump higher but have a stiff ankle, want to throw better but cannot rotate through your thoracic spine then…ain’t gonna happen.
Yes, the big toe when working properly is a powerful ally in addressing Piriformis Syndrome. Why? Early and overpronation of the foot require the Piriformis to work hard to control the femur from too much internal rotation.
During the stance phase of gait the Piriformis receives help in two phases. When the heel strikes, and when the foot travels over the big toe. (these things happen at the same time on opposite feet)
When the foot travels over the big toe an effect referred to as the ‘Spanish Windlass’ takes place where the plantar fascia supinates or pulls an arch into the foot. Up the kinetic chain this allows for external rotation or a ‘shortening’ phase for the Piriformis. During the stance phase of gait the Piriformis should act as the following:
- heel strike = Piriformis rest (shortening)
- foot flat = Piriformis working
- heel off = Piriformis rest (shortening)
So 2 x break and 1 x work. In a person that pronates too early and their foot does not travel over their big toe then the piriformis is under increased workload. Issues of entrapment can result in ‘Sciatic’ pain from the facilitated Piriformis.
If you suffer from Piriformis syndrome, experiment with heel strike as well as allowing the foot to hinge over the big toe as you deliberately push off during gait. See if this gives your ‘Piriformis’ a break.
This is surely not the only reason, but a commonly overlooked one.
In reference to the previous post, the foot type associated with piriformis syndrome is often opposite of that associated with IT-band syndrome. Rigid foot versus a loose foot in the kinetic chain.
As I continue to post and consider links in the kinetic chain I am sure that I will need to change previous thoughts and ideas. I feel as though I would like to continue to share ideas as I think of them with the hope of stimulating thought and creating additional paradigms to help sleuth obstacles in our pursuit of moving better.
So without further adieu, IT-Band Syndrome… Why? Quick answer is, the stimulus of femoral internal rotation, as thought of from the ground up, is not being provided during a loading phase to trigger the hip muscular complex.
What? Well let’s look at a severe progression of IT-Band Syndrome that is a common presentation of someone seeking medical help for knee problems.
In this picture we can see the angle of the right knee pre-surgery. If you look at the tibia, it is rotated out, or rotated right. In thinking of the hip, the femur is rotated in relative to the tibia. So every time this person is loading their right leg, the Gluteus complex receives some stimulus to fire at the expense of the knee. The IT-band has adapted, or has been over-utilized, thus creating an externally rotated tibia so that the femur can internally rotate and recruit the glute.
Why would it do this? Let’s think of it in terms of the feet. If this person had a rigid foot type whereby they appear to have a high arch then the stimulus for rotation would be absent during loading of the right foot. Does this hypothesis sound crazy? Let’s look. Look at the post operative picture. Which foot has a high arch? The right foot has a high arch compared to the left. This person, if weight bearing, is in the loading phase of the right foot when the arch should be least suggesting a foot type that creates a rigid/arched foot. This person had their knee fixed surgically but did they ever look at the foot/cause?
If this is true then common foot types causing IT-Band Syndrome (or what the fellow in the picture may have) would be…
Uncompensated Rearfoot varus (rigid foot)
Rigid Forefoot Valgus (rigid foot)
Pes Cavus (rigid foot)
Reactive foot types following an externally rotated tibia seem to be more
As we have mentioned in a previous post, motion primes muscle. In Part 1 of Supinated Back Pain? we identified a Supinated/rigid/arched foot’s effect in limiting the motion that subsequently triggers the hip musculature to work.
If the hip cannot capture this required motion to work from the foot, interesting things start to happen. The motion of rotation for the hip to work is required and will take place. The question is what will happen to create it.
I discussed with someone suffering from back pain on the right lowest region of the back. They explained how their back pain would sometime radiate into the buttocks of the right side and keep them awake at night.
When watching this person walk it was apparent that their upper torso rotated to the right when their right foot was flat on the ground.
They were loading their hip musculature with motion from the top down. They would over-rotate their torso ‘out’ to make the femur rotate ‘in’ relative to the pelvis.
As a result they were abusing the area where they complained of their back pain.
Hopefully this allows us to appreciate how the body will compensate and allow us to perform the task we ask of it. The body may not perform it in the most efficient way. Whether it is the way we are made, or the way our bodies have adapted to our lifestyle, it is extremely beneficial to have a general understanding of how it moves to address some of our common concerns.
On a side note, the medial model of treatment had been imaging of the low back and prescriptions to address the pain. Surgery was another option on the list to address what they had assumed was a bulging disc. When asked, ‘Did anyone watch you walk’? The answer was simply, ‘no’.
Often times I hear reference to a healthy foot by whether or not it ‘has an arch in it’. This is often in reference to one of the three arches known as the Medial Longitudinal Arch. A quick and easy way to simplify the foot is if the foot is, or becomes ‘arched’ then it is rigid. If the foot is or becomes flat then it is flexible.
A high arched, rigid foot, does not allow for torque conversion to take place in the heel bone/sub-talar joint.
Therefore the knee does not spin in… Therefore the femur does not spin in… Therefore the hip musculature is not primed with motion to assist in propulsion.
Since this site is dedicated to preserving, enhancing, and restoring movement we should also think about more than muscle and bone. I guess it’s best to present this in story form.
After many elbow specific treatments and interventions, person “X” continued to struggle with elbow pain diagnosed as ‘Tennis Elbow’. They later relayed a ‘breakthrough’ stretch. ‘Person X’ demonstrated this stretch that appeared quite different to the conventional stretches they were provided by their medical professional.
This stretch looked something like this…
Thinking about the structures involved I wondered why did they feel the need to move the neck and involve the shoulder? Tennis elbow from a muscular standpoint involves wrist and elbow muscles. So why the neck and shoulder? What travels like this?
In a previous posting examining how many systems and structures are involved in our movement, it begged the question what system/structure is being biased with ‘Person X’s’ stretch.
Introducing the radial nerve. Person X’s stretch most resembled a radial nerve tension moment. After performing several of these stretches, symptoms would reduce implying that a restriction in nerve motion was present.
After sleuthing out an entrapment site and integrating the thoracic spine to reduce elbow stress the elbow was able to heal. Person X revealed how movement involves more than muscle and bone.
Recently I was posed the question, why should i push so hard to get my knee to move to 120 degrees when I am at 110 degrees of knee bend. I am older and seem to be able to do everything that I want to do at home with my current knee mobility.
Well… my current thought was relayed as follows.
Two reasons. Establishing a buffer and motion primes muscle.
It may take 110 degrees to perform most tasks, but what about the story you told me when you were navigating steps into the attic and you dropped an item that you needed to pick up. Did you have the ability to perform that task? Having a buffer is important.
Being a male weighing close to 200#, I generally would rather sit in a chair rated for 250# versus a chair rated for 200#. You never know when you may need that extra bit of buffer to address the unusual or unexpected demand.
More importantly motion primes muscle. A person does not jump without first bending knees, hips, and ankles. You cannot kick a ball forward with any force without first kicking backward away from that ball. Motion precedes muscle function as it primes the contractile tissue to fire. If you are missing motion you will be less efficient in stimulating the receptors to perform in their respective roles involving functional activities.
Why is she kicking backward to kick the ball forward? Because motion primes muscle. She is providing a quick stretch to the tissues on the front of the torso and right leg and they are gonna fire and blast the heck out of that ball.