Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Highlights of Dr. Emily Splichal Barefoot Science Presentation

These are a few highlights that I took note of from Dr. Emily Splichals presentation at the Okanagan Strength Seminar.   The OSS was a six part series that is available for download.  Highly recommend it.  I've learned some cool stuff from each presenter and I've only had time to go through half of the six presenters.

Dr Splichal is a Podiatrist and Fitness professional that specializes in what is called barefoot science. Training the foot for greater athletic and health performance.  

Most people think barefoot training is running barefoot.  Not correct.

Barefoot, means barefoot.  Training in a minimalist shoe, vibrams, even socks, are not the same thing.  The plantar surface can't have anything else in contact between you and the floor for that afferent feedback.  

A high arch is usually a stiffer foot, more problems with Achilles, stress fractures.  A "flat foot" is more likely to experience shin splints, knee pain. 

Strengthening the glute med over 6-8 weeks can pull the sub talar joint up 2-3 degrees.  This is the same amount that most orthotics try to correct.  

Steps to Barefoot Science
1.  Mobilize the Everters.  Everters are muscles that attach to the lateral side of the calcaneus.  Peroneal group and gastrocnemeus.  Gastrocs lateral head tends to be more tense.  Mobilization through myofascial release is more effective then stretching.  Trigger points have been shown to cause hypomobility of the joint.   Shoot for at least 5 minutes.

2.  Activate the Inverters.  Inverters are muscles that attach to the inside of foot.  Abductor hallucis, tibialis posterior and tibialias anterior.   A great activating exercise is the short foot drill.  (the short foot drill will be a foundational exercise so get good at it.)

3.  Isolate and Strengthen the Inverters.  Now this group can be strengthened.  A great exercise is placing a ball between your heels, feet pointing straight ahead, and do a calf raise.  The pressure to keep the ball in place helps to strengthen the inverters.  

4.  Strengthen toe flexors.  These are perpetually weak on most people.  These are the small intrinsic muscles, not the extrinsic or muscles that cross up into the calf.   Press the toes into the floor, whole toe, not just the distal tips.  Forward lean after the toes are pressed in.  When this gets good, do a calf raise.   Toe flexor strength correlates to vertical jump.  The old standby of toe crunches actually strengthen the already strong extrinsic toe muscles which will actually create a further strength imbalance and it creates hammer toes.

5.  Strengthen the hip rotators.  Hip rotators have an intricate relationship with the foot muscles. 

6.  Integrate everything.  Short foot, small knee bend, small amount of hip flexion.  This is the loaded position.  Several single leg exercise are now done in this position.

Following these steps should create a stronger and healthier foot, which in turn creates a stronger and healthier athlete. 

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Functional Range Conditioning Seminar Review

Have you ever been given a book recommendation from a friend and realized just minutes into reading it that the books subject has tons of stuff you are interested in.  It takes several topics you really enjoy and weaves them into one singular piece of stand alone work.  That is what Functional Range Conditioning was like for me.

Taught by Dr. Andreo Spina, he was an excellent teacher and presents the material over the two day course in a very enjoyable way. FRC, at the heart of it, is all about mobility.  Mobility is the combination of flexibility and strength.  Mobility is the ability to keep your joints working like they should work.  So the byproduct of mobility work is joint health.  The system strengthens your joints.

Joint health.  Optimizing your joints.  Having strength in a large range of motion, not just the middle range.  Control.  FRC teaches all these things.  Creating stronger, healthier tissue.

When I was younger I wanted to squat 500 pounds and I did.  I could have cared less about how my joints  felt.  Now much older and banged up, I want joint health.  I want to do a third world squat comfortably.  I watch my daughter squat and move and realized earlier this year, that I was severely lacking.  It took me years and years of dedicated practice and struggle to be able to squat 545lb (my PR) so I know mobility won't be had overnight.  It will take work....a lot of work.

Which brings us to mobility work,  it is work!  Mobility is not just rolling around on lacrosse balls.  I was sweating and hurting(in a good way) for most of the drills.  It was a wake up call on how hard you have to work to regain lost mobility.  What Dr. Spina has created is a system that utilizes, isometrics, stretching, joint mobilizations, vector changes, eccentric exercise all rolled up into what is Functional Range Conditioning.

By then end of day one, even after having spent the previous day in the car, my hips felt amazing.   The first day back to work I started implementing a few things with a couple patients.  This should honestly be taught in most chiropractic schools, as at the core, FRC is about having healthy joints for life.  Most chiropractors goal.  I always say while learning stuff is cool, the true mark of anything substantial is if it actually gets integrated in your life whether personal or professional.  I can confidently say it will be both for me.