7 of the best foot hacks

Not only is our foot our foundation for human movement, but it is also a powerful neuromuscular structure that gives our brain constant information. This happens through the skin on the bottom of the feet. 

Here are seven different ways you can optimize your foot health that can be easily integrated into your daily life.

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What do you need to know about the foot

As I mentioned, from a biomechanical standpoint, we want to think of our foot as our foundation for human movement. If our foot is not stable and does not provide a stable foundation, the rest of your kinetic chain will be affected.

When we think of the foot from the neuromuscular standpoint, we want to think about the skin on the bottom of the foot. We have 104 different receptors, which are actually stimulated by different external stimuli: deep pressure, texture, skin stretch, and vibration.  

The information coming in through the skin on the bottom of the feet via these receptors goes to the brain, even passing through the emotional center of our brain.  

When we wear shoes and socks, we block this powerful information that’s coming into our nervous system. It is imperative that we focus on stimulating our feet to move, walk, balance, and live better. 

7 of the best foot hacks

#1. Foot release

There are lots of different tools that you can use, including rad balls or a neuro ball by Naboso. Hold the ball under the specific points of the foot for approximately 20 to 30 seconds. You can do longer, ensuring there’s no pain. Allow the foot to naturally relax over the ball. This will stimulate some of the receptors in the bottom of the foot that respond to deep pressure and release tension in your feet.

An easy way to incorporate this into your life is to perform this while brushing your teeth or cooking. That way, you’re stimulating your feet, creating more mobility and elasticity, while simultaneously doing something else. 

#2. Splay

Use splay in your feet. During the toe-off in your gait cycle, females toes should splay  approximately three millimeters; for men, five millimeters. When we wear shoes that have a narrow toe box, it prevents proper splay. This affects the ability of the foot to create a rigid lever to be able to push off from. Ultimately, that’s how we transfer force.

Instead of wearing compressive shoes, which we’ll get into in just a moment, we want to think of trying to create space in forefoot. Try Naboso Splay 30 minutes each night, maybe while you’re relaxing or watching TV; that’s a great opportunity to incorporate this. 

If you have a bunion, you’ll want to address that, too. You won’t fix the bunion by using a toe spacer, but you can use something like a bunion spacer between your first and second metatarsal to realign your first toe and bring it in a more neutral position for push-off in your gait cycle. 

#3. Naboso insole

Naboso is an evidence-based technology that stimulates the small nerves on the bottom of the feet, specifically the Merkel disc. I highly recommend wearing the insoles for constant stimulation in your shoes. 

There are different variations of Naboso insoles. There’s activation performance, neuro, and duo — all of them may be a little bit different based on your needs, but really powerful ways to stimulate your feet while wearing shoes. 

#4. Varied surfaces

You can build a rock mat and stand on that while you’re getting ready in the morning. You can get river stones that are a little bit softer; you can also get little pebbles depending on your tolerance and work up a tolerance over time. Walking outside in the grass, on stones, and on different surfaces really allows you to adapt to different stimuli. You can also use Naboso technology mats.

Yoga mats, for example, decreases your balance and stability.

#5. Short foot

Train your feet! Instead of wearing shoes, socks, and orthotics and losing stability over time, you want to train your feet. That can start with slowly increasing your barefoot tolerance, stimulating the feet and allowing them to do what they are meant to do. We can also intentionally train them, which is called short foot.

As you’re performing this exercise, it really is about sequencing the foot to the core. It’s about connecting all of the fascia in the foot and the muscles in the foot all the way up to the pelvic floor, the diaphragm, and the hip stabilizers. It isn’t just simply a foot exercise, but it’s ultimately how we are stabilizing during dynamic movement.

To perform short foot, you start on one leg, and you can place your foot in a neutral position. You can begin with a kickstand, and from here, inhale through the nose, allowing your foot to relax. As you exhale, root the tips of your toes into the ground. This will lift the arch of the foot and the ball of the foot slightly as you perform this exercise. 

Once you feel comfortable, then you move up onto one leg and perform the same. You perform approximately eight breaths before you move on. 

#6. Footwear 

Next is enhancing your natural foot function with proper footwear. Unfortunately, as I said, as it relates to our feet, we tend to block all this powerful information with shoes, socks, orthotics, and cushion.

The shoe should be able to twist just like the foot does. The foot has to spiral. The midsole should bend unless you have some type of forefoot pathology such as great toe arthritis or neuromas.  

The more cushion we have, the more impact force we have coming in through our body because we are hitting the ground harder. 

More cushion and more support is actually not good despite what the shoe industry tries to push for. You can SLOWLY transition to less supportive shoes as you do more intentional footwork. Ultimately, you want to get to a point where you are enhancing your natural foot function. 

#7. Barefoot time

Lastly is increasing barefoot tolerance. If you’re somebody that wears shoes and socks at home all the time, you must go really slow. If you are already barefoot all the time, you’re off to a great start. 

Start with about five minutes. Whether you are scared to go barefoot, or your podiatrist told you to never go barefoot, whatever the case may be, go very slowly while building tolerance and a sense of safety over time. 

If it’s extremely fearful and scary for you, then you have to respect that. Start with one to two minutes at a time. Keeping all of these nerves stimulated is one of the keys to preventing falls as we age so that we can prevent any kind of major accident as we age.

I could go on and on about feet, but hopefully, these seven hacks were helpful.

If you are interested in learning more about your feet and what your foot needs, then please reach out to us. We are trained through EBFA Global as barefoot rehabilitation specialists.

I hope this is helpful. If it was, please give it a like, share it, and subscribe to our Youtube Channel — The Movement Paradigm — for weekly tips on mindset, nutrition, and movement.

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The benefits of GROUNDING | Earthing

Grounding, otherwise known as earthing, is one of the most powerful and simplest things you can do to improve your health. As Aristotle once said, “In nature, there is something marvelous.” This conductive contact of the human body with the surface of the earth can have intriguing benefits on our physiology. Let’s discuss this simple and powerful technique, its benefits, and of course, how you can do it.

Rather watch or listen than read?

What is grounding?

Essentially, it is the direct contact of the skin on the hands or our bare feet on the surface of the earth. Or it can be done via a grounding system. The amazing thing about grounding is that people all over the world in diverse cultures have talked about the benefits and how to improve their health and well-being from being barefoot on the earth for thousands and thousands of years. Although this may seem new to some, it is really prevalent in other cultures.

Benefits of Grounding

Let’s get into the evidence-based benefits of grounding

1) Reduces inflammation

We know that ninety percent of all of our chronic health conditions are linked to excessive or persistent inflammation. Grounding is one of the simplest ways to address that.

2) Decreases pain

3) Decreases stress response

It can help shift us from our sympathetic state to our parasympathetic state in our autonomic nervous system

4) Increases heart rate variability

The higher our heart rate variability is, the interbeat between the heartbeats, the better the function of our autonomic nervous system. This can be associated with better recovery, better emotional resilience, and overall well-being.

5) Improves sleep

6) Improves cortisol rhythm

Cortisol is one of our key stress hormones.

7) Improves wound healing

Grounding can be a great thing to include in an integrative approach to healing.

8) Reduces blood viscosity

This can be one of the best things you can do for reducing your cardiovascular risk.

So, how can you include grounding in your life?

The easiest way is to just get outside barefoot. You could spend as little as 10 minutes to see some benefits up to an hour.  Stand or sit in a chair and place your feet on the ground. You can put your hands in the grass but be sure to make sure it is consistent time outdoors. This is the simplest way to include grounding, but if that’s not realistic for you, you can use a grounding system. That can come in the form of a sheet, mat, patches, wristbands, and ankle bands, and connect to a grounded outlet. By connecting to this grounded outlet, you’re connecting to mother earth.

Why does this work?

One of the theories is that our skin contact with the earth allows electrons to spread into the skin as well as the body, which thereby impacts immune markers.

As I mentioned, grounding has been around forever. Now, through research, we are seeing the potential health benefits.  Think barefoot is a way of life. When you stimulate the small nerves in the bottom of your feet, you can connect to the earth’s surface and bring your body back into a state of balance; reducing inflammation and driving parasympathetic nervous system response.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

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Why you should stop “stretching” your hip | HIP PAIN

Do you have hip pain that you are continually trying to stretch, roll, or smash, and nothing seems to get better?  Before we get into the role of the psoas, one of your key hip flexors, let’s speak about the local stabilizers and global stabilizers of the body. This is important to understand how you are going to treat your hip flexors and hip pain.

Think of the local stabilizers as being muscles that are close to the joint. They create more of an isometric contraction versus concentric (shortening) or eccentric (lengthening) contraction. They control the joint centration which means keeping the joint centered in its axis. It’s also independent of the activity of motion so if you raise your arm overhead, the deep stabilizers in my spine are going to activate before your arm goes overhead. Essentially these local stabilizers are imperative for stabilization in the body so that we can have proper movement.

Our global stabilizers are equally as important. However, they have a different role, so they have more of an eccentric contraction. They decelerate the range of motion, are continuous with motion, and are farther away from the joint.

Now getting back to the psoas, which is what everyone wants to stretch when they have hip pain.  The posterior or the back of the psoas is a local stabilizer. Think of it as one of our deep core muscles that is helping to stabilize the spine and also prevent the femur, our leg bone, from shifting forward in the hip joint. The anterior or front of the psoas serves as a global stabilizer. So, it is necessary to think of the psoas muscle as a stabilizer. Not only is it a stabilizer but it works in an integrated unit with all of the other muscles, including the pelvic floor, diaphragm, multifidus, the deep five rotators in the hip, and the transverse abdominus. All of these have to work together, and once again in this integrated fashion to be able to stabilize the low back and the pelvis during any kind of movement.

For example, if you performed a chest press with 30 pound in each hand on a bench and then transitioned into doing that on a stability ball, your weight would naturally go down. Why? Because you now have an unstable platform to work from and therefore can not generate as much force.

There are a lot of different hip pathologies that we won’t get into today, but when you have hip pain it typically happens from losing the deep stability of the hip. There are two common muscle imbalances that will exist. One is the TFL(tensor fascia latae) muscle, which is right in the front lateral side of the hip, can get tight, especially with increased sitting. Based on this attachment, it will pull the hip forward, and that will therefore inhibit or shut down the psoas. The other common muscle imbalance is the hamstring muscles, which can get tight for various reasons, inhibiting the glute muscles. The hamstrings can push the femur forward and that also leads us to lose that optimal position on the hip joint. Overtime if we have these muscle imbalances, instead of the hip being centered in the axis, it will start to shift forward and up. This will cause all types of pain issues and pathologies. Whether that’s a labral tear, hip impingement, tendinopathy, bursitis, and so on. So, it is important to get the hip stabilized and centered in the joint in order to decrease pain and ultimately improve function.

You can begin to do this through a four-step process. This is a great way to begin to address your pain, as well as any kind of movement compensation, and most importantly, integrate your foot with your core, in a very integrated manner. First is inhibiting the tissue, in this case we inhibited the TFL muscle that typically pulls the hip joint forward and creates that inhibition of the psoas as a deep stabilizer. Then, mobilize the hip joint to center the hip joint. Remember that when it is not in that center position it’s shifting forward enough so we’re shifting it back to the center position. Next, stabilize it by activating the deep stabilizers, such as our diaphragm, pelvic floor, etc. Then we’re integrating it with the ground. This is super important because the foot is part of the core and they work as an integrated unit. To get those deep stabilizers of the hip firing, short foot, i.e. foot to core sequencing, allows us to do that in a very integrated fashion.

4 Steps

1. Inhibition

For the TFL release, place the ball right on the outside of the hip. When you lie down, you’ll naturally rotate the hip in, which will expose the TFL muscle. With the other leg, anchor it up at a 90-degree angle and come down to your forearms. Holding that position your leg will be nice and long, naturally rotated in, and breathing throughout the exercise trying to relax into it.

2. Mobilization

For the hip mobilization with a band, you’ll place the band high up in the groin. You’ll have it back at a 45-degree angle away from you. You’ll start in a table position rocking forward 15 times, making sure your spine stays nice and long, and you’re breathing. Then rock away from the band, so to the opposite side, once again about 15 times, making sure you’re breathing throughout the exercise.

3. Activation

Now it’s time to activate the deep core, so you can do this by diaphragmatic breathing. Inhale, breathing into the abdomen and into the base of the pelvis allowing the abdomen to expand 360 degrees. Exhaling, letting the abdomen contract and the belly button in towards the spine. Once you feel like you have this established, then on your inhale allow the pelvic floor to relax, so you can exhale and gently lift the pelvic floor about 20% contraction to get a deeper integration. You want to think of this as a rhythmical balance, so nice and fluid. Inhaling to the base of the pelvis and exhaling gently lifting the pelvic floor.

4. Integration

Lastly, it’s time for integration. This is to be done with short foot. Standing on one leg, sitting the hips back, knees slightly bent, taking a breath in, while your foot relaxes then exhale and gently root the tips of the toes into the ground. That will naturally lift the arch and lift the metatarsal heads or ball of the foot.

So whether you have hip pain or hip tightness and are constantly stretching your hips, hopefully, this video will give you a little bit of insight to allow you to think about your hip differently and recognize that it is part of an integrated unit. It is really important to understand how that works as it relates to stabilization and movement

If you’d like to schedule a free 15 minute virtual discovery session, please email drarianne@themovementparadigm.com or text 302-373-2394 to schdule. We’d love to help you get healthy again!

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

DO YOU HAVE A SOCIAL DILEMMA?

Do you have a social dilemma? Do you love to stay connected to your friends, family on Facebook or Instagram, but do you feel like you just scroll aimlessly checking out what everyone else is doing for hours. Do you feel addicted to the “like” button? Anytime you post, can you hardly wait to see who’s responded to it? If you answered yes to any of those questions, then you are just like most Americans and people all over the world. We are seeking “social” approval. We are constantly posting and potentially comparing ourselves to what everyone else is doing. Meanwhile, all of the social media platforms have algorithms that know exactly what we’re doing at all times. They know what we’re thinking, what type of personality we have, and what our interests are. Hence, all of the specific ads targeted us. They are watching every move we make and are therefore manipulating our decisions and actions.

According to the American Journal of Epidemiology, there was a 5,000 person study that showed that a significant increase in social media uses correlated with higher mental and physical health issues as well as decreased life satisfaction. Sixty-four percent of the people that have joined extremist groups on Facebook have done so because the algorithms have directed them there. The list goes on. If you have children or teenagers, I’m sure you’re well aware of how it affects communication, their interests, and how they play and interact. We used to go out and play, but now children want to play on the computer, YouTube, Instagram, or any other game or social media platform. We see in our practice every day how it can impact body image and confidence issues in women AND men.

Let’s not forget all of the amazing things about social media. It’s great for businesses marketing. It’s powerful to be able to connect with people you haven’t seen for years, and how to be able to stay abreast of all the things that are happening in your family and friends’ lives.  There are so many wonderful things about social media too, hence the social dilemma.

What can you do to get control of your social media to use so that it’s benefiting you, your life, your family, your friends, and everyone around you, as opposed to negatively impacting your mental, physical, and emotional health?

1) Setting aside time every day to look at social media. Block time so that you are limiting yourself to a certain amount so that there will be less aimless scrolling and more intentional use. Then, stick to it!

2) Delete all notifications on your phone. That means Facebook, Instagram, email, etc. notifications. Delete them all, so that way you can choose what and when you are going to look at these different platforms and you are not being dictated by the algorithms.

3) Aim to follow organizations and people that you believe in, you trust, you respect, and admire so that when you open your feed it is not filled with things that do not make your life better.

4) Watch the social dilemma. If you haven’t already, it is an outstanding movie that will change the way that you think. It has shifted my thinking, and how I’ve organized my time and planning for looking at social media. I hope that it will have the same impact on you and your family.

Reach out for a 15-minute FREE discovery session to see how we can help you on your journey.

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Which foot type are you?

Did you ever wonder what your foot type is? And if so, do you know the impact of your foot type on your movement, gait, and injury risk? How can you address your foot type so that you are maximizing your foundation, i.e your feet. You’ll want to connect your foundation with your core and integrate into your dynamic movement to stay injury-free.

We have three primary foot types;

  1. Everted foot type
  2. Neutral foot type
  3. Inverted foot type

None of these foot types are bad in and of themselves. However, it is important to understand the impact that it can have on function, as well as potential injuries.

On the left is the everted foot type which is associated with being unlocked and unstable. This foot type is typically classified as the flatter foot type or the more pronated foot.  The neutral foot type is in the middle, which is the optimal foot position. On the right is the inverted foot type which is associated with being locked, rigid, and stable. This foot type is commonly viewed as the high arched foot type.

Each foot type has different implications on movement and overall function. Therefore they should be addressed in an individualized manner. For example, if you have more of an everted foot type, a flatter, unstable foot, then the lateral structures of the lower legs will likely be tight. The outside of the lower leg and calf would need to be mobilized, and then the foot needs to be strengthened. In an inverted foot type, a locked, rigid foot type, it is important to mobilize the muscles on the inside of the calf and improve active ankle mobility to bring the foot into neutral. All of them will require some type of integration with your core and into dynamic movement.

There are exceptions to every rule, however, and there are different pathologies that you or someone you know may present with that need to be factored in. In addition to performing the appropriate exercises to balance your foot, you’ll also want your footwear to enhance your natural foot function, rather than replace it.  Your foot type, injury history, movement, and pathologies will determine which shoe would be best for you.

If you would like to understand what foot type you are and what to do about it please reach out for a 15-minute discovery session so that we can guide you on how we can help you on your journey.

If you need help on your journey to better health, contact drarianne@themovementparadigm.com to schedule a FREE 15 minute virtual consultation.

For more content, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel here.