Bunions have become a normal appearance in many chiropractic and manual therapy offices. This has occurred due to shoe and footwear choices and improper ankle mobility. Surgery is the only option to decrease the size of the bunion, but to stop growth and decrease pain soft tissue work and rehabilitation is your best bet. Strengthening the peroneal muscles can help stabilize the big toe joint and ankle mobility exercises can help decrease the rate growth. Here is an easy way to start stabilizing the toe.
- Stand facing a wall using your hands to balance yourself.
- Spread your feet apart wider than shoulder width.
- Flatten your inner foot and raise your heels off the ground.
- Only raise the heels, do not come up on the toes.
- Repeat 3 sets of 25.
- This is not a calf exercise, do not perform calf raises.
With the the new year approaching and many new years resolutions to be active, injury prevention should be on everyone’s mind. Many lower extremity conditions can develop through training, competition and overuse. Some common lower extremity conditions that plague the weekend warrior and even the avid runner are shin splints, plantar fasciitis, IT band syndrome, and various bursitis’.
These conditions commonly share biomechanical dysfunctions: weak foot intrinsic muscles, ankle instability, overactive calves, and weak glutes are just a few. Shin Splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome, result from too much force being placed on the shin and connective tissues that attach the muscles to the bone. Symptoms are pain and tenderness along the inside of the shin during activity and at first generally calms down after exercise. In chronic or long-standing cases, pain may persist after the activity.
Risk-factors for shin splints are tight calves, unstable ankles, weak anterior tibialis and having flat feet. Running on hard surfaces and participating in activities with sudden starts and stops may increase your risk for developing shin splints. Treatments for shin splints consist of stretching, Active Release and/or Graston, and functional rehabilitation of the feet, ankles and leg muscles. One can prevent this leg pain by choosing the correct shoe wear for their feet, cross training and varying their running surface. Strengthening insoles can be helpful.
The ankle is a joint primarily made up of 3 bones and many ligaments. The muscles of the lower leg and feet act to stabilize the ankle along with their primary functions. When imbalances occur in these muscles ankle stability is lost and the chance of injury greatly increases. Commonly, the calf becomes overactive, weakening the anterior tibalis and changing the arches of the foot. Dorsiflexion or foot rising is lost causing the toe raising muscles to be recruited. These overactive muscles begin to produce extra stress on the shin. Over time stress pulls on the tibia leading to pain.
As the muscle imbalance grows the ankle becomes more unstable. The ankle ligaments are continuously stretched and pushed to their limits. At this point, ankle sprains and strains can occur. So if you are dealing with shin splints or “weak ankles,” click here to see exercises that maybe beneficial to you.
Yours in health,
Dr. Justin Hildebrand
With Midwest winter weather upon us, many people will be transitioning to more indoor workouts and training. One downfall to being active is that the weather does not always allow us to get our activity in year round. If you are a competitive runner, a weekend warrior or a person that enjoys a nice walk or bike ride through the neighborhood the snow and cold can keep you inside and bundled up.
Although a nice warm cup of hot chocolate or hard cider sounds cozy on a frigid winter day, we still have to find ways to keep our bodies healthy and in shape. Many choose alternatives to being outside and exercising such as running or walking on a treadmill and riding a stationary bike. These great pieces of exercise equipment help keep ones cardiovascular system in shape but can lead to injuries when heading back to the road or trail when the weather allows.
Using a treadmill or stationary bike does not engage the glute and ankle muscles like their road counterparts. While your endurance may not decline during the winter months, one’s hip and ankle stability generally does. It becomes more important to start a core/glute and ankle strengthening program and working on generally flexibility so that when your competitive season begins or take to the outdoors again you are ready for action.
When working on core strengthening it is important to also include breathing techniques. Improper respiration can aid in many dysfunctions and the development in pain. Many of us hold our stomachs tight to appear to be smaller than we are. Doing this blocks the diaphragm and does not let it push downward when we inhale. This decreases the strength of the protective muscles of the spine and hips.
When the diaphragm can not fall properly, other muscles have to assist in rib expansion. The neck and shoulder muscles pull the ribs upward, instead of them moving downward and out. This type of respiration can lead to shoulder and neck pain along with headaches. The lower extremity muscles than have too help stabilize the spine instead of the hips or pelvis. This shift in stability can increase to the risk to many injuries.
Long term improper breathing can lead to overuse injuries and syndromes in the spine and extremities. Over using the neck and shoulder muscles can cause tendinitis in the shoulder and below, nerve entrapments that mimic carpal tunnel, and disc injuries in the spine.
Click here see exercises that help correct your breathing.
Your in health,
Dr. Justin Hildebrand