Active Care Rehab

To Barefoot Run or Not

barefoot 1Barefoot running has become popular and does have advantages. But does this mean that you should ditch your shoes and hit the pavement with no protection. To answer these we must look at the pros and cons of barefoot running.

Barefoot running, unlike exercising in shoes, allows your foot muscles to do their jobs. Your intrinsic or deep foot muscles are supposed to help stabilize the foot while allowing them to form to the terrain around you. These muscles are traditionally weak or overused due to today’s footwear. High heels or raised heels can shorten the foot causing the foot muscles to tighten along with the joints. Wearing the wrong shoe, motion control or minimalist when not needed, can weaken the foot muscles.

Barefoot running encourages forefoot striking instead of heel striking. Forefoot striking is a more natural running form and is more efficient, so less energy is used. Any runner, beginning or advanced, understands that running efficiently is very important. Although, forefoot striking is natural, those accustomed to heel striking or rearfoot running experience an increase in Achilles tendon injuries when running barefoot.

Barefoot running leaves your feet open to the terrain. This exposes the runner to higher risk of puncture wounds, infection and other potential injuries. Having a clean field, trail, track or sidewalk is not an easy thing to find. Most running tails contain rocks and other dangerous obstacles that can cause serious injury to an unprotected foot.

Barefoot running depletes the fat pads located in the heels. Studies have shown that running barefoot or in minimalist shoes causes the depletion of the protective fat pads located in the heels. This syndrome is also common in the over weight individual. Decreasing the fat pad can cause irritation to the heel bone and nerves causing pain and symptoms mimicking plantar fasciitis. Heel cups like, Tuli’s Classic Gel Heel Cups, Regular (Under 175lbs), can help if this issue develops.

Barefoot running can be beneficial if done correctly and your foot is prepared. I advise my athletes to start by walking around the house barefoot or in a minimalist shoe and than start walking in a safe area outside. While in the beginning phases of walking barefoot, rehabbing the foot muscle should be a priority. Click here for exercises. Strengthening insoles can  be helpful as well. After walking and rehab, one can transition to light running and work up to 3 miles in barefoot or minimalist.

Yours in health,

Dr. Justin Hildebrand

Manual Therapy

Reoccuring Muscle Injury?

Everyone deals with an injury at some point throughout life. Most will occur when adding a new activity to their routine (shoveling snow in the winter), doing something they should not (thinking they are 18 again), or trying to go to heavy to fast. These injuries will heal with RICE: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation,  or with a few visits to their chiropractor.

What about the injuries that just seem to always come back, the ones that never completely go away? What causes reoccurring muscle strains or pulls? Why do we seem to always pull the same hamstring or strain the same shoulder? To answer this we need to look at how Active Release Techniques (ART) explains muscle injuries.

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When injuries occur the body lays down scar tissue to patch the site of injury. If enough time and care is given to the site than the body will replace this scar tissue with normal, fully functioning muscle tissue. If we continue to stretch, work, use or even eat inflammatory foods the scar tissue will thicken causing the muscles to become shorter and weaker since they can not contract as they should.

You can think of your muscles like roads. When a hole or divot occurs in a road, the city sends out a crew to patch it up. If it is aloud to dry and become part of the road than the road becomes smooth again. If more and more cars drive over the patch the more likely the patch will change shape and need more asphalt to fill the divot. Our muscles work in a similar way.thDHPAWTFS

When our muscles become short and weak tendons become stressed and tendinitis can set in. Range of motion of joints become decreased, strength is lost, and pain can increase and even occur in others areas. The cycle continues over and over, causing reoccurring chronic injuries.

How do we stop the cycle?

Myofascial release techniques like Active Release and Graston. These techniques help heal the tendons and muscles in pain and help eliminate the scar tissue that has developed causing the pain. So, if you have a recurring injury or next time you just pull a muscle find an ART or Graston specialist in your area and scrap the scar tissue before it really becomes a problem.

Yours in health,

Dr. Justin Hildebrand