As effective as rolling the muscles are with a ball and/or stretching is, the benefits are limited if the joints of the ankle and foot are not moving properly. If a joint is stuck, the muscles work harder trying to move it, which creates excess muscle tension and compensation patterns in other parts of the body.
Take this picture as an example. Client comes to me with symptoms of shin splints. While many muscles of their lower leg were tight, which we loosened up with soft tissue work, one of the biggest problems was that the heel bone was stuck.
With the heel bone not moving properly, it creates compensation muscle patterns up the leg, shin splints being one of them. After two 30 minute bodywork sessions, we got their heel in proper position and the shin pain decreased drastically.
Your feet work hard, and with 26 bones in each foot, they are engineered extremely well for walking and running. You usually do this without having to think much about it, walking around Bakersfield, or jogging casually along Kern River Bike Path. However, when things are off kilter and you start experiencing tightness or discomfort in your hips, low back, neck, and shoulders, the secret solution may just rely on having your feet adjusted.
Your feet influence your spine from the ground up. With every step, as you plant your heel to the ground, and you roll forward, your arch has to collapse to absorb energy. Then, when you toe off to push yourself forward, your arch has to go rigid. This transmits forces back into your feet and toes for efficient movement. When things are off in your feet they can cause your posture to compensate for the injury. In turn this leads to a cascading effect across your body. That being said, there are three major benefits to having your feet and ankles adjusted:
The first benefit is one that I discovered firsthand by working on myself and other fellow runners: Reduction of Injuries. Several years ago I decided to start running after reading Born To Run. I noticed how my feet were stiff and not moving properly. So I started to adjust my own feet to loosen them up so I could run more comfortably. As I started experiencing results, I started adjusting the feet of other local runners and they felt the difference too. The biggest difference the runners noticed was they had less injuries and recovered faster when they got their maintenance adjustments every month.
AWARENESS & PREVENTATIVE CARE
The second best thing about foot and ankle adjusting is understanding and awareness. Foot and ankle adjustments help improve proprioception. You’ll have better awareness of where you are stepping and how you are balancing. You will be grounded, and you will have a better sense of symmetry and balance. Having a chiropractor like me that specializes in extremity work, I will explain how the lack of joint motion in your feet and ankles are contributing to injuries in other parts of your body. I will trace that movement down to your feet and make you more conscious of your body’s ergonomics. After our session, I will give you 1-2 simple corrective movement exercises to help restore proper motion. Knowing this can help you prevent injuries in the future, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
LIVING PAIN FREE
Finally, the most wonderful benefit of foot and ankle health: Living Pain Free. When your feet and ankles are well adjusted, the forces transmitted to your knees and low back are more in line with what your body is naturally designed to do. There’s no funny twist in your knee to compensate for a rigid instep. I often see chronic motions where the heel bone moves in a rolled-in pattern. By performing adjustments to the heel bone, those patterns are improved, allowing your foot to point straight ahead. Consequently, this puts less pressure on your low back, sacroiliac, and hip joints.
When things are aligned and you’re moving more naturally, the muscles, joints, and bones work in harmony. Subsequently, this allows them to deliver the right amount of pressure to the right areas. When all the gears in the engine are greased and functioning well the entire motor runs efficiently.
If you are dealing with any tightness or discomfort in the low back, hips, knees, ankles, calves, heels, or arches of the feet, then come for a session, kick your shoes off, and let me take a look!
Cheers to happy feet,
-Dr. Vice Lujan, DC
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Dr. Vice Lujan, DC is a chiropractor in Bakersfield, CA. Besides full spine adjusting, Dr. Vice specializes in extremity work; reestablishing normal, pain-free range of motion of the shoulders, hips, elbows, ankles/feet, etc.