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Onlyethic
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Post by Onlyethic » Tue Feb 17, 2009 4:19 pm

The past few weeks I've been experiencing moderate pain in the balls of my feet which has now extended to the base of 2 toes of my right foot. I feel the pain (might more accurately be called high level of discomfort) when I step or otherwise put pressure.

The background on this is that it began after some serious running, in the neighborhood of 1 hour-long runs. I had been trying to change my gait to land on ball-of-foot (a la Crossfit) instead of heel-toe or midfoot.

I also started squatting a lot more regularly and doing air squats to warm up before a workout. My father told me he had the same sort of pain and saw a podiatrist who attributed it to squatting when he works in his backyard (that's a euphemism for gardening, btw).

I also have a history of mild plantar fasciitis, which could be related, especially to increased sensitivity in the morning.

My guess is that my answer is in this extended question. Though part of the question is what people think I should do. I've stopped running for now and when I return will be a midfoot fall. What about the squatting? Stop? I've made the mistake of wearing my running shoes so maybe the forward rock of the shoes is placing undue pressure on the BOF and toes? Maybe it's a form issue?

Thanks.


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Post by Jungledoc » Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:49 am

If squatting is contributing to this pain, then it is indeed a form issure. There should be little pressure on the toes or on the "ball" of the foot when squatting. Most of the pressure should be on the heel.

Also, try lifting either in very solid-soled shoes (i.e. Chuck Taylors) or barefoot. Not in soft, cushioned shoes.

The running may well have contributed to this. If you can find a podiatrist with a sports orientation, they might be very helpful.

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Post by KPj » Thu Feb 19, 2009 9:57 am

I would suggest rolling the bottom of your foot on a tennis ball, or a harder ball than that if you can handle it. Plus, the same on your calves. If there's a lot of restrictions, it will be painful but good at the same time.

The following article has more on the tennis ball thing,
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... tough_guys

Would also suggest some calf stretches and also some direct tibialis anterior (front of shin) work such as hanging your feet off a bench with a DB between your ankles and just bringing your toes towards your shin.

I'm not thinking much about the pain, just a very typical imbalance in the lower leg that you see in, well, most people.

For squatting I would go with what Jungledoc said and see how it goes. Would be interested to see if it felt better straight away or not. Also, cue yourself to move the hips back before you bend the knees, which will help you sit back more.

KPj

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Post by Onlyethic » Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:50 pm

thanks for the responses. hard to say if squatting is part of it. but i will get off the foamy shoes -- a bad idea in the first place, i know.

i have pathetically inflexible hips, which might have something to do with it. anyways, will get to all of it -- including the incredibly sucky tennis ball thing (which i've done, stopped doing, and invariably force myself to do again every so often).

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Post by KPj » Fri Feb 20, 2009 7:13 am

Onlyethic wrote: i have pathetically inflexible hips, which might have something to do with it. anyways, will get to all of it -- including the incredibly sucky tennis ball thing (which i've done, stopped doing, and invariably force myself to do again every so often).
The more I learn, and see, the more I find that when you find someone with chronic pain - be it in the neck, shoulder, back, hips, kness, ankles, feet, there's one common factor in all of them - screwy hips.

It's not very scientific, but, great things happen when you sort your hips out. Things just come together. All im really saying is, it may pay off to focus on loosening them up. More importantly, getting better symmetry between sides.

Also, with tennis ball, just don't overlook the calfs, and stretching them. One thing I forgot to mention, which is sort of central to my other recommendations, is Ankle mobility. As soon as someone says "plantar fasciitis", I think, "ankles". I'm sure it's not as 'black and white' as that, but it's certainly worth checking out.

I mentioned ankle mobility and posted a video with good info in it no this thread, if your interested.

http://exrx.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5630

KPj


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Post by Onlyethic » Fri Feb 20, 2009 10:21 am

thanks KPj,

the hips thing is bad. I've been threatening to do yoga for a while. The squatting is helping, and I've started doing the "3rd World Squat" I read about on T-nation (I think).

Foam rolling helps a bit, but I never do it regularly.

Any other specific recommendations, aside from general hip stretching?

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Post by KPj » Fri Feb 20, 2009 12:32 pm

No problem.

I'm not a big fan of Yoga - it doesn't really take into account joint specific needs. Every time i'm in a debate about this, though, I'm told/shown that there's styles and instructors that do. It's not that I don't believe that, I've just never seen it in 'real life' and i'm becoming sort of cynical. That's not to say you can't take good stuff from it, though.

I'm full of specific recommendations! What stretches are you doing just now (if any)? And how often?

Sometimes, you can do all the right things, just not often enough. It can just be a case of doing it more frequently. For example, lots/most people sit down at work, then go home and sit down some more. Your talking around 12-15 hours of sitting, and i've not mentioned driving. That's half a day with your hip flexors/quads in a shortened state. They adjust by shortening in length, much like they adjust to stretching by lengthening. So, a lot of people, knowing their hips are tight, will stretch the hip flexors 3 times per week for 30 seconds (after they train), and expect that to balance out half a day of sitting down 7days/week.

Oh, and the third world squat is good. When your sitting in that position, try lifting your arms straight up as far as you can whilst keeping your head looking forward, weight on heels, and trying to force the chest up. This just makes you attempt to straighten your back. Sometimes I do that as part of a warm up - Squat down, sit, lift arms up, hold for a second or so, bring arms back down, stand up, do the same thing with arms, only, standing, then repeat a few times.

What I'll do is post some good movements to do. That would be my main recommendation for hips - move around more! I'll get some classic/general hip movements and post them (it's nothing too whacky!).

Also, my other recommendation would be - Cue the Thunder sound - "Single leg stuff" i.e. step up and lunge variations.

I'll get some movements first and post them, though.

KPj

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Post by Onlyethic » Sat Feb 21, 2009 1:50 pm

thanks much KPj.

right now, i'm doing the 3rd world squat, as mentioned, air squats, and standing with legs wide and torso bent over. In this standing legs-split stretch, I alternate between leaning forward and then slightly back. From there, I bend one leg while leaving the other straight to stretch each inner thigh near the joint individually.

I do this before and after each workout (4-6 times a week). Tho, to be honest, not that long -- probably 30 seconds each stretch, repeating for total of 2 "sets".

I also do hip bridges, with my palms flat on the floor. I find this also stretches shoulders well.

I've been getting into lunges again, with weight, and also trying to do single leg squats as part of a warm-up.

how does it all sound?

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Post by KPj » Mon Feb 23, 2009 6:35 am

Onlyethic wrote: how does it all sound?
It all sounds pretty good. Basiclly, I think you should get a routine like you just mentioned - something that will take 10-15 minutes, or however long you can handle, although I recommend something quite quick. Then, just make a note to do it every day, quite strictly. It's something that you should notice improvement on in a few weeks, so you would know by then if it was worth doing it every day or not. If you spend a lot of time sitting down, then I would say that it's worth doing every day anyway. If it's not effective, just add or remove certain movements or stretches - trial and error, really.

A nice hip flexor/quad stretch that most people would benefit from is the one titled "Upper Quad/Hip Flexor (Hip emphasis)" in the following article.
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... ng_part_ii

This stretch basically directly address the muscles that get short/stiff from sitting. Personally, it's one I do atleast once per day. Over time, through chopping and changing things, i've noticed that the more I do this stretch, the better. What works for me may not work for you, but I do a lot of sitting, and I'm sure that's why this stretch works so well.

I would recommend you do that stretch BEFORE you do those movements you mentioned. In terms of time, 30 seconds is a nice round number. I think the time you hold it for isn't as important as how often you do it. Personally, the static stretches i do before my warm up (pre lifting), I hold for only 15 seconds. When I do them outside of training (at home) I hold for as long as I can mentally handle, whcih is normally between 1 and 2 minutes. You feel good right around the minute mark.

It's pretty difficult to get specific with stretches over the net but that hip flexor/quad one is a classic.

Other than that, I would add in some single leg stuff to the bodyweight routine we're talking about. Walking lunges, reverse, lunges, any lunges really. Walking lunges with hands over head. With each 'movement' you only need to do it around 10 times. 5 per side on the unilateral stuff. Form is key.

For single leg stuff in an actual lifting routine - I find step ups are one of the best variations to start with. But really, if your form is good (chest up, upright torso, knee in front of hips for the working leg), anything will do.

The best thing you can do is get something on paper, do it every day, monitor over a few weeks, and just keep tweaking it. Fixing these flxiblity issues is a lot like losing fat - you need to be quite strict/brutal until you get where you want to be, then you can ease off (maintain).

KPj

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Post by Onlyethic » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:49 pm

hey KPj,

as always, thanks for the excellent advice. I've never seen the Upper Quad/Hip Flexor stretch. It looks good. I'm going to try do it daily. I do the similar static lunge stretch. I also find new stretches just by playing around and feeling what's going on.

I do think there is an upper-quad component to my troubles. I also find that sometimes when I'm walking around and catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror from the side, I look slightly bent forward at the waist -- i.e., my back is straight, shoulders relatively un-rounded, but I'm kind of leaning forward a few degrees. It takes a conscious effort to straighten up. I attribute this to the hip flex issues and, of course, lower back/posterior chain weakness.

anyways, i'm getting it all worked out (i hope). thanks again.

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Post by KPj » Tue Feb 24, 2009 4:19 am

Onlyethic wrote: I do think there is an upper-quad component to my troubles. I also find that sometimes when I'm walking around and catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror from the side, I look slightly bent forward at the waist -- i.e., my back is straight, shoulders relatively un-rounded, but I'm kind of leaning forward a few degrees. It takes a conscious effort to straighten up. I attribute this to the hip flex issues and, of course, lower back/posterior chain weakness.

anyways, i'm getting it all worked out (i hope). thanks again.
Yeah, you're probably right enough. Sounds like you're in 'Anterior Pelvic Tilt', which is very common. This is when your hip flexors/quads have shortened a little, so they pull the front of your pelvis down, whilst the back of the pelvis goes upward a little. This causes an increased 'arc' in the lower back, too. Also, since the back of the pelvis rises (as the front lowers), the hamstrings are pulled into a stretched position, so they 'feel' very tight (because they are always stretched). However, the restriction is actually in the hip flexors/quads. The best thing you can do with your hamstrings is strengthen them, along with the glutes. So, your technically working to lengthen the front of your thighs (hip flexors/quads), whilst stiffening up/strengthening the rear (hamstrings and glutes) in order to get the pelvis out of anterior tilt.

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Post by Onlyethic » Wed Feb 25, 2009 4:56 pm

that is exactly what's going on. however no one -- including a few docs -- has ever broken it down like that -- which is to say, correctly.

i do have the accentuated lower back curve, which sometimes gives me an ape-ish look since it also causes my belly (which is not fat) to bulge. (if only my arms were about 6 inches longer....) I also have abnormally tight-feeling hams -- as you said. It's always struck me as strange, since even when I stretch them thoroughly they remain feeling tight.

as i said, i've been squatting more, but also throwing in good mornings, something i never used to do. in fact, in typical machismo-stupidity fashion, i shied away from ham work because of the weakness.

I started up with the upper quad/hip flexor stretches, lunges, etc. I'll also get to the glute, ham strengthening, maybe increase relative frequency until i've noticed some change.

in any case, i really appreciate this excellent analysis/advice. it's been a while since i've experienced and noticed all the individual manifestations, but i've never figured out the "system" of error here. so, thanks you.

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A Question

Post by Onlyethic » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:11 am

Ok..might be strange (tho, maybe not).

Can feet get bigger -- i.e. post adolescence? About 6 months ago (part of the issues that led me to start this thread) I started feeling like my toes were squished into my shoes -- however, they were the same shoes I'd been wearing for nearly a year.

Now, even wearing my Chuck Taylors with very thin socks, or even barefoot, I have the same feeling, which is now bordering on pain.

Seems like the easy (tho financially unfortunate) solution is to buy bigger shoes. However, wanted to see what people think about this.

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Re: A Question

Post by Wouter » Sat Mar 07, 2009 10:30 am

Onlyethic wrote:Ok..might be strange (tho, maybe not).

Can feet get bigger -- i.e. post adolescence? About 6 months ago (part of the issues that led me to start this thread) I started feeling like my toes were squished into my shoes -- however, they were the same shoes I'd been wearing for nearly a year.

Now, even wearing my Chuck Taylors with very thin socks, or even barefoot, I have the same feeling, which is now bordering on pain.

Seems like the easy (tho financially unfortunate) solution is to buy bigger shoes. However, wanted to see what people think about this.
Read this article it should have all of the info you want.

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Re: A Question

Post by pdellorto » Sat Mar 07, 2009 11:00 am

Onlyethic wrote:Can feet get bigger -- i.e. post adolescence? About 6 months ago (part of the issues that led me to start this thread) I started feeling like my toes were squished into my shoes -- however, they were the same shoes I'd been wearing for nearly a year.
If you go barefoot a lot or wear wide shoes, this can happen. I needed wider shoes once I started walking around barefoot a lot; I went from 14DD to 14EEEE.

So it's not crazy. Get something that fits better.


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