When I watch my kids move all I can think of is Gumby; you might remember that green, flexible fellow from years ago. If you don’t know Gumby don’t worry it probably means you do not need to read this blog post because you don’t have stiff and achy joints. My kids are bendy and move with such grace and ease. I remember when I moved like that and the freedom I felt within my body. Now after years of contact sports and intense training followed by years of decreasing activity and finally minimal exercise because of work and raising kids even your physical therapist gets achy joints.
I have had a lot of people ask me what I do for my stiff and achy joints. I thought I better write a blog about this topic because it comes up a lot in conversation. So be ready for some simple tips, some you may know and others you have not thought about.
There really can be many reasons for foot pain. Some of those reasons deal with your feet and others not.
A common reason for foot pain is plantar fasciitis. This is an inflammation of the thick, supportive tissue that runs the length of your foot. The structure and mechanics of your feet often play a role in this type of discomfort, but can be influenced from body mechanics above your feet.
Another reason for foot pain is arthritis. Your feet have a lot of bones and many joints where those bones meet. Over time those joints can begin to wear. The cartilage between those joints breaks down and bones can begin to rub. Much like plantar fasciitis this can be due to faulty body mechanics.
Even your low back can be the reason for foot pain. The lower nerve roots in your spine can create pain in the heel. This can be mistaken for plantar fasciitis.
Pain in the bottom of your feet could also be due to a stress fracture. A stress fracture is a tiny crack in the bone. These can occur due to faulty body mechanics, poorly fitting and unsupportive shoes, constantly walking/running on hard surfaces, and landing with a high impact. Remember, if you have low bone density it takes a lot less stress on the feet to cause these types of fractures.
Nerve injuries to the feet can result in intense pain or burning, and even numbness and tingling. Remember to check your feet if you have numbness because the potential to step on a sharp object that punctures the skin can create an infection.
There are a lot of reasons why the bottom of your feet can hurt with plantar fasciitis one of the most common. If you are having pain in your feet and walking or running has become uncomfortable then you should find a specialist. A physical therapist has the expertise to figure out why you are having foot pain.
At Body Evolution we like to joke that we have a foot fetish. Much of our training revolves around the gait or walking cycle and you better know a lot about the feet if you want to understand how humans move. If you are having pain underneath your feet please give us a call or come in for a Discovery session to find out how we can help you get back to walking and running without pain.
Humans were designed to walk and run. We take thousands of steps every day even if we live sedentary lifestyles. It really is our main mode of transportation. We might drive our car to get to the office or grocery store, but we spend the time at the office or store walking from one place to another. Some of us hike or run for enjoyment and exercise adding thousands more steps to their day. Those of us who have the capacity to walk and run do not think about what it would feel like when you can’t, until you can’t.
When you start to have pain under your foot or feet the thousands of steps a day can reduce to hundreds or even less. You have been walking for years and never had pain. So why now? Why are the underneath of your feet hurting?
Back pain during and after pregnancy is a common phenomenon. A woman’s body undergoes a lot of change during pregnancy and after giving birth. There are changes in how a woman walks, hormonal changes that cause the ligaments to be more relaxed, postural changes from carrying a child internally and after birth (think of holding a child on the hip), and often weakness from muscles having been stretched. If a cesarean-section was required, then there will be weakness of the abdomen and possible limitations in mobility from scarring.
Let’s be honest, women are ‘tough mothers,’ and often live through their discomfort as they raise their child(ren). But there is no need to suffer. Back pain after childbirth is treatable.
One of the first questions we ask our female clients of child-bearing age is have they had children? Was it a natural birth or Caesarean section? We know the effects childbirth can have on a woman’s body and back pain is often a result.
My mother used to call me a ‘pain in the butt.’ It was an endearing term even though I often did things that left her frustrated. Hip pain can be a literal pain in the butt and can leave you with a lot of frustration just like I did to my mother. All jokes aside, hip problems can really limit your lifestyle. Whether bending over to pick up the kids becomes difficult or not being able to go on your Saturday golf outings because you don’t want to ‘pay for it’ the next day, suffering from hip pain is no fun.
The thing about hips is that when you have a problem with your hips you can experience pain in different areas. Often you may think you have a groin issue or maybe you are having knee pain, but never realized the source of the pain was coming from your hip joint. Most people do not know where in the body the hip joint lies. Ask someone to point to their hip joint and they point to the outside area of their upper thigh where they can feel their ‘hip bone’ sticking out. That’s part of the femur, but the joint is actually really deep inside the upper thigh. The hip is a problematic area for a lot of people, and it is no wonder since most of us sit most of the day. The population is one of ‘stiff hips.’
Have you stopped running because of pain in the back of your knee? Maybe you are still putting on the miles, but you are left with a nagging, achy pain the next day? Your pace has slowed, and stride has shortened. The knee hurts and is hard to extend. Pain meds help, but the pain is still there. You’ve tried stretching your calf and hamstring muscles. The foam roller has become your best friend. But nothing seems to work.
Did you know there is a tiny muscle called the popliteus that sits right behind the knee? You would not think such a tiny muscle could cause an issue. The pain you are experiencing, the nagging discomfort keeping you from running may be a popliteus problem.
Remember that time when you stubbed your toe as a kid? The time you sprained your ankle during a high school basketball game? How about years ago when you had to have your appendix removed in an emergency surgery? Some injuries we may have forgotten, like stubbing your toe, others we don’t think about because we have moved on. These injuries happened years ago and are in the past. So how could an injury so long ago cause a problem today?
In our clinic, it is common for our patients to say things like ‘I didn’t do anything to hurt myself I just woke up with the pain’ or ‘my back pain came out of nowhere.’ There was no traumatic accident or memorable event that caused the pain. Most of the time the pain is due to repetitive stress. These stresses can be obvious. Imagine a person who washes windows for a living. They do the same motion with their arm over and over, year after year. That’s a lot of stress on that shoulder. But sometimes repetitive stress is not so obvious.
Do you feel like your pain will never go away? Have you suffered so long that your pain has become a burden you will just have to carry? Many people feel just like you, and these feelings are amplified from having tried so many things that failed. Painkillers just cover up the pain, hot packs give you a few minutes of relief, massages are not working, and that brace – well you are tired of wearing it. But worst of all is that you have tried physical therapy and it did not work – it left you feeling even more desperate for a solution.
That’s a tough situation. Honestly, it may seem like you will have to live with the pain forever and maybe it’s time to give up and just live with it. But what if there is something you can do for it? What is it, you ask? Well, it’s physical therapy! Now, I know what you are thinking. You just said it didn’t work. But, wait one second, what if your first taste of pizza was from a slice you made from the frozen section of your local grocery store? Would you vow to never eat pizza again even when you were in New York City?
We’re not asking you to believe us right away, though we have proof! Take a look below at ,,,, reasons why your previous physical therapy/sessions didn’t work.
You go to your doctor complaining about your back. You tell him you have back and leg pain. The doctor asks you if you have any numbness or tingling sensations and you say “yes, it’s annoying.” The doctor orders an X-ray and then tells you the results…you have spinal stenosis. You are given pain medication and told to rest. You schedule a follow up appointment in four weeks.
The above scenario is common. We have heard the same story hundreds of times. Our patients come to us because they want to resolve their pain naturally, without pain medications. Spinal stenosis is a typical diagnosis for back pain in an older adult. Stenosis means ‘narrowing’ and the holes of the vertebrae where the spinal nerves exit become smaller. When there is less room for the nerves to move they can become irritated or even compressed. Often if you can give the nerves a little more room the pain and irritation will go away.
Posture is a hot topic in the world of physical therapy. One therapist will state posture has nothing to do with your pain, the other will consider it the cause. At Body Evolution we believe posture often plays a role in contributing to your pain, but we know that ‘poor’ posture does not mean you will have pain. Pain is complex and the pain experience is determined on how your brain interprets the information from both the internal (YOU) and external (THE WORLD) environment. Though pain is complex there often is a contribution from posture.
Most people think of ‘good’ posture as standing upright like someone in the military and ‘bad’ posture as standing in a slouched posture like someone who sat on the couch all day watching Netflix. The person with ‘good’ posture may be in pain while the person with ‘poor’ posture is pain-free. You might have pain right now. You might have a stiff and painful back that hurts while you walk causing you to limp and then you look over at the 'little old lady' who is hunched over her walker speeding by you...you think 'but my posture is great and she seems to be fine?' Does your posture have anything to do with your pain?...well...maybe, maybe not.
If you don't have any pain then how can you determine if posture is an issue? In the context of pain, you can't. But if you have pain then that's a different story.
The threat bucket is a powerful education tool for our clients here at Body Evolution. This idea or analogy of the threat bucket was gifted to us from Dr. Eric Cobb of Z-Health. It gives us the ability to help you understand variables that affect health, performance and pain. We know that the human body is complex and understanding things like pain are quite complicated. We can use this ‘threat bucket’ to help you understand this complexity in a simple way.
To help you understand the complexity of how different variables can have an affect on your well-being we will first start with the bucket. Let’s begin by drawing a bucket on paper or envision a bucket in your mind. The bucket represents the area (s) of your brain that receive information or inputs. This bucket has a spout near the top where information or outputs flow from the brain to the body.
I'm just a guy helping active adults and athletes frustrated by nagging aches and pains naturally return to a healthy lifestyle.