Finishing with the Feet

When I began writing about hip & back injuries, I had a good start on my personal rehabilitation. From this came my theory on healing deep-core injuries, and a natural program for stubborn fat loss. Being an ambidextrous athlete is also part of this program, as it activates both sides of the body, developing total coordination with increased power.

What I didn’t know (when I began writing), was the endpoint. There are so many gains, followed by long plateaus in hip & back rehabilitation, that it feels like the goalposts are constantly being moved. This is a mountain you are climbing, so how do you know you are near/at the summit?

The answer, I have found is in the feet. For many people age-40 & older, their feet are a total wreck, and it’s why they have pooch guts and saggy butts. Here’s a review of the most common foot maladies in bold, with their practical applications to my methods, so we’re all speaking & understanding the same language.

Bursitis is the inflammation of the small bursae sacs which contain synovial fluid. Synovial fluid is equivalent to motor oil in an engine; keeping muscles, tendons & bones gliding past each other without friction. When bursae sacs become inflamed from repetitive overuse or trauma, friction ensues as movement becomes more painful & joint stiffness sets in. This is the cause of “sore arches” in high-heels wearers.

Calcific bursitis refers to calcium deposits within the bursae, which occur after injury. This natural mechanism creates the stiffness which immobilizes the injured area, so healing can occur. If the injury isn’t properly diagnosed & rehabilitated (or given insufficient time to heal properly), then a secondary healing occurs– where further calcifications are made around the afflicted area, so no more damage can occur.

Presuming it’s an athletic injury, the typical time-line in such a case includes resuming activity too soon, with diminishing results. There may be little/no pain, because the injured area has been splinted with calcifications, but the athlete notices reduced performance & endurance. Attempts to break past this without proper rehabilitation only lead to further pain, injury & frustration for the athlete.

So many athletes (and ex-athletes) have unreconciled stubbed-toes, torn ligaments, tweaked ankles, etc, (above). Taking the extra time & effort to fully heal even these seemingly minor injuries, pays huge dividends over time. There is simply no way to regain your previous athleticism, without all the healthy muscles you once had working in harmony.

Since gravity pulls us towards the center of the Earth, our feet are at the bottom of who we are. Our feet root us to the ground, and everything that flows through our body tends to want to settle in our feet during the day. This is why bunions and all other forms of calcifications occur in the feet. If we need to be immobilized, due to injury, the feet will first be cut off by inflammation, then calcium deposits. Once the joints are fossilized, these calcifications are difficult & painful to remove. What I describe below is my method for foot/feet rehabilitation.

Go barefoot as much as possible. This allows your foot to impact the ground, with you feeling the full force– precisely. Thick-bottomed sports shoes give the athlete a false sense of security. Yes, the pounding on your feet is reduced, but much of that is simply transferred to the knees, hips & back. Improper mechanics are being reinforced with sport-specialized orthopedic footwear. This only leads to further breakdowns in the kinetic chain.

Focus on your feet. I’m talking about entire workouts that break-up these calcifications, and start to re-establish muscle fibers in the feet. Barefoot exercise followed by this type of rehabilitation is the fastest way to full body recovery of hip & back injuries. Read that last sentence again, because it’s the essence of everything here. The feet are the end-point. Once the feet can flex & extend in all directions with power, control & sustain; then everything in the body can heal, and stubborn fat can finally disappear. This only happens when all the calcifications are broken away.

Unfixed feet are the nemesis. The reason for this is that every joint in the body is connected to the rest. The big toe connects to the hip, through the ankle & knee; then the hip connects to the hyoid bone in the neck, through the ribs, sternum & clavicle. The hyoid bone (Adam’s apple) is the only bone in the human body that is not directly connected to another bone. It “floats” in the middle of the neck, lashed there by muscles from the hip below, and the face above. When you see someone with a “double chin” or a “turkey neck,” then you know the muscles connected to their hyoid bone have atrophied. Those muscles connect all the way down to the feet.

Calcium deposits in injured joints act as an “internal cast,” limiting range & energy of movement. Again, it’s joints– plural; as everything in the body connects to something else. What this means is that a localized injury, especially in critical joints (hips & back), will eventually spread calcifications & muscle atrophy to the head, hands & toes. If you try to move beyond calcified parameters, pain immediately sets in. This is what people commonly refer to as “getting old.” It’s a misnomer, it sucks, and I recommend avoiding it.

A bunion (above) is a gradual, but painful deformity of the joint which connects the big toe to the foot. Rheumatoid arthritis is a long-term, autoimmune disorder that affects joints. Arthritis causes inflammation, which can become painful & debilitating. Plantar fasciitis is a similar-type disorder of the insertion site of the ligament on the bone– characterized by micro tears, breakdown of collagen, and scarring. Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of calcaneal spurs (below).

A calcaneal spur (or heel spur) is a bony exostosis from the heel bone. When a foot is exposed to constant stress, calcium deposits build up on the bottom of the heel bone.

Metatarsalgia is when what I’ve described affects the ball of the foot. The metatarsals are bones that connect the toes to the ankles. All these foot disorders exacerbate a condition known as ankylosing spondylitis, which is a long-term arthritic inflammation of the joints in the spine. Back pain is a characteristic symptom, but anything from eye & ear, to bowel & urinary problems may occur. Stiffness of the affected joints generally worsens over time.

Conclusion: If I could do my rehabilitation over again (and I would never want to), I would focus more on my feet to start. I didn’t know what I was doing when I began, and had to work my way towards this answer. I kept stretching and working my abs & lower back, beyond the point of getting any results, when it was my feet that were failing me all along.

So much of what we do depends on our feet, and we tend to ignore, even abuse them. Foot pain affects every step you take, every move you make. To avoid being the “King of Pain,” you need to get active with what I’ve outline above. This pain is inside most of us, and it is making us miserable. That’s a painful truth in itself. It is up to us to face it and work it out, to make things better for ourselves & everyone else. We must use this (and any other) knowledge & heal thyself.