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Feet

Posted by Julie on 1/23/04 at 09:54 (142709)

While planning lessons yesterday, I dug out a book that I've always found enlightening and useful in the past: Sue Luby's Bodysense. I've had it since it was published in 1986, but I hadn't looked at it for awhile, not since I had PF. This time round, I was struck by the general remarks with which she introduces her chapter on 'Feet, Ankles and Knees', and I thought I would copy them here for your interest.

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'Eighty-seven percent of Americans have foot problems. Podiatrists know that the aching feet they see represent only a small amount of a large occurrence of pain and avoidable deformatity. The US Public Health Service's survey, as presented in the New York Times Magazine (23 April 1978) showed that foot ailments are our third most disabling health problem, after heart disease and cancer. Afflicted Americans squander some $200 million a year onover-the-counter foot medications and appliances. It is squandering because such medications and devices do not get at the basic problem - poor body mechanics. And body mechanics begin with the foot.

'Just as the development of modern architecture depended upon the principle of the simple arch, people's physical structures and well-being rest upon the arches of their feet. The bones in the arches are held in shape and are controlled by ligaments and muscles. If they are deformed or slack, the arches flatten and problems begin, extending throughout the body.

'Despite the importance of the foot, few of us spend much time and effort strengthening the ligaments and muscles of our feet to ensure the firm fondation of our bodies' vehicle. When you think of it, we pay more attention to the balance, alignment and wear of the tires of our cars than we do to the proper care of our feet. Think of the relationship between your feet and the construction of a car. Just as a car has four tires, so too does the foot: the ball of the foot (the two front tires) and the heel (the two back tires).

'When standing, the feet should always be grounded, firmly planted on the floor with a lifted arch and centred ankles. The weight should be evenly distributed and balanced between the front (ball of the foot) and back tires (the heel). I try to make my students aware of the four tires of the foot so that they keep the tires aligned and parallel with the toes extended when walking, standing and exercising. Perfect balance means the feet feel light, lifted and sensitive, yet deeply grounded - no flat tires!

'So often, I hear complaints of weak ankles when the problem actually emanates from the feet. People tend not to understand that all parts of the body are connected. They don't look at the alignment of their feet or at their knees for the culprit to the problem. Ida P. Rolf, in 'Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structures', identifies three distinct arches in the foot, which balance the ankle and the knee. The spring action of the medial longitudinal arch rides on top of the spring action of the lateral longitudinal arch. These transmit weight as well as distribute it. There is also a transverse metatarsal arch that goes across the front of the foot. In any competent arch, contour is created and preserved not only by the configuration of the bones themselves but also by tough connective tissue that holds the two ends of the arch the way a bowstring connects the ends of a bow. This allows the weight of the body to be spread as on the base of a triangle: but not all arches maintain their structural integrity. Some people are born with fallen arches or flat feet. Others develop these conditions because of inherent weaknesses in the muscles and injuries to their ligaments.

'It is essential to strengthen the ligaments and muscles in our feet to help prevent and overcome foot deficiencies. The exercises in this chapter are designed to do just that.'

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That's where I'll stop, because it's a very long chapter and instructions for the exercises, which are very detailed, are useless without the illustrations. They look good to me, though some may be too strong for peole whose feet are already damaged. (It's interesting that one of them involves standing on a stair, but is a completely different exercise to our old friend the hanging-off-the-stair exercise: she says 'Do NOT drop the heels'.)

The book appears to be still available at amazon.com if anyone is interested. It's an excellent fitness/exercise manual. It's called 'Bodysense', by Sue Luby, and its subtitle is 'The Hazard-free Fitness Program for Men and Women'.
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Re: Feet

Pam S. on 1/23/04 at 10:48 (142714)

Julie:
Thx so much for that info. I am printing that out to show my PT and I will order that book. Makes so much sense. Have a great weekend. Warmly, pam

Re: Feet

Kathy L on 1/23/04 at 10:57 (142717)

I love it! ... getting your four tires (foot) balanced regularly!