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How to address the underlying cause of PF

Posted by Mike W on 5/16/05 at 12:35 (175131)

I have been helping people who suffer from PF and other lower leg injuries for over 5 years. I have developed unique exercises known as Foot Trainer exercises that address the underlying cause of PF and the following is some information that I have learned and wish to share.

The underlying physiological cause of PF is short/tight toe/footand lower leg FLEXOR muscles that place excessive tension on the points where their related tendons attach to a bone(usually the heel bone).

The goal of everyone with PF should be to relax these short/tight FLEXOR muscles. The traditional exercises often focus on tryin to contract/strengthen these muscles. If you had a torn bicep muscle it would not make sense to perform bicep curls early on. This is exactly what many of the traditional PF exercises focus on.

To relax short/tight FLEXOR muscles you should understand a concept known as reciprocal muscle inhibition (RMI). RMI means that muscles usually work in pairs (flexors and extensors)and when one of them (angonist) is contracted the opposite one (antagonist) is forced to relax.

Therefore if you contract an EXTESOR muscle then it's related FLEXOR muscle will automatically relax.

The only problem is that everyone with PF has weak EXTENSOR muscles. So in order for RMI to be effective the weak EXTENSORS must be strengthened. The EXTENSORS are weak because nobody ever exercises them and what something called Sarcopenia.

Sarcopenia is the natural aging process of muscle degeneration that occurs usually around age 30 whereby you lose muscle density throughout the entire body at a rate of about 10% per decade. It is know wonder PF affects people in the 30-50+ age group.

The Foot Trainer exercises focus on strengthening the weak EXTENSOR muscles
which in turn will help relax the short/tight FLEXOR muscles.

The most important EXTENSOR muscles are:
Extensor hallicus brevis and longus
Extensor digitorum brevis and longus
Tibialis anterior

I hope this information is helpful.


Mike W

Re: How to address the underlying cause of PF

Ted on 5/17/05 at 19:38 (175213)

Any specific exercizes you or anyone else can recommend for this?? Any other info you can post??

Re: How to address the underlying cause of PF

Susan on 5/18/05 at 08:15 (175231)

Mike W. is the Foot Trainer guy. He sells Foot Trainers on his website FootTrainer.com. I ordered one from him, and it's very useful, and the booklet describing exercises that comes with it is excellent. It describes the muscles in the foot and how to exercise them.

Re: How to address the underlying cause of PF

John H on 5/18/05 at 09:19 (175234)

Ted there are so many it is hard to know where to start. Some may work for you and some may make you worse so you are going to have to do some expirimentation. Check out some of Julie's thoughts as she is good with this sort of thing. One thing you read a lot of on the board and that is to do non weight bearing exercises. Not all agree with this but it seems to be a consensus. Some exercises such as standing on a stair step with your toes and letting your heels hang off seems to be a no no. There is a lot to read on this subject both on this board and elsewhere so do a search on the board under 'stretching' or 'exercise'.

Re: Foot Trainer Exercise Tips

Mike W on 5/18/05 at 17:16 (175275)


Here are some Foot Trainerm Exercise Tips.

When? Before the first step of the day. Because the most important thing to do is to eliminate the repetive damage caused by loading short tight and cold weightbearing muscles.

Where? Right in your bed.

How? In a nonweightbearing position sitting up with your back supported and legs in front. If you have tight calf muscles you should do these exercises nonweightbearing with your feet plantar to nuetral flexed prior to performing the tibials anterior exercise.

How many times per day? At least twice a day for up to 2 months.
What Muscles? The extensor muscles, which are the ones that extend your toes, feet and lower legs up/towards your body.

Do not perform any flexor muscle exercises. These are ther ones that flex your toes, feet and lower legs down/away from your body.

It is important to isolate the individual extensor muscles.

I hope this information helps you.


Mike W