Month: December 2009

How to avoid foot pain, calf pain, and knee pain

Today we’re going to discuss feet. I know, you have better things to do than think about feet but this is important.
 
Weakness in the feet can lead a wide range of problems up the line – shin splints, calf pain, knee pain, hip pain, back pain, etc. Strengthening your feet can reduce these injuries (and prevent them from coming back).
 
Sports like skiing, boarding, running, cycling and snowshoeing require strong feet to maintain good balance. Strengthening your feet will improve your performance in these sports.
 
Most people think that using the tired old calf-raise machine at the gym is all the foot strengthening they need, but that’s wrong. First of all, you’re locked into a machine. Unless there’s an earthquake, you don’t need to do any balancing at all. Secondly, your shoes essentially turn your feet into a block, cheating the your muscles of work. (Yes, there are many, many muscles in your foot).
 
So step one is to lose the shoes. If you’re in a gym I wouldn’t, but at home you can. This home exercise is a simple way to start strengthening your feet and lower legs in the comfort and provacy of your own home. I’ll have more exercises for you in the January paper newsletter coming soon to a mailbox near you, but for now get started with this one.
 
First you’re going to need someting called a balance pad. You can get this one on Amazon.com for about 20 bucks. Just go there and search for “Harbinger Core Trainer” and this will appear. Buy it. It’s inflatable so you can adjust it to your weight.
 
balance pad
 
There’s lots of research that shows that using these balance pads can strengthen your feet and prevent lower leg injuries. I’ve had patients buy these to use in conjunction with the Primary Pattern Rehab Protocols that I’ve developed and they get great results.
 
This exercise is called foot circles. It’s surprisingly simple, but it isn’t easy. And it is very effective. First try this on the ground to make sure that you have the stability to do this on a flat surface. Remember -no shoes!
 
Basically, you stand on one foot (the working foot) and make large sweeping circles with the other foot.
 
foot1
 
Make clockwise circles for 30 seconds and then counter clockwise circles for 30 seconds. If you need to keep tapping the circling foot on the ground to maintain your balance, that’s OK. But try to work up to not needing a foot tap.
 
foot2
 
If you can do this on flat ground, move to the balance trainer. Do 3 sets of one minute with each foot about 3 times each week. You’ll start to notice a difference pretty quickly.
 
Again, this is a great foot / calf strengthening exercise, but it’s also a great rehab exercise. If you or someone you know has foot pain, calf pain, shin splints, knee problems, hip pain or low back pain, I can help. Give us a call at 303.300.0424. Don’t put up with pain.