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Hello all,

firstly just a huge thank you to all on here, Kit & Olivia and all involved in ST. The approaches here have really changed my life, and while the primary benefits I have been seeking in my flexibility have been huge, more important has been the effect on my outlook and experience of the world. I think this is likely rather common, but I am no longer primarily practicing in order to realise physical goals. Now my experience of the bodymind and connection is my goal, with the physical benefits a wonderful bonus. However, there are of course some things I’m working on and hence the below.

I am a classic ATP “Flat foot” with the right leg (non-dominant) more prominently effected. I transitioned to barefoot shoes some time ago (a couple of years) and this has helped my arches tremendously, as well as hip flexor loosening for ATP (respondning v well), and glute activation for external rotation of the fibula. My right leg is somewhat “normal” now, with correct arch structure and good Dorsiflexion (full single leg squat). My right however has been severely limited by Dorsiflexion.
 

To give an idea of the structure of the right leg, glute, quad & calf much weaker than the left, internally rotated fibula, externally rotated tibia, foot out around 30 degrees at rest, little to no Dorsiflexion past 90 degrees.

 

I have tried for years to release this calf / Achilles but do not feel any stretch in the muscles at all (or even the Achilles’ tendon really) in bent or straight leg positions using all of the stretches in MTS if I maintain foot forwards position with external rotation at the hip. I have the tipical “pinching” feeling in the front of the foot under stretch load so I have tried banded and physical distraction on the joint and this alleviates the pinch but does not allow me to feel any sensation in the calf. I can then, using a slant board and stall bars to hold on to, force a sensation in my Achilles utilising a great deal of effort, but it is a weak stretch sensation and impossible to maintain for time without collapse of the external rotation of the leg, the arch etc. 
 

Today I tried the “wall wedge” squat exercise (planning to relax for around 5 mins). After about one minute I was astounded to see my heels reach the floor with correct foot posture and, while my left knee was far further out over my toes than my right and my hips unable to square completely, my right achieved what I think is a personal best of Dorsiflexion. This was accompanied by a very intense sensation of involuntary contraction and fatigue in the anterior tibialis muscle (both legs but strongest in the right) and after two minutes I was forced to abandon the position from intense lactic acid build up. 
 

I wonder if anyone in the forum has experienced or seen severe Dorsiflexion restriction as a result of a weak tibialis anterior? Does this even make sense given that I cannot experience a stretch sensation in the calf? My thoughts are that perhaps the TA & Calf are so weak that the foot is essentially locked in place by the neuromuscular patterning as a protection response, and that a strengthening of both of these muscle groups (along with the accompanying awareness) and integration with the passive wall wedge may allow the CNS to release this tension over time.

In any case, I will be practicing 5 mins (first accumulated and then eventually in one shot) of the wall wedge daily, decreasing distance from wall over time. I will combine this with TA raises and Kits calf raises for strength as well as checking in with calf stretches from time to time to see if sensation can be achieved. I will report back to see if this finally makes progress in my limited ankle.

thanks for reading this enormous wall of text and I look forward to comments and ideas

 

 

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First, welcome to the Forums!

It is possible to strengthen anterior tibialis, by using a band over the instep near the toes, anchoring in the other end, and strengthening by simply pulling your toes towards your knee, assuming the band is stretched sufficiently to provide the kind of resistance you need. And because this muscle, along with other muscles in the same legs, are weak, this cannot possibly hurt. And in fact, active contraction of the muscle that creates dorsiflexion is the second part of Dr. Spina's method, and many of our students have incorporated this with good results. (That is, contraction of the muscle you want to stretch as the first action, then actively pulling yourself deeper into the stretch. This second part is also a favourite of Emmet Louis's.)

Also, it sounds to me as though your deep posterior lower leg muscles might be asleep – have you seen our arch strengthening exercise on YouTube, as well as the very long thread on pronating ankles here? I'll put a link to this at the end. In any case, strengthening can only help the larger project. And if the wall has been effective for you, as you described above, then yes, please do persist with it and report back.

https://kitlaughlin.com/forums/index.php?/topic/33-flat-feet-pronation-in-response-to-a-q-from-coach-sommer/&tab=comments#comment-76

The key exercise is on the first page.

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@Kit_Lthank you! 
 

that’s a great suggestion regarding the bands, I have been looking into tibialis raises but this seems a more easily scaled solution with equipment I already have on hand. 
 

I have tried Emmets fisherman stretch but was unable to get an effective response, the force of keeping the leg externally rotated overcame any perception and ability to focus and relax/contract for Dorsiflexion, and weight necessary to overcome this and fix the leg in place collapsed the arch before I was able to get any movement or progress. That said, I am working on the hip flexors, adductors and piriformis also so I hope that with time the external rotation will become more available in this position and I’ll be able to derive some benefit. 
 

Thanks for linking the above, I have am practicing the calf raises twice a week and going through the foot awakening sequence daily. I would say that although I’ve only been doing this a month or so I have noticed direct and quick results in my leg rotation and foot posture at rest (eg standing but not focused on weight distribution), likely a combination of this and my hip flexor improvement I think, which has also massively improved over the last month as I let go of some emotional response. There is also now far less difference in the strength of contraction required to cause the calf to cramp, when I started the weak leg would cramp almost instantly, so this is a strong cue to me that the approach is working. 
 

I will keep exploring these and checking in with the stretches for sensation while I practice the wall wedge.
 

As an aside after my run this morning I completed 5 mins in the wall wedge at around 2/3rd of a foot distance from the wall and was able to achieve heel on the floor for both legs in the final two minutes. The sensation in my ATib was much less intense than yesterday (although still very lactic), and the position felt far more natural and less physically and emotionally stressful. After this I tried the wall calf stretch from MTS and felt some faint sensation in the gastroc and Achilles, and then performed my first ever knees and toes together squat with a 7.5kg counterweight.  For whatever reason it seems that this approach is managing to wake things up. There is hope!! My thoughts are that this position with toes, heels and knees together is forcing a correct alignment at the talus with my body weight providing correction for the leg rotation (both fibula and tibia) so time spent in this position removes the structural variables that (combined with weakness) have caused the body to restrict Rom and sensation, and is allowing my body to learn it is safe. 

thanks very much for your advice Kit, I’ll report back with findings. 

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Sam,

Make sure that you are not doing just calf raises—the key part of the exercise I am demonstrating in that thread is the going from over-pronation to slight eversion, while lifting from full stretch (dorsiflexion) to as good a toe point as you can get–this is really intense, if you can get the movement.

As well, and I forgot to mention this, when sitting on/in between your heels, use your hand to lift one knee slightly away from the floor (an instep stretch), and by leaning, you can load this as much or as little as you like. A contraction can be added, too (try to pull toes 'through the floor' towards your knee), then re-stretch. The point here is that if there is not sufficient range of movement in all of the instep muscles to allow the arch to form (essential in a good toe point) that is yet another blockage to that desired movement.

Last point for today: doing the right exercise will change things quite quickly (IOW, as long as you're breathing, there is always hope!).

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