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Kit_L

Flat feet (pronation); in response to a q. from Coach Sommer

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I think I'm getting somewhere with the right foot.  I seem to now be able to shorten the left side of my right foot which raises the arch rather than scrunching the toes to raise the arch.  I'm almost able to raise the big toe completely independently of the others!

 

The left side I don't think I have enough back bend in the toes to get high enough and or enough strength in the big toe to push down to get a proper cramp.  In the past in traditional jiu jitsu I stubbed my big toe of my left foot a lot and each time I had excruciating pain and it used to swell up a bit.  The problem was the end joint stopped bending completely and I'm not certain what caused it originally.  My osteopath got a little movement back in the joint but I have no control over it.  I can't flex it at all without my hands.  Is this something that I could regain control over again?  It was x-ray'd some time back and I was told there was nothing visibly wrong.

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Has anyone used toe spacers (YogaToes, Correct Toes, etc.)?

 

I'm going to get a pair myself to supplement my foot awakening drills, and was curious if anyone has comments to share regarding them

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@Zen - I have found them to be a nice passive stretching tool. However, I do prefer using my fingers so that I can do the wringing movement of the forefoot as well. I find this to be enough and not need anymore stretching afterwards.

 

Edit: I follow the foot sequence posted earlier in the thread for stretching.

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Kit, a question about determining how pronated your foot is. I've found that my right foot (my foot I believe to be quite pronated) points in a position off to the side when I lift it off the ground. By this I mean when I lift up my right leg and look down at it through the center of my kneecap the big toe of the foot points out at an angle. Ive been doing the pronation exercise in the original post for about 4 months almost everyday and this angle seems to get smaller and the big toe seems to point straighter over time. My foot seems to naturally want to point straighter when walking as well without forcing it. Do you think this experience means im on the right track? Also if im right this may be an effective way to measure pronation in someones foots. 

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On 3/26/2016 at 10:10 PM, Cooper said:

Do you think this experience means im on the right track?

@Cooper: Yes, definitely.

Personally, I am not interested in measurement; flat footedness can be seen easily. I am only interested in improvement in function.

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On 11/18/2011 at 2:03 AM, Kit_L said:

We have had many students start our classes (stretching and strengthening) with 'flat feet' and most have had the form and function of the feet improved significantly. One young man had ankles that pronated so much that he had developed bunions (painfully enlarged joints of both big toes), and the big toes had deviated over 45 degrees away from the midline of the body. Now, three years later (using Five Fingers and a lot of kettlebell work), he now has perfect arches, the swelling and enlargement of the joints has diminished, and he has run two 10km fun runs on asphalt and concrete in his Five Fingers. His feet are perfectly aligned; his arches are developed and supple, and all his toes separate voluntarily.

Asking for friends and relatives: is it possible to completely heal bunions? At any age?

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There is no certainty is this life (apart from death, and taxes) but one thing is for sure: if someone with bunions does nothing, you can be sure that they will not improve. 

Your question is asking too much: I can envisage a 95-year-old about to draw his next to last breath, who has bunions, and who likely will die with them unimproved. Everyone else can improve.

And "completely heal"—in the post you excerpt from, I only talked about improvement. Sometimes this can be massive change and dramatic improvement, sometimes only relatively small changes. The owners of these feet always feel that the benefits were huge. The deeper problem is that some owners of bunions will ask "can these be completely healed" and not do any work to improve them if the answer is "not completely". No one can answer this question—only someone who has fixed their own bunions. We have seen many such people.

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For the first time in my life I took a walk in the countryside…wearing no shoes. It was odd, but only because of some looks I was getting. Gravels weren't too much of a problem, I just had to walk slower than usual and be more careful about my steps. I can vouch for the increased awareness and slightly better balanced. I still don't like having my soles cover in dirt and I'm really resistant to the idea of walking barefoot around a city.

IMG_5978.jpeg.04b4feec4ad738240070450fcbc31811.jpeg

I've been wearing a pair of Vivobarefoot during all summer, I train exclusively in FiveFingers and sometimes I even hike wearing minimalist shoes. I can tell my feet are now way stronger than a couple of years back (more “meat”) and even dorsiflexion has improved slightly. I'm now a little annoyed by regular shoes and I can't stand “soft” soles. This kinda bothers me: winter is coming (cit.) and I'm going to need more conventional footwear. Anyway I still like Scarpa's products and think Vibram makes the best soles.

Looking at the way my training pair of Five Fingers is wearing out I don't think my weight distribution is optimal. I also know from experience that my right foot (“bad” ankle) tends to pronate. I've thus started to perform the anti-pronation exercise, but my calf muscle never cramps. I feel the fibers twitching slightly, but no real cramp happens.

IMG_5959.jpeg.2ad0fd11b8fcfc981e24e8cd6d84a21c.jpeg

I'm also focusing on ankle mobility to achieve a decent squat. My left (“good”) ankle is definitely improving, my right (“bad”) one doesn't seem to. I feel like the talus doesn't slide properly, even during the stretching itself. This lack of mobility is especially apparent upon waking up, like the ankle needs some warming up to function ok.

Alright, I've packed a mix of feet related stuff in this comment, I hope it all belongs here.

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9 hours ago, jaja said:

This kinda bothers me: winter is coming (cit.) and I'm going to need more conventional footwear.

But are you really? I switched almost completely to Xero sandals a while back (I still use my Vibrams for sprinting), and I continued to wear them throughout the winter - most of the time without socks! I realize I live in a warm place compared to many others, but it does dip down below freezing at times here. When I felt it necessary, I wore a pair of toe socks with the sandals.

9 hours ago, jaja said:

but my calf muscle never cramps.

Don't get caught up in the minutiae. Make the effort to produce the cramp - it is the effort that matters. Cramping is an individual thing, and some will not cramp as easily as others.

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In this forum there're a lot of barefoot enthusiast and I definitely get the appeal. Anyway I wonder why most (if not all) podiatrists advised against such habit; I'm trying to figure out if there're hidden dangers in minimalist footwear.

Here few interesting comments I found on Facebook:

2057762924_Schermata2018-10-31alle14_27_04.png.9f51026c812f1f3157059c1c29da64e7.png1971933341_Schermata2018-10-31alle14_27_23.png.e8ec71c111adb00cafefdac0550fa287.png1736841167_Schermata2018-10-31alle14_27_32.thumb.png.8844e51c8305cce82732d4bdd61f5b6d.png

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I'm not much of a forum poster but my view is that of course podiatrists will on the whole be against minimal / barefoot as this is an argument directly against their profession is founded on.  However you can't say everyone would benefit (at least no immediately) because people have worn shoes for most of their life or may have had accidents at birth such as structural defects.

If most people never wore shoes from birth I believe most functional physical ailments (especially related to the feet) would not occur.  Evolution is (was) survival of the fittest and for most of this there were no shoes!

On a personal note, I was prescribed orthotics in my teens which made my foot ailments considerably worse.  Only in recent years have my feet been better than when I was a teenager since wearing five fingers / the occasional barefoot walks.

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@jaja: it is your habit to look for "hidden dangers", everywhere. There are sensible approaches to adopting minimalist, or no, footwear, and I have written extensively about this.

Re. podiatry: to a forester with a chain saw in his hands, a forest looks like timber waiting to be cut. Same with podiatrists. Podiatrists perform a useful role in our chronically weakened culture, in recovery and/or rehab.

Facebook is a distraction, I feel. And I have an immensely popular simple video on Youtube (almost 100,000 views now) to activete the very muscle Emma mentions above: tibialis posterior. This costs nothing, is safe, and will benefit the chronic over-pronator. Check out some of the comments there from people who have used the exercise and felt immediate benefits.

As a researcher, I can tell you it's possible to find evidence to support pretty much any position you want to take. Direct experience is primal, and trumps any 'evidence'.

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On 11/1/2018 at 8:18 AM, Kit_L said:

@jaja: it is your habit to look for "hidden dangers", everywhere. There are sensible approaches to adopting minimalist, or no, footwear, and I have written extensively about this.

I'm aware and I'm working to change this — sometimes I succeed, sometimes not so much. Aside from this habit of mine, I like to hear different perspectives and understand things “intellectually”. I won't stop experimenting because of a stranger's post on Facebook. But I'm not going to label that opinion as “bullshit” either, since I know too little about this stuff. I try to clear my doubts alone, but when I can't I post here because there's an open minded atmosphere, which I like.

Hope this makes sense, I still have to drink my morning espresso. ?

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My overpronation is mainly on my right foot. I think left side is alright.
It has changed since doing the anti-pronation excercice.
For some reason I was walking excessively on the outside of my feet even though my knee and leg were kind of collapsing toward the left side of my body (I think, because I was wearing insoles before changing to minimalist shoes).
That is still happening and causing trouble especially in my lower back. (Mostly left side) and neck, also left side. Even though knee and hip pain are gone for the most part.
Now I am walking mostly on the inside of my foot.
So still pronating. Knee still collapsing toward the left side of my body.
I have been doing several exercises.
This one.
Sort of making a fist with my foot repeatedly, which seems to strengthen more of the inside of my foot.
Standing on one leg, and doing single leg squats. Also while carrying weight on the opposite side. Ocassionally I do several stretching excercises. 
Now, at the moment, none of these things seem to further improve the situation
Are there any other exercises you would suggest? Should I go back to wearing insoles? Or should I simply give it more time?

I am a bit worried, that I might cause further damage, by not wearing the orthotics.

Cheers

 

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Hello everyone, my name is Fernando and I have read thru this post and don't see anyone that has posted my particular problem so let me start.

I have only one flat foot which is my right foot and my left foot has a decent Arch. But what also came with this imbalance is I have what is called a lateral pelvic tilt where the left side of my hip is higher than the right hip which has the flat foot. I have been doing the anti pronation exercise and it has helped made my right foot stronger but still no Arch as for my lateral pelvic tilt I have improved it greatly with streches I have done but I also understand that I may have this problem because of a glute imbalance so I am here asking for advice if any of you guys have come across this problem and also if you recommend any glute excercises that are effective and will help strengthen the weaker glute. 

Thank you for your time for reading this post.

tilted-pelvis.jpg

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@Fernando A: welcome to the forums.

Beware models; they will be correct (or incorrect) in individual cases. You are an individual, so an experiment of one.

What you show above seems logical, yet I have seen one pronating foot and level hips—the pronation was that person's body's attempt to level the pelvis. Can you ask someone to take a picture of you that shows us what your body is doing?

Strengthening the arch on the pronating foot will always be useful in the long term, but can actually make any imbalances worse, initially. As for glute weakness, that will not manifest as leg-length difference, usually. But, again, both glutes need to be active, so all the unilateral glute activation exercises are what you need.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fDxl-0uZMJo

Make sure to do in bare feet, though, and tuck the tail; this makes the glute work harder.

One tight hip flexor can tilt the pelvis in the direction illustrated above, though. It is the most significant muscle in the body in this regard.

 

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In response to Kit

The model I showed displays exactly what I think is happening to my body but less exaggerated my hips are about a quarter of an inch unleveled and my right foot rotates inward with the flat foot on the right side also and the right hip is the lower one. I also want to point out that when I was younger I used to play alot of soccer and I usually had really powerful kicks with my right leg compared to my left leg  and also I would unconsciously tend to lead with my right leg when I walk, so maybe the right leg is alot stronger than left one and that's what's causing the hip drop. But thank you for the glute exercises I will try those

IMG_20190103_155418888.jpg

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Hi Kit,

I went through this thread about flat feet and pronation and I have some questions.
I would actually prefer exercises to do solo, rather than depend on someone. (As I am living solo.) I also checked if you have any branches in Japan. It does, but it's quite far from Tokyo (where I stay.)

As for the thread, I saw the Practitioner Hip Flexor stretch and the solo Hip Flexor.
However the one I will be able to do without a partner is the anti pronation exercise, as my knees hurt even when I bend for the other ones.

Am 27M, currently in Japan. Weight is 81kgs, Height - 5'10" 

My Symptoms:
1) Was trying to do a single leg raise on my left side, and was unable to. Although I can do the right feet properly.
2) I feel a tick on my left glute/bottom (flatfeet/pronated leg) when I stretch/walk at times.
3) I have minor backpain, slight ankle pain and knee pain. (I can't squat without having knee pain - This could be because of gout - point below)
4) I have had high uric acid (Which I believe is the cause of the pain.) - Am going to see a doctor for this.

I was told by Kit that it will take time for me to see improvement. 
My question here is how will I know whether what am doing is right for my body and within what time frame can I know that? 

If there's any exercise that you feel might help me out, please do let me know. I have searched online and I get TONS of results. 
I don't know which one I should try. I have been trying for almost a year now with varying exercises, with no good results. 

Would mean a lot if someone can help me out here as it's affecting my lifestyle a lot.

Thanks.

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17 hours ago, Nevin MK said:

1) Was trying to do a single leg raise on my left side, and was unable to. Although I can do the right feet properly.

Welcome to the Forums, Nevin. Can you expand on what you wrote above; it does not have a clear meaning, to me. What do you mean by "a single leg raise"? And do you mean right foot, not feet?

17 hours ago, Nevin MK said:

 2) I feel a tick on my left glute/bottom (flatfeet/pronated leg) when I stretch/walk at times.

What does "feel a tick" mean, please?

17 hours ago, Nevin MK said:

how will I know whether what am doing is right for my body and within what time frame can I know that? 

Walk barefoot on undulating, non-smooth surfaces every day; it does not have to be far—but spend 10–15' at least every day. As your feet and lower legs get stronger, you will feel your feet, and how your body uses your feet, change. This change indicates improvement.

The only exercise you need to do to bring these results about is the one I demonstrate on my back deck, a few posts above on this page, plus walking with awareness on rough surfaces. When the soles of the feet are stimulated, the arch will reform, and the strength to do this will come from doing the exercise I suggest, carefully and following all the instructions.

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Thanks for your reply Kit. English isn't my first language. Sorry. Let me explain.

Quote

Was trying to do a single leg raise on my left side, and was unable to. Although I can do the right feet properly

.I am unable to do single leg calf raise. (Using my left foot - where the flatfeet/ankle pronation is prominent). I am however able to do the calf raise using my right foot alone.

Quote

I feel a tick on my left glute/bottom (flatfeet/pronated leg) when I stretch/walk at times.

I feel a "click" inside my left glute/bottom when I walk/stretch my left foot at times.

15 hours ago, Kit_L said:

Walk barefoot on undulating, non-smooth surfaces every day; it does not have to be far—but spend 10–15' at least every day.

Would it be ok if I walk using the 5 finger Vibram or something similar which has some sort of protection for my feet? Also, at the moment am using orthotics insoles for my shoes for support for my feet. (An orthopedic doctor suggested it.)

15 hours ago, Kit_L said:

The only exercise you need to do to bring these results about is the one I demonstrate on my back deck

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XfAJa0yNliM

 - I believe it's this one? Also, since I can't lift my body using my left leg up alone, what would you suggest?

Thanks.

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Thank you; your replies are very helpful.

Is there any strength at all on the left side, with respect to the single leg heel raise? If so, modify the exercise like this:

Follow all the directions, but using both legs, until you get to the highest position. Make sure you have some support that you can hang on to, then take the weight carefully off the right leg, so you are holding yourself as high as you can on the weaker L leg. Then slowly lower, and stop at different points if you can, until the L leg is in the stretch, bottom position. This is eccentric strengthening ("negatives"), and will be effective as we are all significantly stronger in the lower phase of any resistance exercise than the raising part. Repeat all directions.

And if the L leg is not strong enough to do that, then lower with both legs, but putting more and more weight on the L one until you can do negatives with the L leg only. Make sure you are following the instructions as to where to place the weight on the feet.

Please do not use five fingers or any protection (or orthotics) when trying walking barefoot. Just stand on the rough ground to start with—this is not a joke; even just standing on rock or dirt/gravel will be a challenge, and that's the whole point: your body will try to remove as much weight from the sole of the foot as it can—and the only way it can do that is to pull the inner, softer, part of the foot away from the sharp bits. This is the arch forming. We had one student whose soles were so sensitive she could not stand on gravel for even 30", when she started, but in six months, could walk carefully for ten minutes, and her problem disappeared within the year. 

This exercise is done right when it feels as though you are walking on hot coals—knees bent, everything activated, and constant movement trying to "unweight" the sensitive soles of the feet, even if standing still. This degree of stimulation is necessary to wake up a protective, hard-wired mechanism in the body. In time you will be able to transfer the weight of the body back and forth between both feet, and you will feel things changing. This will require significant effort on your part. Do everything slowly, and feel what's happening as strongly as you can.

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The "ticking" thing will be a tendon; don't worry about that—it will change in time. The piriformis exercises will be helpful in this regard, but are lower priority, for now.

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Thanks @Kit_L for the detailed explanation. 
Regarding the orthotics, let me rephrase. Is it ok for me to wear those during office/work hours? Will that affect the healing process? 
Because, I tried to walk without it for one day, and it seemed to hurt a little more than when I wear it. 

Also I seem to have my toes starting to point outward. Would this help for that as well? 

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On 2/7/2019 at 11:53 AM, Nevin MK said:

Regarding the orthotics, let me rephrase. Is it ok for me to wear those during office/work hours? Will that affect the healing process? 

@Nevin MK: probably not (will not affect the healing process).

On 2/7/2019 at 11:53 AM, Nevin MK said:

 Because, I tried to walk without it for one day, and it seemed to hurt a little more than when I wear it. 

But this is completely to be expected: adaptation will always be at least a bit uncomfortable—you are 27 years old, IIRC, so the problem foot has real momentum, to NOT change (because it is 'normal' for you). Changing that will require real effort, and some discomfort. So, with respect to what you wrote, don't go without for a whole day—try a few hours instead.

On 2/7/2019 at 11:53 AM, Nevin MK said:

 Also I seem to have my toes starting to point outward. Would this help for that as well? 

An image of your feet, please; I do not know what you mean. Do you mean that your toes are spreading? If so, excellent.

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Quote

An image of your feet, please; I do not know what you mean. Do you mean that your toes are spreading? If so, excellent.

https://imgur.com/a/adoGnQ2

As you can see my big toe is spreading out.  Do I need to do any exercise specifically for this? 

For the exercise/walking barefoot, can I increase the frequency to doing it almost everyday? 

@Kit_L
 

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