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


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On 10/3/2019 at 8:06 PM, Ritik Singh said:

I have recently started barefoot walking on a concrete surface which is very rough and little bit uneven. Will that work?

Sharp gravel is better, but any uneven surface is better than flat ones.

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On 10/13/2019 at 10:13 AM, Kit_L said:

activating the external rotators that place the weight on the feet properly (that's the step exercise) will do that.

What if I do isolated exercises for external rotation? Will they speed up the process? 

 

On 10/13/2019 at 10:14 AM, Kit_L said:

Sharp gravel is better, but any uneven surface is better than flat ones.

I prefer landing on midfoot say my big toe and pinky toe. I progress with 10% increment every week. How much average mileage would be preferable? 

 

Currently, my main concern is knee pain, sometimes it becomes very achy and very irritating. Can you help me with this? I know flat feet causes knee pain but some people develop severe flat feet and never experience any knee pain. 

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14 hours ago, Ritik Singh said:

What if I do isolated exercises for external rotation? Will they speed up the process? 

Not necessary; follow the suggested protocol. Your external rotators are already more than strong enough—they merely are asleep with respect to placing weight on the foot.

Do the strengthening exercise on the first page two or three times to failure, paying very close attention to form, twice a week. If you can do more than eight properly, add hand weights or other resistance.

And forget mileage, too: go by feeling. If your knees hurt, for example, you are overdoing whatever it is you are doing. I do not recommend exercising in pain: you are remapping the system in an undesirable direction if you do. Walk slowly on gravel (and please do not tell me there's no gravel where you live: if this is the case, go somewhere else) and slowly walk on slightly bent knees for 25 metres only, making your best efforts to place the feet in such a way as to feel the outside of the front of the foot the same as the big toe side. I am not recommending any more than this; it is not aerobic exercise, but a remapping exercise. You will need to move like a cat stalking a mouse. 

Record a video of you doing this on your phone, upload to YouTube, and post the link. If I can, I will make suggestions.

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I will record two short videos in the coming days: one, "cat-walking" (this is what I teach in monasteries to help retreatants learn walking meditation) and the other, walking on sharp gravel. 

Cat-walking is an exercise in presence: if you do it the way I teach, you will be forced (gently) to be present: it is not possible to do the exercise and not be present. You will know as soon as you lose concentration, because you will overbalance. Done as recommended, you will be on one leg most of the time, and moving from one to the other, but in such a way as to allow you to instantly reverse your direction at any time.

The second exercise, walking on sharp gravel the way I will demonstrate, is an exercise in how to move with stealth; that is, quietly and in such a way that the gravel does not hurt the feet. Even though I do not wear shoes, the skin on the bottom of my feet is soft. Going barefoot does not change this; what changes is the way you will need to move to be able to do this. 

You learn to move in such a way that the body is unloading the soles of the feet as much as it can, and spreading the load as widely as possible over the whole sole, to make the movements as comfortable as possible. In the process, the arch has to form.

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10 hours ago, Kit_L said:

If you can do more than eight properly, add hand weights or other resistance.

I'm not even able to do 5 reps without making my calf shake like hell. So, I will give it some time and focus more on quality reps and my form.

 

10 hours ago, Kit_L said:

If your knees hurt, for example, you are overdoing whatever it is you are doing. I do not recommend exercising in pain: you are remapping the system in an undesirable direction if you do

No, I never do anything in pain. I never feel any pain while doing the single legged calf raises or while walking barefoot. I have knee pain when I wear slippers at home. I have been using a knee support which just takes away the pain. But when I don't wear those, my knee becomes super painful. 

 

10 hours ago, Kit_L said:

please do not tell me there's no gravel where you live: if this is the case, go somewhere else)

I will share an image where I will walk very soon. The track I'm talking about is full of small stones.

 

10 hours ago, Kit_L said:

place the feet in such a way as to feel the outside of the front of the foot the same as the big toe side.

I don't get it. Is it like walking on forefoot i.e landing on the big toe and small toe simultaneously? 

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10 hours ago, Kit_L said:

Cat-walking is an exercise in presence: if you do it the way I teach, you will be forced (gently) to be present: it is not possible to do the exercise and not be present. You will know as soon as you lose concentration, because you will overbalance. Done as recommended, you will be on one leg most of the time, and moving from one to the other, but in such a way as to allow you to instantly reverse your direction at any time.

Yeah, I know about cat-walking. I never did it though. I used to do some crab-walks at Karate classes when I was young. And I know how difficult it is to maintain a balance while focusing on movement. So, I assume that it would be more advanced. I'll be waiting for the video. 

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1 hour ago, Ritik Singh said:

Yeah, I know about cat-walking. I never did it though.

With respect, if you have not done it, you do not know it. This is the difference between the separate worlds of concepts, and experience. This is a critical distinction, and one that I will return to, if needed.

With respect to cat-walking and how to walk on gravel, if the instructions I wrote do not connect with you, wait for the videos. 

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  • 4 weeks later...

Hey @Kit_L

I'm a little bit confused regarding anti pronation exercise. How to cheat my weight on the outside effectively? My concern is whenever I go up either I end up doing a simple calf raise or exaggerate it. I'm asking this to avoid any unnecessary mistakes. I saw the video (anti pronation exercise) many times but it seems impossible for me to understand the cheating part. 

On 2/21/2019 at 2:34 AM, Kit_L said:

This movement of the big toes away from the midline of the body is explicitly caused by the pronation you have and, in time, will cause the bunions that everyone wants to avoid. The pronation causes a lateral deviation of the big toes away from the midline; if you come up on the ball of one foot, you will see the toe moving sideways as well as flexing. 

I think my bunion has started. I see a bump on the base of the big toe on both feet. I want to know your suggestions. 

 

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On 11/7/2019 at 6:30 PM, Ritik Singh said:

How to cheat my weight on the outside effectively?

It's a language problem. In this usage, "cheat" means that instead of coming up to the high position with your body's weight evenly spread across the big–to–little side of the front of the foot, you put a small extra weight on the little toe side. There is still discernible weight on the big toes side, but a bit more on the little toe side. If a deep lower leg muscle cramps and you do the "one–two" count at the highest point, you are doing it right. Set up a phone or camera off to the side and record when you are doing this: if correctly done, the arch will be well formed at the top position.

Re. the bunions: review all directions given in this thread, and do the strengthening exercises twice a week, with your full attention and effort. Be patient, too; you cannot change a lifetime's habits in a week or two.

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  • 6 months later...

Hello All! 

New member, first posting... Apologies in advance if my language/terminology is a bit imprecise or straight up wrong! 

I'm mostly a musician, with no formal movement/anatomy training.

I'm doing some research on historical gait patterns (long story), mostly 19th C Britain, and it seems like there was a major change from pushing-off/stepping-forward with the weight mostly on the "outside" of the back fore-foot (little toe side), to pushing from the inside (pushing with the big toe side).

Late 18th C and up to mid 19th C texts talk about the little toe being the last part of the foot to leave the ground, and the first to touch the ground; at least one text, Walkers Manly Exercises, also describes the "haunch" (hip?) as moving "forward and out", possibly suggesting an external rotation of the hip joint.

By 1903, things seem to have changed, with the push-off being done with the "big toe", and with a hard landing on the heel; I've yet to find any real description of what the hip is doing though, but a number of other things seem to indicate that the hip/leg is now being rotated inwards during the step forward.

In both of the above cases, the leg is meant to be kept as straight as possible with only a "slight bend" as the leg is carried forward.  This was mostly a military requirement related to marching shoulder to shoulder in close-formation (also a long story), which was probably used by civilians for aesthetic reasons (makes you look taller?), though in the late 1800's the French Army started experimenting with an "American Indian" style of marching with bent legs (britishpathe.com/video/french-army) that also had the feet rotating slightly towards the mid-line, facing straight forward and getting rid of the previous slight turnout; also maybe suggesting an "internal" rotation of the leg?

My question is this... If you use a gait model that mostly uses "hip extension" (as per Katy Bowman and Esther Gokhale?) to drive the forward step, could that hip extension be done with either an "inward" rotating hip joint, or an "outward" rotation?  Or does it have to be one or the other? 

If either could theoretically work efficiently, and it's just a matter of choice, then could the way in which a person "puts their weight" onto the foot, i.e. on the outside or the inside of the fore-foot, indicate which way the hip is rotating during hip extension?

Hope this makes sense... I can post some of the historical sources if anyone is interested. 

Thanks!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  • 4 months later...

@Kit_L Not sure if this has been answered before, are minimalist shoes good for people with flat feet?

I have flat feet(or pronated ankle) since childhood. Off late, I have been experiencing pain on the arch after an hour of running. I am currently using an arch supported shoe (New Balance 690 I believe).

30 minutes of foot massage seem to ease the pain. However the pain immediately after the run is pretty bad and it seems my arch is getting fatigued.

I also experience sharp momentary pain on my arch when I do certain stretches where I have to get on the ball/pad of the feet.

I have used minimalist shoes in the past without any pain. But then at that point I never had any foot issues too. Now I want to give them a try. But just wanted to check and see if you have any thoughts about them.

Thanks again for your work!

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@engoor

On 11/12/2021 at 3:32 AM, engoor said:

are minimalist shoes good for people with flat feet?

Please start this thread at p. 1, and read at least the first three pages. Specific foot strengthening is required to condition flat feet for minimalist shoes. Please try the recommended exercise two or three times a week, with no running, for a month or so–you will know if it's effective. What distance roughly are you running in that hour you mention?

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1 hour ago, Kit_L said:

What distance roughly are you running in that hour you mention?

Thanks Kit for responding. I'll follow the exercise for a month as you suggested. 

I am running at a pace between 13-15 minutes per mile. Therefore around 4 miles for that one hour.

I walk for 30-45 minutes at a brisk pace around 18-19" per mile before I start running. I generally cover 6-7 miles in a session. But until recently, I was walking for around 4 miles daily - no running.

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@engoor: that is a jogging kind of pace—not a problem at all, but your feet are actually getting battered more at that pace than if you learn how to sprint, slowly and short distances at first.

Think of running 10 and 20 metres/yards, at only 50% speed, then 60%, and in time 70%. You will find that you will be up on the balls of your feet—a completely different movement in the whole body, and immensely strengthening for the feet. Do this on grass, and bare feet (or Five Fingers), and not in shoes and socks where the toes touch each other; many reasons why.

The pain you have been feeling in your feet is not uncommon when running at your usual speed: just watch another runner's body who is running at the same speed. Everything's relaxed—so key muscles in the feet and lower leg are simply not activated. Running short distances at faster paces activates everything—but this can only be done for short distances. In the beginning, to do much less than you think you can do – the stress is vastly more, but that's what will change your feet and lower legs.

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On 11/13/2021 at 3:01 PM, Kit_L said:

Do this on grass, and bare feet (or Five Fingers), and not in shoes and socks where the toes touch each other; many reasons why.

Thanks again for the response. I live in North America. With winter starting, barefoot running would be an issue. Can I sprint train on regular running shoes? Any other alternative?

After doing the recommended exercise just a couple of times, I am more aware of the placement of my foot. When doing my regular body stretches, I try to tilt my feet outwards a little so that the weight is distributed in the outer edge and small toes more than the arch(flat). Not sure if this is good or bad.

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12 hours ago, engoor said:

I try to tilt my feet outwards a little so that the weight is distributed in the outer edge and small toes more than the arch(flat). Not sure if this is good or bad.

It's good! 

Re. sprint training in regular running shoes: it will not have anywhere the same effect on the feet, unfortunately. Toe socks inside minimalist (flat from toe to heel, thin soles) will be better. If the skin in between the toes touches, the toes do not work as independent units. Toe socks will help this to some degree, but

Vibram Five Fingers are better, and bare feet better still.

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