function

What I Saw In Palau: Shocking Feet

In 2004 I had a wonderful opportunity to travel for the first time out of the country. I was a licensed boat captain and was offered a 6-7 week job working on the set of Survivor.  Needless to say what I experienced there imprinted me for life.  At the time, I felt the happiest I had ever been.  

Boat Captain in Palau 2004

Boat Captain in Palau 2004

CIMG1559.JPG

A terabyte was not yet a ‘thing’, and film cameras were still around so my 3.0 Megapixel point-and-click was pretty good.  I took over 3,000 photographs capturing everything my lens could focus on.  With a sharp eye for photography (its in the family) and also for things unusual, my quick trigger finger secured stills in digital limbo until I returned home.

One subject that stood out to me was a local crewman.  More specifically it was his feet.  Back then, I said to myself ‘Ew!’, wondering why they looked so different.  I thought my feet were fairly functional, and athletic (a doctor once told me).  I assumed there was something amiss based on the discrepancy I observed. They were so strange to my eye, that I took a photo while he was on the boat.  

One subject that stood out to me was a local crewman. More specifically it was his feet.

One subject that stood out to me was a local crewman. More specifically it was his feet.

10+ years later, I’m teaching workshops and leading seminars on function, alignment and posture and guess what. . .   I’m pointing out how dysfunctional my feet and indeed all feet are whose toes are NOT aligned like what you see.   

Its more than a culture clash, although that is what triggered me to take the shot at first.  Was it my european genetic background vs his pacific ancestry?  Nope.  It was, and IS a musculoskeletal response to environmental stimulus.  

In short,  Americans have our feet crammed into shoes as soon as we have feet to put them into.   

ENTER: DEVELOPMENTAL IMPEDENCE

Think of it like growing a seedling inside a snug box.  You ultimately affect the form and structure  by manipulating its environment.  It crowds the box.  It can’t develop like a plant outside in the garden due to the contrasting stimulus, or lack thereof.   (more on childhood development in another post)

Similar to the bones in our hands, the bones of the feet spread outward to form what we know as the widest part of the foot, the ‘ball’.  But its not designed to stop there, actually the toes should be the WIDEST part of the foot.  You can see in these photos what can happen over time with narrow shoe boxes that crowd the foot.  This is a stark contrast in comparison and one that can create symptoms felt up the musculoskeletal chain to the top of the head. 

The toes should be the widest part of the foot.

The toes should be the widest part of the foot.

Although footwear inhibits full function, it is NOT a death sentence. The body will jump at the chance to realign itself the moment you provide stimulus.

Although footwear inhibits full function, it is NOT a death sentence. The body will jump at the chance to realign itself the moment you provide stimulus.

Bones were forced to create the form of the shoe. Muscles can move bones to a more functional position

Bones were forced to create the form of the shoe. Muscles can move bones to a more functional position

 

Try walking at home in regular shoes.  Focus on how you feel, head to toe.  Now try with no shoes.  Notice the difference?  Does your strike sound louder? Feel the change in your shoulders or head?  Now try another type of shoe, maybe a flip flop or a heel.  The change occurs through the entire body.

Try something else.  Lift your toes up and walk on your heels.  Now walk on the balls of your feet.  Try walking on the outside edges of the feet.  Now the inside edges.  Its extreme I know, but my point is, if you change one part you affect the entirety.

Stimulus most definitely impacts the form our body takes over time.  Though it is crucial to develop fully especially as children, we can still bring fuller function to our bodies and lives. All it takes is a little varied stimulus, a bit of interruption, and the body jumps at the chance to align itself and restore its own function, no matter what shoe you're wearing.  If this is an area that you feel you can improve on, why not sign up for one of my classes or a private session?  All you have to lose is your shoes, for a little while :-)

TOH Pool Safety and Health

Its summer for the northern hemisphere.  Levittown residents know this means the pools are open!  You've got your towel, flip flops, goggles, water bottle, but forgot your sunscreen.  DON'T WORRY!  Town Of Hempstead Health Department cares about keeping you well.  Something new at the pool is FREE SUNSCREEN! 

IMG_20180705_1703233.jpg

Something not new is BAD POSTURE.  Take a look at the background action.  What do you see?

You might not notice at first glance, but these people are off balance.  They're leaning so far in one direction that their body has to compensate in various places just to hold them upright.  Do you know what that means for their health (and yours) down the line?

Look again.  What do you see?  They're all standing with their hands on their hips.  Familiar?  Have you found yourself standing for a period of time and either crossed your arms over your chest or propped yourself up on your hips?  If you're like most people, you've done it without even thinking of it.  Your body does it on its own, its called compensation.

The postures in this photo are of people displaying rounded upper back and shoulders, and excessive lower back curvature, to name just a few deviations.  Even the lifeguard falls into this category, and he is living an active lifestyle. 

So whats the big deal?  Plenty of people look like this.  Its normal right?  Well it most certainly is typical of what we all see these days but so is this:

Lower Back Pain is the #1 Cause of Disability WORLDWIDE

Does that sound typical?  How about normal?  How about something is wrong here, and we are missing a huge component to our overall health!

Fr8kvxU.jpg
p30_main_ts_0802_p22_liztai_4.jpg

Just like the postures above, this building is off balance.  Its falling down.  But it doesn't have any cool compensatory responses to keep itself upright on its own.  Instead it is getting propped up to stop the decline, at least for a little while.  Notice anything familiar?

This is exactly what the people in the top photo are doing for themselves.  Their muscles aren't working to keep them in accordance with their original design.  Some are 'asleep' while others are OVER WORKING, and the body is falling down.  It supplies the props just like the steel supports on the building, but it uses your arms instead.  

But we are different than the building.  We can adapt, heal, twist, run, jump, crawl, climb, push, pull you name it.  You see most of us lack QUALITY motion in our daily lives.  You are probably saying, 'I workout every day'.  But so is the lifeguard, and so is the other family beyond the frame of the photo. 

Michael Phelps a tremendous athlete, displaying musculoskeletal compensations.  

Michael Phelps a tremendous athlete, displaying musculoskeletal compensations.  

Most of the motion we give ourselves is repetitive motion that gets patterned into our body and stays.  Even the workouts we get at the gym are focused more on encouraging EFFORT rather than QUALITY.  Burn CALORIES, rather than have FUN (more on that in another post).  Do what the instructor says, rather than explore all motion.  We rarely take our bodies through full capable range of motion, much less strengthening it there.  So it holds tight to the pattern it considers 'safe' and forgets the rest.

Gyms focus mostly on effort to burn calories, not quality movement that creates sustained health.

Gyms focus mostly on effort to burn calories, not quality movement that creates sustained health.

If you WON'T move, you CAN'T move over time, and we head past compensation into dysfunction.  Sounds scary right?  Its not.  

Its just another adaptation that our body has in its bag of tricks to keep us as well as it can.

Thats right, compensations, dysfunctions, and adaptations are all in the plan. 

Because if we couldn't adapt, we would be like that building, hopelessly stuck waiting for someone from Monster Garage to weld upright stilts onto our falling torso.  The building needs to return to its blueprint design.  It won't last long with those beams holding it up, and it certainly won't perform like it did before, ie. holding hundreds of people inside safely.  

Your body needs to return to its design too.  And it can do it more easily than you think (more on that in another post).  If it does not, no amount of sunscreen will help get you to the pool when your back is out!

freddie function.jpg