Be Well Personal Training

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Foot Function & Kinetic Transfer- a guest blog by Dr. Emily Splichal

I am excited to share that this week's post is written by educator, podiatrist, and founder of the Evidence Based Fitness Academy (EBFA) Dr. Emily Splichal.  Dr. Emily is also the creator of both the internationally recognized Barefoot Training Specialist Certification and the V-Core certification, a barefoot training workout that emphasizes functionally training the core with specific exercises.  To find out more about Dr. Emily or to check out some of her workshops, visit her website at  Enjoy!

Foot Function & Kinetic Transfer:

With foot fitness and barefoot training concepts at the forefront of athletic performance and fitness programming – how often do you assess your client’s feet?   

One of the most important roles the human foot plays in human movement is in the transfer or unloading of kinetic energy and power!   

The secret to the unleashing of this kinetic energy and power – is supination & pronation

When it comes to foot function – or shall I say dysfunction – over-pronation gets the most attention.  Excess mobility or lack of foot strength can lead to excess strain on tendons and ligaments of the foot, knees and hips, leading to over-recruitment of large global muscles to stabilize.   

Let’s take a moment and look at the opposite – lack of foot mobility or over-supination.

Can this be just as harmful?  

If a foot has a limited ability to pronate (or load) how does this impact kinetic transfer and power output?

To fully understand kinetic transfer in the foot, we must also understand that the foot is greatly influenced by the hips – and therefore we cannot address foot dysfunction without integrating hip mobilization!

How is the foot influenced by the hip?

Formed by the femur proximally, the movements of the hip that impact the foot the greatest are in the transverse plane – these are internal rotation & external rotation.   

These transverse plane movements of the hip are transferred distally through the tibia which will influence the foot in the frontal plane.   Tibial movements are able to influence the foot through its direct contact with the talus.  

Talar movements are then translated plantarly to the heel bone (calcaneus) and distally to the midfoot (navicular), causing the foot to either supinate or pronate.   When assessing for integrated foot mechanics, just remember that hip internal rotation is associated with foot pronation – and hip external rotation is associated with footsupination.  

Hip mobility and foot function

If you have a client or athlete with an over-supinated or inverted foot type, you will want to assess their ability to internally rotate the hips.   Often times, I find athletes with a history of stress fractures, plantar fasciitis and tendonitis have restricted hip mobility.   

If this is the case, hip mobilization is key to achieving optimal foot function, foot mobilization and kinetic transfer with each step!   I integrate piriformis, glutes, TFL, lateral hamstrings, and adductor stretces in all planes.  

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Empowered YOUth- a book review

I was contacted recently by the Youth Wellness Network to review a book written by its founder, Michael Eisen, and his father, Jeffrey Eisen.  While I feel strongly about youth wellness, it's not my normal area of expertise.  After reading about the organization and Michael, I decided it would both be fun and potentially informative (more information about the Youth Wellness Network can be found here:  I was pleasantly surprised by a book that, while written primarily for young adults and their parents, should be read by anyone wanting to make changes in their lives.

Empowered YOUth tells the story of two very different individuals.  Jeffrey was born in the 1950s and desperately sought his father's approval.  He was driven, closed off emotionally, and goal oriented.  The stress he placed on himself to succeed led to anxiety, GI issues, and pent up emotions.  As he began to achieve major successes in the business world, he focused solely on his next major accomplishment, never appreciating what he had already achieved or being present for his three children.  This lead to physical problems (he continued to suffer from both GI problems as well as Crohn's disease), and a tumultuous relationship with his youngest son, Michael.

Michael, unlike his father, was an extremely sensitive child who was rather uninterested in pleasing the adults in his life.  As a young child, he earned the reputation of being "spirited" and "challenging."  He never really fit in as an adolescent until he discovered his love of basketball could also be a way to be accepted by others.  However, rather than continuing to enjoy the sense of being in the moment basketball originally gave him, he became fixated on earning the most points each game and proving his prowess on the court.  This eventually takes away from the magic the game once held for him and results in the game becoming a goal oriented, rather than process oriented, endeavor.  One of the themes that runs throughout Michael's first 20 years of life is his need to blame others for things that happened to him, instead of focusing on how he chose to respond to difficult situations.

When Jeffrey is in his mid-fifties, he realized his business successes weren't fulfilling him.  He felt something was missing, and stumbled upon life coaching as a way to both give back and improve himself.  During this time, Michael floundered at University, attempting to figure out his path.  Through the suggestion of Allan, Michael's older brother, Michael began to be coached by his dad.  As their previously strained relationship begins to improve, both Michael and Jeffrey experience important changes in their outlooks, goals, and attitudes towards life.

One of the themes that ran continuously throughout the book as a way to become empowered was the concept of mindfulness.  Mindfulness, as defined by, is "a state of active, open attention on the present.  When you're mindful, you observe your thoughts and feelings from a distance, without judging them good or bad."  This is an extremely valuable tool and one which can be difficult as a young person to grasp.  When I was an adolescent, one of the adults in my life (I can't remember which one) gave me the copy of a speech entitled "Attitude."  I read it often and while I couldn't always fully grasp the meaning behind the author's words, the last line impacted me greatly.  It stated, "I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it.  And so it is with you...we are in charge of our attitudes," (Charles Swindoll).  Though I didn't realize it at the time, this tool of simply recognizing my reactions helped me deal in a much more positive way with difficult issues in my life.  Being a teenager is a very self absorbed time, where everything that happens is viewed from the eyes of "how does this impact me."  That tends to be the place we react from, which leads to much more emotional responses as a young person than is necessary.  Those who learn to internalize their responses often end up sick, as represented by Jeffrey in the book.  Being in the moment and understanding the control we have over how we respond enables us to both deal with the difficult situation at hand and not over react.  One of the things that helps tremendously with this is exercise.  Sports is such a wonderful outlet for emotion and allows us to be calmer in the moment.  Dr. John Ratey's book "Spark" does an excellent job explaining the psychological benefits of exercise, particularly on mood.  One point he makes which is also made by the Eisens, is that exercise should be mindful.  We need to be present while we exercise, aware of what we are doing, focused on how we are feeling in that instant, rather than putting on headphones, watching TV, and going through the motions.  Viewing exercise as a skill is helpful with this, and finding a type of exercise that one actually enjoys is also helpful, rather than perceiving it as a chore, a drudgery that must be done because it is "good for me."  Yoga, martial arts, learning a sport, powerlifting, running, a well designed complex functional training program, all of these are movement skills that can and should be performed with a level of mindfulness and attention that have benefits reaching far beyond just the physical.

I would highly recommend Empowered Youth not just to adolescents and young adults, but to their parents, teachers, and people who want a better understanding of how their actions impact themselves and others.  Empowered Youth can be purchased at Amazon (follow link here).

Yours in health and wellness,