Back Pain, Foot pain, Neck Pain, Shoulder pain, Stiffness, Stretching

Your Feet can Cause Back Pain!

Just last week I had a new client come in with neck and shoulder pain. He was an older man in decent shape. He had visited several doctors and had been to physical therapy with no luck in relief. I examined him and found that his neck, shoulders, and chest muscles were soft. His range of motion was good with no restrictions. He said that everybody had worked only on his upper body. Some offered braces, injections, and strength training exercises to alleviate the pain. I could not see anything that could possibly cause him discomfort in his neck and shoulders. Then an idea hit me to look at his lower body, especially his feet and ankles. Oh my gosh, his hips, legs, and feet were hard as a rock. He had very limited range of motion in all his lower joints. He thought it was just old age that was causing his pain, when in reality, it was lack of movement and shoes.

We have historically told each other that as we age, we should slow down. The truth if the matter is, we should speed up. Sitting during the day caused this man to tighten the front of his thighs and the inner thighs. The shoes he was told to wear prevented his feet from actually working properly and his gait prevented his calf muscles from elongating properly. Sitting in a recliner may feel good, but they are the worst thing for older people to sit in. First, sitting causes the front of the thighs and inner thighs to shorten which will cause the pelvis to tilt forward when they stand. The muscles in the stomach will atrophy and shorten which will pull the upper body forward adding to the the low back stiffness originally caused by the thighs. This is a main reason why so many old people walk bent over. We blame it on arthritis, but in my practice, I find that tight muscles cause the bent over walk more than anything else. Lastly, reclined back in the chair, car seats will do the same, causes the muscles on front of the neck and the chest muscles to shorten which can lead to the hump back look. Next time you see someone reclined back in a chair watching TV, look at the angles of their body while reclined. Then when they stand up, most times you will see the same angles in the standing position as they had in the reclined position. For that person to stand up straight, it takes too much muscle contraction on the back side which can lead to compression on the discs and nerves. The scary part is , many people sleep all night in their recliner because their body is so stiff, it hurts to lay flat. The more you sit in a recliner, the worse your body will feel when you stand.

The calves and feet are greatly affected by the shoes we wear and the length of our gait. You will hear me say over and over, 99% of all the people have never stretched their calves properly. That is a bold statement, I know, but we have 4 calf muscles and when you watch people stretch their calves they typically use the standard calf stretch you learn in the gym. The problem here is, that is an Achilles tendon stretch and does not address any of the 4 calf muscles. So learning how to stretch the calves properly will increase the range of motion in the ankles which will lengthen your stride and , believe it or not, relieve your neck and upper back pain. The shorter your stride, the more you will lead with your nose when you walk. This will cause mid back pain and neck stiffness.

The shoes are another story. Most clients I see, have muscles in their that have atrophied from years of wearing shoes with arch supports, heel supports, and thick soles. These things were designed to stop immediate pain, but will affect your whole body long term. The arch of your foot is suppose to take the impact every time your feet hit the ground. This protect your knees and hips. The impact can be up to 10 times your body weight. We have all been told we should walk heel to toe, right? the heel supports causes us to walk that way and that sends the impact up through your bones with every step. We should step on the whole foot with most of the impact right behind the ball of your feet. Finally, thick sole shoes do feel comfy, but your have 272 nerves on the bottom of your feet which tell your brain when the level of the ground changes so you won’t fall down. If the sole of your shoes are too thick, the brain has no way of preventing you from falling down. The problem is, we have worn these shoes that were designed for immediate relief and now out feet are too weak to just go cold turkey and change. We have to work at building up the stamina and strength in our feet so we can walk like we were designed to do.

It is work to change all of these things s, so don’t do it all at the same time. Take it step by step. You are welcome to view my videos on YouTube at, The Muscle Repair Shop, or contact me at https://www.musclerepairshop.com. I can help you improve your gait and posture to stop the nagging aches and pains that plague so many older people. Aches and pains are not just age related, it is bad mechanics and frankly, most practitioners are either not trained in body mechanics or they just don’t have the time to help you. You can help yourself stop the pain.

Foot pain, Knee Pain

Is Walking on the Beach a Dream or Nightmare?

It’s vacation time and you are so excited! You are heading to a tropical location with the most beautiful beaches on the planet. You can feel the sun touching your skin while you walk barefoot on the beautiful white sand and hearing the waves crashing down. Add a margarita to the dream and it feels like paradise.

Walking on the beach is a great way to get exercise and can be great for your feet. If you are used to walking barefoot on any surface, walking on the beach can be awesome. However, if you never walk barefoot, or wear shoes most of the time, walking on the beach can be torture on your feet about day 2 of your vacation. This can ruin your dream vacation and none of us want that,

Wearing shoes, especially shoes with arch supports and heels on any height, can actually cause the muscle in your feet to atrophy. I know, I know, we have been told since birth that good shoes have arch supports and a heel because our feet need them. The truth of matter is, our feet would be fine without them. In fact, your feet would be better off without them. The more heel support you have, the more likely you will walk heel to toe which increases the impact on your heel every time you take a step.

To prevent your feet from ruining your vacation here a few things you can do to get ready for your beach walk.

1- Sitting in a chair, cross one leg over another. Use your thumb to soften the arch of your foot. Your foot should feel as soft and thin as your hand so it can grip the ground as you walk. If you cannot cross your legs, sit in a chair, place a golf ball under the arch of your feet. Use the ball to find sore spots on the bottom of your foot. Don’t just roll the ball around. Be deliberate and look for the sore spots. When you find one, don’t increase the pressure, just maintain the pressure, breathe out and mentally relax the arch. Next move on to the next spot.

2- Use your fingers to press and rub between your bones on top of your foot. Begin at the toes and slide up to your ankle. This frees up your feet to spread which will improve your balance and the ability to grip the ground. If you feel soreness, stop and maintain the pressure, breathe out, and mentally relax the muscle.

3- Sit on the floor with your back against the wall.If you cannot sit on the floor, sit in a hard back chair, no rocking chair, and place one foot on an ottoman. Place a yoga strap. belt, or rope around the ball of your foot. No elastic bands here because your will not get a good stretch. Make sure your back is 90 degrees to your leg as you began to pull your toes back toward you. Do not use your leg muscles, only your arms. Hold 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. Next rotate your foot inward and repeat the stretch. Finally rotate your foot outward and repeat again. This is the only calf stretch I have seen that will stretch all 4 calf muscles. This will prevent arch soreness, knee soreness, and back soreness when walking as you can extend your ankle beyond 90 degrees and use your toes to push off when walking.

Walking on the beach is a great way to relax, hear the surf rolling in, the birds, and feel the sun warming your body. The sand will improve the skin on your feet because it will exfoliate the feet and strengthen the muscles in your feet. Don;t make the same mistake I made. When you begin walking, remember, the distance your walk out, is the distance you must walk back. It seems so simple, but it is easy to forget and overwork your feet. Go out and have a fun day in paradise and enjoy the beach!

Foot pain, Stretching

Give me 10 days to stop your Plantar Fasciitis

How long have you suffered with Plantar Fasciitis? Has it been months or even years? Some people are given a big boot, or air boot, to wear each time it acts up. Some people are given injections in the heel and /or orthotics in their shoes, while others are given strength training exercises to improve the pain. Maybe you have tried one or all of them just hoping that something would work, then you wake up the next day and its back. It can feel hopeless and leaves you feeling helpless to boot, no pun intended. Millions of people are suffering along with you each day. Sadly these treatments just don’t work. They are all symptom based and causal based.

It ‘s crazy that something so simple to solve has stumped so many people that should know better. The biggest mistake is thinking that the problem is with your heel or the arch of your foot. It is not a foot problem at all. Sure the arch is tight and can hurt when walking barefoot, but that is just the symptom and not the cause. The name Plantar Fasciitis is named after the arch muscle, the Plantar Fascia. How ironic! The cause is actually in the upper calf area. You have 4 calf muscles in each leg that controls your foot laterally and vertically. When the inside or outside calf muscle is tight, you will walk on the inside or outside of your foot, respectively. When the 2 middle calf muscles are tight, it will shorten your stride and that is what is causing your Plantar Fasciitis.

Some of the typical treatments are:

1- Achilles tendon stretches disguised as calf stretches. Leaning against the wall and standing on a slant board or the curb only stretches the Achiiles tendon.

2- Orthotics and shoe inserts- placing these in your shoes will cause the arch muscle to atrophy and prevent you from ever walking barefoot on any surface. Long term can cause knee issues.

3- Injections and ice- these only mask the pain because they are treating the symptom and not the pain

Some people have been offered surgeries and pain killers which rarely solve the problem.

Let’s be clear, we all should be able to walk on hard surfaces barefoot as that is what our bodies were intended to do. I do it all the time with no problems. As you can see, no of this touches the real cause of your pain.

To get rid of your plantar fasciitis in 10 days,:

1-get a yoga strap, rope, or belt, as long as it is not elastic to stretch your calves. Elastic bands are designed for strength training and that is the opposite of what we want to do.

2-Sit on the floor with your back against the wall and one leg straight out in front of you. Place the rope around the ball of your foot holding both ends together in your hands. Only use your hands to pull your toes back toward you. Do not use your leg muscles at all.

3-Make sure your back is at least 90 degrees to your legs and gently pull the toes back toward. Hold it for 3-5 seconds and repeat the stretch 8-10 times. You should feel it behind your knee. Next rotate your foot inward and repeat the stretch. You should feel it on the outside of the calf. Finally rotate your foot to the outside and repeat the stretch. You should feel it on the inside of the calf.

Always do both calves in the morning when you awake and in the evening before you go to bed. This may seem like a lot of stretching, but if you stretch correctly, it is a time to relax your mind and create a little meditative state 5 minutes at a time. If you want to see a video on stopping Plantar Fasciitis, got to my YouTube page, http://www.Youtube.com/themusclerepairshop.com .

You can also visit my website at http://www.MuscleRepairShop.com

Foot pain

Stop Foot Pain Without Expensive Tools

Foot pain has created an entire industry from shoes to specially trained physicians. We have blamed flat feet for arch pain. We have created arch supports and orthotics to prop up the arches which help temporarily. We have created shoes with special heel supports, arch supports and supports if you supinate or pronate. Again, a temporary fix. People are now being told to not walk barefoot, especially on hard surfaces. These are all temporary fixes as they are only addressing the symptom and not the cause.

The first thing to do is start bt understanding why the foot hurts. Rarely is the site of pain, the cause. The calf muscles control most of the movements of the feet. There are 4 calf muscles. When I was young, I thought there was only one muscle as that was how it was always presented to me. Maybe the coaches thought the same thing.

The inside calf muscle, the Plantaris, controls the height of the inside of the foot. When this muscle is short, the person will tend to walk on the outside of the foot. This can cause pain on the outside of the foot, pain in the arch, or pain in the ankle. By hitting the outside of the foot, there is a lot of pressure placed on very small bones with little fat for cushioning. On top of those issues, walking on the outside of the foot can lead to bunions, nerve pain, and calluses on the big toe. If this is happening, the shoes will wear out on the outside first.

The outside calf muscle, the Tibialis Posterior, controls the outside of the foot. If this muscle is short, the person will walk on the inside of the foot causing pain in the big toe, inside of the heel, and ankle. Over time, this will cause damage to the knee and ankle.

The 2 middle calf muscles, Soleus and Gastrocnemius, control the vertical movement of the foot. When these 2 are short, things like Plantar Fasciitis, knee pain, Achilles Tendonitis, knee pain, low back pain, and even neck pain can occur. These 2 muscles can cause a slow of the body movement and overall pain.

The amazing fact about the calf is how few people in the country actually stretch them. Most trainers, coaches, and physical therapists teach a calf by standing on a slant board, step, or leaning against the wall with one foot back. Unfortunately, these stretches never stretch the outside or inside calf muscle which leads to many foot problems that people suffer. By lengthening these 4 muscles, the ankle can be free to move through its full range. The scary thing is few people can actually move their ankle through the full range. I love to watch people walk. Too many use a short stride and will lead with the nose. This causes neck pain and low back stiffness. A person may feel they are taking longer strides and they are based on the ankle’s range of motion. However, if they are leading with their noses, chances are their stride is too short.

So how are the calves stretched? I would suggest getting a yoga strap, rope, or anything that does not stretch. Stretching with a stretchy band is strength training and the muscles will tighten. When I stretch my calves, I sit on the floor with my back against the wall. If you cannot sit on the floor, then sit in a hard-backed chair with an ottoman. The key is to have back support and not lean back.

Next, place the rope around the ball of one foot, gently pull the toes back towards the body. Hold the stretch for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times. A few things not to do. Do not pull hard enough to lift the heel off the floor or ottoman. Do not use the leg muscles to stretch, remember this is about letting go. Do not force the movement with strength as it will cause the muscles to go into strength training mode.

Next, rotate the foot to the right and repeat the stretch, holding 3-5 seconds and repeating 8-10 times. Finally, rotate the foot to the left and repeat the stretch. Now do the other foot so the body will be in balance.

Stretching is about letting go with the brain by relaxing the muscles and feeling the muscle extend gently. Forcing the stretch will only cause the muscles to tense up and not allow you to free up the muscle. I would do these every morning and evening for 2 weeks or until they feel looser. I would follow this up with practicing how to walk with a longer stride. in a future blog, I will discuss how best to increase the stride.

Check out my videos on my YouTube channel, The Muscle Repair Shop, and visit my website at http://www.musclerepairshop.com.

Back Pain, Foot pain

Golfer’s Ankles Affects your Distance

Every golfer practices to improve the mechanics of their swing, but what about the mechanics of your body?

When I have been on a golf course, I still see people placing one of their clubs behind their neck and twisting their backs. The thought is to loosen their back before playing. There are a few reasons why this doesn’t really work and I will touch on it here, but I want to get to the ankles and their importance to your swing. First, the twisting of the back seems weird as every golf pro teaches us to rotate around our spin like an axis. There should no serious twisting of the spine. Secondly, people who do this twisting, do it rather quickly, they are releasing the muscles with their brain, so they are actually strength training which will tighten the muscles they are trying to loosen. SO really this stretch is a non-golf stretch and it is not even a stretch to boot.

Now on to the ankles.   The rotation of the body during the golf swing comes from the inner thighs, inner calves, and outer calves. In my last post, I wrote about the inner thighs, so today I want to go into the calves and feet which the ankles control.

In your calves, you have 4 calf muscles. The inside calf controls the inside movement and lateral movement of the foot. The outside calf muscle controls the outside movement and lateral movement of the foot. Each of these muscles goes into the arch of your foot. Thee are muscles in your feet that run from your knee to your toes and controls the tops of your feet and the arch muscle, with a few others, that control the bottom of your feet. It is important to understand that in order to improve the distance on the ball.

If you stand barefoot and go through a practice swing, focusing on the feeling in the bottom of your feet, you will feel your weight shifting through the foot from inside to out on one and vice versa on the other.  This ability to work the muscles in your feet and calves is what gives the ankle the flexibility to increase your range of motion at the club head increasing your clubhead speed as the club addresses the ball. As you are going through your swing the inside calf muscle has to be able to release which will allow the outside calf muscle to pull which frees the ankle. The range of motion you have in your ankle, the more lubrication your body puts in the ankle joint.  This makes your swing easier with less effort, but more importantly, it increases the club head speed due to the increased range of motion.

The question is, how do you get there? Calf stretching is a very misunderstood part of the human body. You will see some people place their toes on a curb, slant board, or step to stretch their calves. Others will lean against the wall with their feet pushed away from the wall to stretch. These can be good for your Achilles Tendon, but they are not calf stretches. In fact, I would venture to say that 98% of Americans have never stretched their calves properly. You may feel your calves with the above stretches, but you are not stretching your calves. Let me explain.

In the above-mentioned stretches, you are, at best, stretching the lower end of the 2 middle calf muscles. As a golfer, this does not help you as your motion is about twisting. With the previous stretches mentioned, no one is stretching their inner and outer calf muscles and few trainers or therapists even talk about them. Some golfers will complain of back pain and their calves could be the problem. Short calves will force you to take shorter strides. This will cause you to walk with the nose out in front of your chest. Did you know that for every inch your head is in front of your chest, the pressure at the base of your neck doubles? When a human head is sitting on top of your shoulders it weighs between 10-12 lbs. 2 inches in front of your chest, it could weigh as much as 42 lbs.  I always joke with my clients that it depends on how large is their brain.

So how do you stretch your calves? You can sit on the floor with your back against the wall or if you cannot get on the floor, sit in a hard-backed chair with one foot on an ottoman with your leg straight. Place a yoga strap, rope, or anything that is not stretchy around the ball of your foot. Do not use your leg muscles. ONly use your arms and gently pull your toes back toward you feeling the stretch from start to finish. You should feel this behind your knee. Hold for 3-5 seconds and repeat 8-10 times.  On each stretch, breathe out and allow your brain time to let go of the muscle tension. Next, rotate your foot inward and repeat the stretch. Now you should feel it on the outside of your calf. Finally, rotate your foot to the outside and repeat the stretch. You should feel it on the inside of your calf.  This is also a great stretch for Plantar Fasciitis, we will discuss that in a later post.

The reason for the 3-5 seconds hold is to avoid the stretch reflex in your muscles which will happen due to the discomfort. If you pull too hard, you will build up your arms as your legs will fight with you instead of stretching your legs.  Do not overwork yourself. You do not need to force your muscles to stretch. I see too many people hurt themselves because they are trying to force the stretch. Relax, enjoy, and watch the distant of your ball increase as you free your body.

Back Pain, Foot pain, Knee Pain

Why Golfer’s Suffer With Back Pain

Many of my clients are golfers and I usually hear how their low back pain affects their golf game. I used to play golf and I remember from my golf lessons that when you are swinging the club, you want to keep your back straight and rotate using your legs to bring the clubhead around your body. Watch a pro golfer when they swing. The club head is usually around their back to the other side of their body. This gives them more range to increase clubhead speed as it approaches the ball. When we see an amateur golfer we see the clubhead go to about the middle of their back which limits the range of building the clubhead speed. We know they are older and not as flexible, but can they improve their flexibility?

As I watch golfers swing a club, I see that their inner and outer thighs along with their inner and outer calves is what allows them to have the maximum amount of clubhead range. When I see golfers workout and stretch, I rarely see any golfer work on these two areas of their body. On the local courses, I see golfers forcing their backs to do the work. The inner thighs and outer thigh control the pelvis and when they are short, the pelvis is tilted forward which cause the low back to tighten. The calves are what allows your weight to shift on your feet. Without this flexibility, the chances of damaging your knees are pretty high. There is a way to help you improve your flexibility for golf. I have started putting videos on my YouTube channel at, The Muscle Repair Shop, to help you. Currently, the calf stretches are there and if you follow the video, you can reduce your risk of knee injuries. We will soon have the thigh and inner thigh stretches uploaded. You can visit my website at http://www.musclerepairshop.com and contact me for additional videos to help your golf game.

I love when my golfing clients tell me they have reduced their scores by 4-5 strokes. The stretching will help you with distance and control. More importantly, you can play without pain.

Back Pain, Foot pain, Knee Pain, Neck Pain, Uncategorized

Are You Prepared for Old Age?

Recently I graduated from the University of South Florida with a degree in Aging Sciences. I went back to school as an older student to improve my knowledge of the Aging process we all face. Aging Sciences has taken the place of Gerontology because Gerontology covered the aging process from 55 years old to death. Aging Sciences covers aging from birth to death. The most important thing I learned was that we are not prepared for what we will face as we age. Being my fifties, I have some time to improve, but for younger people, they can actually prevent themselves from many of the ailments that older people face today.

Our health care system is a symptom-based system which means it focuses mainly on solving the ache or pain with little regard towards the cause. When older people suffer from arthritis, back pain, or joint pain, we can offer drugs, braces, or surgery as a means to stop the pain. What we should be looking at are their diet and lifestyle. Unfortunately, even the doctors will say, ” at your age, what do you expect?” You should expect everything to work, however, you must be taught how to prevent these things from happening and most health care workers are not trained to teach you.

We know that inflammation can lead to heart disease, but did you know it can lead to arthritis, joint stiffness, and even back stiffness. Too many people are consuming processed foods, mainly carbohydrates, that convert into to simple sugars. These simple sugars can create inflammation throughout your body. Secondly, carbohydrates are the main portion of your diet can cause your body to burn sugars instead of fat which can lead to obesity. Just by simply reducing the number of bread, pasta, and eliminating most of the processed foods like pastries and doughnuts, you can reduce the harmful effects. Eating more vegetables like lettuce, kale, greens of different kinds will help to reduce the need to burn glucose(sugar). Remember to take baby steps to build a habit. Bad eating is a habit just like good eating. Never go cold turkey and deprive yourself as this is a recipe to fail. In 1996, I weighed 315 lbs. Over the next 18 months, I lost 105 lbs. without ever going on a diet. All I did was to learn new habits. It is not easy, but you can do it!

Lifestyle changes like taking brisk walks every day, choosing the stairs versus the elevator, and learning to relax are keys to reducing stress which can cause inflammation in the body as well. Meditation is a great way to reduce stress and bring your life back into calm. This can make you more productive and efficient. Little changes daily to your lifestyle will build a lifetime of good habits without too much pain. Part of my losing the 105 lbs., was beginning to walk around my 1 bedroom apartment because I did not have the energy to walk around my building. That is where I started.

These are small changes you can do every day. The younger you start, the more positive results you will have. In fact, many of the ailments older people suffer from today would simply be eliminated with these changes. This blog will continue to break down the choices you have so you can easily transition your life into a more healthy and fulfilling life. Please leave any comment you may have or suggestions as we will delve into aging from birth to death and how to prepare yourself for the aging process no matter where you are starting from.