The Fabulous, Fantastic, Fearless Foot

I now know ALL the muscles in the body.  Ha! I wish.  I mean, I think I’ve probably learned about all the muscles in the body, but I don’t remember them all.  Yet.  We just finished up learning about the lower body, all the way down to the feet.  I had no idea that feet are so complicated!!  As we learned in class, the complex nature of the feet makes them capable of amazing feets/feats (get it!!), but it also makes them prone to a variety of issues.  How many people do you know that have bunions or plantar fasciitis or heel spurs or hammer toes?  A lot of these issues are caused by misuse/abuse of the feet.  I’m going to try to provide a very high level overview of the feet and then show you what you can do to bring relief and increased awareness to the feet.  And before I forget to mention it, if you have any of these issues, neurosomatic therapy can help!!  I graduate in February, so come see me!!

Ok.  First of all.  Let’s look at the boney structure of the foot.  You have the big heel bone (aka calcaneus), on top of which sits the talus, which fits into an arch (aka mortise) made by your shin bone (aka tibia) and fibula (the bone that’s on the outside of your lower leg).  This forms the joint of the ankle.  Next you have an assortment of oddly shaped bones that fit together like puzzle pieces – the navicular, cuboid, and cuneiforms.  Next you have the long skinny bones of your foot, the metatarsals, which connect to your toes, which are made up of phalanges.  Here is a picture to give you an overview:

These bones are held together by tons of ligaments (very strong connective tissue), and connecting with these bones are all the muscles of your lower leg and foot.  These ligaments and muscles maintain the two arches of your foot. Yes! There are two arches down there!  There is the longitudinal arch, which forms your instep.  And then there is the transverse arch, which goes horizontally across your foot.  These two arches work together to absorb force from the ground and transmit it up the body.

Man, I’m just getting started.  I really wanted to discuss the the muscles IN the foot too.  Did you know there are TWELVE of them (depending on how you count them) and FOUR separate layers of muscles?  Just bonkers. But we’ll have to discuss the bonkeriness in another post because this one is already getting too long.

Let’s get to the really fun stuff. What can you do if you have foot pain?  One easy thing to do is to get a small, soft ball (I recommend a Yoga Tune Up® ball, due to its squishy, pliable nature) and step on it.  Yep.  Just stepping on the ball will increase your awareness of your feet and start to dissolve tension between all those tiny joints.  Here is a video that will guide you through an eye-opening foot roll.

https://vimeo.com/211185607

You can also increase awareness of your feet (and help bring energy down from that monkey mind into your feet, which is very grounding) by meditating on your feet.  Here is a 10 minute meditation that will guide you through that.

Hopefully you have a better understanding of your amazing feet now!  I hope you find some time to give your feet some love today.  Let me know what you think of the video and or meditation.

Have a great Sunday!

 

 

The Electricity of Touch

I’ve long been fascinated with science fiction.  I grew up watching Dr. Who, Star Wars, Star  Trek, Misfits of Science.  I loved Madelaine L’Engle’s books, as well as The Girl With Silver Eyes, Dune, anything by Ursula K Le Guin, Lord of the Rings.  I was so hopeful that there was magic in the world, that we are not just flesh, bone, and blood.  I wanted powers.

And as I get older and find some moments of quiet and observation, I realize that I DO have powers.  The world really does not operate in a linear, A+B = C function.  It’s wiley and impressionable and moldable and multifaceted.  With every interaction, there are innumerable forces at play, most of which cannot be seen, felt, or heard.  Or maybe they can be, but we’ve lost the art of reliably, consciously doing so.

And what is truly fascinating, is that now there are studies that prove that that as humans, we are energetically entangled with each other.  You can read one of the studies here.  The gist of it is, there is an exchange of electromagnetic energy when people touch (especially with the right hand) or are close together (within 18 inches).  If a person consciously adopts a “sincere caring attitude,” it could positively affect the heart rhythm of people within their proximity!!

Here is a quote from the study that I find really intriguing, “…when individuals focus their attention in the area of the heart and consciously generate a positive emotion, the heart rate variability patterns become more orderly and coherent,” and “…individuals who intentionally increase their cardiac coherence by maintaining a focused state of sincere love or appreciation can induce changes in the structure of water and the conformational state of DNA.”  The study goes on to imply that a therapeutic technique could become more effective by the practitioner adopting a “sincere caring attitude.”

This gives me so much hope!  I have learned so much in the past 14 months, but I know I still know NOTHING!  But at least, now I know, if I really care about my patients, my touch will be beneficial to them – even if I’m not treating the exact muscle that needs to be treated.  My touch, generated from a place of compassion and positive intent, can be a “magic” power that helps my patients feel better!

What do you think of this article?  Do you notice effects in your body when you are around a positive person versus a negative person?  Do you think you can affect people solely with your positive atttidue?  I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments. <3

 

Butt Stuff

Yep.  Are you like Troy Barnes?  Do you love Butt Stuff?   Well then you’re in luck!  We covered Butt Stuff this week.  And by “Butt Stuff” I mean all that meat that covers your backside.  Did you know that there are actually 3 different gluteal muscles that make up “the glutes”?  Yes! It’s true.

The gluteus maximus is the big boy, as the name implies.  It runs from the lateral edge of your sacrum all the way out to your femur (the long bone in the top of your leg).  The top part of the muscle merges into the IT band on the outside of the leg, and the lower portion attaches to the back of your femur.  But underneath that are two more glute muscles!  The gluteus medius lies underneath the maximus, and underneath THAT lies yet another muscle – the gluteus minimus.  Please see my quick sketch below to get an idea of how these muscles lie in relation to each other.  And yes, I forgot the “l” in gluteus minimus and had to go back in and squeeze it in later. Thank you, Tim, for the .388mm pens. 🙂

Underneath all of these layers are the deep rotators of the hip, but I’ll have to save those for another blog post, or this will get too massively long, and I have a test to study for!  And a bike ride and brunch to do!

So, your glutes.  Why are they important?  Well, glute max is the largest muscle in the body and can be up to 2 to 3 inches thick! Consequently, it can have a huge impact on postural distortions.  The glute group can cause pelvic extension (a “tucked” tail), pelvic projection (where the hips are thrust forward of the feet and knees), a pelvic tilt (where one side of the pelvis is higher than the other), external rotation of the femur (“duck feet”), and low back pain.  These muscles can also mimic sciatic pain – sending trigger point referrals into the buttocks and down the back and side of the leg.

Issues with the glutes are quite common, considering we are supposed to use them to MOVE all day long, but we generally just use them to SIT all day long instead. As a result, many people have difficulties activating their “sleepy” glutes.  This became really evident to me when I took a Yoga Tune Up® workshop where we went through the following guided practice:

  1. Lay on the floor, legs straight out (aka savasana).
  2. Try to squeeze your right butt check.  Try the left. Do you know notice any difference in power/contraction?  How far did your hips lift off the floor with each squeeze?
  3. Take a massage therapy ball (a Yoga Tune Up ball, a tennis ball, etc.) and place it under the thickest part of just the right butt cheek.
  4. Contract the right butt cheek for 20 seconds, as you release the contraction, the ball will sink deeper into the glutes.  Repeat 2-3 times, sinking deeper each time.
  5. You can rock your body slowly side to side over the ball.
  6. Without sitting up, reach under your glute and remove the ball.
  7. Let your awareness settle back into the glutes.  Does the right side feel any different than the left?  Any changes in temperature?  sensation?
  8. Contract the right butt cheek. Then the left.
  9. Do you notice any difference in power/activation/sensation in the right side?

If you were like me, you were like, “OMG.  My right side has so much more power now!!!”  You just woke up your butt!!

The YTU balls are great for increasing proprioception and awareness of these muscles, and with regular use, you can keep these muscles active and reduce the chronic tension that is held there.  At the Center for Neurosomatic Studies, we are trained to treat this group of muscles VERY specifically.  In addition to treating the muscle belly (which is what you contact with the balls), we get into the attachments and different layers of tissue, and we can even get into that trough on the medial aspect of the greater trochanter.  The combination of self-massage and bodywork is super helpful for this powerhouse.

Let me know if you have any questions or comments.  If you try the exercise described above, let me know how it feels for you.  I personally store a lot of tension in my glutes, so when I get them treated or I roll them out, I feel super relaxed and down-regulated afterwards.  Good luck waking up your butt!