As parents with athletic children, we are always searching for that competitive edge that may allow them to train harder, reduce injury, and ultimately acquire that next level. Just as Callaway marketed the Big, Bigger, Biggest Bertha as the answer to the golfer's distance dilemma, athletes of all types are seeking solutions. The unfortunate mistake most athletes make is spending their hard-earned dollars on equipment...rather than THE greatest equipment ever created--your body! You see, it's not the $300 Predators that make you a great player, it's the structure that determines the function. Restoring and/or optimizing your body's structural alignment by simply addressing the feet can be inexpensive, preventive, and a game changer.
What has three arches, 20 muscles, 26 bones, and can support six times your body weight? Your feet! They are amazing in their working. They are the foundation of your body. They protect your spine, bones in your lower extremities, as well as the muscles and soft tissues from the damaging compressive forces dealt to your body on a daily basis. During our children's first 12-18 months of life, the foot is comprised of mainly cartilage. As they progress into standing, the cartilage rapidly transforms into bone. From 2-6 years of age, the legs and feet go through a "bowing", and "toe-in" foot configuration. At three, they exhibit a "knock-kneed"and "toe-in" stance, and typically straighten out by age six. By this time, the young foot closely resembles the adult foot. So, if early signs of pronation are present-they are not likely to disappear. As the adage goes: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
The human body has five parallel planes. I teach my patients the first plane begins at the feet or subtalar joints. The next plane is at the knees, then hips, shoulders, and terminates at the base of the skull. This is referred to as the kinetic chain. If one leg is short, or pronation exists due to loss of height in the arch, knee pain, hip pain, and even headaches can ensue. By restoring balance within the body, proper pull can then be restored by the attached muscles and subsequent strength gains can be attained-dramatically reducing the risk of injury. In my 20 years of dealing with student athletes of all ages, the most common conditions warranting and a custom orthotic are pronated (flat) feet and short leg syndrome. Pronation results from a weakness in the muscle of the foot. This weakness then creates instability within the bones of the arch of the foot. If left untreated, over time, another condition common to athletes can develop called plantar fasciitis. If you've never had it, count your lucky stars! It burns. It's extremely painful to walk. It aches. Its life-altering for an athlete.
A recent study in Foot Ankle International found a significant correlation between pronation and overuse athletic injuries. The greater the pronation, the greater the chance for injury. *Low back pain *IT band syndrome *hip bursitis *hip joint capsulitis *Piriformis strain/syndrome *pelvis strain *shinsplints *plantar fasciitis *knee pain/non--contact ACL injury
A Simple Pronation Test
Have your child stand barefoot on a hard surface, like wood or tile, with their feet shoulder width apart. Parents, kneel down and slide your fingers under the right arch, then left arch. A good arch has enough room for the forefinger to slide under it at least to the first crease in your finger. If not, your athlete may be exhibiting signs of pronation and corrective action should be considered.
Overuse injuries and recurrent "nagging" injuries like ankle sprains, chronic knee pain, and plantar fasciitis can prevent our young athletes from performing at their best. Properly attending to early warning signs and implementing supportive correction are imperative for their growth and development as a person and athlete.
As a TSCH club-member, we are offering a 20% discount on custom-made orthotics for the months of August and September. Simply mention this article when calling our office at 918.893.6400