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Tuesday
Jul172012

Podiatry vs. Astrology

Now before anyone gets offended, let me say that I have gotten some really good advice from astrologers who didn't even know me.

With the revelations of barefoot running, it is hard to take the study and practice of Podiatry seriously.  Of course, every field of medicine starts out butchering people or selling magic potions and slowly, over time, through trial, error, and good intentions--and eventually, hopefully, some science--they get around to simple straight forward solutions.  That is why I am happy to report that the solution to foot problems in the summer is to wear 4 inch high heels around the house.

Plantar fasciitis is really common these days.  Here is the definition from PubMed.  When I look at the list of causes and the list of treatments I can't help thinking, "Do these people think babies are delivered by storks?"  According to the site:

You are more likely to get plantar fasciitis if you have:

  • Foot arch problems (both flat feet and high arches)

  • Long-distance running, especially running downhill or on uneven surfaces

  • Sudden weight gain or obesity

  • Tight Achilles tendon (the tendon connecting the calf muscles to the heel)

  • Shoes with poor arch support or soft soles

So both flat feet and high arches?  Poor support or soft soles?  Oh, so perfect arches or very good arch support will save you?  Clearly running up hill is the way to go because it will give you a long Achilles tendon, right?  Unfortunately that just isn't true.  

The "treatments" are just as all over the place.  And it is sad, because it is painful and it can take a really long time to heal.  

But if I were to go out on a limb and assign cause, first up would be the erroneous, yet widely held, notion that the feet play a role in stability.  It just ain't so, it just ain't physically possible.  I could nail your foot to the ground and still push you over with one finger.  All of our mass has to be continuously balanced from the center of mass or by compensatory movements at the periphery.  Unless your foot is in the air wiggling around, it is not a factor in balance.  You can learn balance on any shape at all from marbles to stilts to skis.

Second on the list would be cushioned heels.  It was never a good idea to encourage people to walk or run by slamming their heel into the ground. A large part of the field of podiatry has developed to deal with the problems created by the shoes earlier podiatrists thought were a good idea.  And since the list above has running on "uneven" surfaces as a cause, allow me to point out that all this heel slamming ain't too good for the lower back.  One of the best things a person can do for lower back pain is spend 20 minutes a day walking on truly uneven surfaces like tree roots and piles of rocks.  

Third on the list is really a religious issue.  People don't trust their legs.  Perhaps because our legs take us places where we do bad things and engage in naughtiness.  I don't know.  But because people don't trust their legs they convince themselves that strength and effort serve some function.  Penance, perhaps.  Pain as a mechanism for moral self-correction.  I can see that.  But the actual functioning of the legs is completely effortless.  Effortlessness should be the mantra of any training method.  As George Xu put it:  No power, no effort, and no bones.

Here is a good article on the barefoot vs. shoes running issue.

I was about to publish this blog post when I had to run out and teach a lesson.  While I was out, I just happened to meet a podiatrist!  He was open minded, generous, reflective and he really loves feet.  Feet are so beautiful.  Strangely, a big part of my job is reading peoples fate by looking at their feet.  I guess we share that.

References (1)

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Reader Comments (6)

Let me guess, you were a liberal arts major.

----Editor: Keep guessing...or say what you are actually thinking. I do like to fight! So bring it.

July 20, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNick

OMG, yes you made me actually use the abbreviation OMG!. Pretty much everything you say in this post is ridiculous. 'Feet not playing a role in stability"! What the hell man, lean forward and see what the toes do. And the rest of it is just as stupid. Its a shame that you write this stuff because I imagen that people may actually look up to you and take your advice on various topics. But, i suppose the one saving grace about this post is that its so far off the mark and OTT that I doubt anyone will believe it.

July 22, 2012 | Unregistered Commenternicolas

Hi Nicolas,
If anyone comes to my blog looking for something to "believe in," I will send them to you for Astro-Podiatry treatments.
I saw your comments on this doctor's youtube video:

http://youtu.be/HcZMjsrV8G8

You know. They say that it was quite a shock when people found out the earth was round. And it was very difficult to convince doctors that failing to wash their hands was responsible for killing most of their patients.
Your untrained toes may tense up when you lean forward. But mine don't! Your baby fingers may flare out to the side and you may say, "Oh my!" but that's doesn't prove anything about your wife's shoes or your sexuality--much less ones ability to balance, or the illusion of stability.
Stability is a trance state that we learn when we learn to walk. Part of Taijiquan and Baguazhang, and Xinyiquan training is to drop that trance, because the illusion of stability makes us vulnerable in a fight--being able to manipulate that trance in another person gives us the illusion of enormous power.
Anyway since quoting x or y study won't convince you I propose we do our own:
We randomly select 30 people in their 20's who have flat feet, 10 of them study Taijiquan with me three mornings a week for 6 months ($600), 10 of them go to you for orthotics and get 3 follow up visits ($700), and 10 of them get an Astrology reading once a month for 6 months ($600), at the end of 6 months we examine the outcomes.
Fair?

July 22, 2012 | Registered CommenterScott P Phillips

if feet have no contribution towards our balance....why do we have 2 of them???????

July 23, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPud

may be because you can not run faster with only one leg.

September 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVasco De Gama

I sure am for walking or running barefoot because it's how it's suppose to be, it when the feet are barefoot that it is at it's most relaxed and comfortable position.

September 15, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdrjexpodiatristhouston.com

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