Blog Archives

Case Study #1: How a 34-year-old physiotherapist overcame his foot, back, hip & knee issues

I get asked by my clients all the time: ‘what made you want to be a physio?’ So I figured I would make myself Case Study #1 in a series that I am writing to help you relate to pain, injury and rehabilitation in a realistic and practical way.  My short answer to clients is usually ‘I’ve been an active athlete my whole life and have always been very good at hurting myself so I spent my fair share of time in physio.  I was quite familiar with it and always had a fascination with the human body so it was a natural progression for me after my Human Kinetics degree to go into Physiotherapy.

This article will summarize the lessons I have learned from both hurting myself repeatedly and working with people in pain every day.  I will outline the path I took to overcome some chronic issues that are very common to people of all ages and the things I try to teach to both my parents and my kids.

Brief Background …

I tend to refer to your teens and twenties as your invincible years.  You can punish your body without experiencing that much consequence because the pain, stiffness and soreness doesn’t last long enough to deter you from doing the activity again, or to change your behaviour significantly.  I was a long, lanky kid that played a lot of soccer, rugby, baseball, track & field, water-skiing, wake-boarding, basketball and volleyball.  I sprained ankles, broke my wrist, and dislocated my shoulder many times, but I kept on going.  Now at 34, after being a physiotherapist for ten years, starting a business and having three kids in three years, I have come to realize that I am the cumulative product of everything I have done up to this point and that I better take care of my body because it’s the only one I’ve got for the next 60 years (Click here for related article). Read More

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Plantar Fasciitis: an illustrated explanation of why your foot hurts

171/365:
photo: who am i today

Plantar fasciitis is a very common form of foot pain and one that I find really interesting because it manifests in both really active runners and relatively sedentary people.  How can a person that is training for their third marathon develop the same pain as someone that doesn’t exercise much more than walking from their desk to their car?  You can’t purely blame it on over or under-use if the desk jockey and the super athlete are getting the same thing.  So what is causing the bottom of people’s feet to hurt so much and for so long?

The short answer: (a combination of the following factors)

  1. The shoes you wear all day (not just while running)
  2. Your posture & movement patterns (how you sit, stand, walk and breathe all day)
  3. A nerve irritation in your low back
  4. Weakness in your feet and tightness in your calves
  5. Fascial restrictions in your visceral system affecting the blood and nerve flow to your feet

The long answer:
It is typically a series of on-going events that leads to you developing that burning, pulling, aching pain on the bottom of your foot.  You may have one or all five of the above issues.  If your pain has lasted a long time, it is worth exploring all of them.  Read on for details…

1. The shoes you wear all day…

It is hard to talk about foot pain and not mention shoes.  I have written a number of articles on this blog already about feet.  If you are convinced that your shoes are the culprit please read these articles too:

All too often, plantar fasciitis gets blamed on a ‘lack of support’ and this bothers me. 

Read More
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Why Feet Hurt

Sore

We are born barefoot and are genetically built to stand, walk and run with our feet interacting with the ground.  Our feet are built to be both shock absorbers and rigid levers for us to push off with.  They have allowed human beings to navigate over uneven ground, hard, flat planes and soft, spongy meadows for thousands of years.  It is only relatively recently that we started flattening out our world with concrete and supporting and cushioning our feet with fancy shoes and orthotics.  The feedback our bodies get from our feet is a crucial part of posture, balance and movement development, but we tend to cut that off almost immediately by putting our children in stiff, cushy running shoes as soon as they can walk.  As people grow up, the role of work, fashion, and sport dictate their footwear choices and it usually comes at the cost of body awareness, foot strength and balance.  As a result, it is almost the norm for people’s feet to slowly deform over time and develop bunions, hammer toes, fallen arches and plantar fasciitis.  Ultimately footwear choices become less and less about fashion and more and more about cushioning and supportive comfort as we age.  This path is a major source of balance and pain issues throughout life.

The mechanics of our feet are closely tied to those of our hips.  Tightness or weakness in one will directly affect the other, which ultimately affects the whole body.  There are 3 main arches to the foot.  The main one being the medial longitudinal arch, this is the part that will pronate (flatten) or supinate (arch up/over).  There is also a smaller lateral arch along the outside of the foot, but the most overlooked arch is called the transverse and is suppose to dome up the front part of the foot.  Read More

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