Pulp Fascia or Hateful Gait or Kill Tissue: Volume 2
Written by: Coach Slater
Bear with me on this one…
This article started after reminding myself that driving with an out-turned right foot is bad for my athletic performance, and that I could help people improve 1% in the gym if they fixed their feet while driving. Then, I thought… how in the hell am I going to explain that? Well, here goes…
Let me Tarantino this whole thing and go backwards on you. So, we humans appear symmetrical. We have two eyes, two ears, two arms, and two legs, but we’re actually quite asymmetrical. Most importantly, the right side of our diaphragm is significantly larger and stronger than the left. Also, we have a large liver on the right side of our abdomen that sits under the right diaphragm, giving it a larger, dome shape allowing it to more easily expel air from the lungs on our right side. On the left side, our heart sits atop the diaphragm resulting in a flattened shape that limits its strength.
The diaphragm has a huge impact on how we control the position of our trunk and pelvis. Because of its asymmetry in position, shape, and strength, we stabilize our trunk differently on each side. We tend to get “stuck” in our right hip, leaning more on our right side than our left. Evidently, it’s a natural response as our bodies take advantage of our larger right diaphragm to fulfill our primary need to get oxygen to our brains. Evolution and whatnot. Unfortunately, this tendency to shift to our right leads to our left pelvis to shift forward and our right pelvis to shift back. And these hip shifts can lead to a high arch on the right foot and a flat arch on the left foot.
So, I’ve told you about global asymmetries and now we’re working it down to the fine details of your feet and why small things, like driving with an out-turned foot, are bad.
Those natural positions can be made worse by duck feet, or out-toeing and letting your feet go flat / losing their arch. In their normal alignment, your feet should be parallel with each other and pointing straight ahead. Maybe it doesn’t seem important, but if you move one thing out of alignment, then things below and above it start getting out of alignment, too. That misalignment will affect your performance and definitely increase your likelihood for injury. Turning your foot out makes it more difficult to recruit the correct muscles, causing our bodies to rely on other muscles and the elastic structure of our ligaments & joints. After awhile, these structures get pretty pissed because they’re doing jobs they’re not supposed to do.
Consider the plantar fascia of your feet. When the foot is turned out and the arch is flattened, the tissue on the bottom of your feet becomes lengthened. Muscles don’t react well to being constantly lengthened. They typically become weak and ineffective. Ever have pain on the bottom of your foot or the front of your shin while running. Could be the musculature of your lower half trying to cope because the foot has lost its ability to absorb shock. That shock is now transferred up thru the body.
Turning the foot out reduces your ability to recruit your glutes. Try standing up with feet at hip width and toes straight ahead. Squeeze your butt and try to stretch the floor between your feet apart, using your big toes. Then, turn your feet out and try again. Notice how much harder it is to contract your glutes and pull the floor apart with your feet ducked out? When the glutes can’t function properly, your body turns to a smaller muscle, known as the piriformis, for help, but it’s too small and not designed for this. And, with your feet out and hips out of whack, your thoracic spine has to rotate the opposite way to compensate, so now your shoulders are kinda screwed. But, all of it could have been stopped if you just didn’t let your feet duck out.
Is there one? lol… Well, let’s go back to my original idea: that you should drive with your heel in line with the bottom of the gas pedal and shift the whole foot and leg to the brake and then back to the gas, maintaining parallel alignment, while driving. Hopefully you’ve extrapolated on what I’ve written and realized that you should keep your toes inline everywhere else in your daily life, too.