Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Being Balanced Will Bring Out Your Natural Ability
It is baseball season, so hit the ground running and let the games begin.
The feet are the first thing that hits the ground and without balanced feet a player’s mechanics can be affected. Standing flat footed at the plate and swinging off balance can lead to frustration and not actualizing your full potential. The player's timing is off because his lower half is not properly balanced and the balls of their feet are not on the ground. Having a balanced lower half will allow the hitter to become more fluid, confident and their rhythm as well as timing will be better. As kids continue to develop the good habits they learn through good coaching early on their success will be parallel. As they get older and continue to pursue their dreams the little things to improve will be easier. Having a fundamentally strong foundation is the first step. Even though all hitters go into slumps, they come out of them because they go back to basics working with hitting coaches who can break them down and then build them back up to give them more confidence. Hitting coach’s work on developing muscle memory and mechanical triggers in player’s and when their lower half is balanced all the triggers and muscle memory work in sync.
There are those who will say that plate discipline makes a better hitter. Warren Spahn the hall of fame pitcher once said that “it is all about timing and a good pitcher will try and disrupt that timing.” Ted Williams states in his book, The Science of Hitting, three rules to be a better hitter “get a good ball to hit”, “proper thinking” at the plate, “quickness with the bat” when the ball is picked up the last third of its flight toward the hitter. Hitters should also “know their happy zone”. If you complement that with keeping your hands inside the ball, the balls of the feet on the ground and a balanced lower half. Hitters will have a great deal of success at any level.
As a pitcher it is the legs that drive the power and the feet drive the legs. If the pitcher’s feet are not balanced and they are not able to reach a balance point on the mound, the drive off the mound will be less powerful and that can affect the release point, elbow or shoulder. If the player’s bio-mechanics are not corrected early in his carrier it can translate into repetitive overuse injuries and lead to arm, elbow or shoulder injuries somewhere down the line.
I believe that most pitching injuries are due to repetitive overuse of one particular motion over a prolonged period of time. It probably starts as early as little league because of poor mechanics. Players at a young age usually play multiple positions and can develop poor mechanics and bad habits if they are not careful. If their throwing mechanics are off as a position player or pitcher overtime muscles, tendons and ligaments in the arm, elbow and shoulder will break down. Therefore, when they begin to play high school ball and then advance to the next level, college or professional ball the soft tissue damage had already begun.
So the question is?
Do arch supports in baseball cleats improve a player’s ability to have success at the plate, on the pitcher’s mound or in the field?
It is my opinion that it does.
In order for a player to be balanced from the ground up, it starts with their feet.
Arch supports are designed to place the ball of the foot on the ground as well as stabilize and balance the joints of the foot which in turn will strengthen the muscles of the foot and prevent the arch from collapsing. When the arch continually collapses during the normal course of the game the muscles in the arch could fatigue, tire, cramp or spasm. Most of the time, it is because the player has flat feet. Flat feet can lead to a player’s inability to be consistent at the plate, in the field or on the mound. As a result the player’s performance could be compromised. Therefore, it is important for feet to be supported in baseball cleats and realize the role they play in the overall success of playing baseball. Do not take them for granted.
There are many arch support products available today that players can choose from, one of these products is Instant Arches® Baseball, www.archspecialist.com, the only baseball specific arch support that can be placed in baseball cleats and provide the support needed to keep players balanced and the balls of their feet on the ground.
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
Spring Signals the Beginning of Sandal and Flip Flop Season
If you’re a skier, you are probably not wondering when the first day of spring is, for those of you who have forgotten, it is March 2oth. So, warm weather followers start organizing your shoe closet and start moving your sandals and flip flops to the front of the line. Everyone still traveling to warm weather vacation spots to get away from the remaining month of winter is way ahead of the game. In many parts of the world it is always sandal and flip flop season. If you’re traveling or live in warm climates such as South Florida, Mexico, Southern California, The Caribbean or Hawaii, sandals and flip flops are always the comfort footwear of choice. Warm climates means your feet will have plenty of opportunity to spread out and not be encumbered in closed shoes. However, your feet will still take a beating because of the lack of support sandals and flip flops provide. Whether shopping all day, working long hours, sightseeing while on vacation or dancing all night long wearing sandals or flip flops can translate into a whole lot of foot and leg problems if you wear them all day long.
Common Problems from Wearing Sandals and Flip Flops
As a podiatrist, the most common problems that I see in my office during sandal and flip flop season are tired feet, arch cramps, muscle spasms, calluses on the heel and ball of the foot, blisters on the toes and lower leg pain such as shin splints.
Blisters on the toes can occur while wearing sandals because the foot is sliding forward and there is too much friction between the top of the toes and the top of the sandal. Calluses can form on the bottom of the heel because friction too, side to side movement of the heel against the sandal will cause a thick callus to form. If there is too much build up of tissue the skin can crack or fissure causing heel pain. Calluses can also form on the balls of the feet because of friction and can be very painful. Using moisturizing creams with exfoliating agents and Urea will definitely help reduce the skin problems in the heel.
“Shop till you drop takes on a whole new meaning”
Shopping all day or standing on your feet for hours wears you out and results in tired feet, arch cramps, muscle spasms and shin splints. This can be lumped into one cause, abnormal pronation where the arch excessively collapses during the normal gait cycle. This leads to the muscles in the arch of the foot and lower leg to fatigue and tire because of the increased stress resulting in an overuse phenomenon causing foot and lower leg pain. The trigger is wearing non supportive sandals or flips flops. Ouch!
So, the type of foot structure one has, whether it is a high arched or flat foot can cause vulnerability and problems when wearing flip flops or sandals. Women who have high arches may be more susceptible because of a more pronounced arch angle in their foot, therefore placing increased pressure on the ball of the foot and arch. However, a flat foot which indicates that the arch of the foot has collapsed will also cause their share of problems. Arch pain, tired feet, cramping and joint discomfort in the foot are just a few symptoms experienced after long hours on your feet. Biomechanically speaking the foot is unstable and slides around when walking in those types of shoe wear. Toes will curl downward and try to grab the ground because of the instability in the joints of the foot. The muscles in the front of the lower leg will fire continuously and eventually fatigue and become tight and sore.
First Aid for Feet…..Sandal and Flip Flop Solutions
Supportive arch supports such as custom orthotics is the best way to control foot function during the normal gait cycle when wearing sandals and flip flops. The problem is finding an arch support that can fit into a flat sandal, flip flop or dress sandals. There are arch support products available that can stick on sandals or flip flops and provide the needed support to make those types of footwear foot friendly.
To treat arch pain, joint pain, muscle soreness or cramps after a long day of standing on your feet use topical homeopathic anti inflammatory creams or gels such as Traumel®. Ice therapy can also be very affective to calm down acute foot problems. There are gel insoles products that can be frozen or placed in a microwave to take the edge off very quickly.
Sandals and flip flops are worn by thousands daily; wearing ones that are cute, stylish and supportive will allow you to walk happily ever after in style and pain free.
Friday, February 10, 2012
Strength and conditioning coaches preach balance, strength, agility and quick feet to be a successful player. That usually translates into power at the plate, quickness in the field, speed running routs, accurate kicks in soccer, throwing an accurate pass to a receiver, hitting a jump shot or a winning backhand on the tennis court.
When coaches evaluate and brake down players during practices and showcases they look to see how balanced they are and if the balls of their feet are on the ground.
It all starts from the bottom up, a solid foundation translates into positive results and if you’re lower half is weak it affects outcomes on the field. If you’re lower half breaks down it can affect your upper half resulting in muscle imbalances and overuse injuries. So whatever sport you play it is important to have good feet. That means feet that are balanced and quite in the batter’s box, on the balls of your feet behind the plate which will give you the quick release or pop time and the ability to respond to a ball hit in your direction when playing the field.
As a quarterback, foot work is extremely important, look at Tim Tebow. If their feet are not set and balanced when they are ready to throw a pass the outcome could be a disaster. If they have to throw off their back foot because that is the only option, the completion success rate will be less.
Tennis players have to be balanced and on the balls of their feet at all times. This will allow them to return shots on the court with more power and accuracy.
When evaluating player’s foot work no one ever considers the players foot structure. The foot structure or foot type; flat feet or high arches is a factor in determining how good a player’s foot work will be. It could be the difference between making the cut or not.
Flat Feet versus High Arched Feet
The foot is structurally designed to adapt upon contact creating a strong base with the ground and stabilize when running to propel you forward. However, abnormal foot mechanics can alter that design resulting in a reason for a player to have bad feet, a weak foundation and poor outcomes. If a player has flat feet they are more susceptible to being unstable and imbalanced.
This will affect quarterback’s when passing, receivers when running routs, offensive and defensive linemen getting a jump at the line of scrimmage when playing football or when playing baseball, hitting, fielding or pitching. Tennis players rely on their feet constantly and not being biomechanically sound can affect match play.
Players who have flat feet are more vulnerable to lower extremity injuries such as plantar fasciitis, arch cramps and muscle spasms, shin splints, knee problems and low back pain. It is a major contributing factor to fatigue and weakness in the athlete’s lower half.
Players that have high arched feet can develop similar foot and lower half problems but in my experience there appears to be more athletes with flat feet then high arched feet. High arched feet can lead to ball of the foot pain because of the design and slope of the arch. There is more pressure placed on the ball of the foot resulting in metatarsal head bursitis. Plantar fasciitis, arch cramps, muscle spasms, shin splints are other byproducts of this type of foot type.
Kids That Play Sports also Have Foot Problem
Calcaneal apophysitis or Sever’s Disease is a problem that can cause imbalance issues in younger player’s feet. Kids try and compensate to keep pressure off the affected foot. It occurs in kids around the ages of 10 - 15 years old that play football, basketball or baseball. Kids complain of pain in the back of their heel which can radiate into the ankle or lower leg when jumping for a ball and coming down on the hard dirt or running. The heel pain originates at the back of the heel bone where the two parts of the growth plate are fusing together. It is aggravated when wearing baseball or football cleats because of where the spikes are located on the heel of the cleat. It can also affect kids that play soccer or basketball or tennis too. This problem is self limiting and will resolve on its own when the growth plates completely close.
Although it is painful at times it will not prevent kids from playing any sport. Placing a soft insole in a cleat or shoe will soften the impact load on the heel. Having an orthotic made will also help reduce the impact on the heel and reduce the pain.
How to Stay Balanced
Most players young and old will benefit with some type of an orthotic device placed in their cleats to aid in balancing and supporting their feet during the sports they play. The benefits are to support the arch, control motion and realign the joints of the foot to become more stable which results in better balance. If the foot is stable the lower half will be stronger and the player will be able to generate more power through their lower half.
There are many types of orthotic devices designed to address the support and balance issues in sports but not specifically one sport. The more traditional types of orthotics are made by podiatrists who are doctors that specialize in foot problems. Hand casted functional orthotics fall into that category. They are permanent supportive devices made out of hard plastics, high density foams or graphite materials. Soft orthotics can also be made by foot specialists but are often times too bulky to fit in cleats or shoes. Prefabricated orthotics and over the counter arch supports are also available. These types of supportive devices can be found through the internet or at sporting goods stores. Instant Arches® Baseball or Softball is an over the counter arch product that caters to baseball and softball players as well as athletes that play all sports.
Staying balanced is one of the keys to success in sports and wearing arch supports in cleats or shoes depending on your sport can make a difference in a players performance.
Tuesday, January 10, 2012
Tips to Keep Your Feet Healthy For 2012
Now that your feet have survived the partying, dining and dancing of New Years Eve, it is now time to be nice to them again. We all make New Year’s resolutions such as lose weight, exercise more, eat healthy, make more money, wear more sensible shoes, OUCH!, but how many people make resolutions to decide to take better care of their feet?
“The feet are the most neglected part of the body, everyone thinks they have perfect feet until they start to hurt, then they are not so perfect”. The triggers to foot pain are many. Shoes, exercise, and structural problems just to name a few.
When your feet hurt do not ignore them. Wishing and hoping is not the best form of treatment!
If you injure your foot exercising, wearing the wrong shoes or just walking too much, be aggressive in treating the problem. Home care would consist of ice, over the counter anti-inflammatory medications; Advil or Aspirin, rest, elevation, wrapping if necessary, inspect your shoes to make sure they fit properly and there is adequate room for your toes to wiggle around in the toe box of the shoe. Make sure you have proper arch support in your shoes. Instant Arches®, an over the counter arch support, is an easy way to provide arch support for all types of shoes in your wardrobe. One size fits, just peel and stick in all shoe styles.
Inspect your feet regularly; it can make a difference in preventing infections in your feet.
Nail fungus can start off in a tiny little area of the nail and can expand to the entire nail if not detected early. Check for cracks in the skin between your toes and heels after showering. Ingrown toe nails can develop without any warning due to cutting your nails incorrectly or from tight shoes. Cut your nails straight across and round the edge with a nail file also check to make sure you have enough wiggle room in your shoes. Cracks in your heel are known as fissures and if not properly cared for can cause pain standing and walking in shoes or sandals. Using moisturizing cream with urea will help eliminate those types of foot problems.
Select the right shoe and arch support for your feet
Whatever sports activity you participate in your feet can take a beating; use sports specific shoes and the proper arch support. Running shoes are for running, aerobic shoes are for aerobics, tennis shoes are for playing tennis and golf shoes are for playing golf. Wearing shoes that are not designed specifically for the sport you are performing can lead to potential foot problems such as plantar fasciitis, arch spasms, heel spurs and tendinitis. Most athletic shoes do not have adequate arch support. Custom made orthotics made can be costly, too hard and too bulky for the shoes. Alternatively, over the counter arch supports that can be found on line or at sporting good stores like Instant Arches® will also provide the necessary support your foot needs. It fits in all sports shoes, golf shoes as well as soccer, baseball, softball and football cleats.
Home remedies for your feet, can be dangerous if you do not know what is in them
Be careful when using over the counter home remedies because they might increase the problem. Always, check the back of the package and read the ingredients and warnings.
By subscribing to these foot care resolutions / tips, you too “can be active wearing the right arch supports and play happily ever after in 2012”!
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
Time Too Put On Your Dancing Shoes and Party!
You know the stilettos. Ouch!
'Tis the season to go into your shoe closet and pick out the hottest pair of party shoes your feet will tolerate and the question you probably ask yourself is, "How long can I wear them before I have to kick them off and switch to flats or go barefoot?" You know the ones, platform pumps, boots and sandals, stilettos and peep hole wedge sandals from designers such as Christian Louboutin, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Miu Miu, and Yves Saint Laurent. Depending on how much bubbly you have consumed during the evening, your pain tolerance and luck who knows how long they could last.
As we all know, there is a price to pay.
So, here are some toe and foot tips to prepare your feet for the holiday season and lower the price.
Never try and stuff your feet in a pair of shoes that does not fit just because they go with your outfit. That is a recipe for foot disaster. Bring a pair of ballet type flats with you just in case your feet start talking. Check the lining of your shoes to make sure there is no source of irritation to the top of the toes, sides, and back of the foot.
High fashion shoes can cause low back pain, blisters on the tops of toes, ingrown toe nails, arch cramps, tendon problems and ball of the foot pain. Blisters are formed because of friction or constant rubbing of your toes that occur in the toe box. When you wear shoes that are a bit too small, they can cause toe jamming where the tips of your toes will abut up against the end and top of the toe box and buckle the toes. This can lead to blister formation on the top and tip of the toes, pain, swelling and redness on the pads of your toes. Pumps with a narrow or shallow toe box can also irritate toenails that are too thick causing toe pain or increased pressure along the sides of the great toe nails eventually causing an ingrown toe nail to develop.
If the slope of the pump or wedge is to steep it will throw your body forward. This can create balance and low back problems when walking or standing. Problems can also develop in the arch, on the ball of the foot or on top of the foot where the toes bend. Shoes that narrow towards the toes can place pressure on an already existing bunion deformity. Wearing pumps over a prolonged period of time can cause the Achilles tendon to shorten. Women who experience this are not as comfortable wearing flats as they are wearing pumps.
Foot and Shoe Solutions
Band-Aids are one way to protect your toes in pumps from blisters or other pressure points. They are great in emergency situations to reduce skin irritation and friction. There are also many over the counter products you can purchase on line or at a pharmacy to protect your feet. Metatarsal pads can be placed on the ball of the foot to relieve pressure, silicone toe sleeves can wrap around toes and protect them or soft foam insoles can be placed in your shoes to cushion the entire foot. Instant Arches® is another product available on line to make pumps more comfortable. They will eliminate arch cramping, foot slippage and ball of the foot pain in pumps, wedges and boots.
In order to enjoy the holidays, wear shoes that fit, protect your feet against blistering, cramping and toenail problems. Then dance happily ever after!