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Motor Patterns & Pathologies – Part 4: “Twist & Shout”

Barefoot Science

By David M. Lemke

Cross train out of the twist? Using absolutely zero effort? It’s Madness!

Until three months ago I believed the barefoot running movement was some sort of madness. I had no problem with trail running or running on the beach barefoot – I strongly promote “infinite variability of motion” – as opposed to repetitious motions like walking or running on sidewalks and pavement. However, something happened three months ago that changed my mind. I now believe that we should all go barefoot all the time – we just need keep our shoes on!

So what happened three months ago? Here’s the testimonial I wrote in reference to a product from a Canadian company called Barefoot Science:

To Whom It May Concern,

           I recently provided the key note presentation at a biomechanics conference sponsored by Noraxon, USA           (www.noraxon.com), the world leader in biomechanical and neuromuscular testing technology.

          I must confess though, as excited as I was to present, I attended with a hidden agenda. I had put off getting my unstable left knee assessed following a tennis injury in January. I knew I had a serious problem – most likely surgical – because I have seen this kind of thing hundreds of times. But I figured there would be at least a few biomechanics experts in attendance – and I thought at the very least I could save time and money and get assessed – and maybe even get some helpful advice. To accomplish this I would offer myself as a guinea pig during another’s presentation.

           What I didn’t expect was a solution to my problem – and much more. When the Barefoot Science insole presentation started I was on the edge of my seat. The presenter (Lance Todd) introduced the most practical, common sense perspective on the problem of foot proprioception I have seen: his product (Barefoot Science foot strengthening insoles) provides a much needed (understatement!) alternative to the prevailing use of bracing technology (orthotics) to solve biomechanical issues rooted in the feet.

           Since returning from the event (5 weeks using the insoles as of this writing) I have noticed daily improvements in my posture and leg muscle firing patterns (all good!). I notice my feet getting slightly smaller – more compact and fit – and I have control over more detailed toe movement. It’s like my feet are not just getting stronger – but smarter. They feel more alive and responsive – even when first hitting the floor in the morning! Though I have never run barefoot (I always thought it was crazy), I am starting to imagine getting into this “paleo” activity in the near future.

           In addition to a refreshing new lease on functional life for myself, I realized that so many of my clients (junior and touring professional tennis players, yoga instructors, varsity runners, kids with learning disabilities, etc.) could benefit from this solution.

           To sum up, I went from being bummed and pessimistic about my knee issue, and thinking barefoot running was crazy – and absolutely never for me, to looking forward to more time on the tennis court and easing my way into barefoot running. Since the conference I have introduced over thirty of my key clients to the insoles. I am recording sEMG patterns to log bioelectric changes from time of introduction.

 Sincerely,

 David M. Lemke, NMT, sEMG Tech.

The following is sEMG data taken from a young healthy athlete before and after using Barefoot Science insoles.

The subject is a healthy 15 year old female distance runner with occasional shin splint symptoms. She complained of hip pain so was fitted with custom orthotics a few months prior to this recording. The following two screens are tracings from a sustained bilateral hip extension. The first screen is Pre Barefoot Science, the second screen is following regular use for six weeks.

Pre Barefoot Science

After 6 weeks using Barefoot Science insoles (and increasing running mileage!)

As you can see in the tracings, before BFS the left gluteus maximus was not even firing and the left biceps femoris (hamstring) was firing intermittently. Also the lumbar paraspinals were contracting asymmetrically. After six weeks there is a much more robust contraction pattern across all monitored muscles – with symmetrical contraction of hamstring and paraspinals. Honestly, if I could bring about this kind of change with manual therapy and exercises folks would flock to my seminars!

In closing, the company that makes the insoles knows they work – they’ve done extensive trials that show dramatic pain relief and improved energy. But I honestly don’t think they realize how truly remarkable a product they’ve invented. These insoles help so many people with such a variety of complaints – not because they align posture or provide cushioning and support for feet (like orthotics) – but because they activate the plantar musculature which cross trains the body out of the core twist – and completes the upright posture circuit. Imagine: posture without effort!

My goal has been to be respectful of your time and not share something that will make your patients need you less. Its been my experience that the more patients I get wearing these, the more active they get and the more fun they are to work with. So no worries – your practice will thrive when people have better posture!

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