Research Finds Hip Exercises May Help the Feet!

September 22, 2009 | by Dr. Jess

Runner's feet Here at Innersport, we have known for years that the feet affect the pelvis and the pelvis affect the feet and the knee just gets caught in between. Many of you have probably wondered why we give you hip exercises when you have foot, ankle, or achilles pain. Earlier this year researchers published an article in Clinical Biomechanics studying the effect of hip exercises on lower extremity biomechanics during running. They analyzed 15 female runner's lower extremity (hip, knee, and foot) biomechanics before, at mid-point, and after 6 weeks of hip strengthening exercises using 3D high speed motion capture. They found an increase in hip strength and changes in hip ranges of motion, as expected. Interestingly, they found rearfoot inversion (which is the heel rolling outwards- think of a typical ankle sprain) to be decreased by 57% and knee abduction (which is the knee moving outwards or laterally) by 10%. We can deduce that the hip may be able to CONTROL excessive movement of the knee and foot, movements that can often lead to ankle, knee, hip, pelvis, and back injuries. Another interesting finding is that they used CLOSED-KINETIC CHAIN exercises to strengthen the hip. This means the foot was in contact with the ground while they moved the joints above (ie. lunges with a trunk twist.) An open-chain kinetic exercise would be the foot moving off the ground with a fixed pelvis (ie. clam opener, lateral leg raises.) A further study would be to look at open-chain hip exercise's effect on the lower extremity biomechanics, which are commonly prescribed in rehabilitation settings. I've often quoted one of my chiropractic instructors in various newsletter articles and blogs and I'll quote Dr. Walton again here: "If you step on a cat's tail, does the tail scream?" As a sports medicine provider, we are detectives of pain and the causes of injuries. In repetitive motion injuries, we often have to look beyond the site of pain to find the biomechanical dysfunction responsible for the injury. Innersport and Press Play Analysis use various dynamic and biomechanical tests as well as video analysis of sport to determine the causes of dysfunction and injuries. However, finding the dysfunction and culprit of injury is one thing, correcting it is another. Therefore, we use closed-chain kinetic exercises to functionally improve biomechanics of the lower extremity for runners, golfers, tennis, and all other closed-chain kinetic activities. Feel free to email Dr. Jess at drjess@innersport.com for any questions you may have regarding this research article or pain you experience in the lower extremity, pelvis, or back. Clin Biomech (Bristol, Avon). 2009 Jan;24(1):26-34. Epub 2008 Nov 14.
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