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Gripping the ground

KD
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10/05/2010 - 6:51pm
Gripping the ground

Hi Esther,

Thanks for all of your work. I have been following your method since our appointments in early September. Movements and postures are becoming more natural and I can feel my body recalibrating to a new, healthier, default position. Moving toward the ideal, as you say. :)

I have two questions related to the foot gripping the ground during walking.

1. Can you speak to the timing and intensity of the "grip" of the foot while walking?  When does the grip begin and does the intensity of the grip remain constant throughout the duration of contact or is there a crescendo to the grip as with the gluteus medius?

2. Can you speak to the ideal shape and function of the toes during foot grip?  I believe that my toes do more gripping than they are meant to, as you pointed out an overdeveloped crease in my second and third toes. (I have a photo but not sure how to upload it.) What is the ideal distribution of work among the parts of the foot in contact with the ground (pads of toes, midfoot, heel) during the gripping phase of walking? I assume that as my arch muscles get stronger (specifically transverse arches) this may correct itself because I will be able to use other parts of the foot to grip the ground?

Keely

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09/10/2008 - 8:36pm

1. Given that most of us have somewhat hyperextended foot ligaments, it makes sense to begin the grip as you are landing a foot on the ground. This way you will have a "shorter" foot and the grip muscles will have some mechanical advantage and come push-off time will have a better chance of working robustly. Outside of this I can't discourse on the way the grip ramps up till push-off, but it seems to work in parallel to the gluteus medius. In fact students often comment they feel their feet gripping spontaneously when they contract their gluteus medius muscles. So I suspect it is a crescendo. In any case, the grip needs to pretty strong at push-off or your foot folds backwards at the transverse arch. 

2. I know about five people who can tense up the arches in their feet without tensing up their toes. Im one of them (I think owing to m background doing South Indian dancing, Bharata Natyam, for years) and one of my students who was a ballet teacher and performer is another. Most people grip their toes with their foot-bottoms, have a difficult time isolating the two areas, and it's not a problem. Just make sure you are doing something with our arches and that it is not all with the toes. Your foot anatomy will change radically if you keep working with them - just the thickness of the flesh underfoot as you build muscle there changes the situation for the toes profoundly - they have room to drape downwards in a smooth convex curve, etc. It's exaggeration to say that the toes don't bend backwards or that the ball of the foot doesn't crease backwards at push-off, but you don't want this to happen limply and excessively; you want their to be some pushback from the muscles under the foot and toes. Again, can't pretend to have a rigorous analysis of this, but now I'm induced to go talk to some people who might be able to measure the kinds of subjects I study with foot plates, etc. Or we need to look at the existing medical literature on this. Let me know if you find something. In the meantime, this will go on my (long) list of things to study.

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