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Pain Underfoot: Metatarsalgia
Foot pain can interfere significantly with normal activities and severely limit participation in sports. Metatarsalgia is foot pain involving the metatarsal bones in the forefoot – the complaint of pain on the bottom of the ball of the foot.
Building From the Bottom Up
I caught up with my dear friend Honora Wolfe, in her Colorado painting studio where, if she is not praying in Bhutan or doing charitable work in a Nepali free clinic, she spends most of her time now.
CCE Finally Takes a "Baby Step" Toward Reform
During a 16-month period from October 2010 to February 2012, I devoted four separate columns to the heavy-handed attempt by the Council on Chiropractic Education to radically change the chiropractic profession through the accreditation process.
News in Brief
National Chiropractic Health Month: Be Proactive; Collegiate Roundup: Academic Appointments at Parker, Logan.
Why Young People Need Chiropractic Now More Than Ever
According to a recent study published in BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders, "It is now widely acknowledged that neck pain (NP), mid back pain (MBP), and low back pain (LBP) (spinal pain) start early in life and that the lifetime prevalence increases rapidly during adolescence to reach adult levels at the age of 18."
A Vibrating Capsule for Constipation? Relevance to Your Chiropractic Practice
The relationship between gastrointestinal (GI) complaints and back pain is not typically written about or discussed.
New Medical Technologies You Need to Know
We're all familiar with how fast computers become obsolete, as well as the rapid pace of development in the field of cell phone technology. The latest smart phones are far more powerful than desktop computers were only a few years ago.
Chiropractic Research in Review
Chiropractic Treatment of Lateral Epicondylitis; Cost / Benefit Analysis: Different Doses of SMT for Low Back Pain; Imaging for Occult Rib and Costal Cartilage Fractures; Treating Neck Pain: Thoracic Thrust Manipulation vs. Non-Thrust Mobilization.
Peer Points: Always Seeking To Grow
Ellen "Kiki" Geary has spent the last decade honing her craft. As a specialist in integrative holistic care, she went straight from completing her master's degree in acupuncture and chinese herbal medicine from Bastyr University to building a successful and thriving practice in the small community of Anacortes, Washington.
A History Worth Telling
The popularity and the use of acupuncture for the treatment of animals in the United States is at its peak.
Don't Turn a 2 Into a 10
The Wong-Baker FACES Pain Rating Scale1 is so useful because it can be used by almost anyone. Patients can use the numbers associated with the faces depicted on the scale or select the face that demonstrates their current level of pain from 0-10.
Medical Qigong for the Heart: Part III
Part 1 and Part II of this series focused on the physical aspect of the Heart and mental emotional aspects of the Heart respectively. Now, I would like to focus on the spiritual aspect of the Heart.
MPA Media Wins 7 Publishing Awards
MPA Media, publisher of Dynamic Chiropractic and DC Practice Insights, among other titles, has been recognized for editorial and design excellence with an unprecedented seven publishing awards by the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE), the nation's largest organization for business-to-business publications.
A Chinese Medicine Story: An Interview with Mazin Al-Khafaji
Mazin Al-Khafaji's work has interested me for years. In February 2014, we invited him for the second time to speak at the Southwest Symposium in Austin, Texas.
Finders Keepers: The Secret to Relationship-Based Marketing
Becoming a successful practitioner has less to do with what you learned in school, and more to do with your ability to find new patients and keep them!
Waking Up the Gluteus Maximus
In previous articles in this series, we expounded on the importance of the gluteus maximus (GM) in athletic performance and protecting the knee from injury. We also know there is a link between iliotibial band syndrome and GM weakness.
9 Common Causes of Thyroid Imbalance and How You Can Help
How you sleep, how easily you wake up, and how much energy and stamina you have during the day are directly related to levels of the thyroid hormones.
November, 2012, Vol. 12, Issue 11
The Peroneals: Anatomy and Function
By Nicole Nelson
The peroneals are a fascinating group of muscles which largely go unnoticed unless you've sprained your ankle. Many of us have two peroneal muscles, some of us have three: Peroneus longus, peroneus brevis, and the occasional individual has peroneus tertius.Peroneus Longus is responsible for everting the foot and helps with plantar flexion of the ankle (think bringing the outside of your foot off the ground while pointing your toes. This muscle attaches proximally on the upper fibula and wraps behind lateral malleolus (aka ankle), continues along the underside of the foot where it attaches distally on the first metatarsal and medial cuneiform. Peroneus brevis also everts the foot and assists in plantar flexion of the ankle. It lies deep to longus and attaches proximally at the lower portion of the fibula. Peroneus brevis wraps behind the lateral malleolus and attaches distally on the fifth metatarsal. Peroneus tertius is an everter of the foot; but unlike the other peroneal muscles, it assists in dorsiflexion of the ankle. Its proximal attachment is on the anterior distal fibula and runs anterior to the ankle, attaching distally to the 5th metatarsal.
Although the peroneals are chiefly regarded as everters of the foot, a lesser known, yet very cool fact about the peroneus longus muscle is that it helps in the stabilization of the big toe. This stabilization plays a large role in the appropriate winding of the plantar fascia during gait, known as the windlass effect. Any individual that is forced to move laterally (i.e. tennis or basketball player) places a high demand on these muscles as they act to stabilize and prevent inversion of the ankle. Running or walking on uneven surfaces such as a trail or soft sand will also challenge these muscles. When life is good, the peroneals, along with tibialis anterior and posterior, control inversion and eversion of the ankle and keep the structures of the foot and ankle out of harms way. As we all know, life isn't always good and injury results. Let's take a look at the peroneals involvement in ankle instability and go over some massage strategies that will help our clients reduce their pain possibly prevent future injury.
Ankle sprains are the most common athletic injury, with approximately 30,000 sprains per day in the U.S. (DiGiovanni et. al. 2004). Approximately 90% of these ankle injuries are inversion sprains. To make matters worse, 70% to 80% will suffer a subsequent ankle sprain (Yeung 1994). The potential for recurrent sprains is a likely consequence of structural trauma of the ligaments of the ankle, as well as decreased proprioceptive feedback and peroneal weakness (Lofvenberg et al 1995). This scenario creates the potential for chronic ankle instability and further weakening of the peroneal muscles. It seems that the feedback loop that communicates the location of the foot to the brain is off. Without this input, the brain is somewhat blinded to the local environment leaving the peroneal firing patterns ill-timed. This is problematic as the peroneals need to fire in an anticipatory manner in order to correct balance and absorb the impact of foot striking.
Now let's discuss some of the causes behind weakness of the peroneals. There are many reasons why peroneals become dysfunctional including structural anomalies of the foot and ankle, tendon subluxation, nerve entrapments and tendon tears. Given the complex nature of the ankle and foot, clients with pain in this area should be encouraged to see a physician before you begin any massage treatment. As soft tissue experts, we are looking at the fascial and muscle structures and possible nerve entrapments that may be causing peroneal issues. Vladamir Janda suggested that certain muscles have the potential to shorten and tighten (tonic muscles), while others tended to lengthen and weaken (phasic muscles). Janda's observations led him to put the peroneals in the phasic camp, suggesting that these muscles are prone to inhibition. This inhibition creates an environment of ankle instability.
On the other hand, Janda characterized the posterior tibialis, gastrocnemius and soleus muscles as tonic in nature. This imbalance of the lower leg not only destabilizes the ankle, but opens the door for other problems including plantar fasciitis, compartement syndromes, calcaneal bone spurs and achilles tendinosis. Additionally, the faulty movement patterns which result from the imbalance will create compensations that will surely travel up the kinetic chain and likely cause hip, lower back and neck issues.
Assessment and Treatment
As we all know, successful therapy begins with assessment and intake. If your client has had a history of ankle sprains and they mention discomfort around the ankle and/or along the lateral lower leg, the peroneals should be suspected as an area of issue. Let's go over a few treatment ideas for a client that has a history of ankle rolling and ankle pain.
Don't chase the pain! Given the peroneals propensity for weakness and the high percentage of inversion type sprains, I would caution against deep stripping and stretching of this group. I certainly do suggest relieving trigger points in these muscles with local compression. I would also recommend cross fiber friction to the areas that feel particularly glued down. For this work, I usually position clients in a sidelying position, with the involved leg up and bolstered. Sherrington's law of reciprocal inhibition states that a hypertonic antagonist muscle may be reflexively inhibiting it's corresponding agonist. If we consider this law in conjunction with Janda's insights, it stands to reason that most of the deep stripping should be performed on the posterior tibialis, gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles. Additionally, contract/relax methods of stretching will be helpful in normalizing these overly tightened tissues. Naturally, not everyone fits into the tonic/phasic mold outlined by Janda; therefore, each client should be assessed and evaluated for their unique set of tightness and restrictions.
Enlist the help of a corrective exercise specialist. According to DiGiovanni, the gold standard for ankle instability issues includes the RICE protocol, early range of motion, progressive weight bearing, peroneal strengthening as well as proprioceptive training (DiGiovanni et al 2006). This is supported by studies done by Holme and others. Their research reports that clients with a history of ankle sprains were twice as likely to suffer recurrent sprains if they did not engage in a balance and strengthening program (Holme et al 1999). This aspect of treatment will require you to pair up with someone with corrective exercise experience. A well directed strength program is an absolute necessity in order to restore balance to the stirrup musculature, improve proprioception and reclaim proper biomechanics.
Check the client's footwear. Unfortunately for clients with peroneal issues, their choice of footwear should come under some scrutiny. It is well known that elevated heels present a challenge to the body's ability to oppose gravity efficiently and places a wrench in optimal alignment and proper biomechanics of the ankle. Now, what about flip-flops? Sorry to put a crimp in casual Friday footwear, but these shoes probably present a greater threat to the foot than any type of high heel. Flip-Flops disrupt the windlass effect of the foot. When the windlass effect is in effect the big toe should dorsiflex; however, when wearing flip flops, the big toe actually plantar flexes in order to grab the flip-flop and prevent it from slipping off the foot. In other words, walking in flip flops encourages poor motor patterning of the muscles of the foot, including one of the big toe stabilizers, peroneus longus.
To sum it up, peroneal weakness and ankle sprains are closely linked and all too common. A little attention to these muscles will hopefully limit the muscle imbalance of the ankle and foot and help prevent future sprains.
Nicole Nelson a licensed massage therapist in Jacksonville, Fla. She has a masters degree in Health Science from the University of North Florida and is a certified Advanced Health and Fitness Specialist through ACE.
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