Thursday, March 22, 2012

It All Starts From the Ground Up!..... Feet First

Being Balanced Will Bring Out Your Natural Ability

It is baseball season, so hit the ground running and let the games begin.

Feet First

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.

Overuse Injuries

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,, 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

Foot News Deli: Can Lack of Arch Support in Sandals and Flip Flops Cause Foot and Leg Problems?

Can Lack of Arch Support in Sandals and Flip Flops Cause Foot and Leg Problems?

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.