Using The Body as a Spring
Why do you need cushions and braces on your feet when you run?
This piece is written by Jim Stoxen who is an emminent Chiropractor from Chicago. It is brilliantly written.
Why does grandma need:
· Orthopedic Shoes
· A cane
· A walker
· A wheelchair
· A hospital bed
The doctors said her muscles could no longer support her.
Maybe its a good idea to learn how to condition your spring suspension system muscles of your body for impacts instead of looking for the next brace?
So, before you get up and running, you are going to want to learn about the engineering of the human spring and specifically what the spring suspension system muscles are and how they assist you in springing off impacts safely.
As you know I also refer to them as the landing muscles, the pronation supination cuff or the arch foot and ankle sling muscles, as one famous doctor from Bangkok, Thailand called them.
Most of you work on your “take off” muscles yet the “landing muscles” are hardly EVER exercised because so few even know they exist!
Dont you think that if you put a bigger, more powerful and heavier engine on a plane that it would fly faster? You might want to put a stronger landing gear on the plane too?
With this simple logic, why are so many of you training the take off muscles and completely neglecting the landing muscles?
No wonder you have so many impact related injuries like plantar fasciitis, heel pain, stress fractures, shin splints, knee pain, hip pain and herniated discs!
So many people are told that impacts are bad for you in running.
That is just wrong!
Impacts are only bad for you if your human spring mechanism cannot handle the force of the impact safely! Period!
In the book, ‘Born To Run’, written by Christopher McDougall, he tells the story about the Tarahumara Indians and how these old indians ran for miles in the mountains for decades with minimal footwear.
So what’s the difference between you and them?
The idea that you have to have cushioned footwear to absorb the force of the impacts doesn’t really make sense, unless the impact resistance mechanism, the spring suspension system muscles and mechanism cannot handle the impacts.
So if your doctor, your coach and your conscience told you that you needed a cushion between yourself and the earth to absorb the impacts I guess what they were really saying was YOUR spring suspension system muscles and joints are not healthy enough to take the impacts but other peoples are.
Is the human body a lever or a spring?
The first thing we have to determine is what the human body is in the world of physics so we can better understand the model of the object that has to collide with the earth 100,000,000 times before our 30th birthday.
There is a fundamental difference between the way I see the human body and the way most other doctors and scientists see the human body.
I say that the body works as a lever and a spring.
Most doctors and scientists say human body ONLY works as a lever system
I think it is because they still memorized the old text book instead of observing how it truly works to protect us from impacts.
I also think that maybe its because the spring mechanisms of the patients that levered into their clinic with pain already had their spring mechanism lock up before they walked into the office. When they observed them it was while they were limping into their offices with their levers so they could sit or lay down during the examination of their locked levers.
I haven’t seen many doctors training or observing top athletes doing double fulls, standing fulls, or plyometric drills.
Many just recite “the body acts as a rigid lever at take off”.
You can tell when they talk like that there is no independent thinking.
Why is the body NEVER a rigid lever during running or walking?
When the body is working the way it was designed.
When the foot lands on the ground it rolls from the outside to the inside called rolling from supination to pronation.
At the same time it is loading from the force of the landing like lowering a weight on the bench press.
With all that rolling and loading in a three dimensional plane across 33 movable joints it never becomes a rigid lever! Its just impossible to think that can happen with a rolling loading bag of 26 moving bones.
For me, with my experience studying impacts in sports such as running, jumping and plyometrics, I find it ridiculous to think that the body absorbs these incredible impacts with levers.
How can a lever protect two objects (earth and human) that predictably will collide over 250,000,000 times in a lifetime?
Lets see… this object will collide with the earth 250 million times so lets design it as a lever.
Are you thinking what Im thinking?
It doesn’t make sense!
Is it just me or do you think it’s hard to imagine that we can launch our 150 pound bodies against 450 pounds of impact resistance force for over 26,000 consecutive impacts with ultimate efficiency as a lever system.
If you believe what you are saying, then you are saying that is the way you launch your body against this 450 pounds of resistance or approximately 11,700,000 pounds of work load!
The same person can’t do 200 calf raises (working as a true lever) amounting to 30,000 pounds of work.
Here are the exact formulas:
· 26,000 impacts/26 miles
· M x A = F (M)150 pounds x (A)3 = 450 pounds force per impact
· 450 x 26,000 = 11,700,000 pounds of impact over the course of that marathon
· 150 pounds x 200 total calf raise reps before exhaustion = 30,000 pounds of work
Why do we become exhausted at 30,000 pounds of work during calf raises (working as a true lever) but can run 26.2 miles for 26,000 impacts of 450 pounds of force amounting to 11,700,000 pounds of work?
1. The body works as a lever mechanism when doing calf raises.
2. The body works as a spring mechanism when running.
Its obvious which one is more efficient!
Do doctors and scientists disagree with me?
You wouldn’t think so but they still hold on to this lever model!
OK OK the body does work as a lever and a spring.
Does that make you happy?
In my opinion, the body does move at as a lever system such as when we are going up on our toes, walking up stairs, doing raises, but it also functions as a spring mechanism when we are walking, jogging, running, and participating in sports activities. If we look at the body as a spring mechanism we have more effective ways of treating and training the body than as a lever.
Also looking at the body as a spring mechanism helps us explain many mysteries that baffle doctors and you.
Like…. CHRONIC PAIN – The body bangs and twists into the ground 10,000 steps a day (walking) rather than springs off the ground so it cannot protect itself from the impacts resulting on an assault on the muscles and joints.
Maybe that is why my plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, shin splints, knee pain, hip pain and herniated disc won’t heal!
Like… CHRONIC FATIGUE – The body bangs and twists into the ground 10,000 times a day (walking) rather than the more efficient way of ambulation, springing the mass off the ground. (some have estimated that 25-60 percent of the energy is recycled through this spring action)
The human body abides by the Hookes Law of Physics
Hookes Law applies to spring mechanics. It does not apply to lever mechanics.
When you think about impacts there is a force that impacts your body on each landing. If we understand how this force absorbs into our body safely then we can look at those structures that absorb the force and release them, strengthen them and supercharge them for optimum performance.
Then we can run barefoot because we won’t need an artificial cushion to do what our human spring is designed to do for us!
Why don’t doctors and scientists let go of the lever model for the more accurate spring model of evaluating, treating, training and maintaining the human body?
Why do they still hang on to the lever model if it doesn’t make sense?
They can’t prove it is a spring by EMG testing because EMGs don’t measure the spring of tendons and connective tissue complexes (the arch)
Most of the muscles that control the safe rolling of the foot from supination (outside) to pronation (inside) and the spring action of the foot originate outside the foot on the calf. They become tendons in the foot.
The muscles have strategic attachments at the underside of the foot where the spring action occurs but they originate in the calf.
Scientists do gait studies to determine what muscles are used during walking or running. They use EMG testing, which measures muscle activity. These electrodes are either on the surface of your skin or inserted into the muscle like a needle. OUCH!
The problem with measuring the body with this method is that it doesn’t measure for the elastic recoil of the tendons (spring) and that is a very important component of how our body protects itself as a spring and how it recycles energy during walking and running!
This represents a huge amount of work performed by the body, which provides FREE ENERGY to the body through this spring action.
How can you measure a tendon recoil when you are testing for electrical activity of muscle contraction?
So when they’re using the EMG to study about how muscles work during impacts such as walking or running they think we run by using the foot as a lever to PUSH it forward when we all know the body SPRINGS the mass forward.
This is only part of the big picture. So what do they account for the inability to measure for arch recoil and tendon recoil?
Because they can’t accurately understand how it propels itself so many studies just model the human foot as a solid lever unit, as if your foot that was stuck in a freezer, a solid lever mechanism.
This is obviously, not an accurate way to describe the foot during its role in absorbing impacts from running or walking.
Also when your body is functioning correctly the foot is a very wiggly, springy mechanism when all 33 joints are moving according to way they are designed like in the children’s foot.
Unfortunately, when doctors see patients, they are injured. No one gets their feet examined when they are pain free. If they already have had an injury then the body has already created muscle spasms to protect it which stiffen or lock it up like a lever.
Is your foot springy when its injured or in pain? NO! I have been a guest doctor at track and field championships examining healthy springy feet and
evaluated the springiness of the feet of every patient that comes in my office.
Coaches, trainers and managers send me athletes and entertainers to tune them up to improve their performance. They do not have any injuries. I evaluate them head to toe nail to see what areas we can release to increase their spring performance. I know what a springy, fully released human foot is supposed to feel like.
I work 10 – 30 hours on stiff or locked feet to remove preloaded compression forces by deep tissuing out every single spasm and releasing every single joint to maximize the ability of the foot to load impact forces into a spring mechanism safely. When Im done, the feet feel a much different than they did when they started. More springy!
Imagine how springy your feet and legs would feel if a deep tissue specialist worked 30 hours releasing the tension and spasms on your lower body!
There is a huge difference in the springiness of the foot of a patient with a plantar fasciitis, bunions, chronic knee pain and or herniated disc that hasn’t healed. Why do I know? Ive been working on thousands of feet with my hands for 25 years, 6-7 days a week a minimum of 10 hours a day.
Feet that have stiff muscles around them or have locked joints function as a lever mechanism so they cannot absorb the force of the landing as effectively .
To think any differently violates the laws of physics! Lets see… A stiff foot or a springy foot…. Which one is going to bang on impact?
In the examination of the walk you often see the calf muscle shake on impact with a patient who’s foot is locked.
That tells you right away there is no spring in that step! If you have plantar fasciitis, foot or heel pain, heel spurs, calf pain or swelling, shin splints, knee
pain, hip pain or back pain, walk barefooted (shorts too) towards a camera and away from it fast.
When you look at the video watch to see if your calves shake. You might be amazed!
In order to absorb millions of impacts it must be designed as a spring mechanism.
When the Spring Mechanism Breaks Down it Becomes a Lever Mechanism
What about the studies? Are their any studies that prove what you say?
Almost every gait study done in America or anywhere except a third world country will provide inaccurate data that will confuse you into thinking that the human body moves, protects you from impacts and recycles energy as a lever mechanism rather than a spring mechanism.
How can I say that?
If a scientist selects a study group from people who have worn shoes for 20-30 years then the human spring mechanism has been tampered with extensively and therefore the results and interpretations and conclusions from these studies are not as helpful to prove the body is a spring vs a lever when it is working right!
Imagine if we were doing a study of elbow movement and decided to use a student who had a brace on his elbow for 20 years and another who did not have any braces on the elbow his whole life.
Are they going to have different elbows with different movement patterns and strengths? Of course they are! Logic!
One would have to study how normal healthy children walk who have never worn shoes or habitually barefoot subjects from some third world country would have to be selected.
The other problem with the way gait is studied is, the subjects are commonly selected who are pain free. That doesn’t mean there isn’t already substantial plastic deformities and locking of the spring mechanism represented by a locking of any one or many of the 33 joints of your 26 bones of your foot.
People have advanced bunion deformities that are painless that obviously effect impact resistance. The reason why these deformities happen without frank pain is because we take about 50,000,000 impacts into each foot by our 30th birthday. Even subtle abnormal loading position of the foot can cause a lot of deformity in that many impacts.
Did someone qualified to evaluate for the joint motion of all 33 joints check these subjects before they were included in the research?
You rarely see a doctor do motion palpation of each individual joint of the foot to make sure they are all moving according to the way they were designed even when the patient has a condition like plantar fasciitis, Mortons neuroma, heel pain, bunions, calf cramps and the list of spring compressive conditions goes on up the floors of the human spring.
In fact I once had a doctor question me when I suggested that the most commonly locked joint of the foot was the second and third metatarsal cuneiform joint.
He suggested it wasn’t supposed to move because it was a saddle joint.
If it is a joint then it is supposed to move! What are you talking about?
Why would the joint be there if there was no movement needed there?
Why do we have joints?
To protect us from impacts!
How do we check for joint play in a joint?
I was not taught how to evaluate for loss of joint play in a joint and for abnormal movements in the spine for all my years in chiropractic college. I had one (2 credit) class on examining and adjusting the extremities such as the foot and ankle but there was not so much emphasis on it as I put on it now.
I make sure there is no restriction on any joint from the tip of the head to the toe nails on every patient.
I learned how to evaluate for restrictions on the joint play affecting the ability of the body to load the forces of the impact into the spring mechanism by absolute necessity.
My first patient started off the education process of human spring!
My very first patient was powerlifter, Ed Coan, as described as “the greatest powerlifter in the history of the sport“…
He was attempting to break world records in powerlifting by lifting close to 1000 pounds.
Out of necessity it was imperative that I remove every single restrictive spasm from his spring mechanism to ensure that he could load the maximum amount of force of lift load into his human spring.
If the doctor doesn’t even have the skill set to be able to evaluate the joint play in all 33 joints of the human foot and after that if he cannot manipulate these joints then he can’t understand how the locked joints behave differently when it is in fact released. He has nothing to compare.
I can tell you that when you release the mid foot locking and the metatarsal cunieform joints of the foot, there is a loud cracking noise from the release of the fixation.
Watch the video below of me resetting the talus in the ankle mortise. The sound of the release of the locking of this joint may startle you!
Many patients say afterwards it feels more bouncy or springy when I walk.
It just makes sense!
Whenever the foot rolls out of the safe range into a over pronation position, the ankle joint is affected. This over rolling stresses the ankle joint and many times the talus bone which is like a ball bearing of the foot, jams into the joint above called the ankle mortise formed by the extension of the tibia and fibula.
Why use a brace like an orthotic or motion control shoe when you can train your body to correct its own alignment?
How can you treat a patient with a knee cap misalignment in the trochlear groove which is essentially a pulley mechanism without addressing the ability of the foot to plant without torquing the tibia and fibula out of alignment with the knee cap? Think logic! When you look at it, it looks like a saddle on a horse’s back. When I make adjustments of the talus that is jammed in the medial aspect of the ankle mortise, the release of this joint makes a very loud audible crack or release.
If muscles pull against the joints they must be moving for the muscle to get full contraction and full development.
This is obvious!
Just think of how much development you’d get from your bicep during a curl if your elbow was completely locked.
The lever system model claims that the body becomes a rigid lever as if it’s some kind of stiff unit when it pushes off.
If that was true, then the forces of the impacts of between 300 – 800 pounds would literally destroy the cartilages in a short time and end plates of your bones if it became a solid unit. I contend that during running for sure that the foot is never an 180 lb solid unit unless it’s locked or frozen.
But if it’s working right it’s in a constant elastic deformation process, constantly moving the load across the ever-changing deforming structure that protects you from these impact forces and stores energy only to release it for maximum efficiency.
It’s ridiculous to think that it’s okay to have joints locked up and that it won’t affect the development of the muscles control the landing and absorption of impact forces. If you don’t check for the joint play in these important joints then you may be missing something very crucial in the treatment of the patient!
As I said many times the primary landing muscles, the spring suspension system muscles that load the force of the impact into the spring mechanism and release the energy or unload the forced back into the mechanism I refer to as the spring suspension system muscles.
You won’t find that word or concept in any book or taught at any school because I coined the muscle group to fit the human spring model because it was not possible to explain what was available in the human lever model.
The muscles that absorb the forces of the impact are the tibialis posterior, tibialis anterior, peroneus longus and peroneus brevis and a few others up the floors 1-7.
The impacts are also absorbed from other muscles such as the soleus however we are always developing those muscles. Exercise is needed to supplement what we are NOT exercising in our daily lives.
From my clinical experience, the majority of the people who have injuries from running such as plantar fasciitis, shin splints, heel pain, torn cartilage in the knees, hip pain and herniated discs are because the spring mechanism can’t effectively absorb the impact into the spring. Because the human spring is preloaded with compressive force from muscle spasms and locking
of joint lay there is no room to load all the impact force.
Because of that, the impact is absorbed into the tissues as chronic stress and strain, wear and tear inflammation and pain called degenerative joint disease during running or simple walking.
Then you have the acute injury resulting from an acute overload of the force of impact into the compression spring, the vertebral disc, which is really a plastic deformity.
In the knee we call it torn cartilage. In the foot or shin or tibia bone we call it stress fractures. When the preload compression force overloads the compression spring of the lower back it causes a plastic deformity of the disc or a herniated disc. If the overload is severe acute with no room to absorb the forces into the mechanism you can have a fracture or fractures.
Damage to ligaments, tendons, cartilage, bones or discs occurs when the force of the impact exceeds a spring mechanism’s capacity to store the impacts either over time as a plantar fascitis shin splint, heel spur or cartilage wear or instantly as a herniated or bulging disc.
The spring suspension system muscles help absorb impacts.
All joints that are involved in absorbing these impacts must be moving.
If the joints don’t move where the tendons attach then the tendons cannot pull against these joints. That makes it impossible to get full impact force into these joints and it’s also impossibleto get full positive adaptation leading to maximum development of the muscles, tendons and connective tissue of joints.
The body does not only use muscles to propel. The arch would spring back impacts even without the muscles just by its very design.
The arch configuration is 26 joints wrapped by ligaments and this connective tissue that forms a springy bow or leaf spring, that adds impact resistance and free energy to impact activities such as walking, running and the performance of sports. Footwear alters movement patterns in the foot and most footwear either binds, deforms or reverses the human spring mechanism.
A few doctors and academics have argued with me that there is no scientific proof that shoes binds or restrict movement in the foot.
I agree that assumptions must be based on peer review literature, however I do not need peer review studies to tell me that a shoe that I wrap around the foot and lace tightly does not alter the movement in any way in the foot or the joints above.
People who talk like this either work as consultants for footwear companies or will wait for 30 years for 10 studies to say it does while thousands of patients have rapidly deteriorating health because they are treated the opposite of what is best for them in the long run. Meanwhile they wait for someone to do a study that tells them what they already know.
It is obvious that footwear binds the foot and alters the natural movement of the foot to some degree. Each style of footwear and the size of the shoe etc. determines how much it binds the foot. If it did not bind in some way it could not stay on your foot. Do you think you can attain full range of motion in adduction, abduction, inversion and eversion of the foot with a shoe on? No
How can a body part attain full range of motion in abduction, abduction, inversion, eversion, supination and pronation when there is a piece of leather wrapped tightly around it? This is where they contradict themselves! On one hand, footwear companies and doctors say that you have to wear shoes to support the foot which means that it’s applying a pressure to the foot to provide the support. So just by saying that it supports a foot you are admitting it affects the
movement of the foot, period! I’ve had arguments with other doctors in forums where they say show me the proof that the shoe inhibits the movement of the foot. Then in another forum topic they will say that the shoe supports the foot and therefore it’s an important item to wear when you’re running because your body can’t absorb the force of the impact as a lever. They contradict themselves! If shoes give an athlete a competitive advantage then isn’t that a form of cheating?
No athletes train with wraps or braces if they KNOW they give them a lift or advantage because they KNOW this takes away from the positive adaptation they need to get stronger.
Even if you don’t want to throw out your running shoes don’t you do want to condition your human spring mechanism to absorb impacts more effectively, more safely and at greater forces or speeds? Of course you do!
How to strengthen your spring suspension system muscle group.
What I recommend is that you train the foot with drills in directions that stimulate the development of these spring suspension system muscles.
This requires you to:
RESISTANCE TRAINING – Train with resistance exercises adding cuffs strapped to the foot moving it in a variety of directions such as eversion, inversion, abduction, adduction, pronation and supination.
IMPACT TRAINING – run barefoot in zigzag patterns, circular patterns, shuffle patterns as well as doing multi direction plyometric drills.
Then when you’re in the competition you can cheat by putting shoes on that allow for additional recoil of the elastic of the shoe!
Resistance Exercises to Strengthen the Spring Suspension System Muscles as Levers Exercises for the development of the spring suspension system muscles must be done barefoot. I guarantee you if you tried to do exercises with cables which I’m suggesting in this article that you are not going to be able to do them with shoes on.
It’s absolutely ridiculous to think that it’s possible to get full range of motion in these directions that are essential to development of the spring suspension system muscles with shoes on. It’s amazing for me to think that runners think that their bodies follow some other principle of training that allows them to only move their body in one direction to fully develop the human foot which is a three dimensional object that moves in multiple directions.
A healthy foot has to be developed in all directions just as much as the upper body has to be trained in all directions such as back, biceps, triceps, chest, shoulders, arms and wrists.
So when you take off down the trail in that straight path remember that’s the first exercise that you have to do that really doesn’t take up as much of those spring suspension system muscles that move the foot in these other directions that demand you move or run in zigzag patterns side shuffle circular patterns and other patterns.
Kids Should Run Barefoot and have Fun and So Should YOU!
It’s interesting that kids seldom have chronic injuries, their spring suspension system muscles are fully developed as they’re running around in free play in the backyard with no shoes on.
This goes on very successfully until mom screams out,
“Put your shoes on and stop running around like a crazy kid!”
We don’t realize what we’re doing to our children when we tell them that they should behave and act like us. What we are doing is we are taking them away from the developmental plyometric exercises of leaps, bounds, hops and skips in multiple directions and making them conform to our boring straight path routine that causes us to have an imbalance in the spring suspension system muscles of our body.
As kids we run around in the woods chasing animals, animals that run in multiple directions and as adults we run down the path to try to get to first base then stand around for a few minutes, run to second base on a straight path in then of course there is this matter of having shoes on to protect us from these impacts in different directions that will make us stronger. The moral of the story is that the spring suspension system muscles must be developed in relation to the amount of impact forces that you are planning on absorbing or springing back
These are the fundamental causes of weakness in the spring suspension system muscles.
1. The spring suspension system muscles are not completely developed by running straight ahead.
You must move the foot in all ranges of motion against resistance.
2. You must develop the foot in these ranges of motion with impact forces that are equal to the amount of impact forces you plan on absorbing. That means if you are planning on running you must run drills in all ranges of motion so that the spring suspension system muscles are able to move and develop.
3. Footwear inhibits the development of these muscle. So training must be done with bare feet.
Shoes only inhibit the movement of the bones so the muscles can’t fully develop.
4. Start with slower speeds and work your way up adding an increment of speed every two weeks Impact Drills and Plyometrics
Your spring suspension system must be completely released during these impact drills. If you have a locking or more stiffening of any of the joints by either joint stiffness or muscle stiffness surrounding the joints the suspension system that represents a preload force on or a compression of the spring suspension system.
That means that the total capacity to load the force of the impact into the spring mechanism is reduced because it’s preloaded already with some force. If you try to load maximum force into this preloaded spring mechanism there is no room for the force to go.
That is when it has no other choice but to cause injury when the force plastically deforms the disc. This is what we call a herniated or bulged disc.
If the force is overloading the spring mechanism of the knee then you can get a a
meniscus tear or anterior cruciate tear. If it’s in the foot then it can become a heel spur, plantar fasciitis or a shin splint.
These muscles are essential for absorbing impacts so if you’re having impact injuries such as shin splints plantar fasciitis, herniated discs, heel spurs, then you can suspect that your spring suspension system of the arch of your foot is locked.
The most likely area for the spring mechanism to lock is at the metatarsal cunieform joint number two and three. (mid-arch) Also the talus can lock in the ankle mortise medially. When I release these joints they make a loud crack and the patient feels an instant release of the joint stiffness.
If your spring suspension system muscles are stiff the most likely ones are the medial intrinsic muscles of the foot, the tibialis posterior, tensor fascia and gluteus medius.
- Copy and paste this into your browser to see more at: