Posted by Ronelle Wood on 09/03/2016

Busting Myths About Health

Busting Myths About Health

Busting Myths About Health


Ronelle Wood, M.S./SLP, LMT, CPT-RES

Are Bunions Hereditary?

We learn by imitation.  We learn how to talk, eat, and walk by watching what our parents (or primary caregivers) do.  That’s how we develop the same accent and eating habits and gait patterns they have.  Bunions are not passed from one generation to the next through our DNA. 

Bunions develop as a result of the first metatarsal bone of the big toe being loaded with weight.  Our skeleton is designed for osteogenesis (making more bone) as a result of the amount of weight it has to carry on a regular basis.  That is why it is so important to keep your body weight in your heels!  Every time you take a step and your heel strikes first, it vibrates your entire skeleton and it generates exactly the amount of bone it needs to support your body weight.

When you transfer weight into the toes of your feet, (high heels, leaning forward when walking) this tells the bones of your toes that they need more bone to support all that weight.  Poor toes.  They are not designed for that.

An aggravating factor, is also generated when you walk with your feet turned out.  The body then, tries to grow an extra toe to support the weight out in front of you!  Here comes this big boney growth off the joint of your big toe!

But the good news is, bone will reabsorb.  We know that because astronauts return from zero gravity (no bone impact conditions) with diminished bone density.  They are put on weight bearing exercise to regenerate the bone lost while in space. 

Shift your feet straight and get your weight back in your heels and those bunions will diminish!

So, before expensive and painful surgery, come in and learn some simple adjustments to the way you walk.  Imitating your parent’s gait pattern produced bunions.  Learn to imitate proper body mechanics and save yourself a lot of time, money and pain!

Fitness vs. Wellness

This could also be called Outside vs. Inside or Subjective vs. Objective. “I want to have arms like Jennifer Aniston.”  vs. “I want to live an active, healthy pain-free life.”

We are often being bombarded with commercials that promote “rock hard abs” and “buns of steel” and promises to “look better than you have in 10 years”.  The models they use are images of physical perfection.  They even show before and after pictures of how these people look from the outside.

They don’t show the results of their blood panel, their hormone levels, their X-rays and MRI’s and they don’t talk about how their joints feel when they get out of bed in the morning.  Their workouts don’t protect you from high blood pressure, asthma, osteoperosis, pelvic floor disorders, plantar fasciitis, bunions, joint degeneration, heart disease, diabetes, and fibromyalgia.

A body mechanics instructor once had the privilege of sitting next to one of the “Biggest Losers” from TV’s reality show on a plane ride.  The participant from Texas talked about stress fractures, torn ligaments and nearly crippling pain as well as the eventual return of all the weight she had lost.  Having been put through the same kind of “boot camp” training football players endure, her body was more damaged than when she started. 

So much of our protein and energy has to be devoted to repairing the damage we do following vigorous workouts, that we don’t have the reserves left to nourish us and keep us vital and healthy.

So much lactic acid is generated from muscular overuse, that our liver is tied up filtering that instead of burning fat.

There are body builders that every day create microtears in their muscle tissue that has to be repaired quickly causing overgrowth of fascia and restrictive scarring.  They can’t lift their arms over their head anymore.  Overdevelopment of one muscular group does not help the whole body, it taxes it. 

  • We need enough muscular strength to stand on one leg for 60 seconds. 
  • We need enough upper body strength to lift ourselves off the ground. 
  • We need enough lung capacity to blow out 20 candles at once. 
  • We need the motor skill to be able to lift the big toe by itself. 
  • We need to walk with proper alignment an hour a day in 15 minute segments.

That is where wellness can be measured objectively.  Begin there and work towards feeling good.  When you feel good on the inside and all your systems are working with you toward health, it will shine out from the inside and you will look better than you have in 10 years!

Heavy Cardio Workouts

According to the Surgeon General exercise should be done 3-5 times/week @ 30 mins./day at an elevated heart rate.

Your heart and blood vessels know who to respond to regular rhythmic motion.  Your connective tissue/fascial system will automatically “wrap” you tighter to conserve muscular activity.  If you don’t innervate muscles your brain isn’t talking to those muscles.  Your fascial system clamps down and holds everything very tightly. That passive kind of constant static pressure is not the pressure that your heart and blood vessels know how to respond to.

With all this static pressure, you reduce the size of the “container” for your blood.  But you still have the same volume of blood.  Your heart still has to pump the same amount of blood through a reduced area.  This causes your blood pressure to go up.

So, you are told that you have to strengthen your heart if you have high blood pressure.  A vigorous cardio workout induces a stress response that allows a temporary dilation of those arterial walls.  You will get blood to the muscles that are innervated. 

It strengthens the heart, but there is a negative by-product which is the free-radical chemical process.  So with that stress-hormone you have a negative chemical response that comes with it.  And the heart is still having to PUSH blood into a tight and restricted system.

A much more effective and efficient way to lower blood pressure without wearing out your heart pump . . . is to increase the area into which the blood is allowed to flow.  PULLING blood into new areas.  Waking up the muscles that have gone to sleep.  Reactivating motor skills.  New and novel movement every day.  Stretching.  Myofascial release.

Dividing your exercise into several segments is better for your body.  Two to four fifteen minute segments is better than one 30-60 minute session.  If you knew you had to have a certain caloric intake everyday, do you think it would be best to try and consume it all at once or spread it out to sustain you throughout the day?  Same idea.  Giving our bodies regular intervals of “letting go” and expanding helps all our systems to get used to and maintain balance.

Treadmill vs. Walking

To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction; or, the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts.

- Newton's Third Law of Motion, translated from the Principia's Lati

In order to walk forward, we have to push off the ground and generate force behind us.  For this purpose, our feet are the levers that push off the ground and our gluteals (buttocks), hamstrings and calves are the large muscles that generate force behind us.

The treadmill eliminates your need to generate force behind you. The treadmill creates an “uphill” walking experience.  That is what the quadriceps (thigh) muscles are for.  We already overuse this muscle group as a result of wearing shoes with heals and having our center of gravity pitched forward over our toes.  

Uphill walking eliminates the most important phase of walking . . . HEEL STRIKE!  Did you know that every vibration generated when you strike your heel on the ground stimulates bone growth?  That is how your body knows the amount of bone density it needs to support your weight.  If you are continuously striking the ground with the forward part of your foot instead of your heel, you will generate more bone there and the rest of your skeleton does not generate the bone density  necessary to support your full body weight.

Uphill walking is most often done with a primarily bent leg.  This keeps the hip flexors (in the groin) in a constant state of flexion.  In terms of circulation, this puts a “kink in your hose”.  It also exerts excessive joint force on your knees and limits hip mobility.  Having your legs straight and using the large muscle groups on the backs of your legs draws the blood all the way down to your feet and helps pump it back up to the heart.  Many aches and pains associated with “getting old” are a result of excessive joint force and lack of circulation to the lower extremities.

So, if you want to avoid or reverse symptoms of bunions, plantar fasciitis, hammer toes, neuroma, neuropathy, knee surgery, hip replacement surgery, and low back pain . . . get off the treadmill.  Let your body do what it is designed to do to maintain optimal health.  WALK using your own force!

Bone Loss

Osteoblasts are cells that are responsible for bone formation.  Osteoclasts break down bone (resorption).

When bones are repeatedly given a weight bearing task, the osteoblasts go to work to make sure the bones maintain the density necessary for that task.

When the weight is reduced or eliminated, the osteoclasts go to work to remove unneeded bone.

We learned from the experience of astronauts in outer space, that without gravity acting on their bodies, they experienced bone loss.

The Russians developed a treatment for their cosmonauts that involved having them stand with their weight in their heels on a vibrating platform.  It helped reverse the osteoperosis (bone loss). 

Our bodies are designed to “listen” to the ground we walk on.  The information we receive from our feet with every step we take is huge!  The resistance of the surface we are walking on, the texture, the slant, unevenness, vibration, temperature are all pieces of information coming through our feet.  In addition, with every strike of our heel, our skeleton is programmed to generate enough bone to support our body weight.

Think about all the sitting we do.  Driving to work, sitting at work, driving home, driving to run errands, driving to the gym, sitting on a workout machine, sitting to watch TV, sitting on the toilet.   Add to that a fear of falling, and you will find a large population that has just decided to sit down and stop moving.

The bones are “learning” that the only weight they need to bear is from your sitz bones up!

While there are hormonal and other factors that can affect bone density, we can greatly influence osteogenesis (bone generation) in our bodies with every step we take.

 Urinary Incontinence

According to the National Association for Incontinence, 25 million adult Americans experience transient or chronic urinary incontinence.  They estimate that 75-80% of those sufferers are women and that information on healthy bladder function can help promote the understanding that incontinence is not a normal part of aging but a symptom of another problem.

A tucked pelvis can be the single most aggravating factor in urinary incontinence.  We now know that in spite of what your ballet teacher or aerobics instructor or even physical therapist might have told you, tucking your pelvis is not good for you.

The boney processes of the pelvic girdle provide the anchors for the muscles of the pelvic floor.  The pelvic floor is the only thing holding your viscera (guts) inside your body.  In order for the pelvic floor to be taught like a trampoline (rather than slack like a hammock) all the bones of the pelvis need to be as far apart from each other as possible.  When you tuck your pelvis, you bring the tailbone closer to the pubic bone.  This causes you to lose tension in the pelvic floor.

In the absence of pelvic floor support, the job of holding your viscera in goes to the sphincters.  You clamp down with your urethral, vaginal and anal sphincters.  These become overworked, tired out and eventually lose tonicity.  Our muscles need to have periods of innervation, stretch and laxity to maintain their tone.  Otherwise . . . ACHOO---Woops!

No Pain No Gain?

To understand the role of fascia (connective tissue) in our bodies, we need to know how PROTECTIVE it is.

Its function is to connect, support, contain, protect and communicate.

One aspect of this hollow, fluid filled, light conducting, super strong, magnificent network of fibrils, tendrils, scaffolding and rigging is to tighten in the face of danger.

It is the fishnet inside you that acts like a “pill bug” when you’re frightened.  You know what I’m talking about?  That grey little bug from the garden that turns into a protective little ball when you touch it. 

The connective tissue does the same thing inside your body.  They’ve done tests to see how humans react to sudden unexpected noise at close range.  Over and over again, it shows that we contract down and inward.  We protect our guts.

This happens everyday.  It can either be a large dramatic movement in response to something really big.  Or it can be a subtle tiny little overall contraction in response to any perceived threat.  Someone’s comment, cold weather, noise, deadlines, expectations, anticipation, driving.

The fascia responds to any perceived attack by tightening and resisting outside assault.  The biological reason is to slow circulation, numb you and “spring load” you for flight or fight so that if you are injured you won’t bleed too much, feel much pain and you’ll have nearly superhuman energy to fight back or run.  Of course, it comes with adrenalin as well.

If our body doesn’t get a chance to discharge that energy by fighting or fleeing or crying and yelling, the fascia doesn’t quit.  We walk around every day with holding patterns in our body from old perceived threats.   Holding back a reaciton, doesn’t make it go away.  Over time this can result in a very tight, immobile body.

The body is used to resisting.  When a massage therapist tries to force a body to let go, it just creates more resistance.  It may feel good at the time, because blood is being pushed into the shallow layers and some lactic acid, uric acid and adrenalin is being carried away by the blood. 

But the holding patterns over the years develop deep layers.  If you want to get down to the source of the holding, you must get past that protective resistance.  If the fascia perceives “attack” it will not let you in.  That is why Myofascial Release is so successful.  We approach the body slowly and we hang out at the first sign of resistance and then follow the direction of ease.  The body ALLOWS and INVITES us in to the deeper layers so that you can let go of the deepest layers of holding and have longer lasting results.

Are Insoles Helping or Hurting My Feet?

Most likely, hurting. When you substitute some prosthetic device for your own muscular movement, you are handicapping your body and causing the needed muscles to further atrophy.

Often people come in saying “I have one leg shorter than the other.” Upon examination, we find that the measured length of the bones in both legs are the same, but the hips are out of alignment.

The hips often become misaligned from simple day-to-day living -- minor accidents, jarring, slipping, falling, sitting improperly, stepping off the curb wrong, and so forth.

What we see is that one hip is “higher” than the other causing it to appear as though the leg on one side is shorter. Putting a hard prosthetic insert into the shoe on the “high” side just insures that the hip will never have a chance to return to balance.

If we don’t require the musculature in our feet, legs and hips to do the work of balancing our full body weight, they atrophy, meaning they become weak, don’t get circulation. Without circulation, there is no innervation. The cells are unable to get the nourishment they need to survive and they begin die, causing pain.

A pain signal from your body means it is asking for your attention.

The imbalance in your hips can lead to a cascade of other symptoms. Jaw problems. Pain and deterioration of your hip, knee and ankle joints on the other leg, plantar fasciitis, bunions, neuroma and neuropathy of the other foot.

Instead of putting the “short” side to sleep, get your hips back where they should be and wake it up with circulation and innervation by requiring it to bear it’s fair share of weight!

The following is a simple exercise you can do to wake up those hips and bring them back into balance:

1. Stand with your feet together, hands on top of your head. Have someone stand behind you and settle their hands onto the top of your hip bone on both sides of your body at your waist. Have them notice if the top of the hip bone is higher on one side than the other. If so, you need to align your hips. If both sides are even, your hips are in proper alignment and you do not need to do this procedure.

2. Spread your feet about shoulder width apart, with your feet straight (straight line from pinky to heel on the outside of the foot). If you do it right, it feels pigeon-toed. Keeping your back straight up and down, and without allowing your feet to move, slowly bend forward keeping a flat back and straight legs as far as you can without discomfort. Still keeping your back flat and your feet in the same position, return to a standing position. Repeat this action three times.

3. Without moving your feet, rotate your hips in a large circle five times toward the lowest side. That is, if your right hip was lower, rotate clockwise five times; if your left hip was lower, rotate counterclockwise five times.

4. Without moving your feet, do five more hip rotations in the opposite direction (toward the high-hip side).

5. Without moving your heels, pull your toes toward each other (pigeon-toed) as far as possible. Do three more body dips (like step 2), being sure to keep your heels on the floor and your feet straight.

6. With your "low-side" foot, take one "giant step" forward, straightening your foot so that when you put it down it is facing straight forward. Bring your back foot forward to join its mate, and stand up nice and straight.

7. Have your partner check your hip alignment again by repeating step 1.

8. If your hips are still out of alignment, you may repeat this entire routine two or three times if necessary. If you are still out of alignment, let it rest for a few hours then try again. Remember, if you have been out of alignment for a long time, it’s going to take your body a long time to heal itself.

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