This Saturday I spent the day in our beautiful capital city Ottawa, ON, at The Foot Collective's one day seminar. They called this a seminar on foot health but in 6 short hours it manages to pack in so much more. In fact, following their own mantra that "foot dysfunction is an epidemic of hip dysfunction" these guys approach the foot from the perspective of the hip, and in doing so more than strike down two movement issues with a single stone. They not only help normalize and simplify the way you look at foot function but you leave with hips that have received most likely the best workout of your life.
The learning process was very hands on and the information was straightforward and easy to understand. We explored motion from the hip all the way to the big toe and back, and worked on optimizing gluteal muscle function as well as mobilizing everything down to the pinky toe. Words cannot do justice the difference I feel in my hips after a day spent with TFC. I left the course with interventions I can apply immediately and to a varying range of patients. Words can pack a punch and these guys spoke with effortless confidence that only emphasized their passion for feet and more specifically barefoot feet and barefoot, minimal footwear. Instead of telling you what we did let me share with you some of the great catchphrases that came out of today.
On the epidemic of sitting:
"Your body adapts to the what ever position you put it in the most often. It wants to be efficient. If you sit all day you are getting efficient at sitting."
On the complexity of walking:
"Elon Musk can shoot a rocket into space, but we can't make a robot that walks fluidly like a human."
On foot mobility and stability:
"Stability is control in the presence of change."
"The body doesn't waste time firing a muscle that is locked up as a one rigid joint. Restore the mobility of the joints first. Then if you get the brain to acknowledge the 26 bones and 33 joints that actually make up the foot, you can train the software of your nervous system to allow you to access that mobility during normal movement."
"How come we mobilize a stiff and sore neck, to restore proper movement, but we stick a stiff and sore foot inside a shoe cast?"
On how your brain is preventing mobility and stability:
"If you spend most of your time seated with flexed hips, and your brain doesn't know that your hip muscles can work in an extended position it won't let you go to that position. If your brain doesn't know you have stability in any position it won't let you go to that position. YOUR BRAIN IS PROTECTING YOU."
"Put yourself in weird positions every day, so that your brain understands that those positions are safe."
"Every time you move in the wrong pattern you are hitting "control save" in your brain. Do the wrong pattern enough times and you won't be able to do it right."
On cushioned running shoes:
"Cushioning in a running shoe allows you to run with poor technique without experiencing any of the pain that good technique would protect against".
"How you run is the important thing, but shoes play a huge role in allowing you to run properly."
On fundamental humanism:
"What you eat and how you ambulate are the fundamental building blocks of humanity. And this is not being taught to medical residents. We don't have a health care industry, we have a 'sick care industry'."
The three take home points they left us with are simple yet effective, and can be done in 20 minutes.
Spend more time barefoot.
Spend 5 minutes a day per hip practicing hip extension.
Spend time each day on balance.
Nick and Mike from TFC are fantastic guys. They are level headed, humble, funny, and logical. All personality traits that make not only great speakers, but pretty cool humans.
I can't wait to bring their hip centred approach back to my tribe in Brooklin, ON and share the new hip/ foot strategies with my patients. My hips still feel tender from my day with TFC but as I walked down the street on Parliament Hill my hips were experiencing more extension that they did that morning.