Monday, April 26, 2010

Hip Shoes

by John Elder (Egoscue Nashville)

This will also be posted at in the near future, but I wanted to give you all a sneak peak! This is part 2 of a 4-part series:


Today we begin our journey onward and upward with the second installment of my guest blog spot with Daniel and Over the next few weeks, we will work our way up the body, talking about your breathing in addition to that rotator cuff pain you’re having at Mile 4 of your run, but this week we’ll take on something that sits a little closer to your feet.

As a reminder from last week’s article, I gave an introduction to The Egoscue Method and described to you how we look at the body and what the designed alignment of the body should be. I also told you that Egoscue believes that the vast majority of musculoskeletal pain, be it that never-ending headache, plantar fasciitis, or anything in between, is due to misalignment of the skeletal system.

We believe that you are designed to move! There is no such thing as a bad motion, and pain is simply your body’s way of telling you that something isn’t quite right. When we address your pain and when talking about overall function and biomechanics we have to keep in mind the kid’s song that states, “The foot bone’s connected to the leg bone.” You can’t forget that the body is a unit, and as we address the cause of your pain we need to stay focused on the big picture.

This week I want to tackle your hip pain. I’m sure some of you reading this article are dealing with a degenerative hip and have been told that you’re headed for a hip replacement. And, you very well might be. Whether you have been told that you need one or not isn’t really what you should be concerned about. The bigger question at play here is the one focused on “why” you have the pain. Yes, surgery can instantly take pain away but the true cause, or the mechanism of pathological movement, has not been addressed. That is where YOU come in. Let me ask you this question and see if it gets your attention. What if you could avoid, or at the very least, delay, that hip replacement and hang on to your original parts for as long as possible?

Think about this: When you cut your arm, it doesn’t stay cut. When you break your leg, it doesn’t stay broken. When you get your hair cut, it grows back. You are a living, breathing organism, and your body is in a constant state of renewal. Your degenerative hip is no different. There is a reason why your hip is degenerating, just like there is a reason why the right front tire on your car is going bald and the others are not. If you eliminate the cause, you’ll eliminate the symptom.

Remember, we are talking about your Vibram FiveFingers (VFFs) and how they, when given the chance, will help you stay functional. So let’s talk about how the VFFs impact your hip function.

When we compare the VFFs to the vast majority of other shoes, if not all shoes, we realize that the VFF is on the opposite end of the spectrum. Go look in your closet and you’ll notice that every other shoe you own has a tapered toe box and brings the toes together. It is, most likely, extremely stiff, and allows for little-to-no motion. In comparison, the role of the VFFs is to let your foot spread and move freely with each step you take in life. We at Egoscue have basically adopted these amazing shoes as our own! They really are that good…but you already knew that! They allow the bones of your feet to spread apart and then compress together as your foot progresses through the normal walking or running motion. With stiff shoes, this just doesn’t happen. The VFFs call upon the muscles and arches of the feet to do their job properly, without worrying about “constriction”. When the muscles of the foot and arch function better, so does the ankle, knee, hip and spinal column. The load joints above the foot are finally doing their job (and ONLY their job, rather than compensating) because of the functional domino effect that begins with a more neutral, free-moving, foot. Because the VFF is extremely pliable and malleable, they create a free-flowing mechanism to happen in your feet without disturbing your busy lifestyle. I can’t say enough great things about them, and just to be clear, I don’t work for Vibram, I just love the concept and product!

Is this starting to make sense? I hope you can see that there is a huge connection between what the foot is being allowed to do and how the hip responds. Just for fun, let’s play a game of anatomical “connect-the-dots”:

In an effort to not get overly technical and anatomical, take a look at your leg. That’s it, just look down. See how your foot is connected to your hip? Congratulations! You just played your first game of anatomical “connect-the-dots”. If you can see that the two are connected, then we have to assume that your shoes are greatly impacting your hip. There aren’t any hidden secrets here. You don’t have to have an anatomy degree. It truly is that simple. The foot bone is connected to the leg bone!

Try this on for size! What would you say if I told you that your “overly pronated” feet, diagnosed by your nearby shoes store, are that way in an attempt to create a locking mechanism during your standing posture and your walking? This locking mechanism is crucial to correct foot, knee, hip, and spinal motion. Kind of makes you think a bit, especially when you have been told that pronation is a bad thing. Egoscue begs to differ, and the reason we differ is that we have faith in the human body doing exactly what it should be doing at that time. So instead of hindering your motion, let’s increase your motion and what better place to start than your feet! If you let the foot move like it should, it will relearn exactly what it is designed to do, and do it! Remember, your symptoms are signals that something is not working as it should. Your hip pain or your degenerative joint issues are symptoms of something much larger at play. This must not be overlooked, and the VFF shoes could be just the answer you are looking for.

Trust me, I’m not expecting the guys at Vibram to come out and say that your degenerative hip will be cured by wearing their shoes, but I am here to say that their shoes will play a huge role in your hip joint regaining full function because of what the VFFs allow your foot to do and the way they positively impact the rest of your load joints.

Once your gait is changed, the hip will be allowed to function properly and, only then, will the body have a chance to heal itself. Remember, you cut your arm and it doesn’t stay cut, you break your leg and it doesn’t stay broken, why is your hip joint any different? The answer is, it isn’t.

Get in your VFFs (regardless of how weird they might look) and let your body function at its optimum level. If you’re wanting to get a head-start on your overall function and biomechanics you can CLICK HERE to download four e-cises that will help you start living life PAIN FREE!


The premise of The Egoscue Method is postural therapy: realigning the body to its original design blueprint through proper functional muscle engagement and without the use of drugs, surgery or manipulation. John Elder is the Clinic Director and Owner of the Franklin, Tennessee location. John found the Method at the age of 16 after suffering for two years with a bulging disc in his lower back. He has lived the last 16 years pain free and the last 5 years as an Egoscue Therapist sharing his story of hope with others throughout the south. Contact John today by emailing or by calling the Nashville Clinic at 615.771.8556.