By Dr. Michael Brandon
Hello Biohacker Nation! Today is all about the foot. Roughly 1 out of 3 of us have at least 1 flat foot and it's believed that it can lower balance ability and increase the likelihood of various injuries like ankle sprains, knee, hip, and back pain.
We ran into the lab to see if we could biohack a way to a less flat foot using a few simple drills that was taught to me by Dr. Russ Ebbets, D.C.
They were done every day for 1 month, bare foot in the grass and doing all 6 of them took roughly 4 minutes each day. They are meant to strengthen the foot to rebuild the fallen medial longintudinal arch which is characterisitc of flat feet (also known as Pes Planus).
These foot drills consist of simply walking up to 80ft 6 times with slightly different foot positions on each pass.
The foot positions are walking:
1) on your heels
2) on your toes
3) on the onside edge of the foot (Inverted)
4) on the inside edge (everted)
5) with toes pointing inward
6) toes pointing outward
Here is a quick sample of what they look like when done while marching in place:
Like any experiment, we need to know if these foot drills worked other then saying”well, I think my feet are less flat”. Three different outcome measures were taken both before and after the month trial:
Next up is the results.
Before Month of Drills
Right Foot - 29 degrees Left Foot - 26 degrees
After Foot Drills
Right Foot - 24 degrees Left Foot - 24 degrees
Navicular drop test
Right Foot Pre-Drills: 1.6 cm Post- 1.3cm
Left Foot Pre-Drills 1.2cm Post- 0.9cm
And Lastly, the Pre and Post Foot Pressure Scans:
So what do these results mean?
With my case study, both of my feet became slightly less pronated after the drills with the right one having a larger change. The 2 of them equalizing by the end of the study at 24 degrees. Good start, but the evidence on the importance of this mild at best, but there was a change noted. By week 3 I could feel while walking that the right foot was turned in more (less pronated and more supinated), so the measurement change was no large surprise.
With the Navicular drop test, the avergae person has the bone drop by about 0.6cm and most literature on the topic agrees that 1cm or more of a drop declares a flat foot. My results show that both feet had a positive change by 0.3 cm and the left foot even dropped below the 1cm mark showing a significant change for both feet.
Next, the foot pressure evaluation. What we are looking for is to have no areas of high pressure (dark red) showing that it is evenly distributed across the foot. With a “perfect” foot, weight should be evenly distributed from the heel, to the whole outside edge until it gets to the “knuckles” or balls of the toes with no high pressure areas seen. The post foot drill scan showed a change heavily into that desired weight pattern.
So what does all of this mean? Did I fix my flat feet? Not completely, but all signs show that both of my feet noticeably improved, and again, this was only done for 1 month. What if this is done for 3 months straight? 6 months? A full year? If someone is trying to increase their bench press, they never stop after one month, but expect a strength change by then, and that is precisely what these drills have done for my feet.This appears to be a good way to strengthen the foot and rebuild the fallen arch, instead of just constantly wearing orthotics for the rest of one's life.
So final thoughts? These foot drills were fast, easy, free, and work! I liked them before and now that I began to see results in such a short period of time, I think they're a fantastic way to help one's foot health. I plan to continue these drills indefinetly and BioHack my feet literally 1 step at a time
“Flat Feet More Common Than You Might Think.” Cbslocal.com, 2013, baltimore.cbslocal.com/2013/06/13/flat-feet-more-common-than-you-might-think/.
What Are Fallen Arches? (n.d.). Retrieved August 23, 2017, from http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/what-are-fallen-arches#1
Winter, Gregor, and About Gregor WinterHi, I run ATG.Follow me on instagram @gregorwinter (and ATG @atginsta). “Russ Ebbets Foot Drills to Fix Flat Feet.” All Things Gym, 17 Feb. 2013, www.allthingsgym.com/russ-ebbets-foot-drills-to-fix-flat-feet/.
Zhai, Jun Na, et al. “Effects of Orthotic Insoles on Adults with Flexible Flatfoot under Different Walking Conditions.” Journal of Physical Therapy Science, vol. 28, no. 11, 2016, pp. 3078–3083., doi:10.1589/jpts.28.3078.
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