Archive for July, 2011

What’s up with those Finger Shoes? Part 1

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011


Vibram’s Fivefingers

By Derrick Price MS, CPT, PES, CES

They’re ugly, funky and a bit pricey. And yet they’re ever increasing in popularity, especially in the health and fitness community. Personal trainers, doctors, massage therapists, chiropractors, and now, even your kids may be sporting them. So the obvious question for all of us: Should I trade in my traditional sneaks for a pair of these hideous contraptions?

To answer this question, we must first pose another: What is the purpose of wearing a shoe? We all have different reasons – style, support, protection, and comfort. Those are just a few reasons that come to mind. I’m no expert in fashion, so let’s explore support, protection, and comfort.


FiveFingers fall under a new category of shoe type called the Minimalist shoe – with the idea that they are as close to walking around barefoot without actually being barefoot. In other words, they provide as minimal support for your foot compared to your traditional athletic shoe. This can be good and/or bad.

The Good

Consider this – the foot has 33 joints, a plethora of muscles and connective tissue, and not to mention enough sensitive receptors that it rivals the tongue in its ability to feel the most minute details. What this means is our feet are designed to move dynamically over ever-changing surfaces. This unique structure is designed to create, slow down, and transfer the high-impact forces of walking, running, jumping, climbing, stepping, and squatting in all different directions. Now imagine what happens to our feet when we wear shoes and socks that squish our toes together and minimize foot movement? Not only do we lose the ability to create, slow down and transfer multi-directional forces through all 33 joints in the foot, we also lose the ability to feel the earth underneath us. This can have a huge impact on, both, our static posture and locomotion; which may lead to acute and chronic pain in other areas of the body such as ankle sprains, knee pain, low back stiffness and even shoulder/neck discomfort. Wearing a minimalist shoe like the Fivefingers may allow your body to re-capture the mobility that the feet are designed to have – resulting in improved posture and movement.

The Bad

No support for a foot that has lost the ability to move dynamically or never had the ability to begin with (e.g., structural abnormality) may have its fair share of negative consequences. It’s like asking a person who has driven an automatic their entire life to switch to manual. It may feel like you’re learning how to walk all over again .That’s where the “itis” may come out from hiding, e.g., plantarfascitis, tendonitis, bursitis. It’s a lot to ask the body to move without the support it has been accustomed to for decades; which is why, if you decide to give the Fivefingers a test run, understand it’s slow learning curve for, both, the mind and body.

In Part 2, we’ll explore how the Fivefingers differ in both protection and comfort. In Part 3, I’ll give you my recommendations on trying out a minimalist shoe. Until then, feel free to continue mocking those weirdos who think these finger shoes are cool.

Derrick Price MS, CPT, PES, CES has been active on many levels in the fitness industry for over 8 years. He holds a MS in Exercise Science and Health Promotion with an emphasis on injury prevention and performance enhancement from the California University of Pennsylvania where he has also spent time as an Adjunct Faculty member teaching courses in Exercise Program Design. Aside from personal training 20 hours a week, Derrick also is a Master Trainer for ViPR and PowerPlate. He began his educational career as a Master Instructor for the National Academy of Sports Medicine and has since moved on to become a Faculty Member for the Personal Training Academy Global.

ACL and Knee Rehab Exercises with the Core-Tex

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

Ways to use the Core-Tex to assist in the rehabilitation process for ACL and other knee injuries. The unique motions of the Core-Tex provide excellent proprioceptive stimulation to the rehabilitating limb.

Keep Your Hands to Yourself

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

What happens when a practitioner places their hands on a client or patient in a purely professional manner? Just like anything else, it depends on your perspective AND the expectations of your client or patient. A chiropractor is likely to respond that that is the only way they can perform an adjustment. A cardiologist may say that she has no need to touch the patient. Exercise professionals may say that it helps facilitate what they are doing with their clients.

The power of the human touch cannot be underestimated. To the client/patient it may bring a sense of connection with you, confidence in your ability and reassurance. The opposite may be experienced by the patient whose doctor provides a diagnosis only through oral communication and visual observation and never touches the patient.

I believe that some good and some bad come from the hands on approach. The chiropractors, physical therapists and massage therapists clearly have a need to contact their patients with their hands to practice their disciplines. The hands are used as both an assessment tool and to deliver an intervention. The accuracy of a skilled practitioner is used for reducing joint subluxations, mobilizing joints and relaxing and manipulating soft tissue. All of which have been scientifically proven to be beneficial to the patient.

The exercise professional may need to place their hands on the client for assessment purposes such as measuring body composition or pelvic landmarks. Some trainers will also use their hands to provide manual resistance for certain exercises and over-pressure to aid in flexibility. And at times, the hands are placed on the client to guide them through desired movement patterns.

With so much to gain how can there be a downside? What if the question was not what was provided to the patient with contact but instead, what is the patient being deprived of? And this question can completely change our perspective on the “hands on” approach to care.
hands on therapy
Whatever is provided to the patient/client by the practitioner removes the need for the patient/client to do it themself. We obviously don’t want people going around adjusting or attempting to adjust their own necks or manipulating their own gleno-humeral joints. We do want an attitude and belief system that ALL practitioners are simply adjuncts to the individual’s own abilities. We are facilitators.

Could chiropractic care and manual therapy create learned helplessness? Do clinics relying predominantly on passive modalities like ultrasound and electrical stimulation fool the patient (and themselves) that the modality is making them better? Is a client psychologically and emotionally dependent on the trainer if she refuses to work out unless the trainer takes her through a workout?

If I ask a client what he does regularly for his health and he tells me chiropractic care, I respond by telling him that is what the chiropractor is doing for his health care. I then ask again, “What are YOU doing?”

Could this kind of learned helplessness and dependency even be contributing to the obesity epidemic? It may not be that big of a leap from the dependent patient to the obese individual. If my healthcare consists solely of people doing something to me, how can I be expected to eat right and exercise on my own? The psychosocial behavior of anyone who is not responsible or response-able for their own musculoskeletal health will ultimately suffer from comorbidities.
This certainly is not a knock on any kind of manual care. I’ve personally benefitted from chiropractic care, manual physical therapy, acupuncture and Structural Integration. Of course I also have a specific corrective exercise strategy I follow along with my general fitness routine.

I believe one of the greatest gifts we give our corrective exercise clients at Function First is the ability to produce the same result at home that we produce with them in our facility. That is why we only need to see our clients once a week. They are expected to continue with their home program daily. If they don’t do their homework-they are fired. This is an expectation of all our clients before they begin with us for a corrective exercise program.

For this reason, the referral from me to a chiropractor is much easier than the referral from the chiropractor to Function First. Our clients are already engaged in a comprehensive corrective exercise program. The chiropractic or other manual care is an adjunct to the exercises and can often help us expedite the results.

A referral to Function First often requires a complete paradigm shift for the person referred to us. They now have to go to work on themselves. And quite frankly, many long-term recipients of manual care just aren’t willing to do that.

We might say people are lazy and don’t want to do the work. Or, can we say that people have been conditioned that they don’t need to do the work?