- Swelling and dull aching in the hip region that is made worse with excessive hip motion.
- Snapping and clicking sensations that cause pain and discomfort.
Outside of acute trauma, it is commonly accepted that most foot-related pathologies arise from a biomechanically unsound structure that has been subjected to excessively repetitive activity. Acute or chronic symptoms manifest as a result of varying levels of intensity. These symptoms impact at the most structurally unstable locations or the "weakest links" in the individual's kinetic chain relative to the repetitive activity. For example, excessive pronation, resulting from poor structural mechanics, can lead to plantar fasciitis, shin splints, or knee problems. All too often, excessive pronation is incorrectly identified as the cause of these problems, when in fact, as has been demonstrated, it is only a symptom.
The real cause of the problem is the foot's inability to align, stabilize, and lock the arch structure prior to heel strike as influenced by restrictive footwear and exacerbated by rigid soles, heel height, and heel flare.
An unstable foot results in poor bone alignment up through the leg and into the back. This poor alignment generates excessive stresses at the joints. The associated muscles are also subjected to strain and overuse as they attempt to stabilize the structure.
Custom orthotics and similar products attempt to stabilize the subtalar joint by supporting the arch, claiming to correct the poor biomechanics of the foot. This claim of correction is quite misleading. Orthotics only mask the symptoms by artificially supporting a dysfunctional structure along with its inherent muscle imbalances, while introducing a new angle of ground interface to the foot.
The artificial support provided by orthotics has little or no effect on the alignment or structural integrity of the interlocking bones that are still loose and unstable. The foot remains functionally unstable and will become increasingly weaker and dependent on the support. These bracing and supporting characteristics can actually prevent proper alignment in the foot and ankle as they manage multidirectional activities, contributing to increased stresses at the ankle and knee. And the chance of injury increases when misalignment and increased stress combines with an unlocked structure.
From a biomechanical perspective, by introducing a new angle of ground interface, orthotics cause a shift in the dynamics of the repetitive movement. The symptoms resulting from the old dynamic disappear and the problem seems to be corrected. Unfortunately, over time or with increased activity levels at the new ground interface angle, the repetitive movement often results in new symptoms at different locations. This creates a recurring cycle where new orthotics are prescribed to compensate for the ever-migrating symptoms and pathologies. The current practice is to recommend new orthotics at least every couple of years.
Barefoot Science stimulates an involuntary reflex response to retrain and strengthen the foot's supporting musculature, encouraging the optimal bone alignment necessary to effectively stabilize the foot through all activities. This ideal alignment promotes a balance of strength and flexibility in the foot's intrinsic muscles. The stable and efficient foot demonstrates optimal bone alignment and a balance of muscular strength and flexibility up through the ankle, lower leg, hip, and back, which effectively reduces the stress and strain at the hip.