It’s recommended for babies and children to walk barefoot as much as possible.
One of the simplest ways to motivate proprioceptive and vestibular development is to let our babies be barefoot. Another benefit to keeping babies barefoot is the encouragement of presence of mind and conscious awareness. As the little pads of babies’ feet feel, move, and balance on the surface that they are exploring, the information sent to the brain from tactile, proprioceptive, and vestibular pathways quiet, or inhibit, other extraneous sensory input. This creates focus and awareness of walking and moving through space; babies get more tuned in to their surroundings.
This is a large part of the reason why some neurologists recommend flat shoes, like swim shoes, for children with certain neurological delays. Wearing shoes with less padding improves the feedback from the feet and helps improve walking in these children.
Wearing shoes prevents proper toe spread, which interferes with the foot’s ability to function properly, and prevents proper movement development, which can make children more susceptible to foot and lower leg injury. Studies show that a barefoot childhood will result in fewer instances of deformed toes, greater foot flexibility, stronger foot muscles, greater agility, better hip circumduction and more flexibility of the gluteal and hamstring muscles.
The benefits of going barefoot are plentiful!
Adults should kick off the shoes too!
Adults who go barefoot have naturally shaped feet, straighter toes, free of corns, hammer toes, bunions and calluses, and well-shaped legs resulting from a natural and balanced gait. Barefoot running and exercise is becoming a growing practice showing better performance, less ankle sprains, less plantar fasciitis and less lower back disc problems due to more of a natural motion and foot awareness. Many top companies are trying to produce shoes that can emulate the bare foot such as Nike “free” and Merrill. Going barefoot, your feet and legs tire less, circulation is better, and endurance is increased. If you have been a shoe person all your life, you will have to start slow to develop all those muscles again. Start by wearing no shoes at home and perhaps going for a walk on the beach. Yoga practise is also great for the feet.
Barefoot Shoes: A Healthy Compromise?
For those who aren’t comfortable with being completely barefoot, new minimalist and barefoot shoes are the best of both worlds. These are also great for everyday use in places where shoes are needed.
Being barefoot is the best when possible. When that isn’t an option, there are some great barefoot shoes that provide almost the same benefits. In general, shoes can be considered “barefoot shoes” if they:
– Do not have a raised heel. The shoe should be flat and all the same thickness from heel to toe.
– Allow free movement of the toes. Many shoes have thin or even pointy toe beds and constrain the toes. A barefoot shoe should be open or allow free toe movement.
In other words, barefoot shoes provide a basic protective barrier between the foot and the ground and not much else. Barefoot shoes also qualify as minimalist shoes, though not all minimalist shoes are technically barefoot shoes.
Recommended Barefoot Shoes
Adults – Vivo Barefoot. For a true barefoot shoe, their Eclipse model is great. Five Fingers is another popular brand.
Babies and Toddlers – Robeez
Thankfully, walking barefoot is a little more socially acceptable before age 2 or so! When going barefoot isn’t allowed, Robeez (or similar) shoes are great. There are many options for kids on the website Happy Little Soles.
If you have any concerns about foot alignment or how this may be affecting your spine, just ask Dr Graeme at the clinic.
• Try not to stand for too long at any one time in high heels
• When sitting, remove your shoes and stretch out your feet
• Carry flat shoes with you in your bag, so you can swap shoes when walking long distances
• Remove your shoes when in the house and wear flat slippers
• Avoid open back or slide-on shoes that require toe gripping. This can result in hammer toes and foot tension.
• While the ideal height is no heel, a two-inch heel will cause less pain or damage than higher ones.
• Regularly visit a Chiropractor
– Neck pain due to facet joint irritation, pinched nerves or strain to posterior neck muscles
– Shoulder pain
– Wrist and hand pain
– Knee pain
**Research conducted on behalf of the British Chiropractic Association in March 2013 of 432 UK adults.
You’d have thought sitting down would be good for your back. Surely taking the pressure off when you’ve been walking about gives your body a bit of a rest? Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth.
Sitting down for long periods has been shown to cause many physical problems, including back pain. This is particularly acute if you work in an office or are seated for the majority of the day.
It’s alarming how long we sit without moving at all. A study for BUPA found only one in five workers left their desk during the day to get a drink or go to the toilet (1). Which means an unbelievable 80% of people stay exactly where they are for their entire working day. All day, off their feet. Add into this equation that a lot of people then spend most of their leisure time on the sofa in front of the TV and you have a worryingly sedentary outcome. By contrast, the British Chiropractic Association recommends you don’t sit for more than 30-40 minutes at a time.
Sitting for long periods can weaken the back muscles, making it harder for your back to work properly. This isn’t a problem just for office workers and the elderly. Recent research from the British Chiropractic Association shows 40% of 16 to 34 years olds who said they had experienced back or neck pain spent the majority of their time ‘mainly sitting’, while 32% reported back pain was triggered by sitting still for long periods of time. Sitting is not only bad for your back, it has negative effects on your overall health.
Why sitting is bad for more than just your spine!
What can I do to prevent back pain caused by sitting? Aside from taking a job which requires you to be on your feet most of the day, undoing the effects of being seated for so many hours isn’t easy. Our advice is to avoid or minimise sitting as much as possible.
• Stand up while you are on the phone. Better yet, pace!
• Walk more around your house.
• Take the stairs.
• Walk after you eat lunch.
• Park your car farther away from your destination. Don’t look for that perfect spot up close.
• Take the long route!
• Get vigorous about your daily cleaning and cooking.
• Work your calves when you brush your teeth!
• Stand up and stretch when you’re at your computer a lot.
• Don’t send emails if the recipient is in walking distance. Get up, walk and talk.
• Stand up or do exercises while watching TV.
• Consider a standing workstation.
• Refill your water glass every hour.
• Reduce television and home computer use. Try recording programmes to allow you to fast forward the advertising.
1. Get Away From Your Desk – British Chiropractic Association http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/get-away-from-your-desk-207-news.aspx
2. Don’t sit back – British Chiropractic Association http://www.chiropractic-uk.co.uk/dont-sit-back-196-news.aspx
3. Sitting for long periods ‘is bad for your health’ – BBC http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-19910888
4. Sitting time and all-cause mortality risk in 222,497 Australian adultshttp://archinte.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=1108810
Arthritis is a painful and debilitating condition and can have a significant impact on the quality of life of individuals suffering from this disease.
A study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine(i) reported that 63% of patients who visited a rheumatologist for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and fibromyalgia conditions also sought some form of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM). Of these individuals 31% (almost half) chose Chiropractic care, making Chiropractic the most popular alternative used by this group of people. Importantly, 73% of these patients determined that Chiropractic care was helpful in controlling their chronic pain.
An additional aspect of this study was to determine why these arthritic patients chose CAM and the reasons they gave are somewhat typical; (1) because their prescribed medication wasn’t working to control pain (2) because they heard it would help; (3) because it is safe; (4) because it helped someone they know.
Reducing the use of prescription medicines or over-the-counter medications such as NSAIDs for pain relief means fewer harmful side effects and addiction from long term use. The lifestyle changes associated with chiropractic recommendations will also positively influence diet, exercise and overall health.
The ability to control some symptoms through Chiropractic care not only reduces the financial burden on the NHS (arthritis cases are set to double by 2030!) but more importantly it improves the quality of life of those suffering from the disease and may in some cases delay the necessity to take early retirement.
(i) Rao JK, Mihaliak K, Kroenke K, Bradley J, Tierney WM, Weinberger M. Use of complementary therapies for arthritis among patients of rheumatologists. Ann Intern Med 1999; 131:409-416
The Temporomandibular Joint
If you place your fingers in front of either ear and open your jaw, you’ll feel changing shapes beneath your fingers. You are feeling the joint where the temporal bone of your skull attaches to your mandible (jaw)-the joint that is called the temporomandibular joint or TMJ. This fascinating joint connects your jaw to your head. Ligaments, cartilage, fascia, an articular disc, muscles, nerves and blood vessels run in, around and through the TMJ.
Symptoms of TMJ Syndrome
TMJ dysfunction or syndrome occurs when the joint is misaligned or malfunctioning in some way that subjects it to excess pressure. Among the most common symptoms of TMJ dysfunction are the inability to open the mouth wide and a clicking or popping sound when the mouth opens or closes. In some cases, the jaw can even temporarily lock up.
Other TMJ symptoms can be severe headaches; loss of hearing; tinnitus (ringing in the ears); the sensation of an object in the throat; facial swelling; shoulder, cheek or jaw joint pain; neck ache; tic douloureux (facial nerve pain); pain in or under the ear, the eye or upon swallowing; tooth pain; migraine: nausea; blurred vision and dizziness.
Some researchers have even linked TMJ dysfunction to throat infections, sinus congestion, ear infections and asthma. Others have linked the syndrome to heart, stomach, intestinal, respiratory and emotional disorders.
Who Gets TMJ?
According to John D. Laughlin 111, president of the Holistic Dental Association:
Up to seventy-eight percent of the general public (over 175 million) have some amount of TMJ dysfunction. This condition can begin during the birth process. One of the primary causes can be poor nutrition. TMJ affects more women than men, with high stress “superwomen” being very prone to it.
Causes of TMJ
TMJ may be caused by trauma: a child may fall on its sacrum and in time, through the adaptive body mechanisms, the pelvic imbalance can affect the TMJ, head and neck. According to Dr. Gerald Smith, a specialist in the field of structural dentistry, dental work, especially improperly fitting braces or orthodontia is the cause of many TMJ problems:
Chronic headaches, scalp tenderness, pains behind the eyes, muffled ear sounds, ringing, hissing or other ear distortions, balance problems, nausea, facial tightness, cervical or lower back pain or restriction of neck motion should all be thoroughly investigated for possible implication in cranial distortions, especially if they appear within days after braces are placed. These same symptoms may surface within a period of six months to several years. Sometimes the head pains caused by ill-fitting dental work can be quite intense. TMJ may also be caused by trauma of many kinds, not only those directly affecting the head and jaw and not only those of recent origin.
The Chiropractic Approach
Spinal and TMJ problems are often found together. Chiropractic care, especially in the area of the upper cervical spine and skull, often relieves pressure on the spine and the cranial bones. Often a chiropractic spinal adjustment can greatly benefit someone suffering from what had been thought to be only a TMJ problem. Conversely, an unhealthy skull/jaw alignment can put great stress upon the spinal column. There are documented cases of dental problems that, once corrected, have helped chiropractic patients to better hold their spinal adjustments.
In one study, 30 chronic TMJ sufferers were randomised into 3 groups (two had chiropractic and one was a control). The groups receiving chiropractic care had the most significant relief from pain. In another study, sixty patients with chronic cervical pain were divided into chiropractic and control groups. There was a dramatic improvement in TMJ pain in the chiropractic group compared to the control group. Eleven patients with chronic TMJ revealed a shift from high-intensity to low-intensity pain between the beginning and end of care (63.6% to 18.2%). A significant change of mouth opening range was also observed.
An individual case involved a 41-year-old woman with bilateral TMJ pain, ear pain, tinnitus, vertigo, decreased hearing and a sensation of pressure or fullness in both ears. She also had a 22 year history of migraine headaches. Prescribed antibiotics caused gastric upset and vomiting. MDs told her to apply local heat, reduce talking and eat soft foods. Her symptoms worsened. Chiropractic care to the atlas vertebrae resulted in complete relief of TMJ symptoms after 9 visits and headache relief. At a one year follow-up she reported no TMJ symptoms and no headaches for the prior 9 months.
Certain chiropractic and body alignment techniques have been developed that analyze skull/jaw/spinal structural relationships. These techniques have benefited patients suffering from the hidden distortions that sometimes arise within us.
All TMJ sufferers should have a chiropractic checkup, and anyone who has been to the dentist should follow up that visit with a quick stop at their chiropractor.