I’m joined today by Gary Ward of Anatomy in Motion for a deep dive into the biomechanics of movement. Gary has a wonderful model for describing biomechanics, and focuses a lot of his efforts on the feet. In this episode, we talk about why the feet are so important for efficient, pain-free movement and the many ways that working the feet can help with function, rehabilitation, and overall performance. He talks about the simple foot wedges he developed and how using them to work the feet can even help issues that are far away and seem very unrelated — like shoulder pain or restrictions. Gary also shares some insights into the education curriculum he offers for rehab and fitness professionals, which I definitely recommend for anyone who’s interested!
I’m [Garrett] salpeter. And I believe that the most powerful and transformative way to help people recover from pain and injury, heal from trauma and reach their highest levels of fitness and performance is to focus on the nervous system. In this podcast, we’ll share knowledge from the frontiers of neuroscience and inspirational stories of how applying that knowledge has empowered people from all walks of life to heal, adapt and grow. Welcome to this episode of the undercurrent Podcast. I’m joined today by Gary Ward coming to us from anatomy and motion and all the way from London, England. Thank you, Gary, for being here.
[Gary Ward] 1:17
Thank you, Gary, what an intro. I’m glad to be here.
I’m really excited for this because I have actually had the privilege of learning from you, at least through you know, through your book and some online courses and some of your materials. And I just really am excited about how well your work complements new fit and how you know, the philosophies and the work just really goes well together. So I’m, I’m really looking forward to this one. And just to introduce yourself to our audience, can you please let everyone know a little bit about your company anatomy, anatomy and motion and how you got into the work that you’re doing now?
[Gary Ward] 1:59
And yeah, absolutely, it’d be my pleasure. Firstly, I just wanted to say it’s great to speak to someone on the other side of the online material that we’ve produced, which we’ll get back to in a bit, but mostly, our podcasts are with people who are curious about the work and don’t haven’t any experience, or are people who’ve been through the process. So I feel like you’re kind of in the middle somewhere and where you’re actually someone we’ve been able to reach online. And, and, and it’s been seemingly effective. And you’ve enjoyed it enough to come this far. So
I will I will give a shout out here. So I heard about you actually through one of our one of our practitioners that has the newbie is getting burnt Massey, who’s really a lot of good knowledge on the feet will actually we’ll have him on here to give a shout out to Bert for that.
[Gary Ward] 2:45
I do recognize but name actually. Okay. Great. So anatomy, emotion and me. Well, I started and that’s an emotion in 2006 or 2007 and ran my first courses in 2007. But my introduction to the feet, which is really where all of this started with zero anatomical knowledge was when I lived and worked in the French Alps, in the ski resorts. And was super lucky enough to be taught by a few guys about how to fit a ski boot. And it I had no idea. I mean, I used to wait train and read flex magazine, which had all the big body builders and stuff like that.
[Gary Ward] 3:46
And so that was my insight into anatomy. And all of a sudden there was this thing called the foot and it was bony, and it sat in my hand on this little plastic model. And, and I was being shown how we’re going to reorganize this foot to be comfortable in a ski boot. And everybody who skied knows that ski boots or hell on earth, not very comfortable. Most people wear them two sizes too big and we were going to be the precision experts starting in about a week’s time.
[Gary Ward] 4:16
So we had some really intense trainings, I heard words like pronation and supination and lifting toes to lift arches and building orthotics and, and it was it was a phenomenal learning experience and one that I just connected with immediately. So when I went out to the ski resorts I was not fully intending to you know, leave them being obsessed with anatomy, but that’s exactly what happened. So if you’ve listened to my any other podcast, you’ll have heard me say this countless times, but it was it was very, very clear. It to me that one of two things would happen if you made an adjustment to somebody’s feet in their ski boot.
[Gary Ward] 5:05
And on the on the one hand, their first response was that the performance just improved that I’ve never skied like that before people would come back to the shop. I mean, literally on the hill, so they would leave, come back and save my performance. I’ve never skied like that before, you know? Unbelievable. Thank you love my new boots. Wow, that’s amazing. And on the other hand, people would come back and say, I didn’t have any back pain today. When I skied. Can you explain that and of course, I was in absolutely no position to explain them.
[Gary Ward] 5:36
But it happened again and again. And again. I was with lots of other boot fitters. It wasn’t just me. But I was the one who just went, I need to be able to explain that answer. I need to be able to know how that has made a difference, like your foot on your back on miles apart, right. You don’t go to the gym and train foot and back together. You just, in fact, what the hell was the foot I didn’t even know it was that we had one until the winter. And I’ll just keep it. And the so yeah, I was super curious.
[Gary Ward] 6:09
And I did that for I was working with ski boots for six to seven years. And in the process, I did a course to become a personal trainer. And in that course, I learned about as much as I had learned from reading flex magazine, so nothing more. And I even gave a talk on the foot during that course, because the guy who was attempting to do it was doing such a bad job. And he turned around to me and said that was very good I think I learned so I guess I was always destined to deliver information and talk about feet but I was not even was literally obsessed with with this as a structure and have witnessed enough.
[Gary Ward] 6:57
Let’s put in inverted commas the word magic when you work with people’s feet to interact with an effect the rest of the body. So it was not something that I could walk away from, and still still haven’t. So 2007 was ran the first course we’ve been through many iterations through two different ways of attempting to get the material across obviously, since 2007, the material is honed, got stronger, I have much more understanding around the work than I did back then.
[Gary Ward] 7:33
And was lucky enough. Not now not lucky enough. I wrote a book in 2013 called what the foot and that was a simple there it is thank you very much a simple outpouring of what I felt like I needed to tell people I was going to say the world but it’s now like the world but I needed to tell people that there’s a different way of thinking that movement is different to what we might think it is that we can apply some rules to movement to help us think consistently and clearly around what it is.
[Gary Ward] 8:17
And I called the forgotten body part because like I said I did a whole course and it was It wasn’t touched on. I’ve since spoken to physiotherapist and osteopath to have also said the same it was kind of always left till the end IT Pro Nate’s supernates is That’s it, move on. And it the book itself created that platform. So more courses, but thankfully it gave me the step to begin to teach globally.
[Gary Ward] 8:52
So I’ve been on the road traveling since 2014 teaching in America teaching in Australia, teaching around Europe, England and Ireland and attracting people traveling to join us from Hong Kong. When we go to somewhere like Lisbon to teach in Portugal, we’d have people coming from Asia, from America from South America just so people would come everywhere. In fact, people came from everywhere except where we held the course that was always like people I didn’t know you were here, but everybody else had found out.
[Gary Ward] 9:26
So we attracted a global audience. But I still think the work is niche. And the niche part of it is the is the real story, which is the flow motion model. And so as a skier and understanding the feet and the movement in feet, and I remember sitting on a chairlift one day watching someone’s ski and I said, I said to myself, they just looked like they’re walking down the hill, left foot goes in front of right foot and they were doing this doing this thing and I know like skiing doesn’t feel like walking. I just had this thing. Anyway curiosity, how does the foot help the back?
[Gary Ward] 10:03
There must be a connection. So when I move my foot, what happens to my ankle? What happens to my knee? Or does that have an impact on my hip? Is it predictable? Is it determinable? Can I break that rule? No, I can’t. So we don’t want movement like that. We do want a movement like that. And then somebody would come in to for a session and they get pain. And you can see that they’re attempting to do a movement that they shouldn’t do. So we teach them to do a movement that they could and then their pain would clear up.
[Gary Ward] 10:30
And they’d feel much better. Because we were created an environment where their own physical structures weren’t butting into each other, but they were working together. And the model became what I just called the flow motion model, it was actually me evolving into a space where we worked out the movement of every single bone and joint in all three dimensions through a single footstep, so every single bone and not just the feet, the pelvis, the vertebrae, collarbone, everything.
[Gary Ward] 11:03
So we get a whole picture of how the whole body walks through a single footstep. And it turns out that it’s quite different to the standard understanding and appreciation of gait. So there are certain gait models that people like to follow. And for me, they more likely follow the way somebody walks, rather than the way somebody should walk. And there’s a huge difference. So if you
[Gary Ward] 11:34
If you put markers on somebody and mark up the way they walk, you will get certain readings, certain amount of degrees of rotation in, in somebody’s hip or in their spine. And they’ll say that the foot pronates In this place, and actually, if you if you then take an interest in how the anatomy should move and question that you end up with a very different structure and very different shape.
[Gary Ward] 12:03
But interestingly, some of the rules of biomechanics, if you like that do exist are present in the model. And then some of the rules that don’t exist are also present in the model. So you get a huge array of insight into what’s possible at different joints what’s possible. For instance, you can flex a hip and posterior tilt the pelvis in an open chain, but in the closed chain, you’ll flex the hip and anterior tilted pelvis.
[Gary Ward] 12:26
Does that mean that flexion of the hip is necessary to practice with both? Yes, of course it does. But you’ll also find that there are movements that you just don’t experience in the gait cycle, that if people are exponential in in real life correlates often to discomfort. And so the gait cycle became this really interesting indicator of what our bones would like to do, candidate should do.
[Gary Ward] 12:50
And not just about a hip, but about that hip and its relationship to the structures below it. The structures above it, the structures below that, and above that, and so, it really became a hugely holistic insight into the movement capabilities of the human body rather than an isolated look at how a joint moves. Because we’ve all we can all go to school and, and learn how it joint moves. And in fact, we’re lucky enough to work with personal trainers, physical therapists, and known as physios here in the UK osteopaths, chiropractors, dance coaches, doctors, sports coaches,
[Gary Ward] 13:35
Fashion workers. And if you ask them to dorsiflex their ankle, they’ll all lift their leg up and pull their toes up. If you ask them to abduct their leg, they’ll take that take that leg away from the into the air, so they do everything closed chain, and every single one of them regardless of discipline, is trained to think about movement in that in the same way. So all of a sudden, what we’re now looking at is when we’re interested in when that foots on the ground, because if I if I abduct my leg, take my foot out to the side while standing on my left leg and take the right out to the side and say that’s a hip hop production because I’ve taken it away from my body.
[Gary Ward] 14:15
We’ve not we’ve nothing needs to happen below the hip. But when you abduct a hip with the foot on the ground, you need the toe to move the forefoot to move the rear foot to move the ankle to move the knee to do something three dimensions of movement at the hip three dimensions of movement at the foot. And all of a sudden a hip abduction is a very, very different conversation.
[Gary Ward] 14:35
And to take an goal has always been to take people from that what’s happening a hip when it abducts to what happens to the whole effectively body when it abducts. And it’s not obviously it’s not just I’m using abduction as one example of many arrangements here. So the model effectively tells us when your hips should abduct when it should adduct what shape the rest of the body will take on when it has That’s when the foot pronates. When it’s supinate, how many stages of movement does it take to do a supination?
[Gary Ward] 15:06
What’s the role of the toe, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah? And the critical piece of this understanding is to be able to then overlay that to a person. So I don’t know if I was thinking of Mario Kart. Did you ever play Mario Kart? Oh, yeah, yeah, of course you did. Everyone has a great analogy. When you would race around the track, and you’d get you, you’d get two minutes and 14 seconds, and then you’d go again, and they’d beat your little ghost body. And you’ve got to chase that goes down and beat him.
[Gary Ward] 15:33
That’s the full motion model. So we have the way the body should work. That’s the ghost. And then there’s the way the person in front of you walks. And then you’re looking at the two going well, he’s supposed to be doing that, but he’s actually doing that. And the essence of just, for instance, spending too much time on your left leg versus the right leg introduces huge timing delays. So all of a sudden, if I put my left leg forward and spend a lot of time there, I have more rotation of a pelvis to the right, when I took the right leg forward, I don’t get it as far forward and don’t spend as much time there, I have very limited rotation.
[Gary Ward] 16:11
To the left, if I have limited rotation to the left, I have limited counter rotation in the spine, I have limited pronation in the right foot limited supination in the left foot, maybe limited knee extension, maybe excess knee flexion. And, and you’re able to kind of somehow make note of all these things, and we can see effectively that you actually we just need to teach you to be better at putting that right leg forward supinating, that left foot pronating the right foot, rotating the pelvis counter, rotating the spine, and create movements for people to experience all of those things at once.
[Gary Ward] 16:45
So that’s the type of experience we want to give to people and that person might have neck pain. But instead of treating their neck, cracking the neck or doing neck stretches, you we start to look at that neck as being a not just a local problem, but a whole body problem and being able to check. If we got better pronation in that right foot or better supination in that left foot or more rotation of the pelvis, can does that liberate the neck to move more freely more easily. And so there was a whole assessment process to get into that point. But technically, every single bone that speaking to every other bone simultaneously, it would appear through the nervous system, which is your specialty. But we should be able to dictate and predetermine it through just through joint surface and structure itself.
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That’s, that’s awesome. Thank you for that overview. And I really like that perspective. I mean, one, you started with the importance of the feet and how they’re so often overlooked and ignored. And, you know, we’ll dive in a little deeper on the feet as well. And then just to underscore for everyone that the difference in in anatomy in closed chain versus open chain and gait, I think is a wonderful unifying framework for understanding that because it’s something we’re all familiar with. And it really has all of the movements that we’re interested in for proper human functioning. So,
[Gary Ward] 18:54
Absolutely. And just you saying that makes me instantly drop in, we have a culture of stability and stabilizing stuff going on. And when you are walking, nothing is stable, nothing is still everything needs to move. And if it doesn’t, you end up in this exchange where if something is stabilized, it means it’s actually moving less. And what you can’t get away from is if you if you let’s say you’ve been guided to stabilize something, even if it’s to brace your core and stop that lumbar vertebrae from moving, you lose your rotation, you’ll lose different movement capacities at the spine. But what’s key is that that lack of movement at a certain place will always be bought up somewhere else because the chain is effectively closed as you just described.
[Gary Ward] 19:47
Now, some people will have closed chain meaning I’ve got my foot on the ground. For me. If the chain is closed, it’s complete. It’s a full system. And if you take some part of that system and shut it down another part of that system in order to compensate for it will just blow up and start moving. And their attempt they tend to be, so I’m going to stabilize my spine. But all of a sudden, three months later, you’ve got knee pain, because the only way to encourage movement, your knee starts moving excessively to make up for the lack of movement in the spine.
[Gary Ward] 20:19
Bunions are a classic example of that, where the toes moving and moving and moving and moving, probably for something else that isn’t moving. And you can track that through the system through the model. Because bones basically just traveling directions. So if I want something to go left, but it can’t something else, we’ll just get a lift more in order to in order to compensate for that, which is a phenomenal, phenomenal structure to be able to observe the body like that. And then of course, you’ve got injury where an injury is simply shut down an area of your body. You had it rehabbed, it feels better, but did you actually teach it to move well, again, and if you didn’t, what other parts of your body are making up for that now, that in that is going to come back and bite you on the butt later in life?
That’s he’s the million dollar question right there. And yeah, I love that love that framework for gait, and just agree with everything that you said. And one of the other things that you mentioned in the introduction to fit yourself and anatomy and motion is that a lot of times people will be trying to make movements if they can’t, and you teach them very quickly, by training their movements, you know, reach retraining, their movements are able to create shifts and help people with pain. And that’s a framework that that we use a lot within the new fit methodology as well is giving people the right inputs, and observing changes and outputs. Can you can you talk just for a moment about the primary tool that you use to make some of those changes there because it’s interesting, it’s elegant in its simplicity,
[Gary Ward] 22:04
Do you mean this triangular thing?
[Gary Ward] 22:09
The aim wedge, so a wedge is not a new thing that you can buy a yoga wedge 30 centimeters long, they have existed way before way before me. And there are lots of bits of equipment that are built in with wedges to help people change angles. And in fact, orthotics quite readily use a wedge concept in the build. So if, if somebody for instance, has a kind of various four foot or four foot superanalysis, where they look like the forefoot is a bit inverted. The problem with an inverted forefoot is when you put the weight on it as it collapses and looks like a flat foot. One of the ways and we would have done this in the ski but as well as you in order to stop that roll of the foot because of falling into the space that has been created beneath the ground and the big toe, we would filled it with material.
[Gary Ward] 23:13
So the idea then being that as soon as I apply pressure on my, let’s say I want to turn the scheme, right, I’m going to put pressure into my left forefoot push the toe down. Now if I’ve got a time delay from the toe meeting the ground before it puts pressure on the scheme before it turns. And we can reduce that by filling the space so that when my brain says turn, I press on this onto the material which turns the scheme happens so much quicker. Therefore it’s more effective, more efficient, but it’s not necessarily teaching the structures to move. So I played around with this because when I was if I wanted to influence some I mean it happened haphazardly, mostly.
[Gary Ward] 23:55
But it was just this idea of like I could just do with a wedge because that’s what I would have done with an orthotic. And I’m thinking that I’m propping up their foot to help them in a lunge, for instance, as a personal trainer, but recognizing that when that toe is now pressing in a barefoot environment on the wedge, and it’s not an orthotic, so the wedge is not coming back up into the whole arch minimizing movement through the whole arch. As soon as the pressure hits the wedge instead of the ground, it has this huge articulating response behind it so the foot continues its movement and it’s blocked at the wedge which would create this kind of just see if I’ve got got the foot here. So all of a sudden instead of instead of the foot rolling as a unit onto the ground, it would meet the wedge and continue kind of the articulation happening underneath it so all of bones through the mid tassels with would experience their movement.
So if you’re if you’re listening on audio here, you’re missing out on the visual which is on the video version is on YouTube where Gary actually has a foot model up On the screen here, but just to just case you’re listening, have a little context, please carry continue,
[Gary Ward] 25:05
Jump to YouTube. But all the movement in the foot takes place around the mid tassels here, because you know, there’s no joints in the metatarsal, you obviously have movement at the toes. But if I, if I jump on to a wedge, and I changed the timing of the contact, then I blocked that part of the foot and create movement in the rest of the foot. And interesting night. Interestingly, it is interesting, but immediately, that habit of how my foot interacts with the ground is changed. And so the new movement in the bones, new movement in the in the ligamentous tissues, new movement in the muscular tissues, new feedback responses in appropriate sectors and nervous system is and is the brain going is a new experience.
[Gary Ward] 25:53
So we were able to just like it talks about the Mario Kart and the walking model is this is how a foot should move. This is the shape it should adopt. And then we can look at someone’s foot and say, that’s not how it should look. That’s not how it should move. So what do us then do to give it that opportunity to experience and as you sit and reeducate the movement for it to relearn to move. And before going back to the wedges, there’s, there’s like a huge misnomer that you can’t, if a foots flat, then it’s flat. But actually, it’s not true. And if a foot is flat, we can talk about. Another one wanted to talk about about that pronation side of things. But if the foot is flat, then much like if a spine is side buttons, you’re going to have muscles that are long muscles that are short. And we can just reorganize those through the bony movement in order to stimulate the tissue for it to be less flat and more effective and have more input through the rest of the body.
[Gary Ward] 26:52
So it’s ditching age old stories like this that are really going to move our industry forward, rather than just let’s just work it on an orthotic or let’s just try and strengthen the tissues because actually that just strengthening the tissues is also not necessarily teaching the bones to move. And that’s really what my remit is, the goal of my work is to reeducate those bones to move and so then we come back to a wedge. And we know, we know that a foot again, I’m on the video guys sorry, but we know that a foot if you are listening wants to as an E version and inversion of plantar flexion of the rear foot dorsiflexion of the rear foot rotation of the rear foot. And the wedge is basically a slide. So if I would like to create an E version in a rear foot, I can simply place that wedge on the outside of the heel. And when the person puts their weight on it, it will encourage it to go into an E virgin direction.
[Gary Ward] 27:47
Same if I want to create an inversion, I can create an inversion direction we can create movement in the forefoot in all three dimensions and use the body itself as a as a as a tool to help the foot get the most out of its out of its movement. So the thing that we’re trying to do, as I briefly touched on there is change the habit of movement. Because every one thing I used to work a lot on for ForcePlates. Measuring the outcome of somebody’s foot movement watching the journey of the center of pressure through the through the footprint for the gait cycle. And what we noticed without any interaction is every footstep is near as dammit, the same the one before the one after. So the one last week, the 120 years ago until somebody has gone in and put a new input into the foot, it’s basically going to perform the same footstep as it did everyone prior.
[Gary Ward] 28:50
So we recognize that movement is a behavior and movement is a habit. And we know that those things roll our lives. And so unless we actually jump in and instigate the change somehow through a different input and ours is to change the timing of the movement of the bones, the shape of the movement in the bones, the direction of the movement in the bones, the timing of the interaction on the ground, all of those things will start to input movement into the bones which puts lengthen response into the tissues and but also can change the structure all the way up. So breaking those habits is a real really key part to reeducating movement.
[Gary Ward] 29:31
And also because the foot is the only thing in contact with the ground when we’re walking to change the shape of that foot will change. It’s like having improved foundations in the building it will change the alignment of structures going up and as long as they can change them will change if they can’t they also probably need addressing teaching to move or treat, etc. So we can slowly rebuild the house of cards that most people were struggling with
That’s a’s a great, great description of the wedges there. I appreciate that. And I think it’s so interesting how, you know, we can talk about these subtle pronation and supination movements or you know that you’re amplifying with the wedges. And I like the metaphor, it’s kind of like, it’s like a megaphone. If I, if I say something, if I say something at a certain volume here, it can get amplified.
And so over there, someone’s going to hear it louder. When the when the foot when the tailless rotates, internally, externally a couple of degrees, that can lead to more degrees of rotation in the tibia, even more in the femur even more at the pelvis. And so working with the foot, it’s like, you get this wonderful leverage to make impacts biomechanically, and neurologically, so the wedges, just I think, maybe just because that adds a little bit to what to what you’re saying, but you know, about the power of the wedges.
Missed another little, little bit of a perspective on a way to understand it. Note, another thing you mentioned was flat feet. And I think this is really interesting. And I think would give, give the people listening some good insight into your thought process, because traditionally, typically, people would think, well, either one, no, I have flat feet, I can’t do anything about it or two, they might think, Okay, well, there’s muscles that hold up the arch of the foot. So I want to train my supinator muscles, you know, concentric ly to get them stronger? And then you actually kind of recommend the opposite. So can you can you talk a little bit, a little bit about your perspective,
[Gary Ward] 31:39
Heard it described like that? Let’s look. So we can do many mediums and ways of focusing on a concentric contraction of tissue under the foot. And the idea there is that if I concentrically contracted tissue under the foot, I’m going to create a foot supination. But I’d really like to underline that the specific requirements for movement in 26 bones and 33 joints of a foot to create a supination. That means that when you are consensually contracting these tissues, if your bones are not able to go into the supinated shape, you are not training and supination, you’re just working on tissue to be stronger, tougher in the in the structural shape that it currently holds. So it’s a really slow and long process. It’s not to say that concentric exercises are bad for you.
[Gary Ward] 32:37
But to recognize that until your foot truly knows what a supination is, and I can tell you now that you can’t supinate your foot, unless you have appropriate movement in the fibula appropriate movement in the knee appropriate movement potential in the hip. There’s a huge amount of restriction there.
[Gary Ward] 32:54
We’re also on a hiding to nothing because the vast majority of us are protonated as we’re going to touch on and collapse towards the inside. The more time I spent like that, the less time I spend supinating it’s a great idea to try and supinate your feet but if you don’t know how it’s you know the quote in Alice in Wonderland where she says to says to the cat says to her, which Where are you going? And now she says which way should I go? And the cat says where that depends where you want to go? Where are you going she’s I don’t know when he says and it doesn’t matter where you go. I love that one.
[Gary Ward] 33:30
So it’s been like that, it’s like if you’re going to supinate your foot then actually need to learn the position, too, to all the work to do to get your foot to a doctor supinated position. In the same breath, if you’re going to teach your foot to protonate, you probably need to know how the bones are going to fall into a pronation. It’s and it’s not straightforward. But the good news is given us 33 joints and 26 Bones is there are only two shapes that that foot would like to make. And so our goal is simply to train lit to reeducate it to be able to access both. Now when I protonate my foot, we’re looking at a flexed ankle flexed knee flexed hip scenario when I supinate my foot I’m looking at a plantar flexed ankle extended in the extended hip scenario.
[Gary Ward] 34:23
And so it is not just a foot conversation, but a whole leg conversation. It’s a whole body conversation it always is. I just wanted to underline that because I know a lot of people are pro supination exercises, but if you can’t access a proper supinated shape, then you’re effectively wasting your time in my opinion. And I’m quite black and white about stuff like that. So what does it involve the supinated foot the around the question that you asked me and initially you framed it as firstly pronation is deemed as evil, it’s bad, we don’t want to do it, it creates a valgus knee, it needs an orthotic and it’s stabilizing and he’s propping up, we’ve already had the stabilizing conversation. And then I come along and say, pronation is probably the one of the most important movements in your body supination is equally as important. We’ve already just had that little chat.
[Gary Ward] 35:18
But if we met if we bypass pronation, we literally bypass 90% of muscle tissue in the foot. And the interesting part is that if you critically analyze the muscles of the foot, you will very soon come to recognize that the vast majority of them are super meters. And the fact that they’re super meters means that they experience length when the foot is pronating. And I have a rule that I wrote about in the book what the foot is that muscles lengthen before they contract.
[Gary Ward] 35:52
So to travel a foot from a neutral position into a pronated position, we’ll put length into all of those tissues, the longer those tissues get, and the more pronated the foot gets, the more stimulus there is in that tissue to suddenly contract. So the contraction of supination happens from a pronated position, not a neutral position to a supinated position. And that’s that I think that’s where we can have that same conversation around the glutes, so your glutes don’t contract from neutral to extended, they actually contract from flexed to extend. So we change our mindset from a mid-range to end range to even a flexed range to fully extended range.
[Gary Ward] 36:31
That’s the whole journey of the muscle. Now looking at the foot that you were looking peroneus longus, anterior TIB plantar fascia tibialis, posterior, Celeste, even both extensors and flexors are all managing. They’re managing pronation, they’re allowing the foot bones to pronate. Controlling and decelerating that amount of pronation in the bones and then creating a contraction that would pull the bones back into their opposite direction to generate that second shape called supination. At which point there’s a significant amount of detail particularly down the lateral border relationship between the fourth and fifth metatarsal and the cuboid keyboard and the calcaneus, fibula etc, are all necessarily necessary for that movement.
[Gary Ward] 37:22
But pronation is passive. So when I put my foot on the ground, my hope, literally is that the foot itself will fall into a nice pronation. And it starts with having a tripod on the ground, fifth metatarsal, first metatarsal, and calcaneus. If we can get all those three structures on the ground, and the foot lengthens and spreads, all of those muscles get to experience the lengthening, which will trigger the contraction and encourage it to narrow and short and again as we as we as we kind of bring that leg underneath us and step forward to the point where we should have what’s known as a rigid lever or a full supination at the back foot when the toes just prior to the toes leaving the ground. And that’s what propels us forward.
[Gary Ward] 38:10
So if you can imagine that rigid lever that full, full supinated foot shape, with a straight leg behind you and your body being propelled forward, hip extension, hip abduction, hip external rotation, that is when the glutes are short, and they’ve finally made it to a good short position. If you’re unable to complete that supination movement, as we discussed before, you’re unable to extend your knee like we used to before then your glutes are never going to get that full activity in which we know they don’t. Most people really struggle to activate their glutes feel their glutes, but we just said that in order to get a good extension in my hip and good activation of my glutes, we need to go to that extension flexion conversation again
[Gary Ward] 38:54
So when the foots forward on its tripod, lengthening and widening, that’s when your hip is most flexed flexed adducted femur internally rotating is going to put the most length into the glute tissue. That is when the glute kind of recognizes, well, we can’t can’t go any more in this direction, you’re going to have to slow down that movement, generate a contraction and pull that hip through the contraction into its extension abduction and external rotation while the knee goes from bent to straight and the foot goes from pronated supinated. So foot pronation and glute activity are incredibly closely connected and foot supination glue, full, full loaded full hip extension and also therefore things like hip flexor load and length.
[Gary Ward] 39:36
You can see how they all play a really beautiful part in this footstep. So if you reframe the tissue, the role of tissue tissue is set up perfectly to both allow movement to take place and to control that movement and bring it back. So all movement actually is away from a neutral position and the muscles rolling To stop going away from a neutral position and contract it back towards and therefore through the neutral position in order to develop actual movement through through a neutral, not
[Gary Ward] 40:12
a full stop that because a lot of people we think about neutral as being an anatomical Holy Grail. But for me, it’s such an ability to move away from it back to it beyond it again. And of course, when I go beyond, if I’m if my tissues of hip extension or bringing my hip into extension, then all of a sudden the tissues of flexion, they have to then have their time to decelerate that extension, and then contracted to bring forward again, from extension back into flexion. There’s a huge amount of momentum involved.
[Gary Ward] 40:41
There’s a huge amount of passive movement involved. And it really leads me on to the second rule that I wrote about in the book and talk about in the programs is the joints act, muscles, react conversation. So we live in a world where everyone is a bit obsessed with muscles, teach the muscles stimulate the muscle, and contract the muscle. But when you really get the bones to do what they’re supposed to do, and go into the places they’re supposed to go, they do actually give muscles no option but to contract. And so there’s a really beautiful relationship between the two. And that’s where I’m very keen that we get, we look at both and we don’t just obsess about one.
That’s a beautiful description. Thank you for sharing that. And it’s, it’s, I liked that how you brought in the, the hip and how to how to glue and its relationship and decelerating, pronation, how that’s not only relevant, but that’s, you know that adequate pronation supination is a requirement. It’s a prerequisite for for glutes to function appropriately.
[Gary Ward] 41:42
If you jump [Garrett] to gym based work and glute bridges, glute extension, hip extensions, hip abductions, if you aren’t thinking about the fact that it’s great work in the gym, it feels good in the tissue, but carry over to walking is ignored, it will drop off really, really quickly, because the brain will just revert back to habit. And if the habit is one of the same footstep occurring over and over again.
[Gary Ward] 42:07
But that footstep not appearing to have a good pronation or a good supination, then the tissues that you’ve just worked on in the gym for an hour, suddenly have nothing to do again. And that’s the long game that people are playing. Unfortunately,
no, I like that your information and this framework and you know, the elements of the work that that we’re both doing, I think are able to help to kind of turn that turn that framework upside down, maybe something that’s a little more healthy and productive here.
[Gary Ward] 42:36
So it’s once accused [Garrett] of being an upside down thinker. I wondered, I wonder if each one of us actually was but there you go.
That’s a good thing. You know, sometimes you need to look at things from a different perspective.
[Gary Ward] 42:53
I like to think that we’ve looked at it from all angles, actually.
Yes, yes. Quite literally. Yes. So for people who are listening, if they’re intrigued in learning more about you, or if they’ve seen us learning the wedges, and they like the things that they’ve heard from you here today, what’s the best place for people to find you either on the web social media.
[Gary Ward] 43:15
Personally, the social media channel that I enjoy using is Instagram, which is at Gary Ward underscore aim. And we also everything I post on there is also posted up to Facebook, which is a group page, I think called Facebook. So facebook.com forward slash anatomy in motion. And then there is the website, which is called Finding center spelt, the English way CDN T r e.co.uk. And on there, under the tab of AIM education, you’ll find the closed chain biomechanics of the lower limb course.
[Gary Ward] 43:58
And soon to have the closed chain biomechanics of the upper body course. And also there are the less expensive options. Not that I think that’s expensive, but we also offer self-assessment programs called wake your feet up and wake your body up and those programs are aimed at people, not therapists, so your clients, patients, anybody who has problem with the body, so even therapists who have a problem with their body may want to undergo this as a kind of introductory process first, whereby we teach them to look at the movements to assess their body in this way to take considering raishin of previous injuries and begin to try and unravel their own problem because I’m a big proponent of people taking ownership of their own body, rather than from both sides rather than heading to a third First in the vain hope that they can fix you.
[Gary Ward] 45:02
My actual insight is that the therapist can shine a light on your problems, but you are the person who ultimately has to deal with them. So the better information you have to deal with it, the more likely you’re going to have a good outcome. And from the therapist point of view, a lot of therapists would come on courses. And the amount of responsibility they’ve taken for their clients is actually really stressful. And to be able to take that pressure away and help the client and be a team with the client and have the client take ownership of their own body rather than rely on the therapist to be the fixer has been a huge breath of fresh air for many people. So these programs are designed to help people.
[Gary Ward] 45:41
So for instance, don’t go to the podiatrist and expect to get an orthotic. But try to understand you’re nothing against podiatrists that wasn’t the point of that statement. It’s simply to go right, well, I have an opportunity here to one, understand the movement of my fee, learn some ways of moving my feet, use the wedges to help organize those structures differently and see how that affects me and my body.
[Gary Ward] 46:05
And then of course, it’s a lifelong tool. And you’re able to use that tool for forevermore to reorganize your feet, keep working your feet watching these straightened out, and get more activity around your hips. And because the sad part of going and getting the orthotic is you’re actually going to miss out on all of that the orthotic becomes the crutch and the plastic that you put on the problem rather than getting to the bottom of the problem.
[Gary Ward] 46:28
And that’s really what, what we’d like to do with these programs. So, in a nutshell, two programs to help you with your body. And we’ve got the first online installment of our course that we’ve been teaching around the world. And we’ve we’re going to build on that over time to bring more courses to be able to bring the education in these challenging, locked away times to help people continue learning about anatomy, and hopefully, it’s something that people enjoy.
Fabulous while I’ve been through some of your material and can vouch for the fact that it’s excellent, excellent education. And, you know, we’re excited to see more and more new fit practitioners implementing the wedges and some of your concepts and it’s wonderful.
So thank you so much, Gary for coming on the show and sharing your work and we’re excited to excited to continue continuously in this combination and what it can do here. So amazing. Thanks everyone for listening. And we’ll share in the show notes some of the links that Gary mentioned as well so you can look them up. And that’s it for now. Bye. Thank you so much for listening to the undercurrent podcast. If you enjoyed this episode, please consider leaving a review and be sure to subscribe to stay up to date as we release future episodes.