Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Fallen arches: Yet another strategy

Yes, I'm still fussing over my feet. So much so that my friend remarked to me recently as we moseyed along L.A.'s Huntington Beach, "Gosh you talk about your feet a lot." Well color me old and tedious carrying on about my fallen arches whilst walking on a glorious day by the Pacific Ocean. Actually, all I was saying at the moment was that wet sand was the perfect medium upon which to walk with aging feet.

Turns out this is all another instance of Joni Mitchell's lament:
"Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got till it's gone?"

Not that I didn't know the moment when my arches crashed painfully to earth. What I didn't know was that I'd totally lost contact with my abductor hallucis longus muscle until my neurokinetics therapist told me to contract it.

Bob Gaas: Move your big toe away from your other toes.

Me: (after staring out my toe awhile) Gad, no can do. I have no idea how to do that.

BG: Don't worry, just look at it awhile each day, your abductor hallucis longus muscle just hasn't been used in a long time.

Turns out that the AHL muscle forms the floor of the arch, and if you are so out of touch with it that you can't move your big toe towards the middle of your body, you haven't got a prayer of getting your arch back. Bob assures me that if I can get my AHL function back AND move it independently of both my extensor hallucis longus (EHL) and my tibialis anterior (TA), I will sort of get an arch back. More importantly, my feet won't hurt so much.

Talk about needing a life. My evening activity now as my spouse and I work on the New York Times crossword puzzle is to multitask by discretely feeling along the medial border of my foot beside the arch, searching for life in my AHL muscle. And I am pleased to report we, my AHL and I, are back in touch, big-time! My next stupid person trick is to learn how to move it without activating my EHL (that's the muscle and tendon that flexes your big toe up off the ground) and or my TA which pulls the whole ankle back.

Want to play along with your feet? Your tibialis anterior tendon can be found on the front of your ankle just in front of the inside ankle bone. Cock your foot up and watch it pop out. The EHL tendon is just to the outside (little toe side) of the TA tendon. Point your foot down, then pull your big toe up and that tendon bulges upward.

There's more for those of you who note, as do I, that the passing years are less than kind to your feet. Bob Gaas has agreed to host a group session on getting back in touch with your aging tootsies. Let me know if you're interested.


JeanMac said...

When I try it, my small toe moves like crazy but I knew I wasn't normal from the beginning:)

Beverly said...

my feet hurt and working 12 hr shifts are for the birds...my feet have not fat on the bottom, all the padding is gone...so sad

kenju said...

I still have very high arches, but I sure can't move my big toe from side to side!

KGMom said...

Ah, yes--feet. Nothing hurts like feet.
I have taken to getting regular pedicures--I figure it's good health (if only I could get health insurance to pay).
And I wash and put cream on my feet every night, massaging them a bit.

Mauigirl said...

My arches have been flat since I was a kid so that ligament is probably more than dead. My ankles are rapidly failing me completely - my left ankle has bothered me on the instep side for ages, and I sprained my right ankle a few weeks ago and now it seems to be permanently shot also. Sigh. I'm with KGMom, though, on the pedictures. They rock.

Wendy said...

That was fun! Oh yeah, I'm with you - I love walking on a wet, sandy beach. Feels good on the feet.
Pedicures? I'm into that too.

TRS said...

Okay wait... move big toe independantly of the other toes? up and down or side to side?

I'm too young to not be able to do this (no matter what YOU say Dr. Paley!!) even though I suspect I lost my arch even before I lost my virginity! (obviously not when I was a teenager!)

femail doc said...

JM: I thought I was the only one who could wiggle my little toe at will. Nice to know a kindred spirit lives in Canada.

Beverly: That loss of fat padding is a huge problem for us aging ladies.

KJ: Even as I envy your arches, I know enough of old feet to know they are problematic as well.

KGM: Ah pedicures. Trouble is, the prospect of catching toenail fungus creeps me out from seeking out those glorious sudsy baths that launch a pedicure.

MG: I think I've got a few years on you. Careful about arthritis in the foot and ankle from collapsing feet!

Wendy: Wish I had a sandy beach for my daily walk instead of the asphalt of 19th Avenue.

TRS: Oh dear, young and already out of touch with your toes? Better get in contact before it's too late. p.s. I love your blog!