My Brother-in-Law runs one of the premier talent agencies in the country, Peyton Entertainment Productions (Orlando, Florida). His old nemesis, Mr. Heel Spur, has plagued his left heel for years. He has other LE pathologies, but this tale is not so much about him but his house. You see, the floor plan of the house when drawn out, resembles an 'L'. Master bedroom and guest bedroom are in the top of the L, while most of the rest of the house makes up the foot. A concrete patio and a pool are adjacent to the living room and hardwood floors over a concrete foundation exist most everywhere. The distance from the top of the L to the rest of the house is roughly 30 feet and to enter the kitchen area is a 90deg turn. An island counter is in the kitchen and makes it possible to circumnavigate the entire house making only left turns.
On my last visit, we stayed a week and much of the time we were barefoot within the house. I spent a very small amount of time considering the lay-out of the house; counting my steps left and right, exploring distances between heavily walked points within the house, and taking into account the elevation changes from one room to the next. It turns out, that my gait strategy for turning corners and passing through transoms, relied heavily on my left foot. I would elect to 'carve' a corner by landing hard on my left heel to round it more often than not. When I would use my right forefoot to pivot-turn left, my first step forward with my left heel was always noticeably with more force than usual. Hmmm...I was using my left foot to strike first when stepping down over a threshold to get out to the patio AND stepping up, over the same footplate to enter the house. I consider myself both right handed and right footed.
I wasn't so surprised to find that after only a few days, my left heel had a pointy, sharp pain on the posteriolateral side! Ouch!
That either means I had developed a small bruise or I had exposed an existing heel spur that I never knew about. There is no way to build a heel spur in such a short amount of time. But given the change in my usual environment, the pattern of steps and my walking conditions, it comes as no surprise that a small, temporary pathology occurred. Turns out at least one more person in his family experiences the exact same pain as He and I did.
House traffic patterns can have a profound effect on the ground reaction forces that go through the foot. To drop the pressures and protect his foot while it heals, I gave him a pair of my Graceyfeet Shoes. The fit and feel was good enough for him to wear them to Universal Studios theme park for the day! He still had pain, but the shoes were just the tool he needed to last the 4-5 hour outing. The most important place to wear his new Graceyfeet shoes is in his home. The turns, delays, accelerations, distances, and angles his feet have to navigate plus the hard surfaces all contribute to his pain. He has flip-flops that he states are his most comfortable shoes, but the new Graceyfeet shoes should give him the drop in pressure and the dynamics he needs to stay off his heel. I wish him well in his recovery and hope the shoes he wears provide the appropriate environment for healing.
House traffic patterns are being monitored in the living situations of the elderly in hopes of finding better ways of understanding movement and perfecting the living environments for persons with injuries or advanced age. Hopefully, the information will reveal way we can build homes that address the health and well-being for persons of all ages.
Below are a couple abstracts from articles written on physical performance and gender in walking. There is clearly a difference between male and female gait strategies and much of it appears to culminate in how the forefoot (FF) is loaded. Females walk with reduced sagittal plane motion and employ more of a hip strategy for balance during directional changes. Males employ an ankle strategy that limits their frontal plane motion and improves acceleration and deceleration. Males typically load the Lateral FF, while females load the Medial FF and use their Glutes and Lateral Vastus muscles to a greater extent. Excessively loading the MFF can result in overuse syndromes including plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, and bunions. Men don't often develop large bunions but they are susceptible to lateral forefoot fractures and heel spurs. Of course, shoewear plays a major role in how the foot is loaded when standing and walking.
Chris Gracey MPT, Cped