Episode 46: Movement Mailbag #3
In this episode: Cracked heels, scoliosis, tailbone pain and arthritic feet
KATY: Hi, this is Katy Bowman, and it is time for the Katy Says Movement Mailbag, where we answer your question. Join me and my co-host, Dani Hemmat, as we talk while you walk – hopefully. Grab your headphones, and let’s head out the door.
DANI: Awesome! All right, so this is Dani, and I’m going to dig my hand into the mailbag…and question #1 is from Rhonda. Rhonda says, “Hi, I was wondering if you know of any solutions for cracked heels and reasons – mechanically speaking or otherwise – for their existence. It’s been slowing down my barefoot time.” Wow, this was like – you know this question.
KATY: We covered this question in another podcast in depth.
DANI: We did. A long time ago – like, I don’t even remember what the answer was, so I apologize.
KATY: Probably one with shoes, but it can be moisture. It can also be the area of your body that’s more developed interfacing with the part of your skin that’s less developed. So we got into this question a little bit at the last certification week where, you know, a lot of times your skin, if you’re going down your calf will be smooth, smooth, and down around your ankles and then as it starts to cup around to where you’re getting more friction and more traction forces going on, it thickens up. But there is this kind of weird space where just above the extra strong skin that is a callous is weak skin, and it can crack at that place. I’ve experienced that, too. So I guess part of it is just this broader idea that you are transitioning one part of your body to more minimal living than you are the rest of your body, right? You know, you’re not – you’re still on paved roads. You’re not walking through thicket and sitting, a lot of times, without lower body clothing – or at least, you know, pants and socks that would – you would have more friction forces on your skin that would make, I guess, your callous more – I don’t know if homogenous is the right word. Well distributed. So it can be that, but those are the only two things – I’ve heard someone else mention that it can be a sign of – I want to say yeast or candida, that they’ve had, when people have had particular issues with that it can –
DANI: Oh, really? I’ve never heard that.
KATY: I hadn’t heard it either, so that was just a comment from someone else.
KATY: But other than that, try to toughen up the skin around it by living just more outdoorsy and just letting those parts of your body scratch up and rub up on stuff. I think I talked about in the –
KATY: We did a skin episode, yes.
DANI: It was the skin show, so we will post that in the notes.
KATY: Yeah, and the skin show, you know – it’s not just your hands and your feet that callous. Really, all parts of the body that interact with the ground callous. So just get outside –
DANI: Well, yeah, you experienced your knees in Mexico.
KATY: Exactly. Um – okay. Question 2.
DANI: Okay. And can I just say I adore that you said, “thicket.” So thank you. Thank you for using the word thicket. It’s lovely. All right – this is a big one. This is from Josh. Question #2. Josh says, “Hi, Katy. I’m a 35 year old male who was diagnosed with a 21 degree scoliosis curve as a kid.” And then he wore a brace at night for a few years. He’s been seeing a Nucca chiropractor – do you know what that is? N-u-c-c-a.
KATY: I don’t.
DANI: Well, we’ll sally forth here. “I’ve been seeing a Nucca chiropractor for a few months now, since he discovered that my atlas is tilted and says that very well could have caused my curve.” It may have happened when he jumped backward into a swimming pool as a kid and he slammed his chin into the cement edge. Yikes. “So – a few months before starting these treatments with this new chiropractor, I began wearing minimal shoes. Using a standing workstation,” and he moves around, changes positions, trying to follow guidelines. “I choose the floor over a chair as much as possible and put a lot of thought into my positioning while standing, walking, etcetera. Something’s really helping, as my latest x-ray showed my atlas and twisted cervical vertebrae beginning to correct. My question is: do you think this will continue to help my spine unravel? Or am I doomed to be decrepit in my later years? Any other leads on things for me to try? Thank you so much for your work.” That’s a big question.
KATY: You know, I – one of the – gosh, there were a lot of questions there at the end.
DANI: There was, yeah.
KATY: What do I think of Nucca? N-u-c-c-a. So I think it’s an acronym, right? I don’t know what it is, so –
DANI: I’m going to look it up while you’re talking.
KATY: I have no thoughts on it one way or the other; however, I do think that when you experience a particular shape of your body – and there are a lot of shapes that are deemed, you know, pathologies, like bone spurs or curves to your spine – those shapes are created by your physical experience. And so what this gentleman is experiencing is a change in shape, but he’s also changed the way that he moves in a lot of ways. It seems like he’s doing a ton of stuff. So 1) do I think this will continue to help your spine unravel? I absolutely do – kind of in the same way – this is going back to Move Your DNA and the floppy fin. You know, there’s this one way that we have of approaching corrective exercise or these shapes, which is – you know, I’m talking about from the captive orca’s perspective of, okay, I have a fin that’s flopped over to the left, and so I’m going to do exercises that bend my fin back to the right, and I’m going to, like, stretch out the over-tense tissue on the left, which is just kind of – this is just a joke – but that is one perspective. The other perspective is: stop swimming in a counter-clockwise circle. Stop generating those forces. So you are creating forces, and you are an orca and you are starting to swim in particular and different ways, and one of the benefits of being you and not the orca is that you have tissue that is – that adapts differently, it’s not set in stone like the fibro-cartilage of a fin, which has a particular lax period in its youth but then firms up -
KATY: - as it’s older. You don’t have that. You are fairly malleable throughout your life, and so you are creating these new forces, and you are coaxing a new shape by the way that you move. So – gosh, are you doomed? Never. Are you fully experiencing radical change, you know, because of radical change that you’ve made? Absolutely, so go with it.
DANI: Cool. And this research assistant finally got her act together. She was on break for a long time, but she just handed me this thing that the Nucca stands for –
KATY: I was like, you hired a research assistant?
DANI: National upper cervical chiropractic association. And the basic of reduction of what it does – the spinal column remains straight and balanced, where the weight of the head is centered over the neck.
KATY: That’s the goal. That’s the goal.
DANI: That’s the goal for it.
KATY: Sure. That’s the goal for life.
DANI: It’s very gentle; it’s just a kind of chiropractic.
DANI: So she gets to keep her job this week, that research assistant.
KATY: How much are we paying her? Are we not paying her anything? Because that would –
DANI: That is the problem.
KATY: Okay, that’s where we are.
DANI: There’s not a lot of motivation.
KATY: All right.
DANI: And she’s sick of my puns. Okay, the final question is from Kelly: oh, she gave us two questions. “I have 2 questions for you.”
KATY: Sneaky! That’s so sneaky.
DANI: She’s cheating.
KATY: Kelly, I’m looking at you, Kelly.
DANI: We don’t see you; we’re looking at you. “I broke my tailbone snowboarding over a year ago, and it is still very painful to sit. Even sitting on a special coccyx pillow is painful. Is this normal? Anything I can do, movement-wise, to help relieve the pain?” You want to answer that one first?
KATY: Yeah, so it is normal, because it’s easy to displace the coccyx. The coccyx is just a tiny – it’s so funny, you know what I’m looking at on my desk right now is a study called, “Clinical Anatomy of the Coccyx: A Systematic Review.”
KATY: Isn’t that funny? That’s just to the right of the computer.
DANI: Quelle coincidence.
KATY: The coccyx is just a tiny – it’s just the last bone as you move from your head, the upper part of your spine, all the way down. It’s the bottom part of your tailbone, it’s its own separate bone and has its own joint. So it’s so easy to knock it, you know, to the right or to the left or inward. It happens a lot of time in childbirth, if you’re particularly tight to the musculature in that area. So instead of thinking of, like, what can I do to fix the pain, I think it would be more like, what can I do to fix the problem of a malpositioned coccyx? You know, how can I heal from the injury, more than how can I fix the symptom is the perspective that I have, which would really be working on any of the resources that are on the blog or are in particular videos for pelvic health, you know? When you tuck your tailbone, it’s weird but you get into a cycle: you hurt your tailbone, so then you sit in a way to take the pressure off of it.
KATY: Can you tell I’m clenching? Can you hear that I’m clenching?
KATY: So then you start clenching your bottom and sitting – you want to sit – you’re trying to sit on your sacrum and off of your coccyx, but that itself kind of leads to 1) the bone sitting in its, you know, malpositioned state, and then you’re sitting on other areas of your back and your pelvis that you really shouldn’t be. So follow the Healthy Pelvis protocol, because that includes the coccyx. Lots of hamstring kind of getting out of any holding patterns that might have developed as a compensation in dealing with when you in more of an acute stage, and the gluteus, baby. The gluteus is going to be part of what puts things back where they should go.
DANI: Excellent. Okay, we’re going to sneak in her second question.
DANI: Kelly! All right – at least she’s up front about it.
KATY: Of course.
DANI: She just didn’t use an ellipses or anything like that.
KATY: She did try to come in the back door. All right, go on. Go on.
DANI: Okay, second question: “I was told I have arthritis in one of my metatarsal joints. I can’t walk barefoot without extreme pain. I have to wear shoes with orthotics all the time; it’s very sad. Is there any way to reverse the arthritis with exercises?” – oh, here’s a – “or am I screwed?” Everybody seems to be on that theme today. Am I doomed? Am I screwed?
KATY: No. Very sad. Very sad.
DANI: And she mentions that she was a former gymnast and her feet and all of her joints got 10 years of very high impact activity.
KATY: Well, there’s a lot of people who will have inflammation in their joints – I’m not sure what Kelly has done as far as transitional exercises. So if you take your gymnastics feet that have been, you know, beat up, and you’re in orthotics and you’re in stiff shoes, and then you’re like, hey! I heard about this barefoot thing! And you kick off your shoes and you go for a barefoot walk, it’s going to hurt, especially if you have injuries in particular areas. So I would refer Kelly to the transitioning guide, where there are lots of steps that Kelly can take towards not only to strengthen your feet – you know, your feet aren’t really – they’re not static structures that you can just beat down to the point at which they don’t work anymore. It’s just usually that one particular, repetitive sport like gymnastics or a way of moving or running or whatever uses it in one particular way, and then you’re coupling that with, you know, lifestyle and wearing shoes before and after gymnastics. And all those things, all that needs to be undone. So what was the question – is there any way to reverse the arthritis? I would say that instead of, again, thinking about reversing arthritis – and arthritis, you know, it can kind of be just kind of a catch all diagnosis of why something hurts and that you’ve worn, you know, one particular area of your foot down. So again, start using the whole entire foot so that you remove the burden from that particular area. So it’s like, are you fixing the arthritis or the fact that you’ve worn down that joint, or are you just reducing the symptoms because you’re using more parts of your body? That’s the perspective, and that is something that is possible. So Whole Body Barefoot would be my recommendation.
DANI: Okay. That’s good! Wow, you just blew through those today. You’re amazing.
KATY: [explosion noise] Well, now it gives me time to read Clinical Anatomy of the Coccyx.
DANI: That’s right.
KATY: A Systematic Review.
DANI: Excellent. All right, well, thanks for listening to the Katy Says Movement Mailbag. And thanks, everyone, for your questions. Just keep asking, keep reading, and watching – there are so many resources at NutritiousMovement.com. It’s likely you can even answer your own question, because there’s so much there for you. And don’t forget: keep on moving.
KATY: Yeah. Thanks, everyone, for your questions. Keep ‘em coming! Bye.
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