Category Archives: foot

30 Strange Fitness Facts & Myths Debunked

personal trainer nyc
  1. Cholesterol is not a good indicator of future hearth disease.  A large waist size (over 40 inches for men and 35 for women) is a much better indicator of future cardiovascular disease risk then cholesterol levels.
  2. Pound for pound your tongue is the strongest muscle in your body and your glutes (butt muscles) are the strongest in absolute terms.
  3. There are 10 bacteria cells in your body for every 1 human cell you have.  Meaning you are more bacteria then human! Furthermore, most of this bacteria in and on your body is not yet classified by science.  Click here for more.
  4. “It takes on average 17 muscles to smile and 43 to frown” is not rooted in science and is untrue. Actually, it takes about the same amount of muscles to frown as it does to smile.   
  5. Every day an adult body produces 300 billion new cells. To make those cells your body uses the food you take in…you are what you eat so think about what you put into your body.
  6. Most of us are about a half inch taller in the morning.  Click here for why.
  7. Your body uses almost half of its 650 muscles to balance you out while standing still.
  8. Lean muscles do all their growing on your rest days.  Without proper recovery times in between workouts (about 48 hours) you will negate your efforts and possibly lose ground by over-training.  Fix your sleep. This is the most vital part of your rest, your body is at very high recovery when you are having good sleep.
  9. Most of our human cells (not all) will be completely replaced every 10 years.  Different tissues in the body replace cells at different rates, and some tissues never replace cells.
  10. The “cracking” or “popping” sound you hear (crepitus) when moving your appendages is gas being released….not bone rubbing on bone.
  11. Muscle fibers are thinner than human hair yet each can support 1000x its own weight.
  12. During the first 2 months as an embryo we start to develop a tail and by the 9th week it disappears, leaving the coccyx (the last segment of the backbone).
  13. No other mammal has as such a large a proportion of fat around the buttocks as humans…no one seems to know why this is true, although theories are abound.
  14. The penis contains no muscle tissue.
  15. An infant’s foot has about 20x the toe grasping capacity as a shoe-wearing adult.  However, in shoeless societies adults retain this pre-hensile ability. Click here for more.
  16. Your liver and skeletal muscles store about 12-24 hours supply of glycogen (sugar)….but once they are filled up, any extra carbs eaten will be converted to fat for long term-storage.  Daily exercise prevents your muscles and liver from being filled up.
  17. Science is not sure why we yawn or sleep.  However, most humans will die after 11 days without sleep.
  18. Tight calves can give you headaches by tightening your fascia (tissue covering your muscles) which run in continous bands from your heels all the way up to the back of your skull.
  19. Static stretching before an exercise or event will “turn-off” the muscles you are stretching and make it less active during movement.  In fact, runners who stretch before running burn 5 percent fewer calories than runners who don’t stretch.
  20. Hanging in a pullup position does not stretch most of your muscles (it contracts them) but will temporarily make you up to 1/2 inch taller.   Click here for more.
  21. Exercise works just as good (and in some cases better) at alleviating depression as anti-depression medication.
  22. People who want to quit smoking are twice as likely to succeed in quitting if they lift weights than if they don’t lift weights.
  23. There is a common myth that we use only 10% of our brains yet fMRI’s and PET scans show we use 100%!
  24. Exercise has been show to increase brain volume and  grows new brain cells. The latest neuroscience suggests exercise does more to bolster thinking than thinking does!
  25. Snot from sneezes do not travel 100mph…The science based TV show Myth Busters, clocked snot at a slow 35-39 mph.
  26. Swimming workouts tend to make people hungrier then similar intensity running or biking workouts.
  27. Eating eggs does not increase your cholesterol level and in fact may prolong your life.  Click here for more.
  28. Conventionally grown peaches have the highest pesticide load of any fruit or vegetable (according to Environmental Working Group). Buy organic foods to limit your exposure to agricultural chemicals.
  29. Science has never shown breakfast to be the most important meal of the day.  Click here for more.
  30. Muscle soreness the day after your workout is not lactic acid build up and stretching will not alleviate the ‘pain’.
Doug Joachim – NYC
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Shoes are Dangerous for Kids

The children’s shoe industry has been around for over a century and represents almost 20% of the 60 billion dollar U.S. market.  Yet, many experts agree children’s shoes do more damage to the growing foot than they do to protect them . Kid’s shoes are cute, clever and quite corrupting.  At best a child’s footwear will protect their feet from getting dirty and at worst it will permanently deform their foot, promote faulty posture, produce an unnatural gait and decrease brain development.  

Children’s Footwear Myths:

  1. Shoes need to be a snug fit: This doesn’t allow for the elastic movement of the foot and toes to work as they are meant to function.  Furthermore, the tightness can reshape the cartilage and change the actual shape of the foot!
  2. Heel support and lift is needed for protection: look at your child’s shoe.  Is the heel higher (and thicker) than the the toe?  If so, and it probably is, this will adaptively shorten their Achilles tendon and calf musculature…this can be permanent. 
  3. Pronation protection: Pronation is normal!  Overpronation is quite subjective and has been seen to dissipate while walking or running barefoot.  Let their little cute ankles get stronger by moving through a full natural range of motion. 
  4. Leaving room in the shoe for their little feet to grow (or being too cheap and buying a size up thinking they’ll grow into it):  When they are running around and suddenly stop their tootsies get slammed up against the front of the shoe causing ingrown toenails and worse the beginning of hammer toes and bunions.   

Ever try to put a shoe on a baby or the even the family pet? They can hardly remove the offending shoe or booty fast enough. It is actually quite funny endeavor to watch. This is a message about our instinct to be barefoot. In fact, studies show barefoot children learn to walk more quickly and have less falls than their shod counterparts. Until about age 10, most children still have soft, malleable feet.  Not to mention they are getting larger all the time and literally pushing up through the seams. Kids’ feet are not just smaller versions of ours; they tend to be wider across the toes and mostly cartilage (which is gradually replaced by bone). Children’s footwear is modeled to be smaller versions of adult ones. Some manufacturers make high heels for kids! 

Most shoe companies design shoes with pre-defined shapes and overlook the natural architecture of the human foot. This is especially true when it comes to shoes for kids. Rigid and malformed shoes directly effect how a child’s foot bones and arch will shape. Our toes are supposed to be spread out, almost in a “v” shape.  Instead most of us have crunched and smooshed in feet with little or no independent control of our toes. Our feet become the shape of the shoes we wear. 

The soles of our feet and toes contain over 200,000 nerve endings that serve to tell our brain about our environment in order to balance the body, know where and how hard to step down and provide it with accurate information regarding proprioception.  The foot brain connection is vital for equilibrium, gait, and dynamic/passive stability.  The sensory blindfold of a thick soled shoe confuses the entire connection. A congenially shod child will never properly develop this brain foot connection and will suffer from functionally weak and under-performing feet, unnatural gaits and faulty postural skills.   
For a variety of reasons, sneaker companies are always convincing us to buy snug fitting shoes for our toddlers (and us). A growing child’s foot will get all of its developmental requirements satisfied by simply playing, jumping and running without shoes. 

When my son isn’t running around barefoot, he rocks a pair VIVOBAREFOOT minimalist shoes.  When he does wear shoes, he hardly ever bothers with socks because he likes to feel the ground (socks provide one more layer of foot/toe tightness and distance from the earth).  He also wears “zero drop” sandals like Huraraches or scuba socks.  In looking for shoes it is important to find a pair that has no heel, thin soles, lightweight and a big toe box.  Let your child’s feet feel the ground and function like they have evolved to move and work.  There is nothing like being a kid and running barefoot through the grass…interesting research and reviews of shoe wearing children:

Udaya B. Rao, Benjamin Joseph, (1992) “The influence of footwear on the prevalence of flat foot: A survey of 2,300 children”, Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery, Vol. 74‚ No. 4. pages 525-527.
  • Findings: An Elevated heel of any height on a child’s shoe shortens the Achilles tendon. This marks the beginning of permanent tendon shortening.  Flat foot was most common in children who wore closed-toe shoes, less common in those who wore sandals or slippers, and least in the unshod. The study suggest that shoe-wearing in early childhood is detrimental to the development of a normal longitudinal arch.  

Staheli LT, (1991) “Shoes for Children: A Review”, Pediatrics, 88(2):371-375. 

  • Optimum foot development occurs in the barefoot environment. 2. The primary role of shoes is to protect the foot from injury and infection. 3. Stiff and compressive footwear may cause deformity, weakness, and loss of mobility. 4. The term “corrective shoes” is a misnomer. 5. Shock absorption, load distribution, and elevation are valid indications for shoe modifications. 6. Shoe selection for children should be based on the barefoot model. 7. Physicians should avoid and discourage the commercialization and “media”-ization of footwear. Merchandising of the “corrective shoe” is harmful to the child, expensive for the family, and a discredit to the medical profession.  

The NY TIMES (Aug. 14, 1991): Children with the healthiest and most supple feet are those who habitually go barefoot. Studies of developing nations show that non-shoe-wearers have better flexibility and mobility, stronger feet, fewer deformities, and less complaints than those who wear shoes regularly. When a child must wear a shoe, it should be lightweight, flexible, shaped more or less quadrangularly, and above all, should not have the arch supports and stiff sides once deemed necessary to give the foot support. Many pediatric orthopedists strongly oppose “corrective” or “orthopedic” shoes for straightening foot and leg deformities like flat feet, pigeon toes, knock-knees, or bowlegs. Dr. Staheli and others contend that there is no evidence that corrective shoes correct anything, and that most of the supposed deformities correct themselves in almost all cases.

“The Pilbara Times”, Australia (31 Jan 1980). “Care For Kids Then Care For Their Feet”: Edited extracts from an interview with the president of the Australian Podiatry Association:

“[Children’s] bones are soft cartilage, easily compressible, and they don’t feel pain until the damage is done,” said the president of The Australian Podiatry Association.   “The effects of childhood foot damage can show up in posture and gait in the early twenties,” the president said. “The inability for a person to stand for any length of time without stress can also be attributed to early foot problems. Shoes must take a lot of the blame for claw toes, under and over riding toes, bunions and ingrown toe nails, not to mention corns and callus.  Australian children probably have broader feet now than they did ten years ago, because so many go barefoot. Between the ages of 7 and 12 years, growth is fairly rapid. Don’t hesitate to let them be barefoot. It won’t spread or flatten normal healthy feet as the foot only grows as long as the ligaments allow anyway. The majority of foot damage is preventable if parents take proper care of their children’s feet by allowing them to grow naturally – barefootedly.”

 For more barefoot information click Here

Doug Joachim – NYC In-Home Personal Trainer
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

Got Foot Strength?

screaming feet

“I hardly use my toes, why should I strengthen them?” stated the dimwitted big-biceped gym rat.  It may seem insignificant but the inability to control the stability of the foot and toes has paramount implications on the entire body.  As you step down your foot is the first part of your anatomy that has to overcome all ground forces.  Depending on how your foot falls it will negatively or positively affect the integrity of your knee joints, lumbopelvic hip stability and the rest of the translated forces up the kinetic chain.  Most of us wear shoes all day long and barely spend anytime barefoot. I fear to say that many people spend no time barefoot except for when they are sleeping.  Just to be clear, when I say “barefoot” I mean just that: naked feet sans shoes, slippers, and socks.  Shoes are ruining our feet and additionally causing lots of unmitigated knee, hip and lower back pain.  Most footwear quietly over time wreaks havoc on our anatomy.  The foot coffins we don, although maybe sexy, have been shown to cause:

  1. Bunions, corns, and blisters
  2. Fallen arches
  3. Hammer toes
  4. Ingrown toenails
  5. Increased chances of ankle sprains
  6. Foot disfigurement
  7. Athlete’s Foot (bacterial and fungal infections)
  8. Hallux valgus (inward turning of big toe)
  9. Shortens and weakens the Achilles tendon and calf musculature
  10. Plantar fasciitis

Shoes provide us with a form of self-imposed neurological and muscular blindness.  They prevent us from feeling the ground and using the muscles in our feet correctly.  A shoe works in a similar way to a cast.  It protects us from the environment and holds the architecture of the foot rigid yet our feet crave freedom.  Shod individuals have blindfolded and bound their own feet in order to protect against the elements.  If the foot was a person, it would scream “torture” (AKA: enhanced stressed positions).  Research shows going barefoot improves alignment, strengthens the foot, increases flexibility and promotes better balance and proprioception.

Did you ever see Daniel Day-Lewis in “My Left Foot”?  His character lost the ability to use most of his body except, you guessed it, his left foot.  Anyway, with only one limb working, he became very adept at using his foot to paint, eat, write etc.  Many babies and toddlers have this same ability.  The main reason we lose our natural lower limb dexterity because we stop using our feet and toes and begin wearing shoes.  In congenitally barefoot societies the breadth of foot strength and dexterity is simply amazing by our standards.

Let’s see how much control you have over your toes and feet. Try these 4 things to improve your foot’s dexterity, strength, and balance.

1. Stand up and push your big toe down into the ground (but don’t bend/flex it) and lift your other toes up while keeping your heel on the ground (make sure not to roll the ankle in or out).

2. How about lifting your big toe up and pressing your other four toes down (but don’t bend them) while keeping your heels grounded?

3. Try standing on one foot, not shifting all your weight to that side, and balance on 3 points: big toe, heel, and Ball under the small toe.  Hold for 30 seconds.

4. Janda’s Short foot – a great micro-movement that strengthens your 1st MTP and arch:


The 1st MTP (big toe) supports the weight of your body while walking and running.  It also serves as the push off point during locomotion.  However, most running sneakers have a narrow toe box that is flexed upwards (industry standard is 15 degrees…high heels are much more), putting all your toes in extension and preventing the 1st MTP from properly flexing down and propelling you off into the next step.   During the landing phase of walking/running, the big toe helps raise the arch (medial longitudinal arch) and thus locks the bones of the foot causing temporary stiffness which allows for propulsion.  In shoes the 1st MTP is immobilized like a fish in a tin can preventing the arch mechanics from properly working.  Most congenitally shod individuals have weakened toes and potentially inhibited foot muscles from all that shoe wearing.  We develop compensations from these weak links and our knees, hips and back suffer for it.  As often as you can kick off your shoes and walk around (uneven surfaces are great) and practice the above exercises to regain some of your innate foot dexterity and balance.


1. Influence of Footwear on Flat foot
2. Rossi, William A. “Why Shoes Make” Normal” Gait Impossible.” Part 1 (1999): 50-61.
3. Janda Foot Exercise
4. Walking Barefoot Decreases Knee Pain
5. Lumbo-Pelvic Hip Stabilization and Foot Strength From Dr. Emily Splichal
6. Shoe Design Manipulates Human Movement

Doug Joachim – NYC
Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather