The Pulsing of my Foot

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Typically, we are taught to check our pulse or someone else’s at the wrist or neck, we never think about other areas of the body pulsing. I’m here to tell you our entire body pulsates!

Our beautifully complex circulatory system circumnavigates the body wholeheartedly, turning, bending, going up and down, side to side all along the way. Its 100,000km (62,000+miles) network must be able to reach every single one of our trillions of cells to provide the nutrients they need to live.

Just to put the km in perspective, that is like traveling around the world two and a half times, driving a car just over 280km every day for a year, or jumping up and down 50 million times. That’s wacky right?!

What’s crazier is the fact that we unintentionally cut off our blood circulation {our vital nutrition} to various parts of the body unbeknownst to us.

The feet just happen to be the worst place for lack of blood flow, especially in runners! So, let’s look at circulation in the feet.

There are several arteries in the feet. One artery in particular that gets cut off in a lot of runners is the medial plantar artery (MPA), which branches off from the posterior tibial artery (PTA).

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Extremely rudimentary image

Why would it get ‘cut’ off? The medial plantar artery travels in between two muscles: the abductor hallucis and the flexor digitorum brevis. If any tension is happening in these muscles then the artery will get squished!!! So???

Let’s go back to the circulatory system: Most people think that the heart and arteries make up the circulatory system, and maybe if you know a bit more you would add arterioles. Yes; and, believe it or not, you would still be missing 80% of the puzzle [well, it’s more complicated, but KISS it today baby!].

80% of your vascular system (80,000km) is made up of capillaries: the Queens B s!!!! Capillaries are single celled blood vessels that transport nutrients to all the tissues in the body and get rid of all their waste products. In essence, capillaries are like Moms: Loving and nurturing through always feeding you and cleaning up your crap. Without them, we wouldn’t survive. Period!

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The Aorta is THE artery leaving the heart carrying oxygenated blood to the body.

The Vena Cava is THE vein carrying deoxygenated blood from the body into the heart.

To get a better understanding of what the vascular system actually looks like in humans, here is an image of the torso.

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Pretty freakin’ awesome eh?! 

Back to your FEET! Let’s say you have 12,500km of vasculature in each foot. For sake of ease, we’ll divide it up evenly, 50% to the anterior tibial artery and 50% to the posterior tibial artery. The medial plantar artery is smaller than the lateral plantar artery (MPA), so let’s be super conservative and say 30%. And of that 30%, 80% is compromised of capillaries~ 1500km. Holy catfish Wonder woman! If I cut off circulation to the MPA, I could be messing up miles of circulation to hundreds of thousands of cells in my feet.

What does this moronic, inaccurate statistic mean?

Capillaries of the MPA feed the medial side of your foot including the abductor hallucis AH and flexor digitorum brevis FDB (irony much?), arterial supply to the hallux (big toe), and nourishes the plantar aponeurosis surrounding the AH and FDB.

This means……. for E X A M P L E ….. the PLANTAR FASCIITIS {or fasciosis} common in runners can come from the pressures placed on the MPA. Below I illustrate just a few things that can cause pressure on the MPA. [And, if you want more details, come see me :)]

Direct pressure: Your orthotics, your inserts or your shoes themselves pressing against the MPA.

Indirect pressure: Toe spring, heel lift, narrow toe box, tight calves & hamstrings causing AH and/or FDB tension= MPA squish

FullSizeRender (18)                       Toe Spring [Changes the tension in the medial longitudinal arch]

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Heel lift [leads to shorter and tighter calves]

FullSizeRender (22)Toe box [shifts bones and muscles]

Perhaps, as a runner, I won’t be able to convince you just yet of how most running shoes are messing up your feet*. However, I can give you this awesome roll out of the AH to help ease your aches/pains and increase circulation to your feet using the Roll Model® balls. Check out the video!

*It took me many years of convincing before I decided to change my footwear. In addition to 2 years of transitioning from cushy heeled running shoes to flat, wide toe box, flexible shoes that allow my feet to do all the work. I haven’t had plantar fasciitis in over 20 years.

Also to note: There are many runners and coaches who still believe in overtraining {or who are oblivious to overtraining}. Plantar fasciitis is a classic overuse inflammatory response to repetitive movements irritating the plantar fascia. No one is born with plantar fasciitis. Our feet are shaped by our every move. Our feet re-act to our own actions we place upon them. They do exactly what they are told through stresses, mechanical loading, etc. Please be mindful of what you are making them do, day in and day out.

In conclusion…. Are there any other places you are cutting off circulation? Necrosis {cell/tissue death} is not a cool thing in a living human. I mean, it happens to millions of cells a day… but we don’t have to speed up the process do we?