That’s right. All of those “abs and butt” classes, fit-ball exercises, sit-ups, clam shells, abdominator 3000 machines, etc., might just be a complete waste of time and money for you.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Technically, I am as big a fan of a strong core as the next health nut. But I differ in that I do not judge you on how strong your core is; I care about how well it functions in life.
For those who have managed to escape the word “core” over the past 10 years it is referring to our abs and butt in its simplest definition. In my world I refer to the entire torso as our primary engine, and the arms and legs as our secondary engines.
Our secondary engines are not very effective without a strong, efficient, well-tuned primary engine. For instance, I often ask clients whether they throw a ball with their arms or their trunk. The obvious answer is arms. But if you stand completely still and throw a ball with no trunk movement, it will not travel very far. Now, if you throw the same ball but this time you use your primary engine along with your arm, you will be able to launch that ball infinitely further.
So why then am I against core exercises? The exercises themselves are not necessarily wrong, as they certainly can strengthen the primary engine, and they will improve the function of our primary engine when performed correctly. The problem is that these now “strong” muscles are virtually useless when wearing shoes with heel pitch. This includes your running and walking shoes, school shoes, work shoes, etc. Nearly all shoes on the market today are raised higher at the heel compared with the toes.
As soon as you raise your heel higher than the toes your pelvis rotates forward and your glutes switch off…all that hard work down the drain. Your abs and butt might still look better than without doing any of the exercises but they are now purely for show and not function. This may be okay if that is all you are after. But the simple fact is that billions of dollars are spent and made in the fitness industry on the premise of improving core function to enhance athletic performance, take stress off backs and hips, and generally just to be stronger and healthier, all of which can be made null and void every single step you take in your supposed good footwear.
A bit confused by all this? Stand up with bare-feet and squeeze your butt. There should not be anything too challenging with this. Now relax your glutes, lean forward and stick your butt out behind you. Squeeze your butt again. Pretty tough, huh? When you stick your butt out behind you your pelvis rotates forward, in a similar fashion to when you put your high-heeled running, walking, school and work shoes on, and your glutes are less able to fire.
There is no functional reason to lift your heel higher than your toes for walking, running and everyday life. Heel pitch changes the function of every joint right up to your spine…and not for the better.
It is time to outlaw heel pitch in shoes. Whilst we could wait for big class action lawsuits to shake up the footwear industry and expose the harm they are causing our bodies, it would be much simpler to just not buy any shoe that is elevated at the heel compared to the toes. We have the power to make this change.
Unfortunately, the few footwear companies that truly understand and support human anatomy, physiology and function, do not have the marketing power and dollars to compete with the big names in fitness…yet.
If you need any further convincing that heel pitch is evil, along with causing our glutes to switch off it also causes chronically tight, short calf muscles; which just happen to be implicated in almost every common condition I treat as a podiatrist…plantar fasciopathy, achilles tendonopathy, shin splints, etc.
“But when I wear flat shoes my heels and achilles tendon get sore.” This is not normal. And it is no reason to keep wearing high-heeled walking, running, school and work shoes. You can actually thank such shoes for the chronic shortening of your calf muscles and achilles tendon in the first place.
To summarise the current situation, we pay the footwear industry billions of dollars to end up with shortened calf muscles, dysfunctional glutes, and altered function at every joint from our feet right up to our neck. Then we pay our hard earned money to the fitness industry to strengthen our core…that is subsequently undone by our shoes. Then you pay me as a podiatrist (and a multitude of other health professionals) to treat the injuries related to the dysfunction caused by your shoes.
Ditch heel pitch and enjoy better function…day in day out.
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