Archive for the ‘General’ category

Friends don’t let friends wear sandals

September 7, 2015

Note: this excellent post was created by Katie Phillips, one of the terrific therapists in our clinic. And a special shout out to her husband for helping with the photos and videos!

At Egoscue Austin, we’ve been thinking a lot about your feet.  No, not about your nail polish or the length of your toenails–we’re thinking about foot function and position.  Twenty-five percent of the bones of the human body are in the foot.  The foot is capable of the same amount of mobility as the hand, it’s just that most of us don’t utilize all this potential.  

Look for more posts in the future on feet, like getting the most out of your Foot Circles & Point/Flexes, and additional footwear tips.  For today, we will talk about sandals or flip-flops.  

Flip-flops are the go-to shoe for many Austinites.  They are comfortable, relatively inexpensive, and convenient.  However, they can wreak havoc on the body.  Why?  To keep the thing from flip-flopping right off your foot you have to use all kinds of accessory muscles and joints.  There are the two main problems.  First, the toes have to clench and grab to hold the flip flop on.  This toe grabbing can cause symptoms like plantar fasciitis and hammertoes.   The second problem is that if the back leg is not pushing off with the toes, it is also not extending at the hip joint.  Hip joint extension is where we get to utilize our powerful glute muscles to help stabilize the pelvis and drive the leg forward into the next step.  Without proper hip extension power, the low back, hip, knees, ankles, and feet have to twist and rotate to swing the back leg around to the front.  The torque at the back, hip, and all the joints below leads to pain in these areas.

While walking, it is important for the toes to spread apart and push off, helping to extend the hip, which propels the leg forward into the next step.  Think about this the next time you walk.  And if you aren’t already, make walking a part of your daily activity intake.   

Take a look at this video of walking in flip flops.  Notice how the back leg never gets fully extended because that would cause the shoe to fall of.  This person can not generate power from their glutes and hamstrings to push off and move the body forward effectively.  They are essentially falling forward onto their front leg.  It’s not hard to imagine how this could lead to joint pain.



By contrast, wearing minimal shoes that fasten around the heel allow for greater extension and power generation at the hip joint.  Also, the toes can spread and create an even, stable base to push off the ground and drive the leg forward into the next step. 

So what to wear when you walk?  Where it is safe, barefoot is best.  If you want to protect your feet but be as bare as possible, choose shoes with a flat, thin, and flexible sole that also has backing on the heel.  The binding on the heel will keep the shoe on your foot and free the toes to fulfill their important push-off function.  The ability to get good toe push-off and hip extension equals happy feet, ankles, knees, hips and back.

In the photo below, look at how the toes have to grab to keep the flip flop on the foot.  


And here, look at the toe spread. This is a happy foot!


If you would like specific recommendations for footwear please feel free to contact us here at the clinic 512-527-0030 or  Happy walking!

The Power of your Heart

September 27, 2014

I’ve passed along the newsletters from Learning Strategies Corporation from time to time. I’m a fan of their work. This showed up in my inbox this morning from their “Health Sparks” newsletter and the message really resonated with me to the point I wanted to share it with you all.

One advantage I have over the average person is sample size. Because I work with people in pain for a living, I see patterns that an individual dealing with their own issues might not see. And here’s one pattern I see repeated in our clinic every week: someone is in severe, chronic pain but at the core of their issue is an emotional wound they will not allow to heal. That emotional wound then bleeds into their physical reality and creates wounds at that level. They can do all the Egoscue routines they want, but until they heal at an emotional/spiritual level, their pain will persist.

I want to be clear, that’s NOT everybody. For a lot of people, that knee pain is simply the product of a mispositioned knee and once we apply the right corrective exercises, things immediately get better. But I see a number of clients where their posture and function is improving but their symptom persists. And I’ve seen such cases where the person had a breakthrough of some kind, where they realized they were holding a grudge or harboring a resentment that had festered over the years, and when they laid it down they were amazed at how quickly they felt better, physically.

So, here you go. I’d encourage you to ask yourself, are you holding any resentments? Is there someone in your life you need to forgive? If so, follow the advice below and see what happens. I’ll bet life gets a lot better on a number of levels.


* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Welcome to Health Sparks
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Every day your heart, a muscle roughly the size of a fist, pumps about 2,000 gallons of oxygen-rich blood to cells throughout your body to keep you alive. As amazing as the physiology of it is, this primary organ of the circulatory system does so much more.
“The heart is the miracle maker,” says teacher, healer, and Qigong master Chunyi Lin. “The heart accounts for 90 percent of our body’s energy, the mind only 10 percent.”
In fact, research at the Institute of HeartMath has revealed:
  • The heart generates the largest electromagnetic field in the body, as measured in an electrocardiogram, and it’s about 100 times greater in amplitude than the brain waves recorded in an electroencephalogram.
  • The heart’s electromagnetic energy can be detected and measured several feet away from a person’s body, and between two people in close proximity.
  • Information transferred from the heart’s electromagnetic field changes based on the emotions experienced.
HeartMath studies “heart coherence,” a state in which the heart, mind, and emotions are in harmonious alignment, and the impact of this state on health and human performance.
“The heart connects us to the infinite and universal source of energy and serves as a keen advisor,” says Chunyi, creator of Spring Forest Qigong. “When we surrender to its advice, it is very powerful.”
Chunyi’s own experience is a clear example. During the Cultural Revolution in China, his childhood turned terrifying when his parents were arrested and he and his siblings were driven from their home in wintertime.
They were forced to live in the streets with no food, as bullets and bombs exploded near their hiding places. Family members even suffered torture. Chunyi lived in fear and was full of anger, which he carried for many years.
As a young man, Chunyi was depressed and suicidal. Injuries left him with severe arthritis in his knees and bone spurs in his back and neck. He could barely walk.
Chunyi had practiced Qigong, and he wanted to heal. One day he joined 15,000 people who gathered in a soccer stadium with a powerful Qigong master for a day of meditation and healing.
“He told us if you want to heal faster and more completely, open your heart. Forgive in your heart those people who hurt you,” Chunyi recalled. “And I said, ‘No way! Those people with a gun to our heads wanted to kill us. How could I ever forgive them?'”
If forgiveness seemed impossible, the Qigong master instructed, “Then just pretend to forgive them.” So Chunyi did.
“I imagined inviting each person to stand before me and telling them, ‘At this moment, I just pretend I love and forgive you.’ I repeated it over and over. ‘I pretend I love and forgive you.’ Later on there was a gigantic opening in my heart. The long forgotten love, kindness, and forgiveness came flooding back to me. It was a great warmth, like a current of energy, starting from my heart and washing like a river down my back and over my knees.”
When the workshop ended that evening, Chunyi stood up with a sudden realization. “A miracle had happened! My knee pain was almost gone. I ran and jumped about the soccer field like a kid — I was so happy. My arthritis was healed, my bone spurs in my back and neck were gone, and my suicidal depression went away. All the people I had hated before, I now loved from my heart. Now I live in peace and joy every day, every minute.”
Forgiveness is love in action. Forgiveness allows you to release anger, the number one cause of serious energy blockages that can lead to all sorts of illness and disease. “Just from a selfish perspective, you are the one to benefit,” Chunyi says.
And when you forgive someone, you give that person a chance to become a better person. “Your blessing is powerful. At the universal level, it is not between you and another person; it is between you and your god. At the universal level, everything is energy. We are all equal. That is why forgiveness is so powerful.”
On a larger scale, forgiveness brings more joy to your community. As Chunyi likes to say, “You become a ‘love radiator.’ You carry this healing love energy in your heart wherever you go, and because of you, other people feel better.”
When you assess your own life, do you find anger or resentment within? Are you willing and able to open your heart and extend forgiveness to others? If not now, then follow the master’s advice — just pretend — and experience how the warmth of love fills your being!

Stand up for mental health!

August 4, 2014

i subscribe to an email newsletter from The Learning Strategies Corporation and i thought i’d share something they sent me a few weeks ago. Here’s their newsletter, then i’ll conclude with a comment below it:

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Welcome to Health Sparks
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
How many hours did you spend sitting yesterday? Consider your drive to work, time spent at your desk, an afternoon meeting, gathering around the dinner table, and catching the nightly news.
For many, it adds up quickly. And it could be taking a toll on your mental and emotional wellbeing.
Your brain’s functioning depends on blood flow, which is decreased by prolonged sitting, says Linda Wasmer Andrews, author of the Encyclopedia of Depression, in an article published in Psychology Today. Andrews sites three recent studies that have assessed the psychological effects of sitting:
  1. In a study of over 3,000 government employees in Tasmania, Australia, those who sat over six hours each workday scored higher on the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, which measures anxiety and depression experienced in the past four weeks, than those who sat less than six hours per day. The results were consistent, regardless of the participants’ activity levels outside of work.
  2. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine studied 9,000 women in their fifties and found those who sat seven hours or more per day and were otherwise physically inactive were three times more likely to suffer from depression than those who sat fewer than four hours per day. “The relationship between sitting and depression may be a two-way street,” says Andrews. Depression decreases a person’s energy and motivation, and prolonged sitting is likely to make it worse.
  3. Researchers from the Society of Behavior Medicine studied men and women to determine if time spent sitting outside of work—watching TV, using a computer, riding in a vehicle, and socializing—impacted mental wellbeing. For women, non-work hours spent sitting, regardless of which activity, had a negative effect. For men, only non-work hours spent on a computer had significant negative impact.
“Consider how you spend your free time: It’s important to make time for the gym or a regular run. But don’t count on even a daily half-hour of exercise to completely cancel out the unhealthy, unhappy effects of 11 hours in a chair,” says Andrews. “If you have a desk job, seek opportunities to add more activity breaks to your day.”
Even breaks as short as a minute can help.


The more we learn about sitting, folks, the more we find how damaging it is to our health, and this study talks about its impact on our spirits. One thing i love about this is where it says “even breaks as short as a minute can help.  If you’re a client of an Egoscue clinic and you sit a lot for whatever reason, ask your therapist to give you a short menu to help counteract your sitting time. if i have a client, for example, who has a deskjob i’ll give them an “office menu” where i give them very short things they can do during their day to break up and counteract the limited motion patterns of extended sitting. Your therapist will be happy to give you one if they haven’t already.


So now that you’ve read this blog post, get up and move!

An easy, powerful way to be happier

January 30, 2014

I read an interesting book a month or two ago, The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor. He dives into the concepts and research findings from the field of positive psychology. The data is fascinating as it strongly suggests that we can systematically engage in certain behaviors that increase our inner well being, as well as behaviors that tear it down. I think most of us would intuitively understand this to be true, but now we have research that not only confirms it, but gives guidance as to what some of those behaviors actually are!

So let me ask you a few questions. Would you like to be happier? Would you like to feel a deeper sense of inner well being? Would you like to experience less stress? And what if I told you that you could accomplish ALL those things in 5 minutes a day, and not even spending 5 consecutive minutes at one time? 2-3 minutes in the morning, 2-3 minutes in the evening before bed. Interested?  I was.

One of the things the research shows is that maintaining a gratitude journal and writing some very specific things in it every day can lead to profoundly positive internal shifts. In my life I’ve made various attempts at maintaining a gratitude journal, but they all petered out for one reason or another. And then I heard a podcast from one of the creators of The Five Minute Journal. It sounded intriguing so I checked it out. I was so impressed that I purchased it and I will tell you flat out, I think this thing is REALLY powerful.

I could take the time to go into why, but I’d rather let you just discover it for yourself.  Go to and check it out. This is a POWERFUL tool I recommend to everyone. If you decide to purchase it, use the coupon code “bulletproof” (I’ll explain more in a subsequent post where that comes from) to get a modest discount. It’s not an expensive item by any stretch. With the coupon code I think I paid about $26 including shipping.

We know very clearly that our inner emotional state has a profound impact on how our bodies feel and function. In fact if you ask Pete Egoscue for his definition of health, one answer I’ve heard him give of late is “Health is peace of mind”. This journal is a fantastic tool to help you cultivate such peace.  

And a request: if you get one, share comments below about what you’ve experienced as you began using it.

Are “minimalist” shoes good or bad?

January 20, 2014

I’ve seen a lot of articles about this topic over the last year and it’s been fairly predictable. Let’s get some clarity on this.


First, what is a “minimalist” shoe? It’s a shoe that doesn’t have much (if any) intrinsic support. Such shoes are typically very light weight and very flexible.  At Egoscue we’ve recommended such shoes for years. In Pete’s books he has consistently written (for decades) to wear as little shoe as possible. Spend as much time barefoot as you can, and when you need to wear shoes, spend as much time in shoes that are as close to barefoot as possible.  Examples of such shoes would be the Merrell Barefoot line (what I’m wearing right now), New Balance Minimus, Nike Free, Vibram FiveFingers, and now a whole host of other options. This category of shoe is “trending” (to borrow a term from the TwitterVerse). 

Here’s a pic of the exact model of shoe I’m wearing as I type this. I love these things:


What is the advantage to such a shoe? Simple: it allows your foot to do the things a foot is supposed to do. Most athletic shoes are so rigid that they don’t work with the foot, they encase it and physically restrict it from doing what it is designed to do. Essentially, they crutch the foot. And does a crutched body part get stronger or weaker? Yeah, weaker. Is it in your best interests to have a foot that is stronger or weaker? Get the picture?

If a client properly transitions to this style of shoe, they invariably have a great experience. But the key word there is “properly”. If you walk for 30 minutes a day and you’ve been using traditional walking shoes, don’t get a pair of these and then go for a 30 minute walk in them. Same thing if you’re a runner, or just wear such shoes bopping around town. Let your body adapt to this new stimulus, because it IS new stimulus. These shoes will absolutely make your feet do work that your current shoes don’t. That’s the point, but you don’t’ want to overload the foot. Let the foot gradually adapt to this new demand.

The other thing is, if you have significant postural or functional issues, shoes like these will highlight them. I see articles saying that some people get injured switching to these shoes. I’ll bet they do. If you take the general population not working with us, people with hips and knees and ankles out of position, compromised foot strikes when they walk and run, and then without working on addressing these postural and functional faults you just put them into a minimalist shoe and think that’s going to solve all problems, you’re going to be disappointed, and you will likely hurt.

So am I fan of these kinds of shoes? Absolutely. But I would STRONGLY suggest that if you want to make this transition, work on your basic postural and functional issues and then give your body time to adapt to this new stimulus. The results will be WELL worth it.


I’m back. Again.

December 20, 2013

Hey guys, my last post was apologizing for the extended delay, and now here I am doing the exact same thing. A number of reasons why, but it doesn’t really matter.

So, I want to fire this back up and share some things I find exciting in the world of Egoscue, share some information, and share some things I’m doing outside of Egoscue that I think are having a powerful influence on my health.

But I have a question: what kind of stuff would YOU like to read here? Posts about different health and pain issues? Egoscue testimonials? Cutting edge info about overall health and wellness? If there’s something you’d like to see here, comment below and tell me about it and I’ll do my best to address it.

I’ll be back shortly (I promise) with more.

An update, and a great video

April 2, 2012

Hey guys, I apologize for not having more timely updates here. Much has been afoot. I had the radio show going there for 3 months and that took up a chunk of time. For a number of reasons, we decided to discontinue it, but not because no one was listening. In fact, quite the opposite. We were getting off to one of the fastest starts that VoiceAmerica radio has ever seen. What they told me was that, typically, their top rated shows would take a few months to get 1000 listens a month, then a few more to get over 5,000, then would grow from there. One of the things that’s cool about Internet radio is you can get very precise information about how many people are listening and in what format. Here’s what our listener numbers came in at:

Month 1 – Dec: 2,720
Month 2 – Jan: 5,208
Month 3 – Feb: 13,024

People were listening, and that is very gratifying. What this tells me is people are hungry for hearing about how to get out of pain. All of us, Egoscue therapists AND clients, have a story to tell. Too many people are out there hurting needlessly. So thank you for keeping on spreading the message. I hope to have the MP3s from the radio show available on our website soon. I’ll post more about that when I have it.

In the meantime, a few good friends strongly recommended a video from the excellent TED series. You can get quite an education from watching TED videos. This one is about our nation’s identity, about who we are and what we believe and how we will ultimately be defined. It is superb, and I strongly recommend it to you. Here it is:

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