Articles in Category: Ergonomics

What's in a Shoe?

on Monday, 28 October 2019. Posted in Newsletters, General Health, Ergonomics, Training and Performance

Article by Elizabeth Evans
B. Sc., M. Pthy.. M. SPSc., AEP, AES

Most people buy shoes based on fashion. Here, at the Institute of Sports and Spines we take shoes seriously, we even have a confiscation box!

This quick shoe anatomy lesson will help you choose the right pair of shoes on your next shopping trip.

The UPPER: This is everything above the sole of the shoe. Usually made with several layers of fabrics and mesh that are sewn and or glued together.
What to look for: An upper that is shaped like your foot, is smooth and doesn't cause rubbing.

The Ankle Collar: This is the top of the shoe opening that holds the heel down in place snuggly.
What to look for: Avoid shoes that allow the heel to slip out and those that cause excess rubbing or pressure near the Achilles tendon.

The Saddle: This is the area around the arch between the ball of the foot and the ankle.
What to look for: The arch of your foot should feel comfortable, not being pushed, slipping and falling down. Your foot should feel snug and secure without pressure.

The Toebox: This is the front of the shoe upper that encloses the forefoot and toes
What to look for: A toebox that fits the width of your toes/forefoot. Your foot should bend and spread naturally without pressure or rubbing on the toes, pins and needles is often a sign the toebox is too narrow.

The Heel-Toe Drop: This is the difference in height between your heel and the ball of your foot. Changing the foot drop drastically can contribute to injuries and alter your stride in walking and running.
What to look for: A shoe that feels right when walking or jogging.

Other tips include:

You may think you know your size, but it’s best to get your feet measured each time you buy new shoes.

When you go shopping, take along the socks you intend to use to find a great fit.

Are your Feet Flat, Neutral, or Rigid? 

on Monday, 28 October 2019. Posted in Newsletters, General Health, Ergonomics, Training and Performance

Article by Emily Holzberger
Accredited Exercise Physiologist B.ExSSci (ClinExPhys). Memb: ESSA, ASCA Level 1 Strength and Conditioning coach, Level 1 Volleyball Australia coach


Different foot types impact the way we move and perform exercise. There are three primary foot types these are:

1. Flat feet: lacks medial arch, generally wide feet, very mobile, pronation.
2. Rigid feet: very high arches, immobile, make a loud thud when walking on hard surfaces, supination.
3. Neutral feet: medial arches present, good mobility through the foot.

The type of foot type you have impacts how your body distributes load. Here we can see the how the ankle joint is impacted by our foot type:

Foot pic 2

Our body works like a chain, so if I have very flat feet may knees are likely to be knock kneed. For some people this may impact them only when doing exercise. For example, if when I'm performing a squat my medial arched collapses my knees will move together. This puts pressure on the medial aspect of our knee joint and increases risk of knee pain. This can happen for people with pronated or neutral feet. See bellow the difference between squatting with no arches vs. arches.


If you're looking at that squat and thinking “Hey! That's what I look like!” do not fear, we have an exercise that can help build up the strength in your arches. This exercise is called short foot, the goal is to keep equal pressure between the ball of your foot and your heel. Imagine “gripping the ground” with your foot. By doing this your foot will shorten due to the lifting of the arch through the muscle contracting. This is great to practice whenever you're doing exercise as it allows our body to get into a better position for loading.


For those with rigid feet it is very important to cushion your foot well. Ensuring that the shoes you are wearing are providing you with a comfortable base is good for reducing risk of pain through the feet, ankles, knees, lower back and even your upper body. If when you are walking around at home you sound like a baby elephant that's a sign that you should be wearing shoes, especially if you're spending a lot of time on your feet. Even some cushioned thongs or crocs could do the trick!

If you're not too sure what foot type you have, it can be helpful to have a look at a few pairs of your shoes, they may hold the answer! You can see exactly where you wear down your shoes and this tells us your foot type. Here we can see what your foot type can do to your footwear:


If you're still not sure about exactly how your foot type is impacting your walking or running gait, come into Institute of Sports and Spines for a gait analysis. From this, we are able to create an exercise program tailored to your foot type and the rest of your body. Get in contact if this sounds like something you're in need of!


Images sourced from:

Why sitting the whole day followed by exercise is not ideal

on Tuesday, 11 June 2019. Posted in General Health, Ergonomics, Chiropractic

A Lesson in Anatomy

Why sitting the whole day followed by exercise is not ideal

Before we begin, you need to first understand that we have 2 types of muscles in our bodies; Postural (or Tonic) and Phasic muscles. This is important because it will help you understand:

a. Why taking micro-breaks in between long sitting during the day will improve your exercise regime.

b. Why you might not feel an exercise working in the right places initially and know that they eventually will.

Postural and Phasic Muscles

Postural (or Tonic) muscles are used to sustain our posture while in a standing or sitting position. The phasic muscles on the other hand are primarily for movement. Postural muscles are prone to shortening and tightness whilst the phasic muscles tend to become lengthened and weakened when injured and also during ordinary stresses of daily life.

Why taking micro-breaks in between long sitting during the day will improve your exercise regime.

The problem with sitting for a long period and being inactive is that we will most likely favour using our postural muscle in that environment and this unfortunately also means our brain will disconnect from our phasic muscles.

This is not ideal because when we start exercising again, we won’t be able to use our movement muscles as efficiently as our brain will instead default to getting the postural muscles to do the things the movement muscles should be doing.

A good example of this is people trying to do a squat and is finding that it hurts their back. That is because they have trouble activating the gluteal and hamstring muscles after sitting in the chair for hours so the back muscles are contracted instead (which is not what we want).

This is why it is important to move around throughout the day in the office so your brain is able to use some of those moving muscles and is not set to a default postural muscle usage.

Why you might not feel an exercise working in the right places initially. Push through it and you will feel it work.

As mentioned earlier, phasic muscles are prone to lengthening when they are weak and on top of that our lifestyle causes us to use the postural muscles more often which is why the brain has some difficulty redetecting these phasic muscles initially. Using cues and doing the exercises slower in lesser repetition helps fire up the big phasic muscles and relax the postural muscles.

So don't feel beaten up if you do not feel the right places working at first. The more often you use these muscles, you know they will eventually work.

Remember! Your postural muscles tend to shorten and tighten when stressed and the phasic muscles will lengthen and weaken. So if you are feeling tight on some of the postural muscles listed and having some trouble activating the phasic muscles, it is time to re-evaluate your exercises to improve your condition.

Written By Iris Tan
B.App Sc (Chiropractic)
M.Clin Chiropractic