About Scott R. Smith, L. OM
Adjunct Faculty, Won Institute of Graduate Studies
Author, “Acupuncture for Foot Disorders”
Nationally Certified by the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM)
Scott is published in the Journal of Chinese Medicine, Chinese Medicine Times, Acupuncture Today, The American Acupuncturist, and The Lantern, and QI: The Journal of Traditional Eastern Health and Fitness.
Excerpt from The Importance of Muscle Region Clearing in the Acupuncture Treatment of Foot Disorders by Scott R. Smith, L. OM
From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) the foot, knee, thigh, hip, and lower back are inseparable. Practitioners of TCM generally aim to treat the whole person and recognise, for instance, that a foot problem might actually be due to a knee injury, or conversely that a knee problem might stem from a foot problem. Whilst Western medicine frequently treats foot conditions by providing local treatment – whilst ignoring the rest of the lower limb – TCM treatment demands that practitioners maintain awareness of the relationship of the foot to the rest of the body. Unlike the upper limbs, the lower limbs bear weight, which makes them more susceptible to degenerative changes (consider, for instance, the frequency with which we encounter damage to knee cartilage compared to that of the elbow). This can make the healing of foot complaints more challenging. In order to heal such degenerative conditions, one should not just treat the local area, but also look further – to the calf, knee, thigh, buttock and back. In acupuncture terms this means being familiar with the diagnosis and treatment of the muscle regions (the jingjin – also known as the sinew channels or tendinomuscular meridians).
Foot complaints easily create imbalances along the related muscle regions. To illustrate this, try walking for a day as if you have a painful first metatarsophalangeal joint – keep your toe extended in the shoe and prevent it from touching the ground. See how your calf, knee, hip and back respond to shifting the body weight to the outside of the foot (bearing in mind that the discomfort you are feeling does not include the pain you would experience if you had an actual foot problem). Thus many people develop dysfunction along the muscle regions that lie between the foot and back because of their foot problem. On the other hand, if a knee condition is the underlying cause of a foot complaint – due perhaps to an associated long-term load imbalance – then the knee condition must also be treated to resolve the foot problem. For example, weakness of the peroneus longus, peroneus brevis and extensor digitorum longus muscles have been implicated in gait problems, difficulty wearing shoes and recurrent ankle sprains (Travell et al., 1993).
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