Guest Blogger: Instant Arches
by Steve L. Rosenberg, DPM
Arch Specialist for Softball Factory
Get in an athletic position! Get the balls of your feet on the ground! That is the cry infielders and outfielders should hear from their coaches when playing defense. In order to get into an athletic position you have to be able to move your feet quickly. Feet that are abnormally pronated are unstable and cause lower half instability making it difficult for a player to react.
Regardless of what position you play on defense when the balls of your feet are on the ground, you will be in the proper athletic position ready to perform and move towards the ball. If you are standing flat footed and a ball is hit towards you, your reaction time towards the ball is slower. This translates into not setting your feet properly, being unbalanced when you catch the ball and hurrying your throw. The end result will be a throwing error or the runner will be safe, beating the throw by a step. Therefore, it is imperative and always a formula for success to set your feet when throwing by being balanced. This creates stability in your lower half and you can shift your weight evenly when fielding because the balls of your feet are on the ground. Feeling the ground allows more fluid instinctive movements.
As a hitter, the lack of proper foot biomechanics and structural misalignments in the hips, legs and feet are contributing factors to lower half balance problems in players. This could be a reason why the player is not able to get the balls of his feet on the ground in the batter’s box or getting enough torque in their hips when hitting. Torque generates power and being properly aligned and balanced allows the hips to rotate more freely.
Being balanced allows the lower half of your body to stabilize. As a softball pitcher, having the balls of your feet on the ground allows for better balance in the windup sequence of the pitching motion. It is also very important to be able to transfer your weight and stay balanced during the striding out phase of the delivery as well as squaring your hips to the batter. Failing to be stable will cause the foot to wobble. Therefore it throws the pitchers timing and mechanics off causing the pitch to sail. This can result in arm, elbow or shoulder injuries especially when executing the windmill pitching motion.
Two of the more common problems that can alter a player’s ability to play every day are Plantar Fasciitis and Achilles Tendinitis. Plantar Fasciitis can be a chronic problem if not dealt with immediately. Pain is felt in the heel and throughout the entire arch area of the foot. It mainly occurs because of the medial longitudinal arch of the foot repeatedly collapses over a long period of time (abnormal pronation) when running and walking. It is more painful in the morning when your foot first hits the floor and as the plantar fascia tissue stretches during the day the pain easies. Achilles tendinitis is another problem that can affect a player. It is an inflammation of the lower 1/3 of the Achilles tendon and tendon sheath (tenosynovities) as it travels down the back of the lower 1/3 of the leg and attaches the calf muscle to the back of the heel bone.
The only way to control abnormal pronation forces in the foot, which are the root of many muscle imbalance problems in the lower extremity, is to support the arch of the foot with a custom made orthotic or an over the counter arch support. These products will give the foot the ability to become more stable and place the ball of the foot on the ground for better balance.
Getting the balls of your feet on the ground, setting your feet and being totally balanced is the ticket to making more accurate throws as a position player, feeling more balanced when pitching and being able to transfer your weight more evenly and get your hips involved when preparing to hit. The best way to achieve this is to use an arch support in your softball shoes. There are many types of arch supports on the market that will help support your foot. Custom made orthotics made by podiatrists or other health care professionals can be very helpful in supporting the foot and balancing the lower half. Instant Arches® Softball is an over the counter arch support product that is specifically designed for women softball players and provides an easy solution to balancing your foot in all facets of the game.
Dr. Steven L. Rosenberg is the official Arch Specialist of Baseball Factory & Softball Factory. Dr. Rosenberg is a podiatrist in private practice spanning over 27 years, specializing in sports medicine, pain management and all other aspects of podiatry. His practice is located in Santa Monica, California. He has lectured worldwide and is a regularly featured blogger on the Huffington Post AOL. He has authored numerous articles on foot injuries, injury prevention, women’s shoe issues, foot biomechanics, and the treatment of foot problems through utilization of eastern and western medicine. Dr. Rosenberg is the CEO and President of Foot Products Enterprises Inc., which manufactures the unique arch product, Instant Arches® for baseball and softball. These Arches are also available for running shoes, all athletic shoes, sandals, flip flops casual and dress shoes. Dr. Rosenberg’s Instant Arches®, sold worldwide, are worn by men and women of all ages from preteens to adults. For more information on Instant Arches visit http://www.instantarches.com/ia-baseball.shtml.