Foot dysfunction Part 1

Mr X has flat feet since primary school and bunions since secondary school. Walking for more than 40 minutes would result in tired feet. His ankle would would also roll in (pronation) whenever he walked. Hence, he would buy various brands of insoles bought from the pharmacy and even custom-made insoles from an outlet:


He Googled and also bought various brands of shoes to help relief the discomfort. The Springboost negative heel shoes (see picture)

springboost Springboost shoes

did reduce the pressure on his toes. He also went for chiropractic treatment and had his lower back and pelvis adjusted (high speed thrust), and obtained temporary relief. The chiropractor told him that the left leg was one centimetre longer than the right, and that he would probably need a heel lift for the right side to equalise the leg length imbalance.

One day, he noticed that the bunion on the left big toe had gone worse, and sometimes that toe would overlap with the second toe. Desperate for improvement, he went to a podiatrist who prescribed custom-made insoles (orthotics) and recommended motion control shoes as well as ankle/ foot exercises. Mr X was glad, and went for a jog. As months went by, he realised that there was not much improvement in his condition. Dissatisfied, he went to a different podiatrist to make custom-made insoles. The outcome was still the same.

Around October 2015, Mr X met a therapist who pressed on reflex points in his body. After several sessions, his toes began to straighten out slightly and the arch in the feet became more prominent as he has learned how to activate the deep muscles of the feet (NO gripping of toes/ tightening of any muscle). His leg length equalised and has remained equal for two months during which he walked a lot, jumped around during dance class, etc.

foot before after tx

Note the worsening of the bunion on the left big toe (yellow arrow shows it is more deviated to the second toe compared to the first picture) and also the big toe ‘knuckle’ bone has gone bigger. This suggests that within the 10 month period, there was worsening of Mr X’s condition. However, after the reflex point therapy, his toes  have straightened slightly (not obvious in the photo) and the foot arch is slightly more prominent (***) as the deep muscles are activated.

What can we learn from this case?
#1 If you keep doing the same thing, you will get the same results. Try something different!

#2 It is possible that sometimes muscles get switched off for some reason or other. In the neurodevelopmental perspective, the therapist would say that some of Mr X’s postural reflexes were probably ‘lost’ or not developed during childhood. Therapist presses on reflex points and the switch is on again*.

brain on300

#3 Following point #3, strengthening exercises may not make much difference if the switch is off.

#4 How to explain the leg length imbalance being sorted out? I don’t know… One thing we can probably say is that when there is some physical imbalance in the body, the way the brain perceives things would be different. Once Mr X’s reflex points were activated, he probably has more body awareness to let the weight distribution be more equal between the left and right side, and hence the leg length equalled out. Just my guess!

TOL board300

*Individual results may vary. Mr X probably had flat feet with switched off muscles, whereas other people may have structural flat feet (flat regardless of standing, walking or lying down) despite the muscles being switched on. In the case of the latter, orthotics would probably bring significant benefit.

*Leg length imbalance is a complicated matter. If Mr X had dislocation, fracture, etc then it is unlikely that chiropractic treatment or pressing on reflex points can reduce the leg length imbalance.

Stay tuned for part 2 of feet dysfunction.

*Reflex point activation can also be used to switch on the deep muscles of the core (see earlier blog about core stability). For more information about reflex point activation, please email