Best Of Somastruct 2013

bestofsomastruct2013As 2013 comes to a close, I thought it would be nice to look back at some of the most viewed and discussed content from the past year on Somastruct. This last year much of my writing has focused on challenging conventional wisdom. This site was created to be a resource to help people better understand injuries and how the body works. When researching topics to write about, I often come across concepts that are popular and widely held to be true, but when examined closely are found to be without scientific underpinnings. The old adage “the more you learn, the less you know” certainly applies here. Instead of simply rehashing inaccurate information, I’ve worked on developing a better understanding of these subjects myself, and that process is reflected in many of the posts from the past year. 

1. The Myth Of The Upper And Lower Trapezius

Scapula Muscles

This article challenges the common assertion that there are separate sections of the trapezius muscle. Therapists often talk about “tight upper traps” or “weak lower traps”, but it has never been established that the muscle functions this way.

2. The Real Cause Of Plantar Fasciitis


Anyone who has experienced or treated plantar fasciitis knows how frustrating this condition can be. The common recommendations of rest, icing, stretching, and arch support don’t help. This article lays out a new understanding of heel pain.

3. How To Stop Overstriding When Running

Running Cadence Injuries

Running is a natural movement, but it is also a skill. Overstriding is the cause of many injuries in recreational runners. Several factors can cause a runner to overstride, but it is a mistake that’s easy to correct once it’s recognized.

4. Why Study Findings Are Often Wrong

The more research I read, the less trust I have in studies. The scientific process is by nature an honest pursuit, but research publication is a business. It’s a system that gives the highest status to studies that are most likely wrong. Critical thinking is a more valuable asset. 

5. How The Soleus Muscle Extends And Protects The Knee


The actions of muscles we memorize in anatomy class only tell part of the story due to the complexity of biomechanics. The way the soleus muscle influences knee mechanics is a great example.

6. Why Heels On Modern Running Shoes Hurt Us


For the last several decades health care professionals and running shoe stores have been recommending people wear big, bulky shoes without any evidence to support this practice. To suggest that people need supportive footwear to be healthy is ill-informed at best (and dangerous at worst). Yet raised heel shoes make up the majority of the running shoe market, and flat shoes are considered dangerous. Isn’t this backwards?

7. Stretching Is Really A Form Of Strengthening

muscle fiber

When it comes to fitness and injury prevention, stretching is usually either glorified or vilified. This may be partly because there is a lot of uncertainty about what stretching actually does. When examining stretching’s mechanism and effects, I see a lot of similarities with muscle strengthening. In fact, an argument could be made that stretching and strengthening are almost the same process.

Here’s to a happy and prosperous 2014!

Photos: 1, 2

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