Fun Fact: Our foot and ankle are made up of 26 bones, 33 joints and over 100 muscles tendons and ligaments. It is this complexity that allows for movement patterns which we perform every day. When we are running, the foot becomes rigid to allow for the quick transfer of force from the ground into your step and when we are landing, the foot becomes supple allowing for a reduction of force into your system.
Here’s a question – when was the last time you used your toes? For example, we type using the small muscles in our hands but we very rarely use similar muscles in our toes. Instead, most of us keep our feet in shoes all day. This is good and bad; good because it protects us from the odd pebble on the ground but bad because we hardly use our small or “intrinsic” foot musculature. This lack of usage causes subtle deformities in our foot arch and creates weakness in our ability to distribute normal ground reaction forces evenly. These issues in the feet can also transfer themselves up the chain and manifest as knee, hip and low back issues. Common injuries we see which may stem from the foot include: plantar fasciitis, mortons neuroma, patella-femoral pain syndrome, hip impingement and low back pain.
Foot problems are hard to correct. Telling someone to spend less time on their feet is usually impractical due to family and job demands. However, all is not lost! Here are some tips that can help reduce pain stemming from the foot.
- Perform intrinsic foot strengthening – Exercises such as picking a towel up with your feet and raising your big toe without raising any of your others can help strengthen the smaller muscles in your feet and build your foot arch.
- Perform large muscle strengthening – Your small muscles in the feet and large muscles act in unison. Therefore performing exercises for your glutes, quadriceps and hamstrings may help decrease foot pain.
- Orthotics – We use a 3-D Scanner to view your foot musculature and its arches. Based off of our biomechanical assessment and scan, a certified Pedorthist will custom build your orthotic. This is meant to slip into your shoe and help your foot with the mechanics of efficient loading and unloading.