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Jon W Sports Injury

Hayes & Orpington, Kent

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Why is the foot so important?

In the current wave of exercise trackers, we are commonly reminded that we should be taken 10’000 steps a day. By anyone’s standards, 10’000 repetitions of an exercise is a lot! I wouldn’t want to do 10’000 press ups. It is no surprise then that the functionality of our feet is crucial to our wellbeing. The foot can be broadly described as having three main functions through gait (a normal walking cycle).

  • Weight/shock absorption
  • Balance/postural alignment
  • Propulsion/Ambulation
Weight/Shock Absorption

When we walk, jog or run the foot assists in transferring our weight into the ground and absorbing the shock. This is of utmost importance for the body to be able to repeat this process thousands of times a day. 

What can go wrong at the foot?

The foot goes through multiple movements during gait, but the two most publicised movements would be pronation (foot rolling in) and supination (foot rolling out). Pronation may be a term you are familiar as is it often documents as being very problematic. It can be documented that upwards of 70% of people over pronate. Therefore, manufacturers of shoes and trainers like to explain how they prevent pronation.

However, it is important to remember that pronation is required by the foot. It is the process of the pronation that enables us to do the three functions of the foot as described above. However, over pronation is the issue and can be problematic. Over pronation can create a collapsing of the arch of the foot that will then transfer pressure up the lower limb, through the knee, and towards the lower back. As a result, issues may arise anywhere through this path (we term ‘the kinetic chain’).
It is similar for supination. As discussed pronation is required for shock absorption. Therefore someone who excessively supinates will produce a lack of pronation which could cause an increase in shock being transferred into the body. This will also make the chance of injury greater. 

Finally, it is worth mentioning dorsiflexion. Although a movement of the ankle joint, a restriction in dorsiflexion (the movement of the knee over the toe) is a big contributor to foot related issues. Therefore, the measurement of dorsiflexion of the ankle joint is vital in any foot assessment.

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