The Importance of Proper Foot Biomechanics
Posted: Mar 02, 2021
The foot is a vital structure for us to get around on. It has to work properly for us to stand, walk and run. Any sort of pain or dysfunction of the foot is going to affect the ability of the foot to support us and to move around on. These sorts of problems can have consequences that can significantly affect the quality of life, especially mobility. A lack of mobility has consequences for health and well-being. Podiatrists play an important role in keeping the feet healthy so we do not suffer from the consequences of pain in the feet. The foot has 26 bones with multiple joints and ligaments as well as muscle that controls the movements of the bones and joints. These all have to function together to allow us to get around without pain. There are many biomechanical dysfunctions that can go wrong and interfere with that normal function.
By way of example, lets consider the big toe joint of the foot: after the foot contacts the ground when walking or running and the leg moves forward over the foot on the ground, then the heel starts to come off the ground as we propel forward. The only way that this can happen properly is if that big toe joint of the foot can bend. This requires that that joint is flexible and mobile to allow that normal motion to happen. There are a number of things that can go wrong with that big toe joint that can affect that normal function. Probably the most well-known problem is that of osteoarthritis which affects the joint. It becomes too painful to move, so the process of walking can become painful. This will change the way that the foot and the body move. A big toe joint that becomes more rigid is also going to interfere with the normal function of the foot and make it a lot harder to get the heel off the ground when walking or running. This will be a very inefficient and energy sapping way to walk. Another condition known as functional hallux limitus also affect the big toe joint. In this condition there is a normal range of motion of the joint when the foot is off the ground, however when weightbearing and walking for some unknown reasons, the joint does not want to move. When these restrictions at the joint occur, other joints have to move more, and this changes the way we walk. This can result in symptoms elsewhere in the body as compensation.
A lot of these types of biomechanical problems are often treated with the use of foot orthotics to try and restore and allow for a more normal function of the foot. There are many types of foot orthotics and many different modifications that Podiatrists often use to deal with the specific problem of individuals. A specific modification that is often used to deal with the problem of a functional hallux limitus is the Cluffy Wedge. The Cluffy wedge is a pad that does under the big toe to allow a more normal motion at that joint.
Craig Payne is a University lecturer, runner, cynic, researcher, skeptic, forum admin, woo basher, clinician, rabble-rouser, blogger and a dad.