What an amazing structure! Lets dive into a discussion, toes first!
The foot is composed of 26 bones, 33 joints, and numerous muscles, ligaments, nerves and blood vessels!
It is divided into the forefoot, midfoot and hindfoot. Each of which have an extraordinary purpose.
The main functions of the foot include weight bearing with the load of our body weight, as well as forward propulsion for things such as walking or running.
Keeping this in mind, it is essential that the foot is both stable and flexible. This flexibility comes from the number of joints in the foot, and the ability of the soft tissues to allow for a flattening of the foot while in stance phase of the gait cycle (a planted foot while walking).
The arches of the foot act as springs to propel the foot forward. When the foot flattens, elastic energy is stored, so that when the next step is taken, the stored energy can be transformed into forward movement.
Did You Know? Our feet are meant to pronate! Pronation of the mid foot is essential. When we take a step and our heel strikes, our heel actually moves in a slight outward direction and a small bone called the Talus, acts as a torque converter. This creates a chain reaction all the way up the leg. With each step, we get pronation at the foot and internal rotation of the tibia (shin), as well as the femur. This means that both our knees and hips are designed to internally rotate, too!
Common injuries of the foot can include things like:
Ligament Sprains - keep in mind, we have a TON of ligaments here! Each one plays an important role in supporting the foot and keeping it stable. Most commonly injured are the anterior talo-fibular ligament (ATFL) and the calcaneo-fibular ligament (CFL).
Stress Fractures - lots of little bones in the foot! Most commonly involved here are the metatarsals, or the long bones of the foot. Caused from repetitive forces on the foot, including long distance running.
Plantar Fasciitis - this includes pain that spans across the bottom of the foot, from heel to the balls of the feet. It is caused by the inflammation of the plantar fascia, a broad band of fibrous tissue spanning from heel to toes. Typically with plantar fasciitis, the worst pain is experienced with the first steps out of bed in the morning.
Lacking proper joint mechanics in the feet can also contribute to aches and pains in the shins (shin splints), knees and even the hips and low back!
On the bright side, all of these things are treatable and avoidable! If any of these things sound all- too familiar to you, get in touch! Physiotherapists can help with foot pain and any of the above injuries!