By Dr. Paul O’Keefe, Osteopath, Premier Health Partners.
As developed and complicated as our feet are they certainly were not designed to withstand the forces that accompany a modern lifestyle. Many moons ago our feet, like our arms, were used to propel us from tree to tree, with the toe-nails acting as claws on the bark. Over the many thousands of years they have evolved to now carry the weight of the body without the use of our upper bodies. In addition to this we now spend the bulk of our time on unnaturally hard surfaces which add to the compressive forces through our feet.
Osteopath, Dr Paul O’Keefe, explains why it’s so important to look after these little masterpieces…
The foot and ankle are made up of more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments as well as 26 bones and 33 joints all working together to provide the body with support, balance, and mobility. This foundation area of our body is responsible for not only shock-absorbing the weight of the body against the ground, but also acts to propel the body as it moves forward.
It’s this complex make up, combined with the rigours of the modern world, that make foot and ankle pain increasingly common. And, as they form the foundation of our entire body, foot and ankle problems often result in problems further up the body including low back pain.
One of the most common complaints Osteopaths are receiving today is from foot pain, or plantarfascitis. The plantarfascia is the thick ligament on the soles of our feet that runs from our heel bone (calcaneus) and fans out to attach to the base of the toes. As the rather complicated name suggests, plantarfascitis is the inflammation of this large ligament.
Plantarfasciitis is most often associated with running sports however it certainly isn’t limited to people who jog regularly – we see a spike in the number of cases in non-runners over the summer months when people tend to wear flatter shoes (or no shoes at all!). Injury is caused by sustained stress going through the ligament – two common causes of this are either poor foot biomechanics or weakness of the foot arch muscles.
As everyone has different feet, the appropriate footwear therefore needs to be tailored to what is right for you. There are many options in shoe design, as well as devices that can be inserted into shoes as well as on the outsides of shoes. If you have any concerns about the biomechanics of your feet or the suitability of your footwear – maybe you are about to embark on a fitness campaign – see your medical professional as to the best way forward!
As Leonardo da Vinci acknowledged the foot is indeed an engineering marvel however it is still is adapting to the demands of our modern world and occasionally needs some TLC!
You can find out more about Paul here.