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Love your feet, it's the key to movement!

How your feet affect your body

Saul Yudelowitz Bsc (Hons)

Most people who go to the gym are only there to train for aesthetic purposes! This is why you will see mainly cardiovascular equipment in all commercialised gym the world through. This is also one of the many reasons that most people will never maintain their ideal aesthetic look, they do way too much cardiovascular training!

Iím sure that I have many people up in arms by now but this article is designed to make you think! The purpose of this article then is to inform you about how the feet affect the body so that you can make a more informed choice about the exercises you choose to do.

The feet have a direct neural and facial connection to the pelvic floor.

* Neurally

S 2,3,4 innervate the pelvic floor as well as the muscles that move the feet.

* Facia

The pelvic floor attaches to the sacrotuberous ligament which is attached to the bicep femoris (hamstring) which affects foot function.

So now that we have covered some anatomy we will want to get our foot function working. The problem is that no one exercises the feet since we donít see them, most of us only exercise the muscles that we see. The foot is divided into three parts

1. Hind
2. Middle
3. Fore

In order to get all three parts working together the joints need to be able to move through their full range of movement. This is achieved when we are young (around 2-5 years) however children copy their parents and this is no exception to movement. So what ever foot dysfunction the parents have they will be inherited by their children! By the age of around 10-12 years foot problems begin to set in. This is not to say that children complain about sore feet, this is a testament to how well the body is put together that only in the 3rd decade of life people begin complaining about their feet.

The majority of humans overpronate, there are many reasons to this however besides the one above we tend to always walk on a flat surface. Overpronation leads to many problems however some of the problems that occur are

* Neurally inhibited gluts
* Neurally inhibited pelvic floor
* Neurally inhibited abdominals
* Eccentrically loaded hamstrings
* Planter fasciitis
* Lumbar spine degeneration (Disc and joint)
* Bunions
* Knee problems
* Hip problems
* TMJ problems
* An imbalanced pelvis that could cause -

1. A leg length inequality
2. SIJ dysfunction
3. Internally rotated shoulders
4. Tight abductor muscles of the hip
5. Tight neck muscles
6. Cervical spine degeneration

The list go on but what you should see from this is that if your feet do not work correctly than the chance of not only achieving and maintaining your aesthetic goals of life is flawed! The feet are the foundation that the muscoskeletal system depends on.

It is also important to realise that there are many different types of feet and one size does not fit all. Some people have a pronounced arch while others do not. Overpronation of the foot is not a measurement of the foot arch. Overpronation implies that the medial aspect (Inside) of the foot makes contact with the floor too soon in the gait cycle. All humans pronate the question should be when this occurs and to what degree. There are other problems associated with the rehabilitation of foot biomechanics. Some therapists have been taught that the heel then the forefoot should contact the floor with no transverse plain movement (rolling in and/or out).

Orthotics while they have a place for foot biomechanics are oversubscribed just like our willingness to give an antibiotic for any bacterial infection. While orthotics stops the foot from overpronation they also stop the foot from moving in the full range of movement. While you should not throw away your orthotics with the correct exercise you can wean yourself off this over simplistic correction to a complexed problem approach.

Another problem is how therapists/personal trainer teaches their patients to stretch. The leg (just below the thigh) is divided into three compartments, the front , the outside and the back. Muscles in the compartment on the side need to be stretches as well as muscles at the back while muscles in the front need to be strengthened. Many long distance runners will be familiar with anterior compartment syndrome. This is when the muscle in the front compartment have become eccentrically loaded because the calf (compartment at the back) is overworked. If the calf is stretched out correctly this problem goes away but the methods used to stretch that are seen in the gyms are usually poor. Hanging the heel off the edge of a step will not stretch out the calves, this is counter productive!

Due to the effect the feet have on the abdominal and glutes, function the lower back is a commonly injury/degenerated area. The pelvic floor is arguably one of the most important muscles from a functional perspective! A functioning pelvic floor will allow you to have the aesthetic look so many people want from their abdominals, there are other considerations like nutrition but this article is about what exercises and stretches you choose to do!

Once again most women who do pelvic floor exercises lay on their back and over Kegal the the pelvic floor. Once again this is an oversimplified solution to a complexed system. Life occurs in upright bipedal posture! Having the viscera (internal organs) eccentrically load the pelvic floor before contraction is an essential requirement for rehabilitation to be functionally lasting.

It is unfortunate but that is what the many therapists/personal trainers have been taught, so you should be asking yourself how the foot should work.

Getting the feet to work is key as you should now realise. The first step in this is getting the three parts of the foot into a neutrally aligned position. This requires tight muscles to be stretched and weak muscles to be strengthened. At this point stability exercises should be taught. Once and only once stability is achieved with the foot neutrally aligned then the different muscles that contract to create a chain of energy to move joints needs to be achieved. This requires a skilled manual therapist who has a good understanding of foot biomechanics. It is ultimately where all the power of your movement comes from. Energy is generated in the core however if your feet do not work correctly than your core does not either!

Now you will want to learn how to apply this new power in your everyday life. I always tell my patients that the professional athletes that I work with have excellent foot function and this is one of the reasons they make it look easy!

Treat your feet with respect; you will miss them when they do not function correctly in later life.

To book in for a consultation and discuss an issues raised in this article please go to the contact page and send us your details.


The information contained in this Newsletter was prepared from medical and scientific sources which are referenced and are believed to be accurate and reliable. The information herein should not be used to treat or to prevent any medical condition unless it is used with the full knowledge, compliance and agreement of your personal physician or other licensed health care professional. Readers are strongly advised to seek the advice of their personal health care professional(s) before proceeding with any changes in any health care program.


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