We like to think of the body as one piece. The body is interconnected by bones, muscles, skin, and fascia. We are built from the ground up. No structure will be stable without a solid foundation. This is true for buildings, cars, and even the human body. For people, a strong and solid foundation begins with the feet. This is called the kinetic chain, which includes all the parts of the body necessary for movement.
The feet are the center of everything for the human body. If the feet are not stable, the body will not be stable, and it will be predisposed to pain, injury, and poor performance. Think about it this way: would you drive a car with a flat tire for thousands of miles? Of course not. It would damage the entire car. Well, when the foot and ankle are not taken care of, the body becomes damaged too.
It all starts with the Big Toe (Hallux). If there isn’t at least 60 degrees of dorsiflexion of the big toe, walking will be difficult. The ankle will be forced to overcompensate, which will force the knee to overcompensate. As a result, the hip will overcompensate, which will affect the back. This is because, without normal mobility, the body will place loads on tissues and joints that are not designed to handle these loads, and there will be pain and dysfunction. Thus, the big toe can cause pain and injury in different parts of the body.
The same holds true for the foot. If there is a flat foot, and the foot rolls inward or “over pronates”, there will be stress on the ankles, knees, hips, and the entire body. If the foot rolls excessively outward or “over supinates”, there will also be stress on the ankles, knees, hips, and the entire body.
If the ankle does not have sufficient dorsiflexion, the body will overcompensate causing knee, hip, and back pain.
Some of these challenges can be overcome. A good physical medicine and rehab program as well as a good strength and conditioning program will maximize the mobility of the toes, feet, ankles, hips, and the entire kinetic chain. If the issue is mobility, the differences that a good strength and conditioning program can make can be life-changing.
If the issue is the stability of the foot, mobilizing the entire kinetic chain will help, but it may not be enough. Sometimes, it’s possible to correct over pronation or over supination of the foot through strengthening the muscles of the foot and calf. In this case, a good strength and conditioning program can make the feet stable.
Other times, the condition is much more serious. For some individuals, a stability shoe may be sufficient to correct over pronation or supination of the foot. If the case is more severe, it may take a custom-molded orthotic by a podiatrist or orthopedic surgeon to stabilize the foot. Finally, if the case is truly severe, it may require surgical reconstruction of the foot.
If you have pain in your feet, ankles, knees, or back, we believe it’s wise to get a detailed evaluation of your feet from a qualified medical professional who specializes in the feet. Obviously, a further medical evaluation of the entire kinetic chain by the appropriate medical professionals is recommended, but we like to start with the feet and work upwards.
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