Your feet endure a tremendous amount of shock throughout the day. Their make-up includes several irregular shaped bones held together by a web of muscles, tendons, ligaments and thick fascia. They usually work together in a complex but harmonious fashion. But, when they fail they can cause tremendous pain with every step, which can spread up to the knees and low back.
One of the most common foot problems is that of pronation or more commonly known as being flat footed. Foot pronation is when some of the bones in the foot have rolled inward, causing the foot to lose its structural integrity. Normally when standing the tendon in the back of your ankle (your Achilles) should line up with the calf of the leg. With foot pronation the Achilles migrates from the center towards the other foot. When looking head on at someone with foot pronation it may look like they are walking on the insides of their feet.
If you have had pain in your feet and ankles for a while you can check for this by looking at an old pair of shoes. The soles of your shoes should be worn down evenly. With foot pronation the insides of the bottom of your shoes wear down first and your shoes tend to collapse inwards. Another way to check is when standing see if there is any weight placed on the inside arch of your feet.
Foot pronation does not only affect the feet and ankles. The ankles being out of line will cause the knee to rotate towards the midline making your kneecaps point more towards each other vs. straight ahead. This will affect your gait or the way you walk, sending stress up to your low back.
One way to protect your feet is to make sure the shoes you house them in are fit for your feet. Remember not all feet are created equally so a shoe that is supportive for your neighbor might not be right for you. Try this simple muscle test the next time you try on a pair of shoes. First barefoot, lace your fingers together and hold your arms out parallel to the ground with your elbows straight like your would in volleyball. Have a friend press down on your forearms and see how strong you’re able to keep your arms up.
Next try the same experiment with the shoes in question on and see if you’re still as strong as you were barefoot. If you’re any weaker these aren’t the shoes for you. The weakness shows how much energy and strength these shoes take from you.
You can also visit your chiropractor and make sure the bones in your foot are properly lined up. Rolling in your ankle, stepping on a kids hot wheel car and poor shoes are just a few of the ways to knock a bone out of place. Once you get them back in place, you need to exercise and stretch the muscles in your feet and ankles so you can stay balanced and strong.