Save Your Feet With These 3 Exercises
Plantar Fasciitis, fallen arch, overpronation… All sound familiar? I’ve heard these terms way too often as a clinician. Runners and triathletes are all too familiar with these diagnoses and are quick to find a way to resolve it. Because, quite frankly, runners and athletes can’t stay off their feet! That’s completely forbidden (insert snarky emoji). But what if the pain doesn’t resolve with conservative google solutions and youtube videos? Well, let’s take a look at the reason why you’re having the pain in the first place. The foot is a common source of orthopaedic injuries because of the high amounts of load that take place in the foot. There is a unique interdependence of the bones, ligaments, and muscles involved in the foot to maintain stability. The foot is able to be a rigid lever to provide power transfer from the ground up. At the same time, the foot can also act as a shock absorber when it is hitting uneven surfaces that demand conforming and flexing to every nuance of a trail run. I want to pay particular attention to how the foot acts as a stabilizer. Everyone has seen or heard that one person in the gym slapping away on the treadmill. You can literally hear every pounding of the foot that occurs on the poor machine. Part of the reason that occurs is that the person’s foot is not able to maintain its shock absorption capabilities through the gait cycle and throws in the towel midway through. The foot is designed to walk on. We have 3 stance phases of movement during the normal walking gait cycle: heel-strike, mid-foot stance and toe off. The foot is most effective at transferring forces from the posterior leg muscles to the ground at midstance phase. When there is a collapse of the arch that supports the bones of the foot during the gait cycle, problems occur. The involved ligaments and tendons that provide support to the foot become too flexible to effectively push off from the ground. When the small intrinsic muscles of the foot are not able to do its job under the load of the entire body, the flat foot becomes an even bigger problem up the chain into the knees or the back. That is why it is important to address these issues before it becomes an even bigger problem.
One of the most important supporting cast members of the foot is the posterior tibial tendon. This tendon attaches the posterior leg muscles to the bones on the inside of the foot. Its primary function is to hold up the arch and support the foot during walking. Dysfunction of this tendon can occur from repetitive use or from high impact activities such as running.