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  • Writer's pictureLeslie Trotter

Our Foot is a Masterpiece

Why do some people dislike touching and/or being touched by feet?

Yes, feet are a bit sweaty but the idea that they are somehow “dirty” is mostly unfounded.

My appeal for those who claim to “hate feet” is to acknowledge that the human foot is an engineering marvel despite being occasionally moist!

"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art."   

Leonardo da Vinci

The human foot is our only interface with the ground- assuming we are either walking or running. So isn’t the foot singularly the most important body part when it comes to efficient human movement?

The foot has two opposite yet equally important roles for human locomotion.

Upon striking the ground, the foot rocks us from heel to toe, and the bones flex slightly to absorb the impact of striking the ground.

During push off, the interlocking bones of the foot form a rigid column from which we can push away from the ground to keep our momentum going forward.

“Problem feet either too flexible and too rigid”

Pes planus or flat foot

Pes cavus or rigid foot

Too much flexibility of the foot makes for a lovely cushioned landing but diminished ability to push off properly. These flat-footed (pes planus) people usually suffer from a variety of muscle and joint symptoms like shin, arch and kneecap pain.

On the other end of the spectrum, too much rigidity of the foot makes for a great lever to push with but an unforgiving impact with every heel strike of the ground. These high arched (pes cavus) people often end up with stress fractures, Achilles, heel and lateral knee pain.

Given that the average person walks between 7,000-10,000 steps per day (over 3 million per year), it's no wonder that "problem feet" will become evident sooner or later by way of symptoms.

So what to do with painful feet?

Purpose-built orthoses and appropriate footwear are the key to better function and avoiding injuries.

Proper orthotics need to fully contact all three arches of the foot

Those with flexible flat feet need something to help them function “as if” there was a natural arch in their shoe so body weight-matched orthoses that replicate the shape of the natural arch are key. Off-the-shelf shoe inserts may suffice for kids (under 60 lbs) and mild flattening but moderate to pronounced flat feet need special attention.

The rigid feet people need help with ground contact shock absorption and spreading the forces throughout the foot to reduce specific points of high force. Again, this foot type won't respond optimally to a prefabricated shoe insert. A properly made custom orthosis should fit this arch like a glove and most inserts are too under corrective.

Look after your foot health - the rest of your joints will thank you!

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