Feet are amazing! Their design never ceases to amaze me. Have you ever wondered why our feet are made the way they are? The feet are usually the one contact point we have with the floor, so unsurprisingly, the feet have a huge effect on the rest of our body.
Let's explore that further. If you are a reflexologist, you will be only too aware of how feet can affect the body in terms of the organs etc, but from a more bio-mechanical perspective our feet can quite literally affect our necks.
Let us think about the design of the foot for a moment. It has many bones, most are long and thin and spread apart (phalanges, metatarsals) , but some are more square and closely bundled together (tarsals). Think of all the muscles and ligaments that have been positioned in the foot, each with both specific tasks and more global ones. The foot is designed to move, flex and splay, and yet in modern life we shove them into shoes designed to do exactly the opposite, to stop movement, to support, to contain. Hummm 🤔.... is it any wonder we are getting bio mechanical problems due to the foot.
Let's explore that a bit more. As your foot makes contact with the floor a force is affected through the ground. In oder to dissipate that force the bones of the foot move, those many joints allow this to occur. The arch of the foot flattens, creating slight pronation, and the toes splay out. The long plantar ligament is stretched, creating potential energy in the foot (especially important in running). Now consider for a moment: Does your shoe allow this to happen? Can the toes splay out or are they contained? Can the arch flatten, or do you have an arch support fitted? In short, can your foot do the job it was designed it. Because when all these movements are occurring the muscles of the foot are being worked and muscles that are worked remain strong. Feet that can't move become weak feet very quickly.
So what happens when our feet become weak, well the first thing to disappear is the arch, and that means that the foot starts to pronate. The effect of that is that the knee drops medially. If the knee drops medially the gluteus muscles will overwork to try to counteract that movement. Overworking gluteus muscles will cause a pelvic rotation, pelvic rotation will (eventually) create a weak core as it can't fire correctly. A weak core invariably leads to an anterior pelvic tilt, and anterior pelvic tilt moves the centre of balance forward creating protracted shoulders and neck and bingo 😀... we get a client with neck pain caused by a weak foot.
The solution? Strengthen the foot !! Fix the neck. Of course you will have to deal with all those other issues it has created as well. 🤔
If you are using this for CPD, think about what strength exercises you can give for the foot, how will you undo the chain of events described above. What will need to be loosened (or stretched) and what will need to be strengthened? Then pop it all in your CPD log.
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