How do your feet look and feel? I’m not asking if you’ve had a recent pedicure but I want to know if your feet feel strained, achy, or downright painful. I want to know if the toes line up normally and if the joints are knobby or not. Are the arches high enough to slide two fingers under?
The feet are our foundation. The condition of our musculoskeletal system above is greatly influenced by the position, angles, and overall health of our feet. There are three, yes three arches in each foot. They are the medial (you know that one), lateral, and transverse arches. For the foot to function normally, each of the three arches has to be optimal. The lower leg has two long bones. The upper leg, only one. The feet are so complex, they each have 26 bones…combined that’s more than one-fourth of all our bones.
As we age, the wear and tear on our feet stretches the ligaments that hold the bones in their ideal supportive position. This causes the foot to flatten which results in constant stress and strain on the feet. Your body will try to compensate for this by changing how the muscles behave as you move up the kinetic chain all the way up through the back muscles. However, this results in muscle imbalances and potential strained muscles or tendonitis. The likely bigger problem though is that altered foot angles produce substantially increased pressure on the ankles, knees, hips, and spine. This is the precursor to a host of postural problems, arthritis, disc damage, and unstable joints that are more susceptible to injury.
In addition to the effects of time, we sometimes add fuel to the fire. Picture the strain on your feet if you wear high heels. That drastic biomechanical change will usually result in disfigurement of the ball of the foot and toes over time, not to mention the direct effect it has on the legs and back. Next, consider the effect of wearing Keds, Converse, or Toms…all of which have a total lack of any arch support, strongly encouraging the feet to flatten. With this information, you can see why we scan the feet of almost all our patients when they have their initial examination. The scan gives us an objective measurement to show us how well the three arches are holding up. If they are inadequate, we will always recommend a custom made orthotic be worn in your shoes. My staff and I have been wearing custom orthotics for many years. I’ve never had foot pain but protecting my arches and musculoskeletal system is one of the many preventive steps I take in my efforts to have optimal wellness. The chiropractic adjustments I give tend to last longer and have more dramatic results in people who maintain appropriate arch support on a daily basis.
The orthotics we use are durable, flexible, and amazingly comfortable. Nearly everyone notices their feet and body feeling better compared to before wearing them. Whether you’re one of my traditional chiropractic patients or a nutrition patient or both, consider the importance of properly supporting your feet and entire skeleton. We have sample orthotics you’re welcome to see and if you have not already had a scan, we don’t charge anything to provide one for you. We welcome your questions on this topic so please don’t hesitate. The foot bones may actually only connect to the leg bones but their ability to function normally has consequences on much of your entire body.
Harris Meyer, DC
Body Focus Health Center
San Francisco Chiropractic and Nutrition
100 Bush St., Ste. 530, San Francisco, CA 94104