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Taking Care Of Your Feet

TOPIC:

I have seen many people for rehabilitation following foot surgeries.  The rehab process can be extensive and painful as the patient copes with pain and swelling and the challenges of regaining foot strength, mobility, and a normal gait. It is good to avoid surgery.

Feet will frequently fall into two general categories:

  • A stiff, rigid foot which does not adapt well to variable surfaces and will often cause lower extremity alignment problems and possibly knee or hip pain. This foot typically has a high arch and is generally stiff.
  • The other end of the stiffness spectrum is the hyper mobile, loose foot which has poor structure and presents generally as having a low or absent arch and their owner is often described as having “flat feet”.

The goal is to have a balanced and structurally sound foot that has a neutral arch and the second toe is in line with the knee and the hip in standing and walking. And this foot tends to look nice at the beach or in an open shoe.

Getting in touch with your foot posture requires that you put your brain into your foot on a consistent basis such that you can eventually change the habit of how you bear weight through your foot in standing and with your walking and possibly running gait.

Having a well balanced foot requires practice:  feel your weight balanced over the entire surface of the bottom of your foot or your center of gravity in line with the middle of your foot, commonly referred to as a “mid foot” stance.  If you shift your weight too far forward you will load the front of your foot and then your calf and possibly toe muscles have to work overtime to keep you from falling on your face. If you shift your weight too far back on your heels then the muscles in the front of your foot have to work more to keep you from falling on your back side. If you do either one of these over the course of many years you will develop an imbalance of the strength in the front vs. the back of your foot and ankle and often a stiff/rigid foot that can lead to deformity and pain and loading your podiatrist’s bank account.

The key is making the effort on a regular basis to sense how you are balancing over your foot. Do this while you are brushing your teeth or standing in line at the check out counter and you will gradually make the transition to balancing on your mid foot and keeping your foot strong and pretty.

EXPERT:
Brad Reynolds, PT, Clinic Director