Movement​ ​Starts​ ​At​ ​The​ ​Ground:​ ​The​ ​Importance​ ​Of​ ​Proper​ ​Foot Mechanics

Your​ ​feet​ ​are​ ​the​ ​very​ ​foundation​ ​of​ ​your​ ​body’s​ ​mobility.​ ​Without​ ​proper foot​ ​function,​ ​the​ ​body’s​ ​balance​ ​and​ ​sense​ ​of​ ​movement​ ​are​ ​negatively affected​ ​and​ ​this​ ​can​ ​have​ ​a​ ​profound​ ​influence​ ​on​ ​your​ ​overall​ ​body mechanics​ ​and​ ​performance.

Your​ ​feet​ ​have​ ​many​ ​roles:​ ​They​ ​support​ ​your​ ​weight,​ ​allowing​ ​you​ ​to​ ​stand upright. They​ ​propel​ ​you​ ​forward​ ​and​ ​stop​ ​you​ ​from​ ​moving. They​ ​absorb ground​ ​forces. And​ ​they​ ​help​ ​you​ ​adapt​ ​to​ ​uneven​ ​terrain​ ​as​ ​you​ ​move.​ ​To perform​ ​these​ ​functions,​ ​each​ ​healthy​ ​foot​ ​is​ ​both​ ​a​ ​rigid​ ​lever​ ​and​ ​a​ ​mobile structure.​ ​The​ ​numerous​ ​bones,​ ​ligaments,​ ​joints,​ ​muscles​ ​and​ ​tendons​ ​that comprise​ ​each​ ​foot​ ​must​ ​all​ ​​work​ ​together​ ​for​ ​smooth​ ​and​ ​efficient movement.

Whether​ ​it’s​ ​a​ ​golfer​ ​swinging​ ​a​ ​driver,​ ​a​ ​sprinter​ ​pushing​ ​from​ ​a​ ​starting block,​ ​or​ ​a​ ​diver​ ​jumping​ ​from​ ​a​ ​10-meter​ ​platform,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​see​ ​how​ ​a person’s​ ​feet​ ​play​ ​a​ ​role​ ​in​ ​the dynamics​ ​of​ ​the​ ​body’s​ ​movement.​ ​Athletes spend​ ​considerable​ ​effort​ ​and​ ​time​ ​ensuring​ ​their​ ​body​ ​is​ ​properly conditioned​ ​for​ ​the​ ​movement​ ​they​ ​are​ ​about​ ​to​ ​make.​ ​​​Improper​ ​function​ ​of the​ ​foot​ ​can​ ​throw​ ​off​ ​the​ ​entire​ ​performance​ ​and​ ​could​ ​even​ ​cause​ ​injury. This​ ​demonstrates​ ​the​ ​importance​ ​of​ ​ground​ ​mechanics​ ​in​ ​relation​ ​to​ ​overall function​ ​and​ ​performance.

Biomechanics​ ​​ ​the​ ​basics

The​ ​biomechanics​ ​of​ ​the​ ​foot​ ​and​ ​ankle​ ​are​ ​vital​ ​to​ ​the​ ​function​ ​of​ ​the​ ​lower leg.​ ​The​ ​foot​ ​and​ ​ankle​ ​framework​ ​and​ ​movements​ ​impact​ ​how​ ​the​ ​lower​ ​leg manages​ ​the​ ​forces​ ​in​ ​its​ ​role​ ​of​ ​weight​ ​bearing​ ​and​ ​movement.​ ​The structural​ ​elements​ ​of​ ​the​ ​foot,​ ​the​ ​bones​ ​and​ ​ligaments,​ ​combine​ ​with​ ​the dynamic​ ​elements,​ ​the​ ​muscles​ ​and​ ​nerves,​ ​to​ ​make​ ​this​ ​movement possible.

Pronation,​ ​the​ ​inward​ ​roll​ ​of​ ​the​ ​foot,​ ​and​ ​supination,​ ​the​ ​outward​ ​roll​ ​of​ ​the foot,​ ​are​ ​the​ ​defining​ ​motions​ ​of​ ​both​ ​the​ ​foot​ ​and​ ​ankle.​ ​Pronation​ ​leads​ ​to a​ ​state​ ​of​ ​mobility​ ​while​ ​supination​ ​leads​ ​to​ ​a​ ​state​ ​of​ ​stability.​ ​The transition​ ​sequence®​​ ​is​ ​the​ ​continuous​ ​switch​ ​between​ ​these​ ​two​ ​motions. It’s​ ​at​ ​this​ ​point​ ​that​ ​the​ ​foot​ ​transitions​ ​back​ ​and​ ​forth​ ​from​ ​being​ ​a​ ​mobile structure​ ​that​ ​adapts​ ​to​ ​the​ ​ground​ – ​to providing​ ​the​ ​stability​ ​or​ ​rigid​ ​lever​ ​your​ ​body needs​ ​to​ ​maximize​ ​the​ ​forces​ ​to​ ​propel​ ​you​ ​forward.

Stability,​ ​mobility,​ ​and​ ​the​ ​​transition​ ​sequence®​​ ​are​ ​best​ ​managed​ ​when both​ ​the​ ​structural​ ​and​ ​dynamic​ ​components​ ​of​ ​the​ ​foot​ ​are​ ​working together​ ​in​ ​synergy.

Demonstrating​ ​efficient​ ​coordination​ ​within​ ​the​ ​foot

The​ ​effective​ ​dynamics​ ​or​ ​coordination​ ​of​ ​the​ ​foot​ ​can​ ​be​ ​easily demonstrated​ ​by​ ​examining​ ​the​ ​stance​ ​phase​ ​of​ ​gait​ ​–​ ​the​ ​time​ ​when​ ​your foot​ ​is​ ​on​ ​the​ ​ground,​ ​beginning​ ​with​ ​the​ ​heel​ ​strike.​ ​As​ ​your​ ​heel​ ​touches the​ ​ground,​ ​your​ ​foot​ ​should​ ​be​ ​in​ ​a​ ​slightly​ ​supinated​ ​position.​ ​The​ ​foot​ ​and ankle​ ​then​ ​immediately​ ​pronate​ ​as​ ​they​ ​absorb​ ​the​ ​body’s​ ​weight.​ ​At​ ​this point,​ ​the​ ​foot​ ​is​ ​mobile​ ​and​ ​it​ ​absorbs​ ​the​ ​ground​ ​forces.​ ​Your​ ​foot​ ​then positions​ ​the​ ​forefoot​ ​for​ ​the​ ​next​ ​phase​ ​of​ ​gait,​ ​the​ ​mid-stance.

At​ ​mid-stance,​ ​your​ ​foot​ ​begins​ ​to​ ​supinate​ ​and​ ​continues​ ​this​ ​motion through​ ​the​ ​“toe​ ​off”​ ​pushing​ ​motion.​ ​Here​ ​your​ ​foot​ ​changes​ ​from​ ​being​ ​a mobile​ ​structure​ ​back​ ​to​ ​a​ ​rigid​ ​lever​ ​that​ ​can​ ​then​ ​propel​ ​your​ ​body​ ​forward as​ ​you​ ​swing​ ​your​ ​other​ ​leg​ ​forward​ ​to​ ​repeat​ ​the​ ​motion.

It​ ​is​ ​this​ ​efficiency,​ ​the​ ​​transition​ ​sequence®​​ ​of supination/pronation/supination,​ ​that​ ​is​ ​the​ ​key​ ​to​ ​proper​ ​biomechanics​ ​of the​ ​foot.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​critically​ ​important​ ​that​ ​the​ ​foot​ ​has​ ​the​ ​mobility​ ​and​ ​stability necessary​ ​to​ ​achieve​ ​optimal​ ​positioning​ ​throughout​ ​the​ ​entire​ ​gait​ ​cycle.

Rehabilitation​ ​and​ ​performance​ ​improvement​ ​programs​ ​​ ​starting​ ​at the​ ​foot

The​ ​majority​ ​of​ ​rehabilitation​ ​and​ ​performance​ ​improvement​ ​programs​ ​focus on​ ​the​ ​dynamic​ ​elements​ ​of​ ​the​ ​body​ ​overall.​ ​It​ ​is​ ​important​ ​to​ ​dedicate​ ​time and​ ​effort​ ​on​ ​motor​ ​control​ ​and​ ​proprioception,​ ​which​ ​form​ ​the​ ​basis​ ​of​ ​any conditioning​ ​or​ ​rehabilitation​ ​protocol.​ ​These​ ​programs​ ​are​ ​solid​ ​and successfully​ ​increase​ ​strength​ ​and​ ​flexibility​ ​of​ ​the​ ​foot​ ​and​ ​lower​ ​leg.​ ​That being​ ​said,​ ​it​ ​is​ ​also​ ​important​ ​to​ ​realize​ ​that​ ​the​ ​foot​ ​requires​ ​special​ ​focus on​ ​its​ ​structural​ ​elements​ ​to​ ​improve​ ​the​ ​leg’s​ ​efficiency,​ ​namely​ ​the arthrokinematics.

Efficient​ ​foot​ ​and​ ​ankle​ ​biomechanics​ ​are​ ​the​ ​result​ ​of​ ​a​ ​foundation​ ​of​ ​solid joint​ ​surface​ ​approximation – ​bone​ ​surfaces​ ​coming​ ​together​ ​like​ ​puzzle pieces​ ​(arthrokinematics).​ ​And​ ​this​ ​foundation​ ​is​ ​the​ ​base​ ​of​ ​all​ ​functional activity.​ ​Not​ ​only​ ​does​ ​this​ ​healthy​ ​alignment​ ​of​ ​the​ ​feet,​ ​ankles,​ ​and​ ​knees promote​ ​injury-free​ ​and​ ​productive​ ​movement,​ ​it​ ​enhances​ ​overall​ ​body performance​ ​for​ ​work,​ ​ ​ ​play,​ ​and​ ​​daily​ ​activities.

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