Health and Fitness

The importance of the foot as the foundation of the body

The way in which the foot function or works will have an important effect on the rest of the body. The feet are commonly thought to be the foundation of the body and just like the tall building comparison, if that foundation is not right, then something could go wrong higher up. There are many different types of biomechanical problems that will affect that foundation and how the foot interacts with the ground. That interaction will have numerous affects further up the body.

Among the problems that may go wrong is something that is commonly termed “overpronation”. This term is frequently used and abused, so should probably not be used. The term relates to the foot moving inwards at the  rearfoot as well as the mid-foot (arch) of the foot flattening. This is really quite a normal motion and is only a issue if there to too much of it. Why the phrase is such an issue is that there is no consensus about what is too much and what is actually normal. This leads to plenty of indecision in research as well as in clinical practice, especially when choices have to be made if the overpronation ought to be addressed or not.

The outcomes that overpronation may have on the body are believed to vary from hallux valgus and plantar fasciitis in the foot to leg and knee joint conditions in runners. There are several methods to treat it, again with a lot of difference of opinion between health professionals as to the best way to deal with it. Logically the management of the overpronation should be geared towards the cause and there is no such thing as a one size fits all. If the condition is due to tight calf muscles, then stretches of those tight muscles would be the rational approach. If the problem is the control of muscles at the hip, then the treatment ought to be geared towards that. If the condition is as a result of weak foot muscles, then that is the best place to start the therapy with exercises. If the problem is because of a bony alignment issue in the foot, then foot orthotics will often be prescribed.