Core Talk: Foot and Ankle
If we are going to talk about how the “core muscles” concept applies to the foot, first we should talk about what an efficient foot looks like and how does it fit in to supporting the rest of your body.
An efficient foot is a foot that is mobile enough to mold and flatten when it needs to mold and flatten (i.e. walking barefoot on grass, rocks, or a sandy beach), and can become rigid when it needs to become rigid and provide energy and power (i.e. pushing off your toes to walk or run, a dancer on point, or an athlete jumping.)
An efficient foot allows the weight of your body to easily be distributed into the arches. Your feet are your foundation! They are the base of support that we stand over and that we move from. A bad or inefficient foundation has the potential to effect what happens in the rest of your body! This can be a negative thing, or it can be a positive thing.
When the feet are not efficient, you may experience things like: plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonopathy, bunions, heel pain, knee pain, hip and low back pain, and even head aches!
With an inefficient foundation, your body is likely to work harder. You may not be able to stand as long as you would like, or walk or run as far as you would like!
CORE OF THE FOOT
There are quite a few muscles that make up the core of your foot. Most people would probably think about the arch of the foot. Within the arch, you have tiny muscle that play a significant role in how your foot functions. You also have deeper muscles in the shin area and calf area that have tendons that reach down to the foot and play a role in efficient function of the foot.
These muscles can be negatively effected by many factors. One of those could be injuries, even “old ankle sprains.” Often with injury, your smaller, stabilizing muscles will lose the ability to function in this role. When this happens, your body and feet will compensate. Sometimes, this looks like your foot pronating more (flattening). Other times it may look like your foot turning out and you walking like a duck! Compensation can even be a foot that is more rigid with a “high arch.”
It is also possible that you have good movement through your foot, but your muscles and nervous system just aren’t functioning as well as they should. This can be helped as well!
What is important to understand is that the core of your foot is important for how the rest of your body functions. Old injuries and tightness can effect this, and many other factors can effect this. It is important to have a good, working foundation so that you can feel your best!