The goal of this blog will be to explore many fascinating and under appreciated aspects of foot form and function, to discuss various approaches to maintaining healthy feet, and to educate people on the need to properly care for their lower extremities. Resesarch shows that 75% of North Americans will experience foot problems at some point in their lives, however many of these problems can be mitigated before becoming chronic issues.
"The Human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art." - Leonardo Da Vinci
Providing a base of support while standing and playing a critical role in locomotion, the human foot is a marvel of human development. The bony structures of the foot consists of 7 tarsals, 5 metatarsals, and 14 phalanges - resulting in a vast array of articulations and supportive prominences. The foot and its bones may be considered in terms of three anatomical and functional parts:
- the hindfoot: talas and calcaneus
- the midfoot: navicular, cuboid and cuneiforms
- the forefoot: metatarsals and phalanges
The midfoot is a "pyramid-like" collection of bones that fit together to form the arches of the feet. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments run along the surfaces of the feet, allowing the complex movements needed for motion and balance. Viscous fluids within joint capsules allow for efficient, smooth, and pain free articulations. The Achilles tendon connects the heel to the calf muscle and is essential for running, jumping, and standing on the toes. Roughly 25% of all the bones in the human body are down in your feet. When these bones are out of alignment, so is the rest of your body.
Throughout this blog i will explore the various ailments and pathologies that can affect all of the above noted structures. Some of these topics will include:
- Plantar fasciitis: Inflammation in the plantar fascia ligament along the bottom of the foot. Pain in the heel and arch, worst in the morning, are symptoms.
- Osteoarthritis of the feet: Age and wear and tear cause the cartilage in the feet to wear out. Pain, swelling, and deformity in the feet are symptoms of osteoarthritis.
- Gout: An inflammatory condition in which crystals periodically deposit in joints, causing severe pain and swelling. The big toe is often affected by gout.
- Athlete's foot: A fungal infection of the feet, causing dry, flaking, red, and irritated skin. Daily washing and keeping the feet dry can prevent athlete's foot.
- Rheumatoid arthritis: An autoimmune form of arthritis that causes inflammation and joint damage. Joints in the feet, ankle, and toes may be affected by rheumatoid arthritis.
- Bunions (hallux valgus): A bony prominence next to the base of the big toe that may cause the big toe to turn inward. Bunions may occur in anyone, but are often caused by heredity or ill-fitting footwear.
- Achilles tendon injury: Pain in the back of the heel may suggest a problem with the Achilles tendon. The injury can be sudden or a nagging daily pain (tendinitis).
- Diabetic foot infection: People with diabetes are vulnerable to infections of the feet, which can be more severe than they appear. People with diabetes should examine their feet daily for any injury or signs of developing infection such as redness, warmth, swelling, and pain.
- Swollen feet (edema): A small amount of swelling in the feet can be normal after prolonged standing and common in people with varicose veins. Feet edema can also be a sign of heart, kidney, or liver problems.
- Calluses: A buildup of tough skin over an area of frequent friction or pressure on the feet. Calluses usually develop on the balls of the feet or the heels and may be uncomfortable or painful.
- Corns: Like calluses, corns consist of excessive tough skin buildup at areas of excessive pressure on the feet.
This is just a small listing of various foot affilictions and is by no means exhaustive. Moving foreward I will delve a little deeper into these topics and hopefully provide readers with a new appreciation for your feet! Please feel free to share this blog and provide any feedback or ask any questions!
***Random foot fact: During the first year of a child's life, their feet grow rapidly, reaching almost half their adult size. By 12, a child's foot is about 90% of its adult length.***