Brightwell House , 40 Queens Road , Reading , RG1 4AU

The biomechanics of the foot

If modern engineers designed the human foot, we would have no structural problems and our feet and legs would function perfectly. They would make us perfect walking and climbing machines with minimal risk of imbalance and injury. Imagine no risk of ankle fracture or sprain, no heel pain, no arch strain or soreness under the forefoot, not even a chance of a blister!

The human foot is an amazingly complex piece of bioengineering. With 26 bones, 55 joints and a complex system of ligaments, muscles and tendons. At initial heel contact, the foot has to endure forces often in excess of 3 times our body weight! Unfortunately for us, its construction is one that has evolved rather than having been specifically designed. Due to genetic differences, previous injury and sometimes systemic illness, our feet and legs are often structurally and mechanically compromised.

Many of us are unknowingly designed with small intrinsic structural abnormalities that make us prone to foot and lower limb problems that can ultimately cause injury and stop us participating in our sport and leisure pursuits.

It is widely accepted by biomechanics specialists that the most common structural problem suffered by the general population is excessive foot pronation. If your heel rolls inwards too much, excessively lowering the arch of your foot and making your ankle bulge on the inside, you have excessive foot pronation! Research has shown this biomechanical condition to be a common cause of many foot and leg injuries in active individuals, including walkers and climbers.

The most common foot problems associated with excessive foot pronation include arch strain (plantar fascicitis), heel pain (deltoid ligament strain), and shin splints (tibialis posterior tendinitis). Excessive foot pronation may also cause the leg to rotate inwards too much during walking, causing abnormal twisting forces within the knee and hip.

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