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Foot Shapes & Biomechanics

Foot healthSportsmen know how a simple problem gets magnified over time and eventually has major consequences if ignored- especially problems of the feet. Usually, this symptom occurs, when a blister affects the gait or due to pain in heel spur or weakened muscles that can cause an imbalance in the body's mechanics. The biomechanics of the feet are very important as this affects the entire body and frequently result in back ache. Further, our feet are one of the most stressed parts of the body and any small problem aggravates into a major problem within a short period. So, you have to be very careful while treating with your foot problem.

Biomechanics is the study of the mechanics of a living body where forces are exerted by muscles due to the gravitational forces on the skeletal structure of a living body. The biomechanics of foot is complicated and by all standards our feet can be considered an engineering marvel. The foot is composed of 26 bones. There are 33 synovial joints to make the feet more flexible. Nearly 20 muscles manage control of the foot's movements. The foot tendons are similar to stretcheble rubber bands between the bones and muscles. When the muscles contract, the tendons pull the bones. The foot comprises more than hundred ligaments that connect bone to bone and cartilage to bone and, it also hold the whole structure together. Every step you walk or run, your feet are subjected to a force of two to three times your body weight, which makes the feet prone to injury.

The big toe helps to maintain balance of the body while the little toes function like a springboard. The metatarsal bones in the foot give a firm grip while the two outer metatarsal bones help us to on uneven surfaces.

Podiatrists classify feet into three categories flat feet, normal feet and arched feet. There have been studies that indicate that children who wear shoes continuously have a higher tendency to develop flat feet during adulthood. Flat feet have higher surface area contact with the ground than the other two. Approximately 20 to 30% of the people have flat feet, so it should not be a cause of worry until unless they are causing foot or heel pain.

Biomechanical Problems & Prevention

The way we make our body movements help an orthopedist or podiatrist determine and analyze whether there is a mechanical misalignment and if so, how it can be corrected. These specialists gauge your problem by also evaluating your walking and running gait.

A low arch or flat foot can cause knee, hip and back pain. When one of the foot-arch flattens more, that inner ankle tends to move closer to the ground. This results in hip rotating downward and backward. This can lead to shortening of a leg during walking and running. The body adapts the muscles, tendons, ligaments accordingly however the joints are stretched to their limit. The arms, shoulders, the backbone and muscles all play a major role in alignment thus supporting the body balance.

Localized stresses can cause inflammation in the feet and often is the cause of back ache and body pain. Walking or running on unbalanced and uneven feet can also result in fatigue and pain.

The longer you keep a good form by hiking, running, biking, or paddling, the better your chances of not injuring yourself due to a biomechanical problem. The best way to keep healthy is to train wisely and cautiously whatever may be the discipline. It can be anything from running, mountaineering, taekwondo to foot boxing. Ensure yourself that your shoes are not worn down. It is prudent to replace them before they lose their support and cushion. Always wear good insoles to balance the foot and provide good heel and arch support and alignment. Strengthen your ankles and knees with specific exercises. Do upper body exercises to strength your abs, back and shoulders. Do arms exercises for maintaining balance and proper form. Learn your body's weak points and find exercises to strengthen those muscles and joints.

Walking more than required also cause stress in the joints thus straining the muscles. It further makes the feet susceptible to hot spots, blisters, and lead to problems like stubbed toes, sprains and strains. For effective walking possessing good quality of shoes, socks, and insoles are important. Any one of these three can cause feet problems if they are ill fitting. You must give special attention to your shoes as well, think that shoes are not simply for fashion, they are to give protection and to keep your feet muscles healthy and strong at the same time.

Every person at one or the other time can become a victim to biomechanical problems. To avoid biomechanical problems, regular exercise and properly fitting shoes are the only long term solution. 
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