Did you know that a quarter of your body’s bones are in your feet? These complex marvels of engineering by Mother Nature provide your body with a firm foundation, and are constantly in demand to help move the body from one place to another. With 19 muscles and 26 bones each, your feet are important for the balance and health of the entire body.
An estimated 80 percent of people develop some type of foot imbalance by the age of 20. If the foundation of your body is out of balance, then the rest of the body is thrown out of balance. Feet can cause spinal problems is by causing imbalances in your gait—the way you walk. If your stride is off, it can cause musculoskeletal problems in the ankles, knees, hips and spine.
Collapsed arches (“over-pronation”) are the most common source of problems with the feet, causing them to roll inward as an individual walks. Excessive supination (the foot rolling to the outside) is the opposite problem. Not sure if your feet roll excessively? Check your shoe soles to see if they wear unevenly either the inside or outside edge. Some pronation is normal, but when both feet pronate too much and for too long a period, then that’s when your musculoskeletal health is at risk.
Computer gait examinations are useful in diagnosing biomechanical problems in your feet. Delicate computer sensors can yield complex and detailed information that is difficult to observe with the naked eye. Depending on your particular situation, your chiropractor can assist you in finding the proper orthotics to help support and cushion your feet while correcting any mechanical issues with walking. Your feet can change over time (remember there are so many muscles and bones in your feet) making regular computer gait examinations a part of a healthy regimen to ensure a healthy foundation for your frame and protect your feet, ankles, knees, hips and spine.
Obesity and diabetes are two other health problems involving the feet. Extra weight obviously increases the wear and tear on your body’s joints and is particularly hard on the feet. Diabetes can affect circulation as well as the peripheral nervous system—especially in the extremities—making it more difficult to walk and more difficult to heal after injuries. Both of these conditions set up a vicious cycle where pain and dysfunction often lead to reduced mobility, which in turn often leads to additional weight gain and diabetic symptoms.