There is a childhood sing-along saying, “heel bone connected to your ankle bone” and “ankle bone connected to your leg one” and so on. While the song is simplified, it is absolutely right. The whole body is connected.
This connection means a problem in one area of the body can impact other areas. Having tired, aching feet is a common complaint. The pain and problems don’t stop at the ankle. Problems cascade up from the feet to create consequences for the entire body.
Feet Are Your Foundation
Feet support your body to the top of your head. When the bones, muscles, tendons, or ligaments are weak or otherwise compromised, a ripple effect can be felt throughout your anatomy. You may be compensating for foot problems without your even knowing.
Improper foot mechanics and faulty movement patterns can cause myriad problems:
- Knee Pain. Foot pronation can irritate the outside of the kneecap. Overpronation can also cause the knees to internally rotate, making the kneecap track improperly.
- Hip Pain. Misalignment in the feet causes problems at the knees which in turn creates alignment problems at the hip joint. Improper bone alignment means there will be an imbalance in the musculature around those joints.
- Back Pain. Compensating for foot issues with improper can carry the avalanche of pain and problems to your spine. Prolonged misalignment of the vertebrae can lead to disc issues as well as weakness and tightness in the muscles along the spine and the back.
- Leg Pain. Muscle weakness and stiffness in the lower leg can be caused by problems with the feet.
Poor standing, walking, and running mechanics can create postural issues. When that happens, even our organs may not function optimally, including those for breathing and digestion.
Foot pain can also be a symptom of other serious conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, peripheral arterial disease, and diabetes. Never dismiss chronic pain. See your doctor to rule out significant underlying causes.
Feet Are Complicated
Each foot has 26 bones, 30 joints, and about 30 muscles. To give you a better idea of scale, there are 206 bones, 306 joints, and more than 600 muscles in the human body. With about 20% of our bones and joints being in our two feet, it is easy to see how important they are to our overall anatomy. Add to those numbers the daily beating our feet take, it is easy to see why so many Americans complain of foot pain.
There are two types of muscles of the feet:
- Extrinsic. These muscles create eversion, inversion, plantarflexion, and dorsiflexion of the foot.
- Intrinsic. These muscles perform finer motor movements, like moving individual toes.
The foot is composed of three types of bones:
- Tarsals. These bones make up the ankle area and heel.
- Metatarsals. These bones are in the mid-foot.
- Phalanges. These bones create the toes.
There are some 30 ligaments in the foot, but there are three that are particularly important:
- Plantar Fascia. This is the longest ligament in the foot and is important for balance and walking. It forms the arch of the foot.
- Plantar Calcaneonavicular Ligament. This is a deeper ligament that connects two bones in the upper foot.
- Calcaneocuboid Ligament. This ligament helps connect the upper and mid-foot to help the plantar fascia support the foot’s arch.
Ligaments attach bone to bone.
The tendons of the foot attach muscle to bone. They include the following:
- Posterior Tibial Tendon. This helps turn the foot inward.
- Achilles Tendon. Attaches the calf muscles to the heel. The tendon makes it possible to come upon the balls of your feet, run, jump, and walk.
Some tendons help to bend and straighten the toes and turn the foot outward.
Common Painful Foot Conditions
At ProFysio Physical Therapy, our highly trained team has extensive experience in dealing with all types of pain, including those in the feet.
Our knowledge covers the gamut of foot problems, including the following:
- Morton’s Neuroma. This affects the nerves in the foot, most of which are located at the base of the toes.
- Plantar Fasciitis. This pain is typically in the arch and heel of the foot.
- Flat Feet and Fallen Arches. Flat feet can lead to shin splints, and pain in the feet, ankle, legs, hip, and back. Not all flat feet are fallen arches.
- Diabetic Neuropathy. This causes a loss of sensation in the feet and affects balance.
- Tendinitis. The tendons in the feet become inflamed, which is often caused by doing exercises on hard surfaces without appropriate footwear.
Understanding the Source of Your Pain
Even if you feel pain in another part of your body, your feet may be at the root of the problems. Our team can conduct a thorough evaluation of your symptoms and assess walking, posture, and other movement mechanics to create a treatment plan for your pain.
Don’t continue to let pain keep you from doing the activities you love. You might find relief through physical therapy and other treatments available at ProFysio Physical Therapy. We have four convenient locations: Aberdeen, East Brunswick, Edison, and Old Bridge.
Call us at (732) 812-5200 or use our online form to schedule your no-cost consultation. The only thing you have to lose is the pain!