By Dr. Douglas Vlaskamp, DC, Chiropractor
What do these uncomfortable foot problems have in common? They are all signs of improper movement in the feet when we are walking or standing.
The most common issue people have with their feet is called hyperpronation. This is when they “roll” over their arches. This can happen no matter how high or low the arch of your foot is, and is different than a true “flat foot.” Hyperpronation puts the foot in a position that increases the stress and strain on the muscles and joints of the foot. It leads to pain in the foot and lower leg, but the longer term problem is the wear and tear it creates on your feet.
When you hyperpronate, stresses from walking are increased on the inside of the foot, along the arch. This is a problem when it comes to pushing off, because too much pressure ends up on the big toe. Eventually, this pressure pushes the big toe towards the other toes and a "bunion" starts to develop at the big toe joint.
Another problem with hyperpronation is that the force in the front of the foot eventually increases to cause the small arch that goes across the front of the foot to fall. The change in the dynamics of the tendons because of the dropped transverse arch causes the 2nd and 3rd toes to bend, creating the “hammer” toe look. This will lead to further problems like excessive callus and corn formation.
The solution to these problems is first to make sure you are wearing footwear that is appropriate for what your feet are doing. That involves shoes that bend where your toes bend (try it, not all shoes do this). It also means that the sole should be stiff, so you can’t twist the shoe right around. Lastly, the heel of the shoe’s upper should be firm to hold your foot properly on the shoe. After that, we have to look at what is an appropriate amount of heel height (flat usually is not good), and what kind of arch support does the shoe give. If there isn’t much arch support, a customized orthotic would be of help. By supporting the foot, it allows for better mechanics of the foot, which reduces stress and strain on the muscles and joints of the foot, leg and low back.
If you think you need orthotics, start by looking at your insurance coverage. Dr. Doug can assess your foot mechanics and see if an orthotic would be of any help to you.
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