How our bones and joints line up together is called overall body alignment, and when everything is in tip-top shape, it just feels good (and usually means fewer mobility challenges). It’s especially important to consider how the bones and joints in our feet work together to support everything else.
After all, knowing and adapting to your foot posture could literally feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulders. Below, we’ll discuss the common postures found in feet and how a podiatrist can help you adapt for improved overall body alignment.
What Is Foot Posture?
Foot posture is the shape of the arch of your foot (medial longitudinal arch). Anyone of any age can have challenges with their foot posture. There are three categories of foot posture described as:
- Normal (or neutral)
- Low-arched (or flat feet or fallen arches)
- Highly-arched (or high arches)
Your specific arch shape can affect walking and running mechanics as well as balance. Those in athletics may notice more changes in their feet due to overuse or injury.
As you age, your feet will likely change in width and shape. Generally, this happens as muscles and tendons loosen, causing your arch to flatten out. Many people live with flat feet without trouble (but not everyone). In contrast, an extra high arch is usually a genetic trait but can also be caused by a neurological disorder.
Foot Posture and Overall Alignment
The way your feet are positioned changes the weight distribution, which can impact other joints in your body. The main areas of impact include your knees and hips. For example, flat feet can lead to your shinbone and femur rotating inwards. This would mean that your alignment of the entire leg would be off.
In addition to your joints, poor foot structure can cause different muscle activation patterns. Your body may then overuse specific muscles to compensate and maintain balance. Improper alignment and overuse of larger muscles can lead to back, neck, knee, hip, and foot pain, as well as sprains and strains.
High Arches Vs. Fallen Arches: Postural Stability & Fatigue
Research suggests a link exists between foot posture and your ability to maintain your balance (postural stability). Having high arches may help with your balance when your eyes are open, but limited research does not confirm the same results when your eyes are closed.
Fallen arches are known to increase fatigue and may cause other conditions, such as plantar fasciitis. With the right exercises, footwear, and podiatrist advice, your feet can be happy no matter your foot posture.
How a Podiatrist Can Help: Foot Posture Index
A podiatrist can perform a biomechanical assessment to evaluate the relationship between foot posture and body analysis using gait analysis, imaging, and physical examination. During this process, they may use the foot posture index to identify any significant changes in the shape of your foot.
The index is a starting point to help identify:
- Predisposition to injury
- Reasons behind instability
- If the posture of the foot may impact the lower limbs
Based on the results, your podiatrist may suggest exercises to improve muscle strength and flexibility, orthotics or changes in your footwear, or physical therapy to address alignment issues. In severe cases, surgery may be used to realign the bones and joints in your ankle and foot or to correct flat feet.
Make Sure Your Foot Posture Doesn’t Toe the Line
If you believe your pain or balance problems may stem from your foot posture, it’s time to get help. We can assist with all pains and problems below the knee. Schedule an appointment with The Foot & Ankle Group today.
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