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Biomechanics

Podiatric biomechanics involves the assessment of the structure, alignment and function of the feet and legs. The foot is the only part of the human body that is unique to humans which is why we are able to walk upright. It has developed specifically so that it can adapt to the surface upon which we walk. In the early stages of our evolution, the terrain upon which we walked was varied and uneven and the foot has a complex set of joints and muscles which allow this process. However, we are now required to walk on hard, man-made surfaces subjecting our feet and legs to low impact repetitive stresses and strains.

This low grade but repetitive motion can place the feet, legs and pelvis and spine under considerable stresses. This can result in a lot of pain and discomfort. These problems are exacerbated by wearing ill fitting shoes or if a person has low arched or high arched feet.

The average person takes between 5,000 to 18,000 steps per day. This low-grade but repetitive motion can place stress on the foot, legs, pelvis and spine predisposing to pain and discomfort. If you have a low-arched (pronated) or high arched (supinated) foot then you may be more predisposed to problems.

Detailed assessment of the structure of the feet and Gait analysis can help to identify factors that may be causing or contributing to the discomfort. The use of special shoe inserts (orthoses) can help to control the way in which the foot and therefore legs function and thus reduce discomfort. However, attention to shoes and muscle strength/flexibility can all improve function.

Orthoses

Orthoses (or orthotics) are special shoes inserts and are the mainstay of treatment for abnormal foot function. However, orthoses are often used in conjunction with other treatment modalities, shoe advice and appropriate rehabilitation.