The human foot has evolved over millions of years to carry us in an upright position. It is really designed to perform best on soft uneven ground such as grassland or sand where the terrain compacts under the arch of the foot giving it additional support. However, most of our activity occurs on hard paved areas nowadays, so your choice of footwear, particularly for sporting activities is vitally important as it provides a micro-environment for your feet.
A normal gait pattern also requires the foot and ankle to be able to "rock" from side to side where they meet at the ankle - the Subtalar joint. This joint allows the foot to roll inwards "pronate" when the foot makes contact with the ground to absorb the shock and adapt the foot to whatever surface we walk on. The joint should also allow the foot to roll back outwards "supinate" so it becomes rigid enough to maximise propulsion during the last
stage of the Stance Phase.
Ideally, the foot is slightly angled at 3 - 4 degrees at heel strike causing the foot to meet the ground on the outer edge of the heel allowing the maximum and strongest area of foot, ankle and lower leg to absorb the shock. This angle is referred to as the "Tibial Varum Angle".
Overpronation, where the foot rolls inwards for too long and too far consequently over-flattening the arch and impeding the Windlass mechanism is very common, affecting at least half the population. The effect is quite marked as can be seen in these images, the ankle bone is much more pronounced in an overpronated foot and the achilles tendon appears twisted.
It causes the lower leg to rotate inwards putting the knee and hip out of alignment. This rotation becomes more pronounced and exaggerated especially when running and without adequate support such as orthotics and correctly fitted footwear can cause injury and pain to the foot, ankle, lower leg and knee.
Oversupination, where the foot does not pronate enough thereby reducing its ability to absorb shock and mould to the ground is quite rare. It places additional stress on the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the lower limb and can lead to ankle sprains, plantar fasciitis and stress fractures without adequate footwear support.
There are many different types and builds of shoe available for all types of sports. Your foot shape, biomechanics and your weight are unique, so before investing, its vital to establish your foot type to ensure you select shoes which will give the best fit and right support.
You can easily determine the shape of your foot by doing a wet footprint test. Simply dampen the sole of your foot with water, then stand on a flat surface that will show an imprint such as a sheet of paper or even a dry concrete surface. Make sure there isn’t too much excess water on the feet. Your foot’s imprint should match one of the three generalized foot types:
Normal Feet: neutral arch – imprint is flared, with forefoot and heel connected by a wide band on the outside. A normal foot lands on the outside of the heel, then rolls inward (pronates) slightly to absorb shock.
Flat Feet: low arch leaves an imprint that looks like the whole sole of the foot. A flat foot strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls inward excessively which, over time, can lead to injury or disorders such as bunions and plantar fasciitis.
High-Arched Feet: imprint has a very narrow band connecting forefoot and heel. This type of foot tends to oversupinate making it less effective at absorbing shock.
The shape of your footprint roughly correlates with the amount of stability and cushioning you will need in your shoe.
It is also very worthwhile to get a professional assessment of your running style particularly if your foot type is flat or you have a high arch.
Prevention is always better than the cure, so let us help get you started here at The Parkgate Podiatry Practice.
We provide a full gait analysis service including a biomechanical assessment of your feet and lower leg which will highlight any areas which may become problematic.
We can offer advice on footwear and also prescribe orthotics to help you manage any underlying problems.
We also treat ailments, disorders or injuries ... so you can keep going mile after mile after mile!
To book an appointment, simply contact us or telephone 01709 522334. Our opening hours are Monday - Friday 8.30am - 5pm.
We also offer late night appointments on Tuesday evenings until 6.30pm.