Our Feet and Footwear

Introduction

Our feet are exposed to many different stresses including infections, injuries, fractures and problems from wearing poor footwear that may impede proper alignment and movement of the ankle and foot.

 

Anatomy of the Foot:

The human foot is made up of 26bones, 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. The foot is divided into three sections: hindfoot, midfoot and forefoot. The hindfoot contains the calcaneus (heel bone) and talus (ankle bone). The two leg bones connect to the top of the talus to form the ankle joint.

 

The midfoot consists of 5 irregular bones called the cuboid, the navicular plus 3 cuneiform bones and these 5 bones form the arch or transvers of the foot. The forefoot consists of the remaining 19 bones; long metatarsus bones and connecting toe bones or phalanges. All bones in the feet are held together by a latticework of ligaments, tendons and muscles.

 

History:

Durable shoes are a fairly recent invention. While many ancient civilizations wore ornamental footwear some saw no need for footwear. The Romans saw clothing and footwear as signs of power and status in society. Most Romans wore footwear, while slaves and peasants remained barefoot. In the Middle Ages people associated high-heeled shoes as a sign of power by standing taller. Artwork from that period often depicted bare feet as a symbol of poverty or as a sign of humility and respect. In some cultures today, people remove their shoes before entering a home and some religious communities require people to remove shoes before they enter a temple or holy building.

 

During the 1950s, leisure opportunities greatly expanded. As school dress codes relaxed children and teens began to wear sneakers to school. In the 1970s, jogging for exercise became increasingly popular and trainers or sneakers designed specifically for comfort while jogging sold well. Soon every sport had its own shoe, made possible by podiatrist development of athletic shoe technology.

 

Types of Shoes:

Athletic shoes are made for many uses or sports and are usually constructed with a flexible sole, appropriate tread for the function and an ability to absorb impact. “Running” shoes can be found in many shapes suited to different running styles and abilities. Some are for joggers and others geared towards those who run marathons, play basketball or tennis to name a few. These are generally constructed with a complex structure of “rubber” with plastic or metal stiffeners to restrict foot movement. More advanced runners tend to wear flatter and flexible ‘racing flats’ allowing them to run more quickly with greater comfort.

 

Sports that are played on grass, such as soccer and football, have cleats on the bottom for greater traction. Spiked shoes are also used for track racing as well as playing golf.

 

Climbing shoes fit very closely to support the foot and allow the climber to use small footholds effectively. Most climbers do not wear socks with these shoes in order to achieve a more precise fit. As a result of their tightness, most climbing shoes, particularly the more aggressive or technical styles, can be uncomfortable even when properly fitted.

 

Canvas ‘sneakers’ come in many styles. High-tops cover the ankles; low-tops do not cover the ankles; mid-cuts are in-between high and low tops. A variety of specialized shoes are designed for specific uses, such as work boots, dance and ballet.

 

Problems:

Ladies fashionable “high” heels come with more than the price of the shoes! A 2-inch heel places 57% more pressure on the front of the feet. Damage caused from wearing high heels vary from – balance problems causing falls or ankle sprains or breaks; strain on the Achilles tendon causing it to tighten and shorten; arthritis in the knee joints to spinal misalignment affecting posture which leads to severe leg and back pain.

 

Improper fitting footwear can also lead to painful blisters, which could become infected if not properly treated or if continual use of improper fitting shoes causes blisters to re-occur.

 

Many shoes today are made of plastic which causes the feet to sweat and plastic mixed with perspiration can cause bacteria to grow. Nail fungus, athlete’s foot or bromohydrosis (foot odor) can become a problem. Rotate your shoes often, especially athletic shoes to allow them to “air” out.

 

Wearing tight fitting shoes can also lead to tarsal tunnel syndrome caused by increased or prolonged compression of the posterior tibial nerve.

 

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Remember that your feet are the foundation of your body and especially the spine. Have your chiropractor check your spine on a regular basis to make sure you are in ‘balance’.

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