Our feet are complex but flexible structures composed of bones, joints, muscle and soft tissues including ligaments and tendons.
The largest bone in the foot, the heel bone or calcaneus is saddled by the talus that meets with the tibia (or shin bone) to make the ankle joint. Forward of these two bones are a collection of approximately cube shaped bones, one called the cuboid, the navicular and three cuneiforms.
The metatarsals are the shaft like bones that make up the fore foot and join with the phalanges (toe-bones) to make the ball of the foot.
The arch of the foot is supported by the plantar fascia a thick stiff rubber band structure running from under your heel to under your toes. Muscles in your legs pulling on tendons running around your inner and outer ankles do a great deal of the support too!
With such a complex bony structure, the health of your bones is crucial to active, healthy and pain free feet.
Bones need great blood supply to keep them strong, flexible and able to heal quickly. We should eat a well balanced, low fat diet, do plenty of exercise and avoid smoking to ensure maintenance of the best blood supply to your feet, and the bones in your feet and legs. The vessels carrying blood, oxygen and nutrients to your lower limb are the longest in your body and often the first to show signs of restricted flow.
Keeping active helps to strengthen bone too as the minor shocks of weight bearing activity on bone tissues of the foot and whole body stimulate the bone renewal processes. The repetitive stresses of running, walking and cycling are good, but keeping that type of activity mixed in with football, tennis, weights and dance type activities can be better for your bones.
The bones of our feet spend a good length of our lives wrapped up in shoes, so it’s essential that footwear fits well and doesn’t compress the foot. Long term use of poorly fitting footwear is well know to be a contributing factor in bony deformation of the foot including bunion joint and hammer toe formation.
If your feet hurt for prolonged periods, at particular times of the day or after certain activities seek the medical attention of your general practitioner or a podiatrist. Treating foot pain is usually easier and more effective earlier, than after many months of hobbling around.
If you have problems with your feet, Mo, Charlie and Saddaf the podiatrists at Paddocks Healthcare Clinic in Henfield and Steyning Podiatry at Body Matters can help.
Clinic Director Bartholomew Way Clinic Group