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Head to Toe Performance: Chiropractic Foot Care

The foot and ankle region is one of the most common areas neglected in corrective and performance care of athletes. 26 bones make up each foot and ankle of the 206 bones in the body  This accounts for almost one quarter of the bones in the body. There are also 32 joints and over 100 soft tissue structures (muscles, tendons, ligaments) in this region, making it an important location for performance optimization in athletes. At Mid-South Spine and Sports Performance, chiropractic foot care is an important tool that keeps our patients performing better, longer. Here are three goals of chiropractic foot care.

 

1) Maintaining Proper Joint Mechanics

There are a few reasons that proper motion in the foot is so vital to those looking to maintain or improve performance. The foot and ankle work as a team to accomplish two major tasks. During the initial stance phase of walking or running, the foot must become flexible. This allows absorption of loads being placed on it from the rest of the body. Load is absorbed by these joints’ flexible motion, by the eccentric contraction of muscles and by the passive resistance of ligaments that attach to these joints. Once the second portion of the stance phase begins, the foot and ankle must  become rigid. This allows the foot and ankle to release and transfer forces created while toeing off to the rest of the body. In order for these two tasks to occur, each joint must work properly and at the right time.

 

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Chiropractic foot care is central to any athlete’s performance-based care plan.

 

The biggest goal of a chiropractic foot care, is determining proper joint motion. Proper evaluation involves the joints of the hind, mid, and fore-foot. Any improper motion at any of these joints can be restored by a manipulation (adjustment) of the foot or ankle. This is by far the best way to restore proper foot and ankle joint mechanics and the patient usually notices an immediately springier or looser foot. Other proven methods of restoring proper joint motion include active release and myofascial release of involved muscles and ligaments.

 

2) Injury Prevention

The vast majority of conditions in the foot and ankle are ones that develop over time with wear and tear. A foot which is not moving properly may not cause a noticeable problem right away. Over time, however, the stress from these subtle abnormalities begin to compound and can cause a wide variety of injuries. Plantar fasciitis, turf toe, calf strains, knee injuries, and shin splints can all contain this common factor of excessive wear. In order to combat this wear, regular attention needs to devoted to injury prevention in the feet and lower extremity. Ever decided to not rotate your tires? Get ready for a blow out. The same principle applies here with your own two “wheels.”

So how does chiropractic foot care prevent injury? Earlier we established that each joint in the foot serves a purpose or has a certain “job”. When each joint does its “job” correctly, it allows for efficient and proper motion of the entire foot. This concept applies to the foot and ankle’s role in movement of the entire body. If the foot is not operating correctly, movement becomes inefficient and other joints begin to wear down. The foot is especially unique as it is the link between the body and external environment for almost every movement. Whether forces are being transferred to or from the body, problems in the foot produces significant wear on the body. Chiropractic foot care reduces injury when used regularly for maintenance and performance purposes.

 

3) Combating the Negative Impact of Today’s Footwear

Shoes can have a negative impact on the foot for a few reasons. First, shoes reduce the amount of proprioceptive information received by the foot. Proprioception is the ability of your body to recognize its position in space. This is why you can walk around in the dark or complete a sobriety test (when you’re sober). Because these receptors for proprioception are in the skin and surface of the foot, shoes dampen this ability. This is why some strength coaches have their players warm up without shoes on.

 

Stress fractures, a sure sign of excessive wear, have an association to improper footwear. *Picture Accessed from GettyImages*

 

Believe it or not, there is more to what goes on your feet than its color or design. The decision to buy a shoe rarely places emphasis on support or quality. Just like the wear and tear examples from before, any lack of support from your shoe will compound over time. Ever had a shoe that you thought fit at the store, only to wear it for a few days and realize how uncomfortable it is? And why after a long day on your feet does it feel so good to take your shoes off? The answer is that many shoes are not helping your feet, they are hurting them. Yes, steel-toed boots are rugged and protect from hard objects, but they also keep the foot from going through proper motion.

Just as balancing on a teeter totter, positive impacts on the foot will nullify negative ones. So how does one restore proper motion of the foot and nullify the negative effects of footwear? How about restoring proper motion and muscular function through chiropractic foot care?  Take it a step further and utilize customized orthotic in your shoes. Foot orthotics are shoe equivalent to an aftermarket add-on in a car. Designed specifically for the individual foot for maximal support, they will replace a current “stock” insole, and provide individualized support. Custom orthotics keep excessive joint forces on the foot down, reducing the wear and tear on the foot. Because of this, less damage accrues over time and foot adjustments hold better.

 

As always, for any questions about how chiropractic care can help you or to set up an appointment, contact Mid-South Spine and Sports Performance via phone: 901-573-2526 or email: drdetweiler@midsouthssp.net.

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