"The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art"
– Leonardo Da Vinci
Maintaining this ‘masterpiece of engineering’ in prime condition should be part of our daily routine.
Our feet are probably the most exploited and ignored parts of our body, yet they put up with the stress of our daily lives, and are quite literally the furthest things from our mind. They work for us all day, whether walking, standing or running, more often than not without complaint, yet there may come a time when they will rebel.
In an average lifetime we will walk approximately 100,000 miles. Taking into account it is stated that the circumference of the earth is 24,901 miles, that means we will walk the equivalent of more than 4 times around the world in our lifetime.
Many factors affect the condition of our feet, some within our control e.g. profession, shoes and some that are not e.g., health and limitations to mobility.
Walking and exercising helps keep the ligaments and muscles in our feet supple and toned, enables them to work efficiently and aids circulation.
The foot combines mechanical complexity & structural strength.
The ankle serves as the foundation, shock absorber and propulsion engine. The foot can sustain enormous pressure (especially when running) and provides flexibility and resilience. There are 26 bones in each foot (28 if you include the small sesamoid bones at the base of the big toe); this is one quarter of the bones in the entire body. There are 33 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments. There is also a network of blood vessels, nerves, skin and soft tissue. These components all work together to provide the body with balance, support and mobility.
The foot has three main parts:
Fore-foot – The five toes (phalanges) and their connecting long bones (metatarsals).
Mid-foot – Five irregular shaped tarsal bones form the arch of the foot. The bones of the mid-foot are connected to the fore-foot and hind-foot by muscles and the plantar fascia (arch ligament).
Hind-foot – Composed of three joints and links the mid-foot to the ankle (talus). The top of the talus is connected to the two long bones of the lower leg (fibula and tibia), forming a hinge that allows the foot to move up and down. The heel bone (calcaneus) is the largest bone in the foot. It joins the talus to form the subtalar joint, which enables the foot to rotate at the ankle.