Foot health is often overlooked despite it being a window into your body. Discrepancies in the feet are often the cause of imbalances throughout the body.
HCPC registered podiatrist with extensive experience in both NHS and private practice specialising in musculoskeletal, nail surgery and high risk podiatry.
1. Foot Stability
The feet are dynamic structures made up of lots of bones – 26 to be precise -and more than 100 muscles, ligaments and tendons. They need to be flexible in order to adapt to the different surfaces we walk on, as well as being strong and stable in order to support our bodies weight. The foot has a number of intrinsic muscles that are designed to stabilise the arch but these can become deconditioned over time leading to abnormal foot movement patterns and in some cases pain in the feet, ankles, knees, hips and lower back.
Pilates is a great exercise to help improve foot stability. Since it is performed barefoot, the feet are stimulated and the subtle muscles that support the arches are strengthened. Joseph Pilates recognised this value and included many exercises involving the feet on his original repertoire of apparatus. He also created two specific pieces of equipment – the Foot Corrector and Toe Tens meter – to tone and strengthen the feet.
If you are not able to attend pilates Balwyn North classes, there are plenty of things you can do at home. Start by spending a few minutes a day rolling out your feet on a mat or carpet with a Yoga Tune-Up ball, tennis ball or Franklin Method ball. Try sliding your fingers between the toes and fanning them out. Adding this to your daily routine can improve foot strength, balance and flexibility.
2. Core Strength
A strong core is the foundation of whole body health. It affects stability, balance and posture and allows us to perform activities like bending over or twisting. Having adequate core strength can make the difference between feeling discomfort, stiffness or restriction in daily tasks and being able to do them easily without thinking about it.
Joseph Pilates created his method of exercise as a means to strengthen his frail and sickly body. He self-educated in anatomy, boxing, yoga, and martial arts before serving as a nurse-physiotherapist for nonambulatory patients during World War I. He took bed springs and rigged them to hospital beds, creating resistance-type equipment for rehabilitation. He later designed two pieces of apparatus that are the benchmarks of every Pilates studio today, the reformer and the trapeze table (or Cadillac).
Each of the exercises in the Pilates system is initiated with stabilization of the torso to prevent asymmetrical movement patterns. Each movement pattern involves the coordination of multiple muscles requiring active recruitment and proper alignment. This method of muscle conditioning promotes a concept called regional interdependency in which weaker muscles are facilitated by the stronger ones in a given movement pattern.
Podiatry Balwyn North use the principals of Pilates to help patients develop stronger core muscles that can take pressure off the feet and ankles. This is particularly important in a case where foot and ankle problems are caused by structural issues or poor posture that lead to stressors and excessive loading in certain areas of the feet causing painful calluses or cracking/warping of the feet.
3. Postural Strength
Muscle Joint Bone use Pilates principals in their assessment of foot and lower limb problems to ensure that the feet, core, legs and pelvis are all working together as efficiently as possible. This is to prevent imbalances and overload in particular areas that may cause pain or discomfort elsewhere in the body. For example, a poor posture or muscle imbalance can predispose the feet to develop calluses and corns through excessive friction or overload in certain positions. This often results in compensatory movement patterns or guarding in other areas of the body such as the neck and shoulders that can contribute to headaches.
This is why Clinical Pilates is so important – it strengthens the core, pelvic floor and back muscles that can help to improve posture in the long term. This also helps to reduce neck and shoulder pain.
One study showed that a Pilates training program increases thoracic spine mobility, stretches tight muscles and improves balance in older adults. The results of the m-CTSIB (a balance test performed on an uneven surface with eyes closed) indicated that the experimental group achieved significantly better values than the control group after three months of Pilates training.
Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet parallel and hip-width apart. Inhale to lift one leg into table top position. Hold for five counts and then exhale to return the leg to the mat.
Having strong muscles that move the feet and ankles through their full range of movement is essential for preventing foot and lower limb injuries. The Pilates method creates a repertoire of over 500 exercises to improve flexibility, alignment and core strength while working the body as unified system. Adding a little extra challenge with equipment such as the Trapeze table, Grasping the Ball, Sternum Drops and more helps to build muscle endurance and improve dynamic balance while keeping the joints in their correct alignment.
Musculoskeletal podiatry includes the non-surgical diagnosis and treatment of muscle, tendon, ligament and bone disorders of the foot and ankle using physical therapy protocols/modalities and prescription foot orthoses. Podiatrists also have a significant role to play in prevention of injury, deformity, pain and dysfunction of the feet by promoting healthy foot habits, footwear advice and exercise.
When a health condition like diabetes or arthritis causes damage to your feet or ankles, you need the right support to get back on your feet as quickly and safely as possible. OU Health podiatrists work with a multidisciplinary team including limb preservation specialists to ensure you get the right care for your specific health issue and optimal recovery. Whether it’s a sprained ankle or a complex foot reconstruction, our specialists will help you recover and get back to your normal life activities.