Your foot and ankle are a complicated combination of bones, muscles, tendons, and ligaments. If they all work smoothly together, you can stand, walk, and run without problems. Anytime there is a deviation in any moving or supportive part, the biomechanics of your foot and ankle can be affected, causing pain or mobility issues.
At Rocky Mountain Foot & Ankle Center, with four locations in the Denver area (Golden, Wheat Ridge, Granby, and Evergreen), our foot specialists, Dr. Matthew Paden, Dr. Brett D. Sachs, and Dr. Dustin Kruse can analyze your biomechanics and determine the best treatment for any foot problems.
How your feet and ankles are constructed
The two lower leg bones (known as the tibia and fibula) rest on the lower part of the ankle joint, a bone known as the talus. The talus is shaped roughly like a saddle, with a rounded center and indented sides, so the larger leg bones fit neatly down on either side. Under the talus is the calcaneus (heel bone), which completes the subtalar joint, allowing your foot to move from side to side.
The rest of your foot starts with the navicular, cuboid, and three cuneiform bones, which provide structure for the midfoot, arch, and ball of your foot. At the end of this is the forefoot, made up of the metatarsal and toe bones to stabilize your entire body, absorb shock, provide grip and allow you to propel yourself forward while remaining balanced.
Around the entire bone structures of your feet and ankles are ligaments and tendons that hold everything together and provide strength and flexibility. Your muscles are connected to the bones, and your skin seals everything up neatly while blood vessels and nerves reach down from the spine and legs to provide circulation and sensation.
Identifying biomechanical issues
A normal stride has four phases.
- The strike: Your heel typically hits the ground first, right in the center of the bottom of your heel bone.
- The stance: Your weight rolls onto the midfoot, the arch relaxes inward, and your weight spreads evenly over your foot.
- The lift: Your weight shifts forward, moving over, then ahead of your foot as it rolls back to the outside, progressing through the ball of the foot to the toes, then pushing off.
- The swing: Your toes leave the ground, and the entire leg swings forward, the foot angling up, so the heel is in position for the next strike.
If there is pain, hesitation, instability or loss of balance, or noises like clicking or crunching, your biomechanics are likely off in some way. Weak muscles, tendons, or ligaments can cause the foot overpronate (roll inward) or oversupinate (roll outward, pushing bones out of alignment and putting undue pressure where it doesn't belong.
Bad biomechanics can lead to many foot or ankle problems like
- Fallen arches
- Sprains or strains
- Toe deformities
- Metatarsalgia (forefoot pain)
- Shin splints
Bad foot and ankle biomechanics can also cause problems in your legs, knee and hip joints, and even your spine and neck because your entire body depends on stability from the feet up to avoid strain.
If you are experiencing pain, numbness, or weakness in your feet or ankles, prompt action is needed. Our doctors will work with you to identify poor biomechanics and help correct them with orthotics, surgery, or other treatments to get you back on the path to health and mobility. Call us at (303) 423-2520, or request an appointment online today.