An unstable foot can wreak havoc on the entire body. During gait, instability causes the foot to pronate. This means that the ankle collapses inward. When the ankle collapses, the arch of the foot drops (flat foot). This can cause plantar fasciitis which is inflammation of the tight band of tissue that runs from the base of the heel to the toes on the bottom side of the foot. The collapsed ankle also causes the knee to rotate inward. When the knee is rotated inward, it changes the angle of the knee joint which causes a lot of strain on the knee making it painful. When the knee rotates inward, the pelvis must tilt downward in order to compensate for the knee rotation. This makes one side of the pelvis lower than the other and causes hip joint strain and the muscles of the low back to strain as well. When the pelvis tilts, the spine curves sideways which causes the opposite shoulder to drop. When the spine is curved, it can cause pain all the way up the back into the neck and the shoulders because the back muscles are stretched and pulled in a way that they shouldn’t be to try to correct the curve. Refer to the image below to see how poor alignment affects the body and what good alignment should look like!
Here are a few exercises that you can do if you have weak ankles and/or flat foot.
–Arch Lifts: Start with your foot on the floor. Raise up the arch of your foot while maintaining your big toe, ball of your foot and heel on the floor the entire time. Sometimes it helps to be standing.
-Single Leg Stance (SLS): Stand on one leg in a safe environment, trying to maintain your balance without holding on
-Ankle 4-way: You can start without a band and then progress up to using a band. When using a band, make sure it is secure on your foot and that you move slowly through each motion for best results (control the motion back to neutral instead of letting the band move you). First direction is (1) plantarflexion: push your foot down like you are stepping on the gas pedal. Next is (2) dorsiflexion: pull your foot up toward your face. The next motion is (3) inversion: pull your foot inward without moving your knee or hip. The last motion is (4) eversion: push your foot outward, again without moving your knee or hip. (All pictures show the left foot doing the motions)
If you are still having problems with your foot/ankle stability, come in and see Rocky Mountain Physical Therapy at any of our six orthopedic clinics across Northern Colorado or if your child is suffering from an unstable foot/ankle, visit either of our two pediatric clinics! We also offer the fitting and issuing of Superfeet, a wonderful option for an insert into your shoes if it is determined by one of our skilled therapists that this is the right option for you.