Foot and Ankle Pain


Foot pain… that feeling that if you could just put your foot in a certain position and ‘click’ it, all the problems would go away…


Or the dreaded first few steps in the morning as you get out of bed, sharp stabbing pain in your heel, or the ball of the foot, or the arch, or in the ankle, sometimes it may be a shooting pain if you inadvertently twist in the ‘wrong’ direction… (see Plantar Fascitis)


The thing to remember is this - the foot is a marvel of mechanical engineering, beyond anything we can yet produce in metal, plastic and electronics. Essentially its an all terrain vehicle without compare, designed and refined by nature over 270 million years to expertly perform the task of carrying us through multiple variations of terrain as we search for food, or run from predators.


In the last 2,000 years, man has worn shoes that have evolved from the soft supple leathers of animal skins, such as moccasins, which still allowed our foot to mold to the terrain, to the high tech sports shoes of today that separate us from our environment with shock absorbing rubber, plastic and foam, as well as fashion accessories that squeeze our toes into points and lift our heels up to four inches above the ground. Its quite possible to blame shoes for just about every painful malady, you could imagine in the feet and ankle.
Consider this … Nature gave our feet five toes, and 29 joints, three state of the art, weight supporting arches and over forty spectacularly ingenious muscles that employ leverage principles beyond our understanding of physics, all to allow astonishing adaption to the surface that it's in contact with. Shoes,however, mold the foot into a rigid 'club' that reduces this space age bio-machinary down to a primitive tool. Foot encapsulation also reduces the ability of the 200,000 nerve endings in our feet to ‘feel’ and respond to their immediate environment.


If 270 million years of evolution has provided our feet with an extraordinary array of muscles, tendons and ligaments that provide an amazingly complex and ingenious shock absorbing arches, it's a bit of a mystery why modern sports shoes have arch supports. Also, if nature had intended us to run by striking our heels to the floor, creating a bone jarring force through our knees and spine wouldn't it have provided us with the same super thick cushioned heel support that 'sports' shoes do?


If you have foot pain, especially if you have been diagnosed with something like plantar fascitis consider that the muscles in the arch of your foot may be a major factor in your pain. Find a tennis ball and use it to work into the painful muscles within the arch of your foot, its amazing how helpful this can be with a multitude of foot problems.


When you visit my practice with foot or ankle pain I will ask you a variety of questions to help me determine causative factors that may relate to your problem. I will examine the joint, tendons, ligaments and muscles of the foot and ankle using special testing procedures designed to highlight  dysfunction in these areas.


I will examine your whole posture, the way you carry your weight, the way your low back, hips, pelvis and knees are functioning, because hidden problems here may be an important factor in your foot and ankle pain.


I may need to adjust the joint between your lower leg bones and the top of your foot or between the various bones of the foot itself. Or I could find that dysfunctional muscles in the lower leg are a major factor and use soft tissue release techniques to restore normal function here.


As with all assessments and treatments anywhere in the body, its important for me to recognise if there’s any underlying disease process, and determine how effective physical therapy is likely to be. Also to determine if the medical profession needs to be consulted for x-rays scans, etc. 


Its possible if I feel that the problem is beyond my ability to deal with, that I may refer you to a specialist in foot bio-mechanics, known as a podiatrist, who will assess feet and prescribe supports similar to insoles (Orthotics), that firmly hold your feet in the most neutral and painless position while you are in your shoes for activities such as walking or sports etc.