Human Foot Structure and Function

How we use our feet is an excellent indication of the level of dysregulation we live with personally and as a culture. The foot is the foundation that our body stacks on top of to support both posture and gait. If this foundation responds sub-optimally to the demands of standing and walking all of the other biomechanical functions of our bodies must compensate.

Westernized societies have lost a clear understanding of foot function. This quote is the standard description of foot function in gait found in many Physiology or Physical Therapy texts:

“There are three main stages (or phases) of the gait cycle. The foot strikes the ground with the outside of the heel first (heel-strike phase). Then, the foot’s bottom surface makes contact with the ground (mid-stance phase), and we then push off with the medial side of the foot and big toe.”
Massage and Bodywork magazine March/April 2019

This should be written:
The foot contacts the ground with load bearing split between the center of the heel and the area of the ball of the foot behind the big toe, weight distribution adjusting to variances in terrain (heel strike is indicative of poor foot function*). We push off to move forward by pushing off of the ground with the big toe and the area of the ball of the foot behind the big toe.
* the best “proof” that heel strike is not natural is that our Hunter Gatherer ancestors would have more likely been prey than predator if they pounded the earth with their heels.

Another very common gait description found in Physiology texts is that we walk by falling forward – leaning forward and then stoping the fall by extending a leg. In walking, if we roll off of the inside of the big toe this is what we would have to do to perambulate. However, if the foot is properly aligned we can push ourselves forward using the big toe.