Overview of Gait, Stance and Lateral Stabilization Form and Functional Roles
There is quite a bit of controversy about proper foot function. The controversy reflects the distance we have traveled from our recent ancestors for whom excellent foot dynamics was a prerequisite for survival. For them, optimal foot function and gait would have been so obvious it would have been unlikely to have ever even been noticed. The material presented here comes from the observation of foot function in rural cultures where there are minimal flat surfaces and footwear. This does not mean that paleolithic footwear and foot function are appropriate for all situations which modern people encounter. However, without access to the intrinsic natural functions of our feet, our bodies tend to become riddled with compensations, resulting in most of the global aches and pains many of us suffer. Understanding and habituating to optimal foot function drives us away from compensation and towards the healthy intrinsic natural function of our feet in their supporting role of our core.
FLEXIBILITY IS THE KEY TO STABILITY – John Wooden
These sections expand on the conceptual and contextual aspects of this model of intrinsic natural foot function, and how we can employ this knowledge in our daily lives:
STANDARD MODEL OF FOOT FUNCTION VS THIS MODEL
HOW TO USE OUR FEET
SPECIFIC FUNCTIONS OF THE FEET
Due to the structural complexity of the feet and the functional complexity of the tasks our feet undertake, teasing out native function requires deconstructing the whole into specific functions. These functions all have common attributes. The most significant of these is to treat the Big Toe and First Metacarpal (the bone between the big toe and the ankle) as the “root” of the foot. One way to grasp this is to think of the Big Toe as the “Thumb” of the foot, which grips the ground similar to how our thumb grips an object in the hand. Modeling foot function like this is far more dynamic, as well as more structurally accurate than the traditional model of foot function consisting of three arches.
N.B: It is important to use new shoes when retraining the feet, as habitual wear patterns in old shoes will make training more challenging. Ideally, bare feet are best when the situation allows and the feet are not too irritated (early in training).
STANCE: STANDING, TURNING AROUND AND TOOL USE
This section discusses aspects of foot function associated with standing and the use of our postural reflexes. This is the framework that the advanced motor functions that define our species are established upon.
ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF FEET
Native foot form is innately tied to function. Dependent upon the role of the foot in support of the core, the structure of the foot adapts its functional purpose:
*) Standing on one foot requires different forms and functions from standing on two feet. Turning while standing, which facilitates tool use, is a refinement of one or two leg stance.
*) When moving, the gait dynamics in our feet change between walking and running where shock absorption plays a significant role. The lower leg is able to store and return energy to gait. Turning while moving is enabled by a dedicated system behind the big toe.
*) Lateral Stabilization is an entirely different foot function employing different physiology and physical principles but is tightly integrated with the other functional mechanisms.
All of this complexity is embedded in 28 bones and +100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons. The anatomical supports for these functions are identified in this section:
ANATOMY AND PHYSIOLOGY OF FEET
Discussion on the evolution of footwear:
There may be potential for a training tool that can monitor for native optimization in these functional roles:
An overview of foot structural and functional issues and means to optimize how we use our feet:
An overview of the several models describing the expression of Life through the form of our species: