New research shows muscles help give us that spring in our step; Are better shoes on the horizon?
New research is showing that the muscles in our calves and feet are very involved in that spring in our step. One of the reasons patients of ours experience back pain is because this spring mechanism fails to function properly, locking up the ankle, then the hip and finally creating back and neck pain.
This is why it is important for a healthcare practitioner to fully evaluate anyone with back problems or running problems such as IT band or stress fractures or plantar fasciitis fully, and not just look at where the pain is.
Since shoes are a very competitive business, better shoes will undoubtedly be on the horizon, especially, for those who run.
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Muscles help give you a spring in your step
New evidence about the active role muscles play in the foot could have implications for the design of running shoes and the debate on barefoot running, say researchers.
It could also provide insights into rehabilitation, prosthetics, robotics and our understanding of the evolution of bipedalism in humans, says Dr Glen Lichtwark, an exercise scientist at the University of Queensland.
He and colleagues publish their findings today in the Journal of the Royal Society Interface.
Everyone knows that muscles are very important in moving our legs, says Lichtwark, but muscles in the foot have been relegated to a less important role.
“Traditionally in text books you might see these muscles described as toe flexors or toe adductors,” he says.
Ligaments in the foot, called the plantar fascia, have generally been regarded as the main support for the foot arch which helps us walk and run by acting as a spring.
“As you compress the arch it stretches the bottom of the arch and that causes some tension in the ligaments that stores elastic energy, which can be released when you push off,” says Lichtwark.
But he says anatomical research has suggested muscles in the feet may also be important in supporting the arch of the foot as well.
“We were really interested in whether or not these muscles had any capacity to assist this function of the foot.”