Athlone’s Foot & Ankle clinic
WHAT ARE BIOMECHANICS?
Biomechanics is the study of physical laws governing the way our bodies move. This includes body forces and physical movements and how they articulate through the foot and lower limb. Podiatrists are particularly interested in the relationship between the biomechanical aspects of the foot and painful conditions which may develop within the foot itself or other areas such as the ankle, knee hip and lower back. The study of biomechanics has established as association between abnormal function in the foot and problems higher in the body.
HOW DO BIOMECHANICAL ABNORMALITIES AFFECT US?
As humans we bears our maximum weight on only two limbs, and only one limb when run or hop. The correct transfer of force to the walking surface is essential to avoid damaging joints, muscles and ligaments. The foot is maintained by passive mechanisms (Ligaments) and active mechanisms (muscles). Abnormalities such as flat feet, fallen arches, and restricted joints in the weight bearing function of the foot may therefore expose us to the development of painful conditions in our feet. Some of these conditions will include acute injuries which occur suddenly, such as ligament and tendon tears and sprains, Achilles tendonitis and Shin splints.
Chronic conditions such as various forms of arthritis where “accumulated micro trauma” has, over the years, resulted in wear and tear on a joint, may also originate from biomechanical mal-alignment of our feet and lower limbs. These restrictions can also lead to stiffness in joints within the foot, leading to extra strain and stress on the surrounding soft tissues.
HOW CAN WE ALTER BIOMECHANICAL ABNORMALITIES?
Podiatrists are trained to recognize and assess biomechanical abnormalities in the foot and lower limb. Techniques used in biomechanical assessment include any or all of the following:
- Measurement of the joint movements, muscle functions and positions of bony structures
- Observation of walking patterns.
- Video studies of body movements during walking and running
Following biomechanical assessment treatment is prescribed which may include:
- Stretching and strengthening exercises
- Mobilization techniques to improve joint function
- Modification of changes to footwear
- ‘Orthotics’ – custom made inserts worn in the patients shoe designed to improve the biomechanical function of the feet and lower limb.
- Advice on activities such as running, walking and posture.
By looking at your posture and biomechanics as you move or stand, the underlying cause of your pain can be identified and eliminated. Providing Orthotics requires very careful and accurate assessment of the individual patient’s biomechanics. Because orthoses are designed to change patient’s biomechanics it is very important that these changes are correct. Errors or inaccuracy in orthotic prescriptions may result in development of other foot problems.
Most biomechanical orthotics are constructed from casts of the patients foot held in a ‘neutral’ or ‘corrected’ position and are designed to maintain the foot in that position during walking, standing or running.
Should you require any further information regarding any aspect of the information above contact Costapa Podiatry.