Foot Evaluation

There are many components of an effective evaluation. Among other very important aspects, the physical evaluation allows us to identify a client’s current dysfunction and capabilities. At the Athletic Training Institute, we utilize Muscle Activation Techniques to determine such capabilities.
In order to have the most impactful and lasting change for a client it is critical to address their limitations. Identifying limitations in motion is important because the nervous system will only move in positions that are stable. When the nervous system identifies positions of instability it will lock up as a protective mechanism, and as a result display reduced range of motion, tightness, or joint pain.
We need to determine through a proper initial evaluation whether a client’s symptoms are from an isolated injury or one that has resulted from improper mechanics at another region in the body. The latter is crucial because the body is a system that works as a unit, and if one unit is not functioning properly another unit will be impacted.
This being said, one area that can have profound effects throughout the body is proper foot and ankle motion. As the first thing that hits the ground during gait, the foot will directly impact the motion of joints above. For instance, if the foot is not able to pronate or absorb the forces of impact, the knee may excessively dive inwards causing stress on the ligaments.
It is key to understand the different motions of the foot.
  • Dorsiflexion- motion where the foot comes closer to the shin
  • Plantarflexion-motion where the foot points further away from the shin
  • Inversion- movement of the calcaneus where the sole of the foot turns inward
  • Eversion-movement of the calcaneus where the sole of the foot turns outward
  • Pronation- combination of plantar flexion, adduction, and eversion. Characterized by flattening of the arch and big toe into the ground while the 5th toe starts to lift up
  • Supination- combination of dorsiflexion, abduction, and calcaneal inversion. Characterized by lifting up of the arch and big toe while the 5th toe contacts the ground
Some important questions to consider when addressing foot function:
  • How would shoe choice impact foot motion and thus motion throughout the body?
  • What would happen to motion if we wear orthotics?
  • What if the foot is unable to flatten?
  • What if the foot can’t rotate?
These are all questions that must be considered during an initial evaluation because motion in the body can neither be created or destroyed. As mentioned, proper motion in the foot and ankle is critical for optimal function throughout the body. If limitations in any of the aforementioned motions, the body will have to pick range of motion up somewhere else. This is why many individuals experience knee or back pain. Dysfunction contributing to knee and back pain can many times be traced to weakness in the foot musculature.
At the Athletic Training Institute, we identify the cause of symptoms, which in many cases starts with a proper evaluation of foot and ankle motion.
Foot Evaluation

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