The Neglected Foot
Feet. They are not pretty. Especially a dancer’s foot. No amount of toe nail polish can make up for its grotesque/mangled look. It might possibly be the one of the most hideous parts of a dancer’s body up close. However, far away, covered in satin shoes, it can be oh so beautiful.
The foot is vital to a dancer’s career and it must be able to articulate through every range of motion in every joint (there are 33 joints in the foot alone!). The foot has some of the most complicated biomechanics in the body with ligaments and joints “locking” and “unlocking” as the foot changes positions. Walking seems simple, but there are so many different muscles, ligaments, and joints working for you to achieve this “simple” task. If one muscle, ligament, or joint falters then your biomechanics shift to compensate and you may begin to develop little problems. This may not seem like that big of a deal at first. But if you are an athlete who uses his/her foot for power, pushing off, jumping, landing (which is almost all athletes) then you might be at risk for developing compensatory patterns and/or an actual injury.
The body is a great corrector and disguiser. If something is wrong it avoids moving into that position and other body parts take up the slack, making you think the problem is solved. Sometimes this is fine and the initial problem heals and corrects itself and the body moves along its merry way with no more troubles. But sometimes that is not the case.
If the feet fail to do their job it can create problems not only in the feet but also up the kinetic chain (up the body). Imbalances in your feet can have a direct effect on your knees, hips, pelvis, back and/or neck. It’s like building a skyscraper on an uneven surface. If the foundation isn’t even then the building will be tilted. If the feet aren’t functioning the same from side to side then the body has to compensate to stabilize itself. Many times when the muscles, ligaments, or joints in the foot fail then it is up to the muscles of the leg to take up the slack. These muscles then pick up the extra forces the feet are not and become overworked and irritated. This could then lead to stress reactions in the leg.
So what’s the moral of the story? Feet are the foundation for the rest of your body. They need to be taken care of and given attention. We rely on them so much that it is easy to take them for granted. Regardless of your profession, athletic abilities, or weekend warrior ambitions your feet are vital to your wellbeing and have a direct say in how the rest of your body functions.