Load-Induced Conditions of Your Feet

A theme running through many of my posts on feet this month is alignment. What exactly is alignment? How does it differ from posture? Again, I lean on the words and ideas of another, my teacher biomechanist Katy Bowman, to elaborate on the concept of alignment and to relate it to my understanding of foot health. Posture is the positioning of your body parts in relationship to each other and to the ground. When you are standing still and you straighten your feet or back up your hips, you are creating a posture. When you are performing vrksasana (tree pose) in yoga that is a posture. Alignment, which encompasses posture, is a creation of forces by your body position (posture) while still or moving that loads your tissues. Posture is the positioning. Alignment is the loading forces on your body. Alignment is not just where your hips are (posture) but where all parts of your body are and how fast and hard and how often and in what direction they are moving; and your shape and what you are carrying and where; and the surfaces you are on or under; and the terrain and temperature; and the gear you are using and structures you are interacting with. Alignment is the interactions of all the variables in a particular system right now and whether the forces created by this system that load the tissues of your body are inflicting damage on any one part of the system. An aligned and well body does not damage itself.

Plantar fasciitis, bunions, hallux limitus and rigidus, bone spurs, metatarsalgia, Morton’s neuroma, and Achilles tendonitis could all be considered load-induced diseases of the foot. How are loads created to the tissues of our feet? Through our alignment.

Here are some major components of your walking alignment system that impact your feet :

  • body positioning
  • injuries
  • stride and pace
  • intensity of your foot strike
  • range of motion in your hips
  • innervation of your intrinsic foot musculature
  • gait pattern
  • weight
  • your backpack, purse, or other carried items and how you are carrying them
  • the terrain –  wood, tile, carpet, asphalt, concrete, dirt, grass, flat, lumpy, uphill, downhill, slick, hard, soft, holey
  • the shoes you are wearing. the shoes you are wearing. the shoes you are wearing. the shoes you are wearing.

Change one variable in an ecosystem and the impact ripples across that ecosystem, impacting all relationships to some degree. In the case of your feet, their current state is a reflection of their ecological history. Change one of the variables in the list above and you may not see a change. Change many, most, or all of them, and you will change your feet. You can still change your feet.

Namaste, Michele

4 responses to “Load-Induced Conditions of Your Feet

  1. Michele, So good to see you! This site is awesome. My feet–which I love, and serve me well– will think so, too, as I try some new techniques to improve walking and general foot health. Peggy from YAC


  2. Pingback: What’s New in Foot & Ankle Science? | FootLove Yoga

  3. Pingback: Sleeping on a mattress is the new sitting | FootLove Yoga

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s