Your Amazing, Complex Feet

In Foot Facts by Alnoor Ladhani, Chiropodist

Have you ever thought about how your feet work? Considering where they are located, it can be easy to overlook them – even if they are what is holding you up.


In terms of engineering, your feet are not the powerhouses of brute strength that your thighs are – they are precision tools. In such a relatively small part of your body, you carry 26 bones and over 100 tendons and muscles in each foot. These numbers should be enough to make anyone wonder exactly how feet work, especially considering the immense amount of pressure that feet face on a daily basis.


Your Body’s Flexible Foundation


Feet have so many bones and tendons because they are meant to be mobile – there are many ways in which you wiggle your toes and bend your feet over the course of a normal day. However, their job goes beyond moving to get you places. They also have to hold you while you do it, as they are the foundation upon which your entire body rests. This is why many feet problems often end up causing pain all the way up into the spine or shoulders – their misalignment can literally unbalance the entire body.


With each step, feet take an amount of pressure equal to twice your body weight – which may add up to several tons by the end of the day if you are moderately active. They are an incredibly sturdy machine!


From The Tip of Your Toes


To understand how feet work, it’s necessary to look at its components. The foot is comprised of three main parts: the forefoot, the mid foot, and the hind foot.


  • The forefoot: This extends from your toes to the metatarsal bones. It is the key player in the body’s balance. Despite being the part of the feet that includes its smallest bones – the phalanges – it supports approximately half your body weight.


  • The mid foot: This is the section of the foot that forms the arch. Its main task is to absorb shock – which is why people with fallen arches often develop serious knee injuries. It also houses one of the most important and delicate muscles in your feet, the plantar fascia.


  • The hind foot: The hind foot is the part that connects your heels to your ankles. It supports all the weight that your forefoot isn’t, which is why it’s covered in a cushioning layer of fat.


Combined, these three parts, alongside your calf muscles, are responsible for most of the work your body does whenever you walk, run, or even just stand around.


All Machines Need Servicing and Professional Attention


Any heavily-used machine will be prone to breaking, especially if made from tiny, delicate parts. The same is true of your feet. For all the immense repercussions feet have in our body, they are often sorely neglected by their masters. Many people are used to ignoring most symptoms of foot problems – or simply to focus on cosmetic pedicures instead of dealing with their internal damage. Left to progress, common issues like plantar fasciitis or heel pain can quickly go from mild nuisance to debilitating injury.


Understanding how feet work should help you realize the importance of detecting and treating many common feet problems as soon as possible. Your entire body will thank you for it.