What you can learn from your footprint

Angela Davis

Sunday, October 28, 2018

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FOR most of us, the action of walking is subconscious and effortless.

Most people are unaware that each step in the gait cycle goes through eight phases that are very complex and have great influence on general health.

A footprint is the impression your foot makes on a surface. When taking a step, most people will hit the ground heel first and the toes last. With the foot in full contact with the ground, the arch will slightly flatten. As we push off using the ball of the foot and the toes, the arch will spring back to its original position.

When observing the normal footprint you should see an impression of all five toes and the sole of the foot, with a narrowing in the middle of the foot. The narrowing should measure about half of the width of the foot.

With a flat foot, the central narrowing of the foot is reduced or non-existent, so an image will not produce any arch space. Flat-footed people over-pronate.; this means their feet roll inwards.

This can lead to arch pain, plantar faciitis, knee pain, back pain, shin splints, Achilles-tendonopathy, and many other conditions.

With a highly arched foot, the central part of the foot will be very narrow or absent. This under-pronating or supinating foot can cause calluses, ankle pain and sprains, claw and hammer toes, forefoot pain, plantar faciitis, and a plethora of other biomechanical problems when walking.

You should always buy shoes according to your foot type to minimise the risk of injury or pathology. To check what foot type you have, wet the sole of your foot and stand on a brown paper bag.

Normal feet require a stable shoe that offers a blend of cushioning and support, with a lace or buckled strap to reduce pronation.

Flat feet need a more rigid, motion-controlling shoe that is designed to slow down or limit extreme inward rolling of the foot and ankle.

Highly arched feet need extra cushioning to reduce pressure and aid shock absorption. The shoe needs to be flexible to aid a healthy gait.

Podiatrists and orthotists can manufacture bespoke insoles to compensate for your foot type and reduce the risk of future problems.

Angela Davis BSc (Hons) DPodM MChS is a podiatrist with offices in Montego Bay (293- 7119), Mandeville (962-2100), Ocho Rios (974-6339), Kingston (978-8392), and Savanna-la-Mar (955-3154). She is a member of the Health and Care Professions Council in the United Kingdom.

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