The foot consist of 26 bones (28 if you count the sesamoid bones) and 20 different muscles that attach to the bones of the foot. When properly functioning, the foot and ankle joint is capable of triplanar movement, easily allowing the body to transfer forces from the earth into coordinated movement patterns and astonishing feats of athletic accomplishment. When the foot/ankle incur an injury, it can cause havoc on the entire kinetic chain. So why is it that plantar faciaitis can make your neck hurt?
The human body is designed as a system of relatively mobile to relatively immobile joints stacked on top of each other. For instance, if we look at the hip joint (ball and socket joint) it can disperse forces in all three planes of motion, making it a relatively mobile joint. If you take a short trip down the leg to the knee joint (hinge joint) and apply the same transverse (rotational) forces that the hip easily dispersed you get a very different result, usually ligament and meniscus damage. This is because the knee is relatively immobile compared to the hip. The knee is also relatively immobile compared to the ankle joint. This means that any forces not dispersed by the ankle are past onto the knee, a job it is not capable of performing.
Far to often we focus on the site of the pain, and not the cause of the pain. If you are currently experiencing joint pain, start taking a look above and below the painful joint and you are likely to find restricted ranges of motion in the neighboring joints. Spend some time addressing the limited ranges of motion and you are likely to see an improvement in the painful joint.
A functional foot/ankle joint allows all the joints above it to work in their optimal axis’ of rotation. This can not only improve athletic performance, but also greatly reduces the risk of injury. So spend some time working of your feet/ankles and watch your performance improve. As always feedback is appreciated and encouraged.
BS Exercise Science