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You’re foot by the numbers

There are 28 bones between the foot and the ankle.  That’s more than 1/4 of all of the bones in the body.  From those 28 bones, there are 55 joints in the foot and ankle.  And more than 100 tendons, ligaments and muscles exist in the foot.  What does this mean to you?  Feet are suppose to move a whole heck of a lot!  They’re an incredibly dynamic foundation that impacts, good or bad, the rest of the body.

Some other interesting facts about the foot:

  • Over 2 million Americans seek treatment for plantar fasciitis (heel pain) each year.
  • Feet are at their largest in the evening.
  • When walking, each time your heel lifts off the ground it forces the toes to carry one half of your body weight.
  • It’s rare that two feet are exactly the same; one of them is often larger than the other.
  • In a pair of feet, there are 250,000 sweat glands.
  • Sweat glands in the feet produce approximately half a pint of perspiration daily.
  • During an average day of walking, the total forces on your feet can total hundreds of tons, equivalent to an average of a fully loaded cement truck.
  • Walking is the best exercise for your feet. It contributes to your general health by improving circulation and weight control.
  • Standing in one spot is far more tiring than walking because the demands are being made on the same few muscles for a longer length of time.
  • Foot ailments can become your first sign of more serious medical problems. Your feet mirror your general health, so conditions like arthritis, diabetes, nerve and circulatory disorders can show their initial symptoms in your feet.
  • 75% of Americans will experience foot problems at one time or another in their lives.
  • The average person will walk around 115,000 miles in a life time, that’s more than four times around the earth!
  • 1/4 of all the bones in the human body are down in your feet. When these bones are out of alignment, so is the rest of the body.
  • It’s neglect and a lack of awareness of proper care – including ill fitting shoes – that bring on problems.

The job of the foot

The main purpose of the foot is to absorb shock with every step you take and to continuously provide feedback to the brain about the environment.  Unfortunately, due to living in a modern day civilization where the surfaces have been altered so much, we’re forced into shoes.

What’s the downside to this?  So many of the shoes we wear keep the foot from functioning properly.  This dysfunction is ultimately what leads to problems in our feet, knees, hips and on up the chain all the way to the neck.

I’m sure you’ve heard the term “pronation” or maybe you’ve heard that you “over-pronate.”  A very important detail to note here, you are suppose to pronate.  You are also suppose to supinate.

The key is that you’re pronating and supinating at the appropriate times.

Most of you are not and this is where we RUN into problems.

When walking, your foot is suppose to be in a supinated position as you begin to heel strike.  As your foot fully makes contact with the ground, it should go from a supinated position to a pronated position.

Pronation is what allows the foot to absorb shock with every step you take.  As the arches fall (in a very controlled fashion through pronation), the tissues of the foot are also storing energy that will later be used to help you propel forward.

When you are not appropriately pronating at this point in the gait cycle, you are no longer absorbing shock at thefoot.  Guess what?  That shock now gets absorbed further up the chain be that at the knee, the hip or all the way to the neck.  As a result, wherever the next weakest link/vulnerable area is, you will begin experiencing symptoms it’s just a matter of when.

Unfortunately, the foot being the cause of the initial problem may be overlooked or not even considered.  This is a whole other article for discussion.  After the foot pronates at the appropriate time, you’re now in the stance phase of the gait cycle.  Next phase is propulsion or toe off.  For the body to efficiently be able to propel the body forward off of the big toe, the once pronated foot now has to move back to a supinated foot.  The supinated foot is a rigid lever that allows for propulsion.  What you need to know, your foot is suppose to pronate and supinate.  It’s the timing of these events that is most important.


Scott is the founder of Becoming Ultra and spends most of his time with his family and ideas to get people moving!