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Foot and Ankle Mechanics

The foot and ankle complex are one of the most important structures in our body. Our ankle and foot together provide a main weight bearing joint that supports your body weight, absorbs shock, and provides stability to your body. The foot and ankle complex is made up of 28 bones, 33 joints, 112 ligaments and is controlled by 13 extrinsic muscles and 21 intrinsic muscles. The extrinsic muscles are primarily comprised of the muscles starting from the lower leg that cross over the ankle joint and are responsible for ankle movements such as pointing your foot. The intrinsic muscles are located within the foot and are responsible for the fine motor movements of the foot such as curling your toes. 

The foot is divided into 3 sections called the rearfoot, midfoot and forefoot. The breakdown of the foot structures helps us to better understand the mechanics of the foot and how it can be rigid for weight bearing and shock absorption as well as a flexible structure that conforms to uneven terrain. The bones of the foot should move freely without adhesions or scar tissue, but are held together by ligaments so that together they absorb shock. The muscles surrounding the joints provide stability and strength to support the contours of the joints and help to create our arch.  

Common Injuries to the foot and ankle include: 

  • Plantar Fasciitis – inflammation of the plantar fascia (a broad flat ligament on the bottom of the foot that extends from the front of the heel to the base of the toes) that helps maintain the arch of the foot. 
  • Achilles Tendonitis – the breakdown of the soft tissues in and around the Achilles tendon that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. 
  • Ankle Sprain – stretching or tearing of the lateral ankle ligaments from rolling or twisting the ankle joint. 
  • Stress Fractures/ Fractures – break in the bone from trauma or repetitive stress on the bones
  • Heel Spurs- bony protrusions at the base of the heel bone
  • Turf Toe – sprain of the joint that connects the big toe to the foot

If you think you have a foot or ankle injury it is important to address the injury immediately so that it doesn’t get worse. It is also important to avoid compensation with other muscles, joints or body parts so that you don’t create another problem at another body site. When you schedule an evaluation with us, you will receive a thorough assessment of your injury or weaknesses/imbalances. Your physical therapist will talk to you about what activities you would like to get back to and then prescribe a combination of stretches and exercises that you will learn from our experienced and educated staff that you can duplicate at home. You can expect this combination along with manual therapy techniques to improve your strength and stability. The staff at Loudoun Sports Therapy Center is committed to helping you achieve your goals. Why wait to get started when we can help you do today!


What to Expect from Physical Therapy:

  • Detailed Evaluation of your injury/strength/balance/flexibility/posture/gait
  • Education on your injury/pain
  • Massage/deep tissue therapy
  • Detailed instruction from professionals on stretches and exercises to improve flexibility, strength, balance and posture/gait.
  • A home exercise program that includes stretches and strengthening exercises to improve strength, balance and flexibility. 

Call Loudoun Sports Therapy Center TODAY, at 703-430-4500, to schedule your assessment today!

Click HERE for more about how physical therapy can help you live a pain free life!


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