Listen to your patient's feet
By Kevin Wong, DC
Have you taken a good look at feet lately? You should start by looking at your own feet.
Slip off your shoes, take off your socks, and give your feet a good look. What do you notice? Are there any calluses, corns, or bunions? Do your feet look red or do your toes look cramped and pushed together? When you compare your two feet, do they look different from one another?
The feet are the body’s foundation and it is important to make sure that foundation is level and well supported.
To give your patients an idea of the connection their feet have with the spine and the rest of their body, here’s a good demonstration for them to do:
Have the patients stand up with their legs comfortably apart and put their hands on their hips. Instruct them to roll their feet inwards as far as they can and hold that position for a few seconds. Ask if they feel the pressure
Have them roll their feet back to being level again. Ask if they notice how the pressure on those joints was reduced as they did this?
Rolling the feet inwards caused the arches of the feet to excessively overpronate. You were recreating a scenario that occurs in over 80 percent of the world’s population. Some inward rolling of the feet is normal, but for many the dropping of the arches is so serious that it causes pain and problems in the feet, ankles, knees, and/or lower back. Some of these joints may even be causing pain for your patients.
Long-term problems will result from any of these conditions if the proper treatment is not sought.
What to do
Evaluate your patients’ feet. Once the connective tissue in the feet stretches, it is permanently stretched out to some degree. So if your patients are having problems with the arches in their feet, they will most likely need the arch support from now on.
You want to keep their feet stabilized so their arches don’t get any worse, which would contribute to problems all the way up their kinetic chain.
Remember, the feet are telling you a story. Are you listening?
Kevin Wong, DC, is a 1996 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic West. He is an expert on foot analysis, walking and standing postures, and orthotics. He also travels the country speaking about spinal and extremity adjusting while practice full time in Orinda, Calif.