Anyone involved in sports may be familiar with the word biomechanics, but you may not be aware of how interrelated physics and sports are until you study human movement. Then you can see the way people use momentum and resistance, motion and friction as part of many sports activities. For example, a football line of scrimmage is a classic textbook case of resistance and momentum!
Defining the Term Medically
In podiatry, this scientific field studies how external and internal forces on the feet and ankles affect their mechanics—or movement—causing pain and deformity. Almost everything a podiatrist does deals with this concept in some manner or other—whether correcting a bunion that developed from irregular pressure on the bones, or treating plantar fasciitis caused by overuse, overpronation, or arch collapse. Even calluses and ingrown toenails develop because of external pressure from shoes.
How the Field Developed
Much of what we understand today about proper alignment of the subtalar joint began in the 1960s—right here on the West Coast—with the work of Merton Root, DPM. He pioneered the concept of podiatric biomechanics and the use of custom foot orthoses to correct joint alignment. Since those early years, study and research has spread across many disciplines and given us countless new advances in the field.
Add modern technological advances to the mix and podiatrists have many more tools to use to evaluate and treat foot problems today. Research labs now have computerized technology to analyze pressure, movement, and loading forces on your feet with specific accuracy and uncanny speed. Mechanical analysis of a step used to take hours of mathematical computing; today a computer can do the same calculations in minutes.
What It Means for You
Modern labs use a force plate, a pressure mat, and pressure insoles to gather data on your foot’s biomechanics. The first provides three-dimensional data about the amount of force experienced by your foot and areas impacted as you stand, walk or run over the plate. The second has thousands of tiny elements that measure exact spots of pressure in milliseconds to get a complete picture of how your foot bears weight. A pressure insole does the same thing, only inside your shoe, so you can compare foot motion when barefoot and when wearing shoes—or in one type of shoe over against another.
All of this data is helpful to determine whether custom orthotics could help treat your foot pain. We can design them according to the measurements recorded during the tests, to fit your specific foot imprint, and give correction in the exact spots needed to help support your foot and ankle structure into a more efficient alignment.
Your Biomechanics Experts in the Valley of the Sun
At Advanced Foot & Ankle Specialists of Arizona, we use this analysis to help us diagnose and treat many foot problems, from plantar fasciitis, to preventing sports injuries, to offloading pressure from diabetic wounds. This data about how your foot moves can help us identify what is causing your pain and what treatments will best resolve it.
Call our office in Chandler at (480) 963-9000, or Gilbert at (480) 981-1800 for more information or to set up a time for your evaluation. We can also be reached through our online contact form for scheduling. We want your feet to be strong and able to carry you through whatever activities you enjoy, so call today.