The foot is an area of the body of extreme importance. It is seen as the base that sustains our whole body when we are standing or when we walk and an alteration in one or both feet induces alterations of postural control, that is, balance and consequently in gait.
In the neurological patient, Multiple Sclerosis, Friedreich’s Ataxia, stroke, among other pathologies of the nervous system, it is common to find alterations of the foot, such as:
- Structural alterations: loss of the plantar arch, claw toes, etc.
- Hypertonia or Spasticity: foot in equine or equine-varus
- Hipotonia: flat foot
- Joint instability:
- Sensitivity: hyperreflexia, hypesthesia, etc.
By presenting alterations of the foot the patient can experience the reduction of balance reactions, known as ankle balance strategy, and therefore see their balance compromised. It is known that to improve the recruitment of these equilibrium reactions so necessary to standing posture, it is advisable to perform a structural preparation work such as:
- Liberation of amplitudes or joint ranges, often limited by spasticity and often called equine foot;
- Muscle recruitment and its potentiation, especially in the foot lift muscles;
- Reciprocal innervation and coordination between muscle groups of the foot,
- Among others
The preparation of the foot as a base of support and support of the body also includes a sensitive approach, that is, improving the sensitivity of the joint complex of the foot. The foot contact with the ground and therefore must present tactile or tactile capacity preserved. Kinesthesia, proprioception or deep sensitivity are also crucial to balance and gait. At all times we should be able to identify the weight that supports our joints of the feet and compare them to know if we are more or less inclined to one side or another, in front or behind.
Finally, the load. The ankle-foot joint complex is composed of large and strong joints, capable of receiving and supporting body weight. However, it is not just that the joints support the weight, but that the muscular system is able to keep them aligned in order to guarantee our balance in any situation (inside and outside the home, barefoot or with shoes, standing or moving, with light or low light, etc.).
As you can see, from the physiotherapy we have many tools to work the foot and improve the balance, either reducing spasticity and equine foot, strengthening the muscles that raise the foot or improving their sensitive perception.
Soon we will talk about how the foot behaves during walking and how physiotherapy can help patients with pathologies or neurological diseases.