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How We Evaluate and Adjust the Foot and Ankle

The foot and ankle is one of the most important regions in your body. Whether you are jumping, running, or even just walking from your chair to the bathroom or your lunch break at work, the function of your foot and ankle is important to your everyday function.

As we move into the winter months, the foot and ankle become an even more important topic as many athletes in winter and spring sports rely on this region to be successful. These include basketball, hockey, cheer, wrestling, track and field.

In this article, Dr. Detweiler explains how Hybrid Performance Group evaluates four parts of the foot and ankle in order to assess and ensure proper function in the foot and ankle as well as some of the unique things we do in this office with athletes and active populations. These regions are the ankle joint, the heel, the mid-foot, and the big toe. Adjusting these regions have the following benefits:

- Reduced pain

- Increased range of motion and flexibility

- Improvements in jumping and landing

- Better sense of awareness in the foot and ankle.

Adjusting the foot and ankle is not something you will encounter at every chiropractic or physical therapy office. Some offices will only work on a few joints, whereas others do not address them at all. Adjusting the foot and ankle provides the following benefits If we fail to ensure proper function at the foot and ankle joints, injuries may also develop further up the body into the leg, hip, and lower back.

The Ankle Joint

The first region is ankle joint itself. Movement created by the ankle joint is an up and down, front to back motion known as dorsiflexion and plantar flexion. When assessing this joint, our goal is simply to ensure that the ankle is gliding through the full range of motion without catching or pinching.

If upon evaluation, the ankle joint needs adjusting, we are simply distracting the joint and then ensuring proper range of motion by inducing a gentle, quick force into the ankle.

Adjusting the ankle joint is really beneficial for any basketball players, athletes, or anyone that has a history of ankle sprains or strains.

The Heel

The next region that we will discuss is the heel. When many people think of an ankle sprain, they think of an injury in which the ankle “turns” or “rolls” to the side. So just hearing that the ankle joint really only moves up and down in dorsiflexion and plantar flexion may seem a little confusing.

This is because the in and out motion we commonly think about comes from the heel and not the ankle joint – (although it is true that a sprained ankle often involves the heel). When evaluating the heel joint, the most common complaint will be a sort of jamming sensation on the outside of our heel. This often comes from the heel being stuck and unable to move in and out or what’s also known as inversion and eversion. Therefor, evaluation of the heel, is primarily focused on ensuring that this bone, the calcaneus bone, is moving and sliding correctly. Usually there's not a whole lot of sound made from adjusting the heel. Rather, we focus on the quality of the in-and-out motion of the heel.

The Mid-Foot

Next, we will move into the mid-foot. Here, we focus a bone called the navicular bone. This bone creates what many refer to as the arch of the foot. This part of the foot is especially important for those who play sports that use a type of footwear either with a solid plate or little support, such as football, track, and soccer. The mid-foot is also a point of focus for people who experience plantar fasciitis, those who have either really high or really low arches, or those who experience arch issues in general. When we are adjusting the mid-foot, we will isolate the navicular bone and make sure that it's gliding through its full range of collapsing and arching the foot by inducing a quick force into the joint.

The Big Toe

The last joint we will discuss is the big toe, commonly known as the MTP joint. This joint is really important in any sprinting athlete, or any individual that's producing a lot of ground forces with the foot. The big toe is essential to optimizing an athlete’s propulsion, dealing with “turf toe”, and addressing any issues with gait. Your big toe is actually the last thing that leaves the ground when walking or running, so it is vital to ensure this joint is moving optimally.

In each of the above examples, the cause of the problem is the joint itself in the big toe getting stuck in extension (toe up) and being unable to completely create flexion (toe down/curled). This lead to inflammation in the tendons of the big toe (turf toe) or simply reduce overall function and performance without pain.

If you're an athlete within the Columbus area, or have any kind of previous or current ankle issues, definitely check us out. Foot and ankle adjustments are oftentimes not something you typically get in an office, but they can make a world of difference in a person’s performance.

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