Your foot has 26 bones, 33 joints, 107 ligaments, and 19 muscles & tendons. 25% of all bones in the human body are in your feet.
Little wonder that this complexity leads to 77% of Americans experiencing foot problems in their lifetime.
Although only a small portion of us are born with foot problems, neglect due to proper foot care causes many painful foot problems.
About 20% of the US population have what is medically called cavus foot, which is a condition of the foot having a very high arch. Because of this high arch, an excessive amount of weight is placed on the ball and heel of the foot when walking or standing. High arches can lead to a variety of signs and symptoms, such as pain and instability. People with high arches are more likely to underpronate (also known as supination). Supination can lead to joint pain, ankle injuries or sprains, Achilles tendonitis, and plantar fasciitis.
Flat feet (fallen arches) affect about 8 million US adults. Flat feet are a postural deformity in which the arches of the foot collapse with the entire sole of the foot coming into complete or near-complete contact with the ground. They can cause pain in the feet and may lead to pain in other parts of the body such as the ankles, knees, or hips. Flat feet can be caused by injury, aging, and weight gain. Years of walking, running and standing can weaken the tendons which run along the inside of the ankle from just above the joint to the arch, causing flat feet. Some individuals (an estimated 20-30% of the general population) have at least one arch that simply never develops properly!
As you may already know from personal experience, plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It involves inflammation of the thick band of connective tissue which supports the arch on the bottom of the foot and connects your heel bone to your toes. About 10% of the US population have plantar fasciitis. Risk factors include excessive running, prolonged standing on hard surfaces, high arches, leg length inequality, and flat feet. The tendency of flat feet to excessively roll inward during walking or running makes them more susceptible to plantar fasciitis.
We sometimes forget that our feet carry around our entire body weight. In fact, most of the pressure from your weight is borne by the arches of your feet. They not only absorb the impact of striking the ground, they have the added strain of your body on them. The more you weigh, the harder they must work to support you and the more stress the tissues are under. Excess body weight stresses your legs and wears down your feet over time. Connective tissues stretch out, protective fat pads on the bottom of your feet become compressed, and muscles have to work harder to do their jobs. All of this can be bad for the arches and tendons in the feet and ankles, leading to hip and back problems.