Feet are amazing works of engineering. Through complex design they can be flexible to adapt to uneven surfaces or increased demands of movement, then they need to move away from this flexible state to be a more rigid efficient lever.
The joints of the ankle allow for these changes. They act as a torque converter allowing forces from the foot to influence movement in the leg and higher. Conversely forces from above the foot are transferred to the foot.
Clinically, this means that some foot problems are the result of compensating for external influences, for example, knock knee. On occasions poor foot structure can cause, or at least be aggravating factors, for problems within the legs, knees or even higher. Some foot problems are a consequence of the actual structure of the foot.
Podiatry seeks to determine if the feet are the cause of the compensation.
Treatment may involve rehabilitation with orthotic therapy.
The magnification of forces associated with athletic activity means that frequently feet function remarkably differently from walking to running. Assessment of running and analysis of sport specific movement patterns is a critical part of podiatric management of overuse injuries.
To complicate it all, footwear can dramatically change foot function. The technically correct shoe for one person is not necessarily the correct shoe for another person. The technically correct shoe will help poor foot function and the technically poor shoe can make efficient feet function poorly. Footwear advice, including model recommendations is an important part of podiatric management.
Injury, be it work related, sports or motor vehicle, can complicate this even further. Foot function may change and can become a factor interfering with recovery.
Podiatry is the determination of whether or not the foot is the cause or the consequence of overuse injury and pain.