Subtalar Joint… the body’s steering wheel
Another great article from Erik Dalton!
Perfect foot structure isn’t needed to walk comfortably, yet people do require good functional movement in several key joints to lessen wear and tear and reduce damaging knee, hip and low back compensations. Correcting these problems can be as simple as manually balancing the foot to allow increased motion in a single fixated area such as the talocalcaneal or subtalar joint. The late Dr. Philip Greenman used to say: “The subtalar is the body’s steering wheel and the most important joint you didn’t know you had.” Located just below the ankle, where the calcaneus (heel bone) and the talus (ankle bone) meet, it primarily does only two things…roll in and roll out. Pain from plantar fasciitis and medial shin splints often have roots in a dysfunctional talocalcaneal articulation where the talus has glided forward on calcaneus and become fixated there. Another area that commonly becomes restricted due to protective muscle guarding from ankle injuries is the talocrural joint.
During healthy gait, this joint should dorsiflex 15 degrees. If the ankle is restricted in dorsiflexion, the knee and hip will not fully extend. This can result in back pain from decreased hip flexor mobility and repeated extension and rotation of the lumbar spine during gait. Since the mid-foot joints control motion of the foot anteriorly, clients often notice a dramatic difference in the ability to bend their toes and walk more freely when treated with graded exposure stretching techniques at Complete Body Alignment!
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