The foot is an absolute wonder of evolution. Unlike animals, which balance their weight on four legs, all the weight of the human body must balance on just two small feet! As a result, the foot is very complex: it has over 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments which work together to hold the bones in place and enable locomotion. When you think about it, it is truly amazing what our feet can do.
The 20 major muscles of the foot are made up of two groups: the extrinsic, which are attached to the front or back of the lower leg, and the intrinsic, which attach to the top (dorsal) or bottom (plantar) regions of the foot. The extrinsic muscles allow the foot to flex and bend while also supporting the ankle. The largest tendon is the Achilles tendon, which lifts the heel during walking.
The intrinsic group includes the muscles of the big, little and middle toes, which allow the toes to bend and flex. The big toe alone has four major muscles, including the abductor and adductor hallis. The four major muscles in the little toe, the abductor digit minima, extend from the baby toe to the heel, supporting the arch of the foot. The anterior tibial muscles enable the foot to move upward, while the flexors stabilize the toes against the ground. The extensors raise the toes, which starts the process of taking a step forward.
Every muscle is bound to the bone or joint with tendons and allows the joints to move and bend. Tendons are in turn are supported by smaller ligaments, and both tendons and ligaments are fibrous bands made mostly of collagen. Tendons enable movement such as standing on tiptoe or going upstairs, while ligaments provide stability and allow the foot move up and down by stretching or flattening. The largest tendon is the plantar fascia, which forms the arch of the foot.
With so many “moving parts,” it is easy to see why taking good care of your feet is essential. Our feet are evolved for walking and running, and they adapted perfectly to athletic activities like climbing, swimming or dancing. However, there are many activities which are hard on our feet, such as standing on hard surfaces for long periods of time or wearing shoes which are unhealthy for the feet. Shoes with high heels displace the body’s natural weight distribution and disrupt the natural function of the muscles, tendons and ligaments, as well as putting stress son bones and joints. This stress can in turn lead to other health problems.
At Okabashi, we designed and created all of our shoes around the miraculous mechanics of the foot. Our shoes work with your feet and allow them to function the way they are meant to—happy, healthy, and pain free.