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Foot & Ankle

The foot and ankle are two very complex structures, with large amounts of bones, joints, ligaments, muscles and nerves. Therefore there can be many different causes for ankle and foot pain and injury.

Symptoms in your foot and ankle can include different types of pain including sharp, shooting, burning, throbbing or stabbing pains and can be constant or intermittent – i.e. come and go. Your symptoms can also refer from your back, hip or knee joints and if so, you may also be getting pins and needles, tingling, weakness, numbness, other strange sensations or pain in one or both of your legs and feet.

If the pain came on slowly and is at the back of the heel, you could be experiencing an Achilles tendinopathy.

If the pain came on slowly and is in the sole of the foot, it could be plantar fascitis.

If you have twisted your ankle, please click on the link to learn about the most common type of ankle ligament sprain.

If the pain is down the front of the shins, please click here to learn more about shin splints.

If you fell, had an accident or the pain came on suddenly then you may have torn a ligament or cartilage or even suffered a fracture, so you need to get the foot and ankle assessed by a Physiotherapist or Osteopath ASAP. Even if you have not had a traumatic injury, it is essential that you get pain and other symptoms assessed by a Physiotherapist or Osteopath so that you do not do further damage.

Clicking or crunching in the ankles can be caused by a number of things – please click on the link to learn more about ankle clicking.

Scroll further for information about common foot and ankle injuries and exercises that may be included in your treatment. 

How the Foot & Ankle Works

The foot has 26 bones starting with the phalanges, three of which make up each toe (apart from the big toe which has two), the five long metatarsal bones and the two small, oval-shaped sesamoid bones. Moving towards the ankle there are then seven tarsal bones – the navicular, cuboid, three cuneiforms and the cuboid. There is also the heel bone called the calcaneus and the talus bone that sits on top of this. The ends of the long bones of the lower leg, the tibia and fibula, sit either side of the talus forming the ankle joint. All of the bones are held together with lots of ligaments and fascia as well as the small muscles of the foot.

Foot stability is also greatly affected by the stability of other joints further up the chain, particularly the hips. Therefore treatment of a foot problem should always include and assessment of your whole lower limb biomechanics, and correction as needed.

The foot can move up and down, side to side and rotate inwards and outwards. All of these movements take place in the different stages of walking, running and jumping, if these motions are not occurring normally this will impact on your function. 

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    Common Injuries

  • Shin Splints

    'Shin splints' is an umbrella term for a number of conditions causing pain down the front of your shin, which is usually aggravated by exercise and tender to touch: compartment syndrome, stress fractures, tibial stress syndrome and periostitis. It is commonly associated with a change in running technique, footwear, sudden...

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  • Facet Joint Problems

    Facet joint pain is normally localized: centrally over your spine or to one side. It may feel like a "catching pain" during certain movements like bending backwards, or turning. It is associated with poor posture, repetitive strain (e.g. horse riding) or injury (e.g. snowboarding falls)The common factors that contribute to...

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  • Post-Operative Foot / Ankle

    Our feet take a pounding in our lives and wearing poor footwear, incorrect leg alignment, weaknesses further up the leg back and pelvis and inefficient sporting technique can increase the chance of developing problems in that part of the body. Foot posture changes with age, like the rest of your...

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  • Disc Problems

    Disc injuries cover a whole spectrum of problems including disc degeneration, disc prolapse and a disc bulge, all in varying levels of severity. Minor injuries will feel like a localized ache over the spine; more severe injuries cause intense pain and immobility, with pain, pins and needles, numbness and/or weakness...

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  • Lateral Ankle Sprain

    The most common ankle sprain is of the outside of the ankle – twisting it on an uneven surface or with a sudden turn or fall during sport (or in the pub!) This results in sudden pain in the outside of the ankle, swelling, increased temperature and, if severe, difficulty...

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  • Clicking ankles or feet

    Clicking or crunching in the ankles or feet can be caused by a number of things. Most people fear that the clicking is caused by bone hitting bone. However, thankfully nowadays this is rare. If you have this, it is likely that for many years you have been suffering severe...

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  • Foot muscle strengthening

    Please click here to read how the foot and ankle work before reading the following.

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  • Stretching

      A note on static stretching v dynamic stretching I bet you can't remember the last time you saw elite athletes doing a static stretches pitch-, track- or court side pre-performance. That is because research now shows that static stretching is not advisable before exercise. This is because it slows...

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  • Eccentric calf strengthening

    Please click here to read how the foot and ankle works and click here to read Achilles pain before reading the following. Make sure you have your heel pain diagnosed properly by a physio, osteo or sport doctor to ensure that heel drops are appropriate. There are some types of...

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  • Foot massage exercise

    Please click here to read how the foot and ankle works and click here to read about plantar-fasciitis before reading the following.

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  • Proprioception exercise

    Please click here to learn about lateral ligament strains before reading the following. Proprioception is the body's positional sense. In other words it is what enables your brain to know where your arms and legs are positioned without needing to look at them. If there is a significant difference in...

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  • Foot and ankle exercises

    There are a variety of exercises that are great for your feet and ankles including: 1) Foot self-massage exercise 2) Eccentric calf strengthening 3) Foot muscles strengthening 4) Concentric calf strength and ankle instability exercise

    Read More

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