To do and notice
Get a friend to check you out. Seat a friend behind
you while you stand barefoot, wearing shorts so that your legs show. Lift
one foot up and back and support all your weight on the other leg. Have
your friend compare the positions and orientations of your raised foot,
knee, and thigh with the drawings.
What's going on?
The misalignment line-up
Drawing (a): In an ideal foot,
everything is lined up vertically and the feet point the same way that the
person does. Few feet actually match this ideal.
Drawing (b): This is a supinated
foot. Note the way the sole of the foot slants downward, toward the outer
edge of the foot.
Drawing (c): The toe points
outward even though the top of the thigh faces straight ahead. The knee
is twisting. This misalignment occurs more frequently in athletes and in
males. It encourages pronation of the foot and can cause stress and sometimes
pain in the knees.
Drawing (d): The leg rotates
externally about a vertical axis, causing the knee to point outward. This
rotation of the hip, which is common in ballet dancers and wrestlers, results
in a toe-out alignment that causes pronation.
Drawing (e): In this case,
the hip rotates inward and turns the knee and toe with it. Women exhibit
this toe-in orientation more than men. It can cause a painful roughening
of the underside of the kneecap called chondromalacia.
What to do if things don't line up
Often, misaligmnents that involve twists and rotations
result from muscle imbalances that you can correct. Ask a sports physician,
podiatrist, or other biomechanically savvy medical specialist to prescribe
appropriate exercises and stretches to achieve realignment.