However, the importance of the foot is not only limited to pains and aches in the musculoskeletal system (i.e. the system that is a marriage of muscles, bones and structures that connect them together, including ligaments, tendons, fascia and joints).
The foot is also an important source of sensory input into the body’s neurological system, all the way up to the brain.
This is underlined in the rehabilitation following strokes, spinal cord injuries and a variety of neurological conditions, as well as amongst the paediatric population.
"The very action of bearing weight on the feet and engaging the body through specific exercises that stimulate the feet, and by extension the neurological system, has been shown to have tremendous positive effects on balance, muscular engagement, gait and coordination, amongst other measures and physiological effects".
In no part of the foot does this hold more true than in the heel. An important part of the sole of the foot and the first part of the foot to strike the ground when walking, the forces going through the heel light up the neurological system and the brain, providing plenty of information for the brain to process about the body’s position in space, and also gives cues on how to adjust and refine movement.
When harnessed through rapid movements, constant stimulation through ground contact and verbal, visual and tactile cues in the clinical setting, this property of the foot sets the brain and neurological system alight, making the brain primed and ready to soak up new movement patterns and improve performance.
The humble foot therefore cannot be neglected when treating even the most complex of neurological conditions pertaining to the most complex organ in the human body – the brain.