Home Up Common foot Problems Normal Foot Diabetic Foot Heel Pain Bunions Fungal Toenails Orthotics

Normal Foot

Dr. Ian H. Beiser's Podiatry Page

Dr. Beiser is a podiatrist serving patients in the Washington, DC, area

He is a partner in Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, LLC,  a diverse group of foot and ankle specialists, dedicated to providing advanced and comprehensive foot and ankle care

1145 19th St., NW  Suite #605
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 833-9109

Home    About Dr. Beiser    About the Office    Common Foot Problems    Foot Surgery  


Office Information
Board Certification
Foot Information
    Foot Problems
    Normal Foot
    Diabetic Foot
    Heel Pain
    Other conditions
    Foot Surgery
    Fungal Nails

What is Podiatry?
Health links



Normal Anatomy

Bones of the foot




There are  several important functions the normal foot  accomplishes during the act of walking (gait). As you will see, some of these functions appear to be opposites. This means the foot must be able to change significantly at specific periods of the gait cycle. The gait cycle refers to the act of taking a complete step. This is broken down into a stance phase and a swing phase: Stance phase includes the motion between striking the heel on the ground (heel strike) through  lifting the big toe off the ground (toe-off). Swing phase goes from toe-off to heel strike when the foot is not bearing any weight.

To function normally in gait, the foot must accomplish four major functions. It must be able to adapt to an uneven surface, become a rigid lever for propulsion, translate rotary forces generated by the hip and it must be able to absorb shock.  The muscles and tendons work together with the bones, ligaments and joints of the foot to accomplish these goals. If one of those components is not functioning properly, all of the other components may be affected.

During heel strike, the foot acts as a shock absorber and begins to pronate. Pronation can best be understood as the motions involved when the foot rolls in and the arch flattens. As this occurs, the foot "unlocks" and becomes loose. It is during this midstance period that the foot is flexible and able to adapt to uneven terrain. After this, the leg begins to externally rotate and foot begins to supinate. Supination is the opposite of pronation and can be thought of as the motion by which the foot goes from being flat to having a higher arch. This is necessary to make the foot more rigid so it can serve as a lever for propulsion (lifting the foot off the ground by rolling over the big toe).

People with flexible flat feet may actually have a high arched foot when non-weightbearing but pronate excessively during gait. This means the foot stays "flat" or pronated at a time when it should be supinating and becoming more rigid. This results in instability which may result in bunions, hammertoes, heel pain, arch pain, metatarsalgia and tendonitis. The instability may be controlled with orthotics or sometimes with surgery.

People with rigid, high arched feet, cavus feet on the other hand, usually have a diminished ability to absorb shock which may result in conditions such as metatarsalgia, heel pain, knee, back ,hip and lower back pain.( Note that some of the conditions mentioned may be found in both cavus feet and flat feet. However, the mechanism that causes the common conditions usually differs between the high arched foot and the low arched foot)


Ian H. Beiser, D.P.M., F.A.C.F.A.S, F.A.S.P.S.

Foot and Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, LLC
1145 19th St., NW  Suite #605
Washington, DC 20036
(202) 833-9109

Federal health information privacy laws (HIPAA) do not permit the transmission of health information over unsecure e-mail. We therefore ask you to please call our office by telephone with any questions related to your medical care.

Copyright 2017 Dr. Ian H. Beiser's Podiatry Page