The Windlass Mechanism


hey team how you doing this video I’m gonna look at feet particularly a mechanism of the foot called the windows mechanism now this is a really important mechanism of the foot and if you’re a bit grossed out by feet as some people are stick with this because there’s loads of important information here in fact this is the first of a number of Q&A videos that I’m going to be doing as a result of a few comments on Facebook comments on YouTube where people have asked me to elaborate in what I’ve already said about the windlass mechanism in previous posts previous videos where I’ve just kind of mentioned it in passing this time we’re going to get right into it so let’s have a look so let’s deal with a big question first what is the windlass mechanism so the windlass mechanism is a function of the foot which allows it to be everything from a very adaptive structure with lots of movement allowing us to adapt to landing on different surfaces and have that ability to dissipate load nicely

through to a point where it can be nice and rigid and allow us to create this nice feel base to push off a more solid foot as we get through the propulsive phase of gait as that windlass mechanism gets more wound up if you like we can start to get that much more of a stiff foot which allows to that strong push off problem is when the windlass mechanism is not working properly our foot ends up having to compensate and those compensations work to change things higher up the chain so let’s start thinking about the anatomy so excuse my foot we’re outside here a bit filthy but I want to start off thinking about some important structures at the foot we’ve obviously got the big toe and the first metatarsal phalangeal joint so first MTP this joint the ball of the foot if we start to wind him up and start pulling that big toe back into dorsiflexion what we start to see is this this bowstring effect on the

underside of the foot in the medial arch there that’s part of the plantar fascia and the plantar fascia really is a big thickening in the connective tissue of the foot now of the underside of the foot now it joins in to the okay Nia’s back here the heel bone and essentially when we add talked round that first MTP joint we leaver the plantar fascia for the windlass over the ball of a foot we start to increase the stress beam or strain being passed through that plantar fascia and essentially what we’re doing is we’re drawing the two landmarks together we’re drawing the first MTP so the ball of the foot here together with the calcaneus and of course those two coming together it’s going to increase the arch height of this medial arch we can look at this in non-weight-bearing so as I pull back in my big toe we can see that medial arch starting to become more prominent and we can also look at that in weight-bearing so again as I

bring my foot on the floor as I pull up on that big toe we can see that again that medial arch becomes a little bit more prominent now the important point is that as we want to walk as we want to run we need available first metatarsal first MTP joint of dorsiflexion which basically means that as I’m weight-bearing I need to be able to pull that big toe up off the ground and watch how we can start to get that increase arch height of that medial arch and see how that’s essentially locking up that mid foot allowing that mid foot to become that little bit more rigid as we bring the bones there into what we refer to as a close-packed position it makes that arch more prominent stronger more rigid and allows that strong push off so think of it simply as a pulley system it’s important because as we tell off the walking gait and running gait if we can’t push off through the big toe we

end up quite often either rolling across the foot so a lot of the time that looks like we’re becoming slightly more duck-footed if you liken and toed out or sometimes people end up pushing that little bit more off the outside of the foot the big tone the first MTP joint the first ray it’s big thick and strong in comparison to the other bones and joints and toes of the foot because that’s where the load is meant to go when there’s a block in terms the movement there for one reason or another we start to find the load being put in other places and again the body just doesn’t want to move like that we start to see that become a problem worth having a look at worth having a think about get to know your own feet and if needs be get someone to look at it I also want to get in here ahead of the barefoot crowd a lot of people over the last years have spoken about how theoretically barefoot running as soon as you start putting shoes on you start not to be able to use your windlass mechanism I just don’t buy that it’s just not true you have to have an incredibly stiff shoe to stop you being

able to load through the first empty MTP joint properly if you have a properly functioning MTP joint most running shoes allow the flexibility specifically so that you can get that nice roll through the big toe if your big toe allows so again don’t buy that as long as you’re running in something comfortable I’m more than happy it doesn’t require barefoot running to get the windlass mechanism working just putting that out there

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