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Foot function & biomechanics: not the same thing.

Discussion in 'Biomechanics, Sports and Foot orthoses' started by Simon Spooner, Dec 17, 2009.


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    I read with interest the letters page from this months Podiatry Now and in it a letter from Mr Andy Horwood:

    Some cut: "On that note, because it is connected, I will briefly comment on Robert Isaacs' column "post modernism biomechanics" It is great that some discussion on foot function in Podiatry Now is occurring thanks to Mr Isaacs, but I must caution that foot function and biomechanics is not the same thing. Knowledge in biomechanics, the behaviour of tissues under load, is expanding and that influences our understanding of foot function. But there is little debate over biomechanical principles.

    The problem we have with foot function is we have never had a scientific theory. By that I mean a model based on all the evidence. Though called theories, these foot function descriptions are all models, because they are unvalidated. Root, Orien and Weed's model was based on limited early 20th century research.

    Today there is huge expansion of foot related research and none of that research supports one model. There is no shame in being wrong for the right reasons, as many of the more recent models most certainly are.

    Some cut about advertising a course

    For anyone confused in thinking that "biomechanics" is fundamentally changing to post-modernism from evidence gathering I recommend you read journals like Gait and Posture, Clinical Biomechanics, Journal of Biomechanics and Applied Biomechanics.

    For those wishing to recap on foot function research I strongly recommend you read "Lessons from dynamic cadaver and invasive bone pin studies: do we know how the foot really moves during gait [some cut ref to the Nester's work]

    It would be great if in future Mr Isaacs could also consider these journal sources rather than just an internet forum. For then it is easy to understand why some people will show greater eversion excursion of the hindfoot in a certain phase of gait with certain prescriptions when others will not. I wish him good luck with his column"

    What say you?
  2. :mad:

    I say It would have been nice to have had a "right to reply" in the same issue!

    I've not had my copy yet. I shall read his letter in its entirety before passing further comment.

  3. The rest of the letter is about Tim Kilmartins' article. You have the right to reply, as does anyone else.

    Like you said, Rob- Pineapple me.
  4. Not being an english Scholar of note Is not biomechanics the study of mechancis of the body which we refer to mean study of the mechanics of the foot. Which to my mind is foot function.

    As for the bit about the FORUM, what does it means when a lot of the authors come on here to discuss and debate their research and often come to the conclusion that they missed something and thank the people who showed them what they missed.

    Maybe someone should point out to Andy what he´s missing.
  5. Alrighty then.
    Lets go to the good ole Oxford English Dictionary

    Ok. He has me bang to rights there. I was discussing biomechanics in the context we tend to use and understand it, our understanding of foot function. But as Andy points out the dictionary states that biomechanics is the study of mechanical laws and there is nothing post modernist about that. It is perhaps a trifle pedantic, but I LIKE pedantic so I'll say a big thankyou for pointing that one out.:drinks

    Leave alone the rather unnecessary swipe at me, Andy obviously disagrees with me on the (admittedly contentious) article. Which is entirely fair and reasonable. However Having read the article he referenced (which is a very interesting one) I still feel that the knowledge we have does not fully explain why some people show increased eversion (pronation) with a varus posted insole.

    Viva la difference I guess.

    Perhaps if Andy Follows the forum he would care to elucidate on why that might be. Why does a medially posted insole with a medial arch support cause the foot to pronate more? Does he perhaps refer to the neuro-motor effect?

  6. The purpose of scientific journals such as Journal of Biomechanics, Clinical Biomechanics, Gait and Posture and Journal of Applied Biomechanics is very different from the purpose of Podiatry Arena. The journals allow only peer-reviewed scientific articles to be published with little to no discussion in the journals regarding those articles. Podiatry Arena allows active discussion of ideas, theories, treatment protocols, etc between scientists and clinicians but is not meant to be a place where original research is published. If you want to provide informational articles that are the most useful for clinicians, I feel that using a combination of scientific research, such as from journals, and useful clinical information and debate, such as happens daily on Podiatry Arena, is the best way to go.

    I think a response to Andy Horwood is appropriate and would be helpful for the reading audience of Podiatry Now. By the way, I have met Andy and spoken with him a few times. He seems like an intelligent individual and, I think, often makes good points.
  7. Kevin, do you agree with the contention that: "The problem we have with foot function is we have never had a scientific theory. By that I mean a model based on all the evidence. Though called theories, these foot function descriptions are all models, because they are unvalidated." ?

    So we have no scientific theories of foot function?

    We have no models based on evidence?

    And the theories are really models because they are unvalidated? Viz. any model cannot remain a model and be validated and a theory cannot be a theory without validation? Robert- Hint: check the OED definitions of "Theory" and "Model".

    So taking SALRE and Tissue stress as examples, according to Mr Horwood, neither of these are scientific theories of foot function, since "the problem we have with foot function is we have never had a scientific theory" and these are simply models and not theories because "they are unvalidated".
  8. Simon:

    I don't agree with Mr. Horwood since he sounds a little like Ed Glaser when he starts making these types of proclamations. If I were to write a reply to Andy, I would make certain I included the definitions of "model" and "theory", like you have, and then ask him why he didn't think that SALRE or tissue stress was a valid theory or not. Should be an entertaining answer.:drinks

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