The foot and ankle bones, tibia and talus, are two important bones connecting the lower leg to the foot. Their alignment determines in large part how everything is able to stack on top of them. Our feet are the base of it all and if we don’t start the journey of skeletal support at the bottom it is not likely that we will have a happy top. There are three arches in each foot that if balanced with the proper muscle and ligamentous tone, create a perfect stand upon which to rest. The talus rests below the tibia and their connection sets the tone for everything above and below.
People with less than optimal foot arches are often searching for a fix either through alignment cues, orthotics or arch supports. Orthotics are designed to support feet that fail to support the body successfully and they work but only if you use them for a prescribed period of time, develop an arch, and then do away with the orthotic. Lifting the toes to support the lift of the arches is a fine thing to do as an exercise especially to see just what kind of arch you could have if you put in the work. But walking around or doing yoga with toes lifted so not a lifestyle change anyone needs to implement.
My take is that people should find the alignment of these foot and ankle bones, the tibia and talus, as the starting point of all foot work. Stack the tibia directly about the talus and then take a look at your feet to get an honest appraisal of where they are at. What this means is you might see a very flat foot collapsing to the floor. Accept it if that is who you are today. This post stemmed from a conversation I had with someone who had been told to lift their navicular bone (it often looks very sad in a flat foot) by an endless assortment of teachers.
In this instance lifting the navicular pulled this person’s feet to the outside and threw off the relationship of the tibia and the talus which is an unacceptable fix. If we align the tibia and the talus correctly and then the navicular bone appears to be collapsed, the answer will be to find a solution for building the muscles that will lift and support the navicular, as opposed to throwing off the foot ankle complex to accommodate one bone.
This is a classic can’t see the forest for the trees situation, which unfortunately occurs endlessly in our search for good posture—visual aesthetics often trump correct alignment. Take a good look at your foot and ankle bones, trying to line up the tibia and the talus correctly. Once you get these two important bones lined up well, you can then assess what you need to work in your foot to bring the rest of the bones up to speed.