The midfoot: A user's guide

This central section of your foot can also be home to the dreaded plantar fasciitis. Find out how to keep it in good working order to boost performance and sidestep injury.

by Annie Rice
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Made up of five tarsal bones – navicular, cuboid and three cuneiform – ‘the midfoot helps to absorb shock during pronation and provides rigidity for a powerful and stable toe off’, says Thatcher.

Improve your run: Strengthen the midfoot

Why it matters: ‘Better foot strength will boost power and reduce injury further up the leg,’ says Thatcher. ‘Strengthening exercises will improve your tolerance of impact, reduce ground reaction forces and assist in a stronger, more efficient toe-off.’

Maximise performance: Use barefoot bent knee calf raises: with no shoes on, stand on a step with one foot, heel overhanging. Slowly lower your heel, bending at the knee, then push up on to the toes. Complete 2-3x10 reps on each leg. 

Injury risk: Plantar fasciitis

What it is? ‘A part inflammatory, part degenerative condition of the plantar fascia, which connects the heel bone to the toes,’ explains Thatcher.

Symptoms: A sharp pain or deep ache in the middle of your heel or along your arch – probably worse during the first steps of the day, or after periods spent sitting down.

Cause: The main culprits are overtraining, a sudden increase in hill- or speedwork, and biomechanical flaws such as flat or high-arched feet. ‘The plantar fascia can also be torn by sudden high loads from sprinting or plyometrics,’ adds Thatcher.

Beat it: ‘Treatment for acute tears is rest, ice and maybe anti-inflammatories,’ says Thatcher. The golf ball is your friend here – on the first sign of soreness, roll your foot over one. If pain persists seek expert help.


Mitchell recommends the golden rules of increasing mileage by no more than 10 per cent per week and wearing correctly fitting shoes. Also, add these stretches to your regular routine:

1 Plantar fascia stretch: Push your toes up against a wall, keeping your arch and heel flat. Hold for 10 seconds, then swap sides. Repeat 10 times, three or four times daily.

2 Achilles stretch: Stand facing a wall at arm’s length. Lean in, placing both hands on the wall shoulder-width apart. Extend one foot behind you with knee bent and heel on the ground. Now lean into the wall and bend your back leg, heel down, to feel the stretch in the back of the lower leg.

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midfoot, anatomy of the foot, plantar fasciitis, plantar fascia, tarsal, navicular, cuboid, cuneiform, how to prevent plantar fasciitis

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