Kinetic Chain Approach for Ankle and Foot Injuries

JamesAnkles & Feet, Footwear, Health & Wellness, Legs & Knees, Movement, News, Pain & Pain Management2 Comments

The Dynamic Balancing Act of The Foot Series – Part 2


At James Fowler Physical Therapy, we evaluate ankle and foot injuries by using a Kinetic Chain Approach. ‘Kinetic’, meaning movement, and ‘Chain’, relating to the coordination of individual joint movements to create functional movement like walking, running and playing sports. When there is dysfunction or misalignment of any joints along the kinetic chain, it has the potential to create an injury down at the foot and ankle.

One example to further understand this approach is by looking at foot injuries in runners. A thorough assessment using the Kinetic Chain Approach will not only look at foot function, but also the ankle, knee, hips, pelvis, and spine (particularly the thoracic spine with its role in rotation). Misalignment of the foot caused by structural or functional dysfunction anywhere along the chain can cause a build up in stress and strain, eventually resulting in an injury.


This whole-body approach to the ankle and foot injuries is highly successful in treating the following conditions:  

  • Foot and ankle sprains, strains, and fracture
  • ​Tendinopathy (tendon problems), including Achilles’ tendonitis and plantar fasciitis
  • Ankle osteoarthritis
  • Shin splints
  • Heel pain and heel spurs
  • Chronic ankle instability
  • Tarsal tunnel syndrome (compressed nerve)
  • ​Bunions, Neuromas
  • Ankle reconstruction and other foot and ankle surgery


Following a detailed Kinetic Chain Evaluation, our expert team of physical therapists can determine exactly where the cause of your foot injury has originated, whether it be locally at the foot, or, somewhere else along the kinetic chain. 

You’ll get a clear explanation of how and why your injury started, and how we can work with you to get you out of pain, and back to running pain free as soon as possible.


By understanding how and why your injury started, we can determine the best treatment option for you. This may include: 

  1. Manual therapy to help mobilize and realign joints. For example, if your therapist found that your thoracic spine was lacking in rotation, manual therapy can help to improve your mobility into rotation, allowing for improved energy transference throughout the kinetic chain.

  2. Soft tissue massage to help release tight muscles and pain. Muscles around injured structures tend to have greater amounts of tightness, as a protective mechanism of the body. However prolonged tightness will limit mobility, contributing to kinetic chain dysfunction, and potentially further driving your pain!

  3. Rehabilitative Exercises that are prescribed to address your individual needs. If you have muscular weakness that is causing a functional misalignment, rehabilitative exercises will help to correct the weakness, therefore correcting the misalignment. A common example is the gluteus medius’ weakness causing hip and pelvic misalignment.

  4. Custom Foot Orthotic recommendations. When the foot cannot provide the correct biomechanical alignment and physical therapy is unable to return the patient to being pain free, custom orthotics might be the solution.  Orthotics are worn inside the shoes to correct foot alignment issues, and can be worn during your daily life or when playing sports. We highly recommend custom Tamir Kfir Orthotics and we can discuss how it could be beneficial for your overall lifestyle.

As foot and ankle injuries are extremely complex, it’s best to get a comprehensive assessment using the kinetic chain approach with one of our expert physical therapists at James Fowler Physical Therapy. We’ll thoroughly assess your injury, explain why you’re injured, and guide you through the recovery process until you are back to running –  pain free!

Dive into James Fowler’s orthotics of choice and how its unique design satisfies the need for orthotics that keeps the foot working dynamically and further challenges the ankle/foot to support the body up the chain. Keep Reading!

2 Comments on “Kinetic Chain Approach for Ankle and Foot Injuries”

  1. Pingback: How is Misalignment Hurting Your Body?

  2. Pingback: How to Benefit from Customized Orthotics for an Active or Athletic Lifestyle | James Fowler Physical Therapy

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