The Windlass Mechanism
Filed under: Foot Function
The windlass mechanism is an extremely important function in the foot. It is the foot’s own natural arch supporting mechanism, so any inhibition of this mechanism is going to affect the integrity of the foot and it biomechanics. The plantar fascia or plantar aponeurosis attaches to the bottom of the heel and the base of the toes, so spans the arch of the foot to support it. When the heel lifts off the ground the toes bend relative to the metatarsals, so they tighten this plantar fascia, giving stability to the arch and foot during the propulsive phase of gait.
If there is any issues that affect the integrity of the windlass, then there are often consequences. The arch of the foot will not be able to resist the forces that are applied to it during propulsion and will collapse. This can result in a range of different pathologies such as plantar fasciitis. Also while not being able to support the arch will also contribute to any overpronation and the consequences of that.
If there is any sort of dysfunction of the windlass there are a number of different types of interventions that can be used such as lowering the force to get it established or to get the windlass to initiate or start working earlier.