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How the Windlass Mechanism in your foot helps your lymphatic system

Updated: May 4

The lymphatic system is a network of vessels flowing through almost all tissues in the body. Its functions include: draining fluid from tissues, contributing to the immune system, and facilitating fat absorption.

Why do I get swollen legs?

Lower legs and feet can become swollen when fluid has difficulty moving back up the body. While there are many causes, poor lymphatic drainage is almost always a factor.

The movement of lymph through the body depends partly on muscle movement, so doing exercise is a great way of stimulating the lymphatic system.

Why feet are important to get the blood flowing

The muscles also play an important role in blood flow, encouraging circulation and increasing venous return.

When the heel is off the ground and the calf muscle is contracted, this helps to push blood up the legs and back to the heart. This function is weakened by poor toe mobility and poor dorsiflexion (raising the foot upwards towards the shin when we walk).

Walking, running and other dynamic movements that use the foot and ankle all help to encourage the calf muscle fluid pump.

What is the Windlass Mechanism?

The Windlass Mechanism is an important chain of actions from the underside of the foot that is essential for proper foot function when walking and running.

When we extend the big toe, the ligaments between the ball of the foot and the heel bone tense up. This increases the height of the arch, giving us a more stable base to then push off from. Watch this explanatory video about how windlass works.

Want to learn more about the importance of your big toe?.....


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