The windlass is that equipment that are used by the mariners on yachts to wind the rope about in order to help to make it less difficult to move the sails. Within the foot there exists a mechanism that is referred to as the windlass mechanism that gets its name from this equipment used on yachts. There is a ligament like structure underneath the foot known as the plantar fascia which is at one end connected to the bottom of the heel and at the other end to the big toe. When we're walking and the heel bone comes off the floor, the foot moves around the big toe where this ligament is attached, tightening the ligament as it winds around the windlass of the first metatarsal head. This is the windlass mechanism of the foot. It is a essential functionality as the plantar fascia is the thing that supports the arch of the foot, so it must function adequately and quickly for normal function. It is the foots own natural arch support system.
There are a variety of disorders related to this windlass mechanism not functioning adequately. Should the windlass doesn't work, then the arch of the foot will collapse from this lack of support and a variety of conditions can develop as a consequence of that such as hallux valgus and plantar fasciitis. The reason for the windlass not functioning properly can be multiple like the force required to establish it simply being way too high, so the body needs to work harder to help make the windlass work. If that effort does make it function, then that is a greater energy cost which can be very fatiguing. Clinicians use different design characteristics in foot orthotics to facilitate the windlass mechanism and to make walking less difficult and more effective. If the windlass can be established easily during walking or running won't require so much effort and the foot can naturally support its own arch.