Few people consider the close connection between feet and back pain. Structural issues with those lowest of extremities can create muscle imbalances throughout the entire body and this begins at the foundation. When a human walks, the spine is supported by one leg at a time. The force of your heel striking the ground sends a shock wave up the leg that spreads through the pelvis, spine, and even skull.
There are 26 bones in the foot, 33 joints, and more than 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments working in unison to control the foot and aid in out bipedal movement. Each foot also has three arches: the medial or inner arch; the lateral or outer arch, and a third that runs transversely underneath the toes. It’s the job of these arches to absorb the shocks created by walking, support your weight, and propel the body while moving. Ideally, when standing half your weight should be distributed over the heel and the other half over the ball of the foot and toes.
Consider Foot Orthotics for Lower Back Pain Relief
The arches of the feet are designed to be strong and flexible but when they become flat it forces the lower back muscles to work harder leading them to become strained as they struggle to balance the body. One solution for low arches and to reduce back pain is investing in foot orthotics, which are inserted into shoes. Most orthotics are designed to fit a specific foot; the insert bought at the grocery store are generic but work on the same principle: changing the mechanics of your feet can relieve muscle strain in the lower back.
For them to work properly orthotics need to be used consistently. But while orthotics can eliminate back pain when its basis is foot mechanics, they may not work for everyone.
Are Your Shoes the Cause of Your Back Pain?
Another under appreciated source of back pain is shoes. The primary function of shoes is supposed to be to support and cushion the feet, which not only protects them but also the muscles used in walking and other mobility actions. But shoes lose their effectiveness when they are designed more for form than function. High heels, for example, do not provide much if any cushion in addition to keeping the foot in an unnatural position. When your foot wobbles or slips that extra movement travels up the legs to the spine. Bottom line: walking was not intended to be a balancing act so try not to make heels you daily footwear.
On the other end of the fashion spectrum, flip-flops are equally unstable. They are aptly named because the heel flops around as the person walks. A good shoe from a chiropractor’s point of view always controls the heel with a strap or a cup. Stabilizing the heel provides security for, foot, leg, and spine.
Feet also play a role in posture and proper posture and is an important tool for keeping a healthy back. Foot position affects the position of your ankles, knees, hips, and spine. Even the slightest adjustment to the foot can throw off your body’s entire alignment. That’s why high heels are so bad, they place the heels in an unnatural position above the toes. The spine is very vulnerable to these kinds of changes because its curvature is designed by evolution to evenly distribute your weight. Poor posture will eventually cause too much uneven wear on the discs, the joints, and the ligaments of the back—a prescription for lower back pain.
Remember, your feet are the body’s foundation and your posture depends on that foundation. And your feet don’t have to hurt to be causing pain elsewhere in the body. So next time you experience back pain make sure your feet aren’t the reason.
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