New research found that women with flat feet are 50 percent more likely to have lower back pain. The study suggests that the feet may play an integral role in chronic lower back pain, reports senior study author Marian Hannan of Boston’s Institute for Aging Research.
During the study, Hannan and her team measured each participant’s arch while they were standing. The participants then walked across a mat with sensors to measure the pressure exerted from the heel to the tip of the toes with each stride. Most of the women in the study were in their sixties and about a third of them experienced low back pain.
The results weren’t completely surprising. Doctors have known for a long time that putting a patient in a foot cast after surgery sometimes led to lower back pain, because it exerts asymmetric forces on the back. Hannan theorizes that a person unconsciously use other muscles to accommodate their flat feet when walking, which could be causing back pain.
The researchers also suggested various reasons women seemed to be more prone to developing back pain due to flat feet than men. One thought is that women’s pelvic bones are wider than men’s and they are not as flexible. Also, because of the female anatomy, women tend to rotate their hips and move their upper bodies more than men while walking.
A separate study conducted by Dr Rajendra Mhaske, a professor at India’s University of Pune (UoP) at the physiotherapy department of Sancheti Hospital, studied the behavioral patterns of patients suffering from lower back pain. Specifically, he wanted to identify the relationship between a person’s actions and even personality in regards to back pain.
According to the data collected, Dr Mhaske found that most of these patients were Type A personalities. Psychologists describe the Type A behavior pattern as an action emotion complex partly characterized by a person who aggressively attempts to achieve more in less time and who is typically very competitive with others. Their aggressive personality, the researchers believe, negatively affects their body posture both in the office and when driving. Rather than having a relax, aligned posture, they tend to hunch out of impatience and aggression.
Type A’s are also more likely to ignore the discomfort caused by bad posture because they are too focused on finishing their tasks at hand so it eventually develops into a chronic condition. Mhaske also believes the stress that comes with being a Type A personality can contribute to lower back pain as do jobs that require sitting at a desk.
Changing behavior patterns is more difficult among those with Type A personalities, but doing so could help alleviate some of the pain, according to Mhaske.