Wellbeing Wednesday: Feet and Lower Back Pain

Could your feet be the cause of lower back pain?

The easy answer is YES, but let me explain why and a few tips to fix your low back problems.

First of all, your feet are made up of 28 bones, 30 joints and more than 100 muscles, tendons and ligaments that carry the load of your entire body. When simply standing upright, if a portion of your spine is not in proper alignment, then your feet may also shift to compensate.

For example: Standing upright, notice what your feet do when you lean forward. And again when you lean backward.

When you lean forward, it is likely that your feet begin to peel up from the ground beneath you at the heel, making you feel like you are about to fall face forward on the ground. Conversely, when you lean backward, your toes and forefoot begin to lift up off the ground. This is because not only do your feet carry your body’s weight, they also help distribute your weight evenly in order for you to maintain balance and remain upright.

 

 

Now let’s take your feet for a walk.

While walking, you apply the force of up to five times your body weight on each foot. When you walk your feet would ideally have a neutral strike, or a fluid movement from heel to toe which disrupts most of the weight evenly in your midfoot. Sometimes when you walk your feet do not absorb the shock and redistribute it efficiently. This could be due to tight muscles in a another part of the body, an old or current injury, improper footwear, overuse or overall improper foot mechanics.

Improper foot mechanics is a common cause of back pain. The low back pain normally occurs when you overpronate (the arches of the foot roll inward or downward when walking) or have excessive Supination (weight is placed on the outside of the foot while walking or exercising). Both overpronation and excessive supination can cause issues with your body’s alignment which can result in pain in the feet, knees, hips, and back.

So in order to help alleviate your back pain due to the issues with your feet, you must first determine what is going on (ie. is it an old injury that hasn’t healed, improper footwear, etc.), then address the culprit(s).

 

Here are a few places to start:

  1. Replace old footwear to provide proper stability, absorption and strike.
  2. Use insoles in shoes to encourage neutral striking of the feet.
  3. Exercise to strengthen weak contributing muscles.
  4. Rest for overuse.
  5. Stretch tight muscles to ensure proper body alignment  while standing, walking or exercising.

 



 

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– CASEY EDMONDS, CHC

Health Advisor  |  Email Casey