Prolonged Back Pain? Your Feet May Be The Cause

With the majority of adults experiencing spinal discomfort at some point, it probably comes as no surprise that many of us are investing in things to bring back pain relief. Custom pillows, elaborate mattresses – just about anything is fair game when back pain has you down. But have you ever considered you might be standing on the cause of your back pain? It’s true – improper foot postures can create a domino effect that ends in back problems.

Walking the wrong way can, over time, lead to conditions like sciatica, bulging discs, disc pain and other degenerative spine disorders. Foot imbalances, meanwhile, can create similar problems. Fortunately there are some basic steps you can take – literally and figuratively – to keep your back pain in check.

The first thing to understand is how your feet can affect your back in the first place. One need only look at an anatomical drawing to see that your foot has a pretty direct connection to your  back; each shock your foot absorbs can quickly travel up your leg and radiate to your pelvis and and spine. Foot positioning is a major a factor in the kinetic chain and pelvic alignment, and trouble usually comes via one of two foot postures:

Foot pronation – occuring when the foot inverts toward the side of the big toe, this posture internally rotates your thighs and can shorten the lower extremities.

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Foot supination, or under pronation – an inversion of the foot toward the side of the little toe. Like pronation, it rotates the thigh (this time externally) and has a lengthening effect on the lower extremity.

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Many of us may find ourselves occasionally balancing our weight on a particular part of our foot, especially if we participate in foot-intense activities such as skating or running. Prolonged supination and pronation, however, can change the biomechanics of the pelvis and sacrum. The outcome? Compensations made across your spine, leading to back pain and in some extreme cases, scoliosis.

Remember how I said there was a domino effect!

Treating your low back and pelvis will offer temporary relief, but the main problem to address is in your shoes.  If the feet are not balanced the problem will persist, so looking into shoe inserts and even custom orthotics is a must. Orthotics can lift parts of your feet, making it more easy to evenly distribute foot weight. Shoe inserts and the like are increasingly available in drug stores and even supermarkets, but it’s important to remember that they are indeed medical devices. Would you begin using a back brace without medical supervision? Not likely – so forgo the grocery store orthotics and connect with a physician who can take a close look at your feet.

At home, spend a week paying attention to how you stand on your feet when you do basic activities like brushing your teeth, washing dishes  or cooking. Make conscious efforts to stand with your weight balanced across the foot and see if you start noticing even the slightest difference in your back pain.

Make sure you’re standing and walking properly and see if it doesn’t get your back back on track!


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