Are Your Feet Causing You Back Pain?

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Many individuals in the United States deal with low back pain, with approximately 31 million people experiencing it at any given time. Although injuries and incorrect posture are frequently recognized as causes of low back pain, it is worth noting that foot mechanics and foot pain can also play a role in contributing to this condition. 

Understanding the potential connection between foot health and back pain can aid in the development of more effective treatment strategies and preventive measures.

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Kinetic Chain

We all remember the old song about how “The leg bone is connected to the thigh bone, and the thigh bone’s connected to the hip bone.” These connections play a vital role – Your sciatica nerves are connected to several muscles in your legs and feet. Pain often travels down the kinetic chain, which includes the ankle, knee, and hip on the same side. So, when we discuss the kinetic chain, we refer to how these parts influence one another.

Let’s take a hypothetical situation: imagine you turn your ankle while running. As a result, over the next couple of weeks, you start experiencing leg pain, leading to a noticeable change in your walking style, or what we refer to as your “gait.” This altered gait affects the movement of your hips, causing some stress to muscles. Consequently, they tighten up, leading to hip dysfunction and potential locking. As a result, your back may also be impacted due to the improper functioning of the hip. 

Proper alignment is crucial for maintaining a healthy kinetic chain. When your joints are properly aligned, it reduces the stress and strain put on other parts of your body. This alignment can be achieved through exercises and stretches that target the muscles surrounding the ankle, knee, and hip. Strengthening these muscles will not only improve your overall stability but also help prevent injuries.

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A Chain Reaction

The chain reaction, though, doesn’t stop there. It changes how you distribute your body weight on the knee joint, causing knee pain and muscle tension in the IT band. This, in turn, tightens the hip flexors, adding to the discomfort in your knee. Your body tries to adjust to this new way of walking, but it’s not ideal. However, the aim is to remove the limp and go back to your regular walking pattern, as this can often fix the problem and ease the pain allowing room for easier physical activity.

Arches or Flat Feet

The way we stand and the shape of our feet have a big effect on back pain and your entire body. Specifically, the arch of our feet is important – whether it is natural or flat. When someone has flat feet, their foot tends to roll inwards, which puts more pressure on the inside of the foot while walking. This internal rotation can cause inner knee pain due to increased compression on the inside of the knee.

Interestingly, walking can be done in different ways. One way is called inversion, where you walk on the collapsed arch of your foot. Another way is called e-version, where you walk on the outer portion of your foot. Understanding these walking patterns can help us understand how they impact our body mechanics and potential sources of pain.

Poorly Fitted Shoes or Improper Footwear Selection

Improper footwear selection can have a significant impact on back pain. When you choose shoes that do not fit properly, it can lead to poor alignment and support for your feet, causing feet pain. As a result, your body may compensate by adjusting your posture, which can put a strain on your back muscles and spinal column. Additionally, ill-fitting shoes can cause instability and imbalance, increasing the risk of falls and injuries that can contribute to back pain.

Wearing a selection of shoes with inadequate cushioning or supportive arches for feet can also exacerbate back pain. When your feet do not have proper shock absorption, the impact of walking or running is transferred to other parts of your body, including your back. This added stress can lead to muscle fatigue and discomfort. Furthermore, shoes that are too tight or narrow can restrict proper foot movement and blood circulation, potentially causing inflammation and nerve compression that may result in back pain.

Effects on the Spine

If you experience a running injury where you roll your ankle, it can cause temporary back pain because the way you walk changes. You may need treatment to address this pain, but it will likely go away quickly. However, if the injury causes your inner arch to collapse, leading to a different walking pattern, the problem becomes chronic. If you don’t get proper treatment or don’t get a diagnosis, this chronic pain issue can progress into early degeneration due to incorrect foot function.

At Smerglia Chiropractic, we specialize in diagnosing and treating foot conditions. We can also recommend at-home treatments and preventive measures to help alleviate and prevent these issues.

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Recommended Solutions to Address Foot-Related Issues:

1. Shoes: To support your feet and prevent inward collapsing and altered gait, I always suggest footwear with proper arch support. Opt for comfortable, supportive shoes such as tennis shoes with arch support, or consider wearing flip-flops with arch support during the summer. The right footwear can make a significant difference.

2. Stretching Exercises: Often, tight calf muscles or Achilles tendon injuries can contribute to plantar fasciitis located on the bottom of your foot. To alleviate this, it’s essential to perform stretching exercises that target these areas and help loosen them up.

3. Strength Exercises: Engaging in specific strength exercises can be beneficial. For instance, you can perform exercises that take your foot through a range of motion, such as drawing the ABCs while sitting at your desk. These exercises can help improve foot strength and flexibility, aiding in the prevention and relief of foot-related discomfort.

Plantar Fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis often causes back pain. At Smerglia Chiropractic, we specialize in treating this painful condition. The root of plantar fasciitis is the calf muscle, which connects to the Achilles tendon under the foot. This leads to the development of plantar fasciitis.

To treat this condition, we use various techniques to loosen the calf and Achilles tendon. In addition, we perform foot adjustments to alleviate discomfort. These treatments effectively address a wide range of issues related to plantar fasciitis, providing relief for both the foot and associated back pain. Your well-being depends on maintaining good foot health.

The Reverse is Also True

Spine issues sometimes cause foot pain. Imagine having pain in your lower back on the right side. To relieve the discomfort, you may unknowingly lean to the left. This leaning position is called an “antalgic lean.” When you walk while leaning to one side, it disrupts your normal walking pattern and affects how weight is distributed in your knees and ankles.

This imbalance can lead to additional stress in these areas, which may result in foot pain and discomfort as your body compensates for spinal problems and changes the way weight is distributed in your lower extremities. Certain risk factors can trigger various issues, including foot pain, and can further complicate your overall condition.

Key Takeaways:

1. Kinetic Chain and Chain Reaction: The body is interconnected, and problems in one area can lead to a chain reaction of pain and dysfunction in other areas taking a toll on your quality of life. For example, an ankle injury can affect the gait, causing issues in the knee and hip and eventually leading to back pain.

2. Arches or Flat Feet: The shape of our feet, particularly the arches, can impact back pain. Flat feet may lead to altered walking patterns, putting stress on the knees and back.

3. Effects on the Spine: Ignoring foot mechanics and chronic issues like collapsed inner arches can lead to long-term spinal problems and early degeneration.

4. Solutions: Proper footwear with arch support, stretching exercises for the calf and Achilles tendon, and strength exercises can help improve foot mechanics and alleviate back pain.

5. Two-Way Relationship: Not only can foot issues contribute to back pain, but spinal problems can also cause foot pain, emphasizing the importance of addressing both areas for overall health and well-being.

Smerglia Chiropractic Can Help

At Smerglia Chiropractic, our holistic approach to health and wellness includes non-invasive, drug-free treatment for a wide range of ailments, including back pain related to feet and other causes. Reach out to learn more about how we can help you manage your pain and discomfort today.

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