From Head to Toe How your feet may be affecting your back health

When you think about your back pain, do you consider the health of your feet? Maybe not.

Your feet serve as the foundation for your entire body as it moves. Dysfunction in your feet can manifest as pain in other areas of your body like your back. Did you know that studies have linked flat feet, excessive pronation, ankle instability, and ankle joint dysfunction to low back pain? Faulty foot biomechanics, like the ones we just pointed out, can have a negative impact on all supporting joints above the foot/ankle complex, including the low-back region.

For some people, even those with faulty foot biomechanics, they may not experience symptoms like others do. But for those at risk, read about how your feet may be linked to the pain in your back:

Flat Feet: Flat feet can increase risk of back pain due to flattening and rigidity of the arch. For people who have flatter arches, the feet may not adequately correct how the forces disperse on landing. This can result in forces being translated up to other structures, like the back, causing pain and discomfort1.

Leg Length discrepancy:  This is literally a difference in leg length between one and the other. Leg length discrepancy can be structural or functional. To accommodate the difference, the body will adapt and in some cases may result in a functional scoliosis. Also, to compensate, muscles and other soft tissues may be affected which can cause pain and discomfort1.

Excessive Pronation: Over-pronation occurs when the foot and ankle joint collapse in the centre from bearing weight. The foot absorbs axial rotation of the leg during gait and then prepares the body to react against contact with the floor2.

Ankle Instability: Ankle instability can be due to an injury, or due to irregular neuromuscular control of the ankle. Studies have shown a correlation between moderate to severe ankle instability and the risk of low back pain3.

So if you are experiencing back pain, consider the role that other structures may play. How your feet function as you move, work, and participate in activities you love can impact the rest of your body. Talk to a chiropractor to find out more about how to prevent or manage such issues.

References:

  • https://www.chiropractic.ca/
  • O’Leary C, Cahill C, Robinson A, Barnes M, Hong J. A systematic review: The effects of podiatrical deviations on nonspecific chronic low back pain. Journal Of Back & Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation [serial online]. April 2013;26(2):117-123 7p
  • 2Rothbart B, Estabrook L. Excessive pronation: A major biomechanical determinant in the development of chondromalacia and pelvic lists. J Man Phys Ther. 1988; 11(5): 373-379.

3Marshall PW, McKee AD, Murphy BA. Impaired trunk and ankle stability in subjects with functional ankle instability. Med Sci Sports Exer. 2009; 41(8): 1549-57.

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