Low back pain is a highly prevalent problem worldwide. In fact, up to 80 percent of people experience back pain at some point in their lives and half of all workers experience back pain symptoms each year (according to the American Chiropractic Association). Back pains in general are one of the main reasons for people to see a doctor.
Sometimes the cause is obvious, like a sports injury or bending the wrong way. Other times, however, the reason might be surprising. In this blog, we’re going to look at how improper foot posture can result in back pain and what you can do to prevent it.
The arches of your feet are a major factor that may be affecting your back. If you have high or collapsed arches, you could be more susceptible to developing back pain. Because the slightest change in your foot can cause you to walk or stand in an unusual way. High arches may cause a problem with shock absorption, which can send shockwaves up through your body and cause damage. With collapsed arches, you are more likely to develop over-pronation, which may cause back pain.
Were you aware that high heels are a possible driver for back pain? It is important to understand the effect they have on your posture. Wearing high heels causes the S-curve in your spine to become more pronounced. Since your height has changed, you now need a lower centre of gravity to maintain balance. Your lower back is pushed forward while the upper back moves backwards. This changes where pressure is placed on your discs, muscles and tendons. This can lead to both immediate and long-term pain. The longer and more frequently you wear high heels, the bigger the risk for tight lower back muscles or even spinal disc degeneration.
Pronation refers to an inward motion of the foot, which results in collapsed arches and flat feet when you stand, walk or run. Mild pronation is normal in a healthy walking and running gait cycle. It is a necessary motion that allows for the dynamic action of the foot and ankle to reduce impacts on the body with walking and running. However, problems may arise when there is over-pronation.
Over-pronation causes the leg to turn inward as well; affecting the knees, hip and lower back posture. This might be compounded when excessive foot pronation occurs only on one foot, since when that foot pronates it shortens the effective length of the leg (the distance between the hip and the ground). Additionally, because of the excessive foot motion, the muscles on the inside of your leg must work harder to pull your foot up. While you may not think that a small, almost unnoticeable problem in your foot could be the cause of your back pain, it very well might.
Another foot problem is over-supination, where the feet are rolled outward with what seems to be a high arch. Over-supination also causes outward rotation of the legs and additional stress to muscles on the outside of the leg. It places pressure in the wrong areas, changes the way we walk and throws our body completely out of alignment, resulting in back pain.
What can good shoes and insoles do to help?
Finding the correct footwear plays a significant role in preventing lower back pain. Here are the main features to look for:
● If the lower back pain is due to your foot function, shoes with orthotics that provide good arch support can prevent over-pronation and can help align your legs and back properly.
● Shoes with good cushioning properties can reduce the impacts on the body and back when the foot hits the ground during walking and running.
● High heels that are over 3 centimeters high may increase the risk of low back pain, as they might impair back posture.
● However, not all flat shoes are good for your feet. Flat shoes that do not provide any arch support may compromise legs and back posture.
● Get the right fit. Tight shoes can aggravate foot pain and cause gait compensation. Oversized shoes can also impair gait.
● Replace your shoes over time. When the supporting cushioning becomes worn, it is no longer helpful.
When you experience back pain and you are diagnosed with a dysfunction in the foot or ankle, it may be possible to reduce the pain by improving foot function, using proper footwear and orthotics. If you are suffering from back pain and believe one of these causes could be to blame, get in touch with your nearest Phits Expert today and schedule a full examination.