Throwing your back out after an intense workout is one thing, but getting sidelined with back pain after a simple walk is another.
For millions of people, the mere act of walking triggers back spasms and discomfort that leads to fatigue and frustration.
Fortunately, custom orthotics can help relieve pain if the foot is a trigger of backaches. This post will examine how walking can trigger backaches for some and how orthotics can help minimize their pain.
The Relationship Between the Foot and Low Back Pain
Unless you’re an athlete or a kinesiologist, you probably don’t give much thought to the relationship between your feet and your back.
Remember, your muscles, joints, tendons and ligaments are intricately linked from head to toe. What happens at one end of the chain affects the other.
Your feet are your body’s “shocks.” They absorb the force of every step you take. Every time you walk, you put the equivalent of five times your body weight on each foot in terms of force. That’s a lot of weight!
Naturally, your feet can absorb the impact without injury. But the majority of us develop poor habits and misalignments that prevent the feet from absorbing and redistributing force appropriately.
Two common examples of these “misfirings” are overpronation and oversupination.
Overpronation refers to the excessive inward motion of the foot. Some degree of pronation is ordinary (and necessary) since it allows for further absorption of impact. However, when the foot is overpronated, the natural arches of your feet collapse, and this causes one to become flat-footed.
What happens is that the leg follows the foot and compensates by rotating internally as well. Remember, the body is a chain, and the changes don’t end here. The knees and hips also compensate by turning to accommodate the foot’s new posture.
A rotated pelvis, which produces plenty of muscular imbalances, puts strain on the spine and makes it less resilient to impact forces. When this happens continuously, joints succumb to wear-and-tear sooner, and nerve impingement occurs, causing that troubling back pain.
Oversupination is the other side of the coin. It describes a foot that rolls outward too much, resulting in arches that are too high. A similar pattern occurs with oversupination, as does with overpronation.
When the foot rolls outward excessively, so does the lower leg. As the lower and upper leg rotates, the knees and hips follow suit, leading to abnormal strain on the spine and surrounding tissue. Ultimately, this leads to wear-and-tear that results in painful walking.
What Leads to Foot Misalignments
Most cases of overpronation and oversupination come from either anatomical or biomechanical reasons. They include:
- Poorly-chosen footwear
- Pre-existing flat feet (flat feet can precede over-pronation and make it worse)
- Pre-existing foot injury
- Repetitive strain (i.e. from being a runner or an athlete)
- Being overweight or obese
- Leg length discrepancies
- Ankle stability/strength
- Foot width
The causes of overpronation and oversupination are numerous, and one’s case can have multiple causes.
It’s worth seeing a podiatrist/chiropodist if you experience pain while walking. You’ll likely need to have gait and postural analysis as well as a physical examination of your foot mechanics to determine the cause of your pain.
How Orthotics Can Help Reduce Back Pain
Now that you understand the connection between your foot and your back, you might have an idea of how orthotics can alleviate painful walking.
Essentially, orthotics correct the positioning of your foot. Whatever caused your foot to get thrown out of balance will likely have hardwired postural and mechanical patterns that won’t repair themselves.
That’s where orthotics come in.
After identifying the misalignment of your foot, a specialist will recommend insoles designed to support the unique structure and shape of your footprint. This will help restore and support your arches and assist in the control of your foot motion.
In addition to exercises and re-training your postural/gait patterns, orthotics help unwind the twisting and rotating of tissues that contribute to low back pain.
Here at Orthotics Direct, we build custom orthotics for individuals with various foot misalignments, disorders and injuries to help improve their posture and reduce pain.
Manage Back Pain: Daily Tips
Orthotics aside, it’s wise to adopt some new habits to help you manage lower back pain.
Maintaining a healthy low back and staying clear of distress is strongly associated with your lifestyle choices. With that said, here are some “hacks” that can help you prevent and address further low back pain.
Practical Lower Back Pain Management Tips
- Stretch your low back muscles regularly
- Stay active and exercise daily (but don’t neglect proper exercise form)
- Sleep on a quality mattress and in a healthy position
- Maintain a healthy body weight
- Use ice or heat if your back spasms or gets painful
- Get a massage
Fix Low Back Pain from the Ground Up - Shop Orthotics Today!
It’s a real bummer when every step makes you twinge in pain. It doesn’t feel natural, and contrary to what many believe, it’s not just a part of aging. Yes, wear-and-tear does cause lower back pain, but when the foot is involved, there’s likely a functional problem that needs correction.
Fortunately, the right orthotic solutions and lifestyle changes can help you reduce back pain if the problem stems from the foot.
With a bit of time and patience, you’ll have a new pep in your step - a painless one!