Lower back pain is one of the most common medical complaints among both men and women, and it tends to become a lot more common as we get older. When most of us think of lower back pain, we think of pain related to activities like bending and lifting heavy loads, or overexertion during physical activities. For sure, these activities can lead to lower back pain. But perhaps surprisingly, a lot of lower back pain, including pain related to “slipped” discs, can be directly attributed to your feet, or more precisely, they way you walk, stand and support your weight during movement. And that means that to relieve back pain and prevent it from recurring, you need to address those foot-related issues first.
From your feet to your back
Your feet don’t just help you walk and run. They also support your weight and help keep you balanced. And to do that, they need to flex, bend and stiffen in very specific ways. When your feet and gait are normal, the bones, ligaments, tendons and joints all “line up” the way they’re supposed to be for normal, pain-free movement and function. If you have an unusual foot shape or you have a foot problem like weak or fallen arches, bunions, nerve problems or an unusual gait (the way you walk), that problem can “throw off” your balance and movement, placing excessive and unusual strains on your leg and back muscles.
Pronation and supination are very good examples. Pronation means you rotate or roll your foot slightly inward (toward your other foot) when you walk. Supination means you roll your foot slightly outward. Even though it sounds like these two issues would be very noticeable, in fact, they can be so slight and subtle, many people may not realize they’re rolling their feet until other problems occur, like bunions, knee pain or lower back pain. Even then, without a doctor’s evaluation, it’s easy to miss the connection between your symptoms and an uneven gait or odd foot shape.
Normally, when you stand or move, all the weight and stress that’s exerted pass through a straight line that extends all the way down your leg to a spot just between the big toe and first toe. Your body is actually designed to function based on that straight alignment of your legs and feet. In fact, the shared distribution of weight and stress during movement actually has a special name — the kinetic chain. To function normally, every “link” in this chain must align properly to enable stress to be passed from one part of your body to another so the load is equally shared.
When you pronate or supinate your feet even slightly, it shifts the whole dynamic of how you move and how you support your weight. In short, the entire kinetic chain is broken or altered. Now, instead of drawing a straight line down your leg and through your foot, the line wavers and bends, and that means other muscles and ligaments are strained beyond their normal capacity. Over time, that excessive strain can cause chronic back pain as well as other symptoms.
How custom orthotics can help
Custom orthotics can help relieve lower back pain and other symptoms by providing your foot with the support it needs to reestablish that kinetic chain. Unlike over-the-counter shoe inserts, prescription orthotics are custom molded for each patient, which means they’re designed for your unique foot shape and gait pattern so the specific issues that are causing your back pain can be resolved.
At Scheffel Foot Center, Dr. Scheffel uses very precise measuring techniques to ensure your orthotics are not only effective in relieving your problems, but also comfortable to wear. Our orthotics use durable materials that can last for years, and we can craft orthotics for just about any shoe type, including athletic shoes and dress shoes. That means wherever you go and whatever you do, you can provide your body with the support it needs to function at its best.
Can orthotics relieve your back pain?
Custom orthotics have a high success rate in helping men and women relieve lower back pain and other back, leg and foot problems as well. To find out if custom orthotics could be effective in relieving your lower back pain, book an appointment online today.