The human body is an integrated machine. No body part works in isolation. Like the beat of a butterfly’s wings, a minor toe injury can have a huge and unexpected impact on the back.
Compare the gait of an able walker with someone who has suffered a recent sprain. They are immediately off-balance. Their back has to lift the majority of their body weight from the sore side and shift it across to the opposite side of the body. Their posture is all of alignment. The injured person leans and hobbles and the muscles in the back contract to keep them in this harmful position. Five minutes of this and strain begins to develop in the back. However, when the painful gait is sustained day after the day real damage and pain will be felt in the back, and all because of a foot injury.
Rather than injury, some people have referred back pain caused by high arches or fallen arches of the feet. With both of these conditions weight is distributed in an unhealthy way and the musculoskeletal react in the only way it can, resulting in a knock on effect up the body evidenced by such things as knock-knees and pigeon toes. It is the body’s way of compensating for another part that is “out of order.” It is all happening at an instinctual level which means correcting it by conscious effort alone is nearly impossible.
With physical treatment it can be rectified and straight alignment returned to the body. In the case of high or fallen arches, orthotics, worn full-time, fitted exactly to your foot shifts the weight evenly around (when fitted by a podiatrist). Subsequent changes in the angle of the ankles, knees and hips relieves pressure on the musculoskeletal system which flows upwards to ease back strain.
Our musculoskeletal system is an interconnected web of bones and muscles. Its strength is built on the individual parts, all which have a role to play in carrying the weight of the body. What happens in one place, such as the foot, forces other parts of the musculoskeletal system up the chain to compensate so the body can do what we need it to, that is, stand up tall and walk forwards.
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Unexplained back pain might be caused by injury to other parts of the body. We are so used to attributing back pain to picking up heavy objects or sitting all day long at a desk that we overlook what is happening elsewhere that has flow on effect on our back. The work our back does, maintaining our posture as we stand or walk, relies on the support provided by our hips, pelvis and legs which in turn require steady feet. When the feet don’t operate as required, the back has no choice but to pick up the slack.
It is strange to think that feet can be giving you a back ache. Stranger still is turning to a podiatrist when your first instinct is to visit a physiotherapist or osteopath. Nevertheless, the back can’t stand up straight and tall without a strong foundation. Which is all the more reason for looking after your feet which do all the work so you can be free of back pain.