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Are Foot Pain and Back Pain related?

Back pain is one of the most common complaints we see. Almost everyone will complain of back pain at some point in their lives. But where is that pain coming from?

The biomechanics of the body is a hugely complex beast and often the source of your pain can be a long way from where you feel it. So yes, absolutely, your back pain could be coming from your painful feet. In this article we will explore some of the ways this can occur.

Let’s run through what happens bio-mechanically when your feet are weak. Most people can tell if they have weak feet as their feet will be very flat and have little or no arch, often this leads to foot pain from Plantar Fasciitis, Bunions or even Mortons Neuroma.

Are weak feet the cause of my back pain?

The arch of the foot is important as it not only dissipates forces when you walk, but it also affects the position of your ankle, knee and hip! So let’s run through the changes that occur if your feet are weak.

  • The first thing that happens is that your foot pronates (falls inwards) as you hit the floor and this affects the alignment of your ankle.
  • Next your knee is likely to drop inwards as the foot drops inwards.
  • The hip will try to compensate for this knee drop and activate the glute muscles in your bottom to pull the knee into a nicer position.
  • The Glute muscles will over work and shorten, causing them to tug on the pelvis, where they attach.
  • The pelvis will eventually tip and twist over to the overworking side.
  • This affects the bones and spacing on the lower vertebrae of the spine.

And that can lead to back pain! How crazy is that! So in this scenario, we need to strengthen the weak feet in order to alter the chain reaction that creates the back pain. It would be well advised to also get a Sports Massage to help the muscles all reset to their correct positions. 😀 👍

However, there are other reasons for back pain coming from your feet. When you have sore feet you will often shuffle when you walk, shortening your stride, as you want to offload your sore foot quickly.

Is a short stride creating my Back Pain?

In an ideal world we want to stride out when we walk, with our heel touching the floor before our toes and well in front of our body. But if you have heel pain, the chances are you won’t be striding out or heel striking but rather walking with a flat foot in more of a shuffle. This creates problems both in the foot and the back.

  • Walking with a short stride moves your centre of balance forward and causes you to lean forward and flex your torso.
  • This creates a forward tip of the pelvis and the shoulders.
  • This places the spine in a flexed position, something it doesn’t like.
  • The lumbar, or lower, curve of the spine then flattens.
  • This can lead to disk issues and facet joint issues in the spine, leading to back pain.

The answer here, is to find out why you have heel pain and fix the heel pain, allowing you to extend your spine correctly and walk with a longer stride.

Another reason you could be experiencing back pain is because you are limping on one side and literally putting more force through one side of your body.

How does limping create Back Pain?

Let’s run through what happens when you limp on one side. The fact that you are limping means that you are coming off one foot faster than the other. Due to the pain, you literally don’t want to load your foot.

  • By offloading you put more pressure on the other leg.
  • This causes the upper body to shift across to the other side, to come with the extra forces involved.
  • This creates more of a side to side walking movement for the upper body, which should rotate when you walk.
  • This can cause the SI Joints to tighten up creating possible inflammation in this joint. SI Joint inflammation can lead to pains shooting down your leg.
  • A tight SI Joint will cause the pelvis to sit in a non efficient position creating stresses on the joints, ligaments and muscles of the lower back.

This can lead to back pain! The treatment for this is again to understand why you are limping and solve that issue, before working back through the rest of the body and getting the SI Joint loose and functional again.

So there we have it, 3 ways that your Foot pain could cause you Back pain! 🥴 However, they are all completely fixable, with a through assessment to get to the cause of the issue, and a strengthening and loosening plan to permanently resolve the issue.

If you are struggling with your back pain, let us take a look. Find out more about how we resolve Back Pain issues here.

The NHS has some information about sciatic pain, which can affect your back or feet, here.