If you suffer from acute or chronic back, hip, and leg pain, you might be surprised to find that the root of your issue stems from a completely different part of your body. That is, unless you remember that old song about how everything is connected.
Problems that start at your foundation (your feet) eventually work their way up your body. In this post, we’ll discuss how leg, back, hip and foot pain are connected. We’ll also cover some ways to care for your feet (by using quality orthotic insoles, for instance) that can help resolve other pain issues as well.
This is the concept that the human body is a system of overlapping segments connected by a series of joints. The lower kinetic chain is made up of your toes, feet, ankles, lower legs, knees, upper legs, hips, pelvis and spine.
According to physical therapist Dan Swinscoe, MPT, CSCS, when one of these links in your lower kinetic chain is weak, the other parts have to compensate for it, leading to inefficient movement patterning that can hinder performance and potentially even lead to injury.
Proper foot biomechanics requires muscle, fascia (connective tissue), and tendon elasticity. Stiffness or other irregularities in the feet limit their ability to move smoothly. This may cause gait and balance issues that can contribute to misalignment (and resulting pain) in the ankles, legs, knees, hips, and lower back.
But there is a way to address gait issues before the cause pain in other parts of your body. Keeping your feet flexible and healthy is the first step. How do you do that? By adding firm, supportive orthotic insoles to your footwear. This one simple addition can help to address common foot problems early on, eliminating pain before it works its way up the tendon and muscle chain.
Our feet start out strong, but over time, they can develop irregularities. While some people may have pre-existing foot issues, like flat feet or high arches, others can be exacerbated by our daily habits and activities.
In addition to paying attention to the support your footwear provides, it's also important to consider you daily activities:
If you can understand the root of your back, hip and foot pain issues, it's much easier to address them.
Some of the most common foot problems that can contribute to back, hip, and leg pain include:
These and other common foot problems can lead to an irregular gait that puts additional strain on the muscles, bones, and tendons in your ankles, legs, knees, hips and lower back. The solution to hip and back pain can often be to begin with your feet.
Now that you understand how back, hip and leg pain often begins in the feet, it's time to start doing a few things to address it.
You may not be currently experiencing foot or leg pain, but there may be signs of pending problems that have gone unnoticed. By looking at the bottom of your shoes, you'll be able to identify some issues and address them quickly.
For instance, if you notice the heels of your shoes are more worn on one side than the other, this can be a sign of a biomechanical imbalance, which can soon result in pain. By listening to what your shoe sole wear patterns may be telling you, you'll be able to turn early signs into prevention.
You may be able to nip future foot, leg, knee, or back pain in the bud by being proactive. The easiest way to start doing so it to add orthotic insoles to your footwear before pain becomes an issue.
When you're shopping for insoles, there are a few things you'll want to consider:
When you take proper care of your feet, the rest of your body fares well. By giving your feet the attention they need through stretching, exercise, massage and orthotic support, you can keep your back, hip and knees pain-free, so you can keep on doing the things you love.
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