Foot Problems That Can Cause Back, Hip and Leg Pain Explained

by Reid Jordan September 06, 2018

back pain

If you suffer from acute or chronic back, hip, and leg pain, the root of your issue may be irregularities with your feet. You may remember the old song:

The toe bone connected to the heel bone,
The heel bone connected to the foot bone,
The foot bone connected to the leg bone…

In other words, everything in your body is connected. Problems that start at your foundation (your feet) eventually work their way up the chain. 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 insoles, for instance) that can help resolve other pain issues as well.

It’s All Connected

knee pain

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.

The best way to ensure your feet remain flexible and healthy is to ensure you have good insole cushioning and support. Wearing quality insoles can help to address common foot problems early on, eliminating pain before it works its way up the tendon and muscle chain.


Foot Problems That Lead To Back, Hip And Leg Pain

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. Its important to pay attention to the kind of support that our footwear provides as well as to our daily activities like long periods of standing, walking and running on hard surfaces, sports, etc. If we can understand the root of our back, hip and foot pain issues, we can begin to address them.

Here are some of the most common foot problems that can contribute to back, hip, and leg pain:

  • Fallen Arches & Flat Feet. Some people are born with flat feet. For those who are not born with flat feet, an issue known as fallen arches can lead to flat-footedness. In both cases, flat-footedness can cause one or both of your feet to over pronate (turn inward) when you walk. This puts unbalanced stress on the other areas of your body, which can lead to further issues and pain.
  • High Arches. High arches provide less cushioning to the knee, which can lead to a condition known as runner’s knee, among other problems. Athletes with high arches can be prone to injury, especially if they run without properly-cushioned footwear.
  • Plantar Fasciitis. Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of a connective tissue in your foot known as the plantar fascia. This is an overuse injury due to excessive strain. As with the other issues in this list, this can lead to imbalances that result in leg, back and hip pain as well.
  • Over Pronation. Most people's biomechanics are not perfect. Often, as we walk, the weight shifts inward across the ball of the foot and continues past the area behind the second toe. This excessive rolling motion is called over pronation. When this happens, the arch of the foot stretches. In addition, the ankle, knee and hip rotate inward, compromising the alignment of your bones and joints.

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.

Start With Foot Care

As we’ve seen, back, hip and leg pain quite often begin in the feet. So how can you address the root of the problem?

  • Try This Exercise.One way to help reduce foot strain is a myofascial release exercise. Perform this exercise by slowly rolling your foot over a tennis or exercise ball until tender stress spots relax.
  • Get A Massage.A foot massage therapist can help release the tension in the fascia by working out the tightness with their thumbs.
  • Visit A Podiatrist.If you suspect foot irregularities are causing pain in your legs, knees, or lower back, visit a podiatrist. Problems with your gait can be easily identified in an office visit, and your doctor will work with you to come up with a solution to any misalignment.
  • Wear Supportive Orthotic Insoles.Firm orthotic inserts provide support for your foot’s arches and proper cushioning to the heel and metatarsals. Tread Labs semi-custom insoles are available in four arch-heights and feature medical grade cushioning and molded arch support that is guaranteed for life.

Early Signs That Hip And Back Pain Are On The Way

Shoe wear patterns

You may not be currently experiencing foot or leg pain, but there may be signs of pending problems that have gone unnoticed. 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. For more info, check out our post on what your shoe sole wear patterns may be telling you.

Be Proactive

You may be able to nip future foot, leg, knee, or back pain in the bud by being proactive. Start using corrective insoles beforepain becomes an issue:

  • Buy an insole size that corresponds as closely as possible to your shoe size. Since inserts are usually sold in size-ranges, you may need to trim the edges of the insert to get the perfect fit.
  • Look for durable insoles, preferably ones that come with a money-back guarantee if they ever wear out.
  • Choose inserts that have removeable, washable liners to keep the material fresh and mildew-free over years of use.
  • Pick the insole footbed construction designed to correct your foot’s specific irregularity.
  • Factory replacement insoles are usually flat and do not provide arch support. If you have foot irregularities that cause leg, hip or back pain, they will not help to correct the problem.

Tread Labs semi-custom inserts provide comparable support to fully custom orthotics at a fraction of the cost. With over 25 years of experience providing biomechanical support for footwear, Tread Labs can help you address leg, knee, and back pain at its root: your feet.


Reid Jordan
Reid Jordan

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