Back, Hip and Leg Pain That Are Cause By Foot Problems

Could Foot Problems Be Causing Your Back, Hip and Leg Pain?

by Mark Paigen 6 minute read

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.

The Basics ---

  • In some cases, pain in the back, hip or knees is a result of biomechanical irregularities in the feet caused by stiffness or other issues. 
  • Ensuring your feet remain flexible and healthy is important. Adding firm, supportive insoles to you footwear can help with this.
  • Common foot problems that can contribute to back, hip and leg pain include flat feet, high arches, overpronation and plantar fasciitis.
  • Be proactive against back, hip and leg pain by adding arch support insoles to your footwear. We recommend Tread Labs Pace Insoles. They offer firm support and a choice of arch heights to give you a semi-custom fit.

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What You Need To Know ---

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.

It’s All Connected

knee pain

In 1955, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Arthur Steindler took a principle of mechanic engineering and applied it to the body, laying out the concept of the anatomical kinetic chain.

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.

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.

In addition to paying attention to the support your footwear provides, it's also important to consider you daily activities:

  • Are you standing for long periods of time?
  • Are you walking or running on hard surfaces?
  • What type of sports are you playing?

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:

  • 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

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. 

  • 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. If you can push down on the arch of your insole, it's not stable enough to support your feet.

Early Signs 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. 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.

Be Proactive

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:

  • Pick the insole footbed construction designed to correct your foot’s specific irregularity. That is, find an insole that matches the contours of your feet. Insoles that are one size fits all just won't do the job you need them to. Find ones with a fit for your specific arch height.
  • 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 lose shape or the arch support breaks down.
  • Choose inserts that have replaceable top covers. This allows you to refresh you insole whenever you need by replacing only the top cover, rather than the whole insole. Over time, you'll save money and you'll be reducing your waste. 

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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