Feet are the unsung heroes of our daily lives, bearing our weight through every step we take. While it’s common knowledge that foot problems like plantar fasciitis or bunions can cause discomfort in the feet, many are surprised to learn that foot issues can also lead to back pain. 

As health science advances, we’re beginning to unravel the complex web of connections within our bodies, and it’s becoming increasingly clear that good back health starts from the ground up – with our feet.

The Foot-Back Connection Explained

Our feet’s intricate network of 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 tendons, muscles, and ligaments is the very foundation of the body. When the feet are not working optimally, it can lead to gait abnormalities – the way we walk – that ultimately affect the entire body’s alignment. If one foot is not bearing the load properly due to a structural issue, the body often subtly adjusts to compensate, putting more pressure on one side of the body. Over time, this can lead to chronic issues that manifest as back pain.

Podiatrists will attest that many common painful foot conditions cause us to change our walking pattern to avoid placing pressure on the affected area. This altered gait can lead to knee, hip, and lower back problems.

Identifying the Culprit

Your feet might be the starting point, but the journey to back pain can be convoluted. To identify whether your feet are at the root of your back pain, consider these pointers:

  • Look at Your Shoes
    What you wear on your feet can have a significant impact on your back and spine health. Improper footwear, especially those without adequate arch support or that don’t fit well, can cause an array of foot problems. These issues often translate into postural imbalances, which further lead to back pain over time.
  • Qualify Your Gait
    A natural, efficient gait distributes weight evenly throughout the whole body. However, issues such as overpronation (excessive rolling of the foot inward) or supination (rolling the foot outward) can disrupt this balance, leading to misalignment and, in turn, back pain.  Your podiatrist can conduct a biomechanical assessment which will include a gait analysis.
  • Address Underlying Foot Conditions
    Common foot problems like flat feet, high arches, or even unresolved injuries can play a role in back health. By treating these concerns with the help of a podiatrist you can potentially correct your gait and alleviate associated back pain.

Solutions for Happy Feet and a Happy Back

Thankfully, there are steps you can take to ensure your feet are not the reason for your back woes.

  • Choose the Right Shoes
    Investing in supportive, properly fitting footwear is essential. Look for shoes with good arch support and cushioning to help protect both your feet and your back.
  • Orthotic Inserts
    Podiatrist-prescribed orthotic shoe inserts can be life-changers for many people. These custom-fit inserts are designed to correct your gait by providing extra support and cushioning exactly where your foot needs it.

If you’re familiar with the cause of your foot pain, Footlogics Australia has a wide range of pre-made orthotics for different uses, foot conditions and types of footwear. You can see the full range here.

  • Strengthen Your Feet
    Just as you exercise your body to get stronger and more resilient, your feet can benefit from targeted exercises. Simple toe curls, foot circles, and even picking up marbles with your toes can help to strengthen the small muscles in your feet that support the arches.

We love The Foot Gym for strengthening your feet. The Foot Gym is an all-in-one device that allows you to massage your feet, stretch them, give them a workout and strengthen your foot muscles all in one place. You can check it out  here.

Maintaining a Strong Foundation

As you take steps to achieve optimal foot health, remember that it’s a continuous process. Regular check-ins with a podiatrist, especially if you’re experiencing chronic back pain, can provide valuable insights into your overall musculoskeletal health. By addressing the root cause of discomfort in your feet, you may find that your back pain reduces or disappears entirely.

It’s time to give our hard-working feet the attention they deserve. After all, a pain-free back may be as simple as ensuring our feet are in good shape. Remember, take it one step at a time, with full knowledge that each step is vital to your body’s well-being.

As always, if you have any serious concerns about your feet or lower limbs we encourage you to visit your podiatrist. If you are based on the Gold Coast, we highly recommend our friends at ProMed Podiatry for their holistic approach to foot health.