The foot being the base and foundation
for our body, many back and neck problems can be related
to the way we stand and walk. Two very common causes
of lower back pain treated by Podiatrists are over-pronation
and functional short leg.
- If you watch a person with over-pronating feet i.e.
feet that roll in excessively when standing or walking,
you will notice that there are consequences further
up the leg, hip and back: the legs turns inward, the
knees will tend to be “knock-kneed”, the
pelvis and hips tilt forward and the buttocks are pushed
outward resulting in an increased curvature of the back
and tightening of the muscles in the lower back area
to compensate. Often a secondary curvature of the upper
body (thoracic area) develops.
One leg shorter than the other can be either structural
(the bones in one leg are actually shorter than in the
other leg) or functional. A functional short leg can
be due to over-pronation in one foot more than in the
other which rotates or twists the pelvis which becomes
misaligned. When this happens, the leg is pulled up
higher into the hip socket, the joints in the pelvis
may be impinged, causing pain and discomfort and the
leg muscle to shorten.
Other common causes for lower back pain are Hallux
limitus (very stiff toe joints and joints in the ball
of the foot) and ankle joint equinus (toe walking).
These conditions affect the way people stand and walk
and can have painful implications in the pelvis and
TREATMENT – Custom-made
orthotics (also called “arch-supports”)
are the best way to treat and prevent over-pronation.
They are custom-made shoe inserts which will give controlled
support to the arch and hence neutralise abnormal foot
thereby maintain the normal biomechanics and posture
of the foot and leg, limiting pelvic tilt and muscular
tightening of the lower back area. Heel lifts can be
used to raise a structural short leg. The amount of
support and correction necessary will be best measured
by a Podiatrist who may also prescribe stretching exercises
to relieve the gradual shortening of the affected muscles.
Orthotics need to be worn between 75 and 80% of the
time when weight bearing to be effective.
The pain itself can be relieved with anti-inflammatories,
but the disorder must be treated by a podiatrist to
avoid further damage to the spinal joints.
Read more about orthotics here.
For any questions about back pain, orthotics,
or our treatment procedures, give
us a call.