What your Feet can Tell you About your Back Pain

Stuffed in shoes, the foot is often forgotten about. However, it’s vitally important to how you feel all day (and night) long. There are 33 joints per foot all working in unison to make sure you stay upright and mobile. Communication takes place throughout the entire nervous system. What happens in the foot affects everything else in the body. If one arch is collapsed, the hip on that side will tilt down. The opposite shoulder will tilt down. The ribcage will rotate back and the head will fall forwards and kink to the side. With this, we can see how to foot can cause low back pain and even headaches.

The body is fantastic at adapting. To say there is a dysfunction with the foot or another part of the body is not giving enough credit to this amazing structure we are. Your gait, the way you hold your body and any pains is merely a coping mechanism to prevent yourself from falling further out of balance. Start first with recognizing that your body is not dysfunctional, but doing a fantastic job of keeping you out of further pain.

Our body is the story of how we have lived up till now. A comfort zone has been established to enable and protect. This comfort zone is but a fraction of the possibilities our body is capable of. How great would it feel to expand this zone and find new areas of freedom to move into? There is a way. By working with the feet in stance and gait we are able to shift your body further from pain and into a new realm of movement.

Remember when I mentioned our bodies are fantastic at adapting? When you are shown a new way of moving pain-free, the nervous system will adapt with amazing speed because joints inherently want as much range of motion possible. This work is about long-term relief.

Center of mass in the body is around the low back at the L4-5 intervertebral junction. If the body favors one foot (often not felt due to long-term holding patterns) then the collapse of the system will result as illustrated in the first paragraph. It’s not so strange that the most common site of back pain is at the L4-5 level when taking these concepts into account.

When working with patients, I’m sure always to look at the feet and how they affect the rest of the body. Amazing things can happen when looking outside of the normal.

Cody Moss, DC is a chiropractor at Southern Oregon Sports and Spine. He has also ran a successful movement studio in Seattle where he specialized in getting active people out of pain and back to what they loved, minimizing injury along the way.