Friday, January 19, 2018

Got back pain? Check your feet!


Before & after impact of orthotic use.

Mark Fraser

Often, when this is said, people’s reaction is like, “are you crazy?” No, it isn’t as crazy as it sounds. It is actually quite simple if you take a minute and think about it. If your body is misaligned, whether you recognise or not, your whole body is affected. Pains in the back stem from various things: inappropriate footwear, sporting activities, accidents/injuries, stress, bad posture, poor lifting of stuff, leg length discrepancies, surgeries, and high impact activities. It is sometimes difficult to diagnose the source of the problem hence making it a challenge to solve.

So what are the predisposing factors?

The typical trigger that something is not right is pain and/or discomfort. Usually at this point the problem previously existed, but is now manifesting itself so attention should be paid to it. It is best to see your doctor to map out what is occurring to determine what it may be.

When the examining is done, and nothing can be found, take a look at the feet. Establish a few facts to get to the bottom of your problem/condition. It is sometimes hard to determine with intense pain, but start mapping occurrences and patterns to establish such by reflecting on the following:

• Do your feet hurt in general?

• Does one side of your shoe wear down more than the other?

• Are your toes crooked or overlapping?

• Do you suffer from heel pain, knee pain or shin pain, in addition to your back pain?

• Do you frequently twist or sprain your ankle?

• Do your feet roll excessively on the inside or outside when you walk?

Answered yes to one or more of these questions, then you need to now map what’s going on with your feet. The main function of your feet is to act as shock absorbers as you shift your weight with each step you take.

Structural problems, such as your feet rolling inward, called over pronation or outward called supination, can cause problems all the way up to your back.

The rolling of your foot inwards causes the arch to flatten, if not already flattened, and collapse under the body’s weight. This continued stress could cause deformities of the foot over time, such as misaligned bones, hammertoes, bunions, knee pain and back pain.

With the inward rolling of the foot, the lower leg begins to rotate internally. This rotation may cause the pelvis to tilt forward, thus increasing the curve of the low back. Excessive curvature can create tightness and stiffness in the low back resulting in pain.

This is if the person does not already have scoliosis which many people suffer from sometimes, without even knowing. What can help? Foot orthotics can control the over pronation of your feet, decreasing back pain!

What are orthotics?

Orthotics, also known as arch supports, are devices/insoles to assist in the correction of deformities or disabilities. They help to realign the foot through compensation and stabilisation techniques.

Other devices that help with minor pains/problems are things like heel cups, metatarsal cushions or heel lifts.

Orthotics provide support, coupled with padding for comfort. But, the best solution for poor foot positioning resulting in low back pain is custom-made orthotics.

No one body is perfect, so even the smallest of misalignments can cause pain. And wouldn’t it be nice for back pain to disappear with something as simple as placing an insert in your shoes? Orthotics, however, are not the answer for all types of back pain, but it certainly can’t hurt to attempt to keep your feet in the best possible alignment.

It is best to obtain advice from trained personnel before attempting to purchase orthotics on your own, since typically, the over-the-counter products are not designed for the purpose of major corrections.

What’s next?

Purchasing the orthotics is just the beginning of the road. Care must be taken to avoid further discomfort. Given your feet are now in the correct alignment, it will take time for your body to adjust.

Your back pain may not improve immediately. Also changes in your alignment may cause temporary discomfort. But, keep on wearing them, and inform your practitioner if ever discomfort occurs.

A positive outlook and persistence is critical for your back pain to disappear, as your feet and body have to adapt to the strange device and changes that would be occurring.

Stop taking your back pain for granted as so many do, it’s not “jus a little back pain”...

Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!

Leana Huntley is an English trained foot health practitioner attached to ALMAWI Limited The Holistic Clinic. Contact the clinic at or visit the website at