Feet…..Knees…..Lower Back!

Feet…..Knees…..Lower Back!  All three of these parts of your body, your lower back, your knees, and your feet, are very much related.  Many times patients present to this office with lower back pain when in actuality, it is lower back pain that has developed because initially there were foot problems.  After many years of foot problems, lower back problems do develop and can actually lead towards osteoarthritic degeneration and pelvic unleveling, however, the main culprit at times has been in the feet.  During growth, the normal development of the pelvis and the spine can suffer if there is foot imbalance.  Due to feet imbalance, such as pronation, supination, or not walking straight with your toes, or even, unfortunately, utilizing poor support sneakers, this can interfere with spinal functions, which can result in poor biomechanics and accelerated degeneration in the knees, hips, and the spine.  Feet, as most people know, grow faster than the rest of the body; it actually achieves fairly close to its mature length by the time a child is 7-8 years old.  Most problems arise when the feet and legs do not align properly, which is in-toeing or out-toeing, or when the main arch does not fully develop, giving the knee support.  There are many quick methods for checking children and adolescents, or even adults for need for orthotics, which are also known as pelvic spinal stabilizers.  A visual look to the person’s feet to see that they are balanced and equal to each other can show symmetry, as well as asymmetry.  The feet should have an arch support, which allows for the proper walking mechanics in the foot, however, too big or too small of an arch can also lead towards problems.  By observing a few normal relaxed paces, several abnormal gait findings can also be distinguished. 

What I have found in young adults, the most common fault in walking is called in-toeing, which is following some excessive toeing out, which is called foot flare.  Also, inspecting the shoes can tell if there is abnormal wear and tear.  If a person is wearing the same shoes for an excessive period of time, excessive wear on the inside or outside of the shoe can be a sign that they are not wearing properly and they are not walking properly.  This is a red flag with any asymmetrical excessive or lateral wearing down of the heel or the side of the shoe.  Also, watching the knees when a person is walking, they should be even and staying even throughout the walk and many times with a foot problem, you will find that the knees sway from side to side.  In our office, we can benefit from the utilization of an infrared foot scan, which actually shows the entire foot structural balance.  However, outside the office, some things that can be reviewed fairly easily is to have somebody look at your feet.   You will need to stand barefoot, obviously in your shorts or underwear, or you could do this in front of a mirror.  You will need to stand relaxed, normal position, facing the mirror.  Walk in place for approximately ten steps to position your feet naturally.  Look down at your feet.  Do either or both feet flare to the outside?  Do either or both feet flare to the inside?  Are either or both of your knee caps off center?  Now have someone look behind you and look for your Achilles tendon to make sure that it is straight.  Is your Achilles tendon swaying to the side, either way, right or left?  Looking at the bottom and side of the feet, do either or both feet appear to be flat footed, which means there is no arch support?  Or do either or both feet appear to have too much of an arch?  These are all signs that you may be in need of arch supports, which can be done in most chiropractic offices, as well as in your podiatrist office.  If you have any concerns with this, seek the opinion of your local podiatrist or chiropractor, as utilization of spinal pelvic stabilizers, also known as orthotics, can be a very good way to prevent further or accelerated degeneration throughout many aspects of your body.  As the joints in your body bear weight (ankles, hips, knees, pelvic, lower back, neck), this is like links in a chain.  If your feet aren’t balanced, every joint, as well as the connecting tissues, tendons, and muscles, may become injured over time due to unnatural twists and strains on your body.  Pain may occur in other areas, not inclusive of your feet, because of your feet imbalance.  Every time your foot hits the ground, the shock wave will travel all the way through your body.  If your feet are balanced and supported, they can observe much of this shock.  But if your foot is not balanced, and you do not have good cushioning, over time the shock can cause you additional stresses and strains throughout your body.

Tom McGillick



This article submitted by Dr. Thomas C. McGillick  Wharfside Chiropractic Center  Forked River, NJ