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How Foot Problems Can Cause Back Pain

Though the feet are often treated as a separate set of muscles and tendons, they are connected to the vast system of ligaments, tendons, joints and muscles that allow free locomotion of the entire body. Over time, foot problems can lead to dysfunction anywhere along this pathway, even leading to back pain that has no other cause.

Excessive Foot Pronation

Pronation is the tendency of the foot to move in a certain way to compensate for weakness or to avoid pain. This often occurs because of footwear that is not well fitted or because of problems within the foot itself. Some pronation is normal and does not cause problems to the gait or the structure of the body, but when the foot pronates too much, the movement may have consequences in other parts of the body. The person begins to have an exaggerated outward or inward �roll� in the foot movement when walking. This unnatural movement then becomes transferred to the rest of the body, leading to low back pain and foot pain.

Inward Pronation and Back Pain

When the foot rolls inward excessively, it is known as overpronation. This movement can cause alignment problems in the ankles, knees and hips. Underpronation is often associated with heel pain and plantar fasciitis. If not corrected, inward pronation problems can cause misalignment throughout the leg and back structures, leading to pain when walking for long periods of time.

Outward Pronation and Back Pain

Outward movement of the foot during walking, often called excessive supination, distributes the weight of the body along the outside of the foot. This movement cause more strain on the ankle muscles and the tendons that connect to the knee. It is the less common form of foot problem, but the misalignment of the tendons can lead to knee problems, low back pain and foot pain. If you find that the outer edge soles of your shoes wear out faster than the rest, it is a sign of excessive supination.


The origin of the foot pain may even begin in the back. Low back pain and foot pain can be related to the location of nerves in the spinal column. The sciatic nerve runs through the lower back. When this nerve becomes pinched, it can cause a variety of different sensations down the leg and into the foot. The person may experience tingling down the back of the leg, numbness in the back of the leg or pain that occurs all way down in the foot. Nerve problems can produce weakness in the foot muscles that lead to problems with the gait or difficulty in bending the foot in different positions.


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