Low back pain: Is it in your feet?

Foot Anatomy

A healthy foot and ankle is very important to maintaining a healthy spine. The foot is the foundation of the body and alterations in the foot can have adverse effects on the rest of the body. This happens through a domino effect where it will cause issues in the bio mechanics of the ankles, knees, hips, pelvis, low back and even the neck. All of this leads to an increase risk of potential injury in these areas.

Keeping the foot healthy and properly aligned can be a challenge. The foot and the ankle are unique in their range of motion. Not only does the foot and ankle move front-to-back in a hinge-like motion that we associate with walking but it also moves side-to-side in a lateral fashion for changing directions quickly. Making the foot and ankle capable of having complex misalignment.

The arch of the foot is also important to proper spinal health. It can be critical in absorbing shock when walking or running. If one of the bones in the foot is misaligned altering the arch of the foot not only will the foot take increased impact but so will the rest of the spine since the foot wont be absorbing it.


A study back in 1995 by Rothbart and colleagues examined the foot. Their results showed that over pronation or excessive rolling inwards of the foot and ankle is a leading cause of pelvic repositioning and mechanical LBP. Just watch people from behind as they walk in a mall, airport, or grocery store. You’ll notice almost everyone’s ankle rolls inwards as they step downward. To maintain proper foot posture, the use of foot orthotics is the most practical approach. Coupled with wearing well-fitted, comfortable shoes, of course.

In a 2017 study, researchers recruited 225 adults with chronic LBP (more than three months). These participants were randomly assigned them into one of three treatment groups. Shoe orthotic (SO)-only. A “plus” group (SO + chiropractic manipulation/CM). Or a wait list group. The research team measured each participant’s pain and function/disability initially, after six weeks (the length of the treatment period), and then three, six, and twelve months later.

After six weeks, only members in the intervention groups reported any improvement in function. When comparing the wait list and SO-only groups, the SO-only group demonstrated significantly greater improvements in both pain and function. The researchers also noted that members of the SO+CM group experienced even greater levels of clinically significant functional improvement.

This large-scale study supports the importance of examining the whole patient to identify and treat all factors that may contribute to a patient’s chief complaint. Ask us about your feet at your next visit.

Call Us Text Us