Are Feet at Fault for Back, Hip, and Knee Woes?
If you are having problems with back pain, shin splints, knees, or hips, look to your
feet. Although these ailments might seem totally unrelated to one another, they can
sometimes be linked to problems that start with your feet and how they're built, foot
When you walk, you put the force of as much as five times your body weight on each
foot. If the foot doesn't absorb that shock or redistribute it properly, you can develop
Often this occurs in people who have hyperpronated feet, also called "flat feet,"
because the arch appears to be flattened and closer to the ground. If you have flat
feet, your feet tend to roll inward when you walk or run. That extra motion creates
secondary stresses farther up in your legs, podiatrists say. Because of the excessive
foot motion, the muscles on the inside of your leg must work harder to pull your foot
up. When you use these muscles excessively, particularly in running, shin splints
Flat feet can lead to tendinitis in your Achilles tendon, which runs down the back
of your leg, because that tendon has to compensate when you push off with your feet.
Poor foot architecture can also stress the medial collateral ligaments of your knee.
And although flat feet don't cause you to be knock-kneed, people who are knock-kneed
sometimes have flat feet; their feet rotate inward to compensate for the misalignment
of the knees.
Another foot problem is hypersupination--the feet are rolled outward with what seems
to be a rather high arch. Hypersupination causes stress to muscles on the outside
of the leg.
Either flat feet or hypersupination also can lead to problems in the hips and lower
What to do with those feet
How can you tell if your aches and pains are caused by your feet? You'll need a physical
examination and a history of activities you've been doing. If you aren't feeling any
lower back pain except after you've run two miles, you've got to think there's some
kind of relationship.
If you are having foot problems, first try changing the kind of surface on which you
run. Then consider changing your footwear. Make sure your shoes aren't worn out. Find
a shoe model built for your type of foot. Some athletic shoes are designed for people
with flat feet and have higher arches to provide better support; other manufacturers
build shoes that are wider and with lower arches for feet that tend to hypersupinate.
For other foot problems, you might need a custom-made arch supports for your shoes.
You may need to talk with your healthcare provider if you are experiencing problems
with your feet.