Research indicates that 60-85% of the population will experience lower back pain at some stage of their lives. There is a multitude of causes of back pain and this may be due to muscular and bony abnormalities. Due to the complex nature of lower back pain, podiatry rarely completely cures lower back pain. It is paramount that a sufferer of lower back pain sees at least one, if not all of the following practitioners: physiotherapist, chiropractor, myotherapist, podiatrist. Each discipline has their role in the rehabilitation of a poor back.
Recent research has indicated that podiatry has only had positive effects on lower back pain by addressing the following postural and alignment deficiencies:
Footwear heel heights
Heel heights in shoes beyond 1 cm lead to changes in back joint alignment and muscular activity.
Inadequate shock absorption
Poor shock attenuation leads to constant, jolt-like stresses to our skeletal system.
Over-pronation (‘rolling-in’) of the feet and lower limb
Flat feet cause various rotations throughout the legs during the walking cycle. The end result of these rotations is a forward tilt of the pelvis, which increases the curvature of the spine and places strain on lower back muscles and ligaments.
Leg Length Differences
With one leg longer than the other, the pelvis may tilt to one side. This usually leads to a scoliosis (bend in the spine when observed from behind) hence increasing strain on associated muscles and ligaments.
Poor Gait Pattern: When the toe, feet, ankle and knee joints do not function as efficiently as they are designed, then hip and lower back muscles have to increase their activity to compensate once again leading to more strain.
Conservative treatment is always selected first. This involves the multidisciplinary approach where communication between practitioners is paramount. Podiatry can help by addressing the above five points. This is provided via selecting appropriate footwear, stretching exercises and customized orthotic therapy