August 17

Your Feet May be the Foundation of your Low Back Pain

How Your Feet Can Cause Low Back Pain

By: Baltimore Podiatrist, Dr. Dang H. VU – Family Podiatry of Maryland

Foot Problems Might Very Well Be the Source of Chronic Low Back Pain

Can your feet be causing low back pain?  The answer is an unequivocal- yes.  You may remember the children’s song that goes, the foot bone’s connected to the ankle bone…The ankle bone’s connected to the foot bone… You can probably hear the song in your head.  It may be simplistic, but the song reminds us of the importance of biomechanics.  Since the feet are your foundation, it is important to understand how problems with the feet may impact the entire chain.

Back Pain is a Very Common Problem

It may sound surprising, but 80 percent of people experience low back pain at some point in their lives. The usual culprit is often lifting or bending the wrong way.  However, an often-overlooked cause may be your feet.  Even if your feet are healthy, your shoes can create problems.   When you walk, you are putting up to 5 times your body weight on each foot.  If your gait (how you walk) is not optimal, the feet do not absorb the shock or distribute the load properly, the result can cause pain in the knees, lower back or even your shoulders.

Flat Feet are Not the Only Cause

Flat feet often contribute to biomechanical problems because the arch is flattened or closer to the ground. Good supportive shoes or orthotic inserts help to minimize or alleviate problems.  Flat Feet are not the only foot type that gives one a problem.  The opposite may be contributing to your painful back. High arches are associated with many symptoms like pain due to the stress at the ball of the foot,  ankle pain, shin splints, and knee to lower back pain.  A person with flat feet may experience arch fatigue and ankle pain due to the rolling of the ankle to the ground.  The lower leg muscles attach in the foot. If the foot is not in the neutral position, the muscles will be stretched, and the knee joint will follow.  This can certainly be a source of pain or discomfort.

Biomechanical Chain Reaction

The abnormal foot positioning leads to many symptoms that show up in the chain of kinetics.  Flat feet cause pronation syndrome, a condition where abnormal foot position will lead to severe arch fatigue and plantar fasciitis.  The high arch foot type places so much stress on the outside column of the foot that can lead to frequent ankle sprains in addition to upper body alignment issues.

Other conditions of the lower extremities include tightness of the posterior calf muscles and stress on the joint due to the malalignment,  An example of such is a condition known as “runners knee.”  This occurs when the foot excessively pronates (rolls outward on the sides of the foot).  This cause internal rotation of the tibia, (the long and large leg bone) which internally rotates the knee causing the maltracking of the patella and the symptoms of patellofemoral pain syndrome.  The opposite of this is when the foot supinates (foot rolls inward). When the leg strikes the ground it is missing the full benefit of the natural cushioning normally present,.  Seeing a podiatric first can often provide you with a simple, non-invasive treatment to relieve pain that is normally not associated with the feet.  You can easily see how these problems travel up the chain.  Compensating for the pain often changes posture which in turn can create problems with the lower back.

Sometimes The Solution Can be a Simple as a New Pair of Shoes

If you are like most people, when your back hurts, you think of your spine.  Do I have a slipped disc, sciatica, or perhaps something more serious?

What if a custom fitted orthotic insert or a new pair of VIONIC shoes were the best solution?
Consider these common issues:

  • If your back pain is caused by a foot problem, custom fitted orthotic insoles will provide good arch support. This simple solution can align your legs and back by minimizing the hyper-pronation of the foot.
  • Flat sandals, while highly popular in Summer provide little to no support. Vionic Sandals are designed by podiatrists and provide the support you need without sacrificing style.
  • If you are wearing high heels that are over 2 inches high, you may experience low back pain because the shoes alter your back posture.
  • Good cushioning helps to absorb the impact of walking. The reduction of impact when running or walking will go a long way in reducing the stress on the knee, hip and back.
  • Vionic Shoes and Orthaheel inserts can help alleviate your back pain while increasing comfort and mobility.


Dr. Vu is a doctor of podiatric medicine (DDM) and a certified foot and ankle surgeon.
Family Podiatry of Maryland is the only podiatry practice in Baltimore to carry Vionic Shoes and Orthaheel inserts. Your chronic pain may be relieved just be choosing shoes with the proper support.

Dr. Vu has 3 locations in Baltimore and has been practicing in Baltimore for over 15 years.

Call today for your evaluation appointment or visit


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