Your back is connected to your hips, which are connected to your legs and then to your ankles and feet. With such a direct connection, it’s no wonder that the shoes you wear play such an integral role in preventing back and leg pain.
Your spine doctors at the Southeast Spine Institute can help determine if you are wearing the appropriate size and shape shoes for your lifestyle. If you’re active, it becomes especially important. So seek help if you complain of back problems with related leg pain.
Direct Connection to Back and Leg Pain
Though it may seem a long distance from your back to your favorite four-inch heels, your feet form the foundation upon which your back relies. Without the proper support on your feet, your back pays a price. Shoes that are too flat and open, such as flip-flops, can lead to arch pain that radiates up to your legs and back. Alternatively, high heels throw your entire body out of alignment, placing undue pressure on your spine.
Your gait — the way you walk — affects your entire body. The most common long-term foot problems that can lead to back pain include:
- Underpronation, when your arches don’t roll sufficiently
- Overpronation, when your feet roll inward improperly
Overpronation causes a chain reaction when your body rotates inward as you walk. The awkward movement leads to unnecessary stress on your lower back. If you suffer from overpronation, chances are that you have very little natural arch support.
Underpronation, on the other hand, causes inadequate shock absorption, which pulses upward to your back, jarring the discs in your spine. You may have very rigid, high arches that cause you to underpronate when you walk.
Other foot problems that can lead to back pain include bunions, plantar fasciitis and nerve pain in your feet, often caused by tarsal tunnel syndrome. All these symptoms can be treated.
Orthopedic Inserts Can Help
Whether your gait abnormalities are due to genetics or you developed the condition after years of wearing inappropriate footwear, orthopedic shoe inserts often can help relieve your back pain. Your Charleston spine doctors may refer you to a podiatrist who can make custom orthotics if they determine that your gait is the primary source of your back and leg pain.
Custom-made inserts are orthotics designed to treat your specific gait problem. They may provide an artificial arch if you overpronate or correct your gait to relieve the pressure on your spine if you underpronate. Orthotics are simple to use. You slide them into your ordinary shoes each day. Granted, they won’t work well with stilettos, but by then, you probably aren’t wearing those anymore anyway.
When the Shoe Fits
Orthopedic shoes may be a better option if the inserts don’t alleviate your back and leg pain. But you don’t have to resort to the old-maid orthopedic shoes your grandmother wore. Many shoe companies understand the necessity for proper foot support and make orthopedic shoes that are both stylish and corrective. Your spine doctors can assess your progress once you’ve tried them out.
Shoe manufacturers such as Dansko, Vionic, Propet, Merrell and Clarks make shoes designed to treat foot problems and the associated back and leg pain. Many of the styles even are covered by insurance. So if you’re suffering from leg pain, let the spine doctors at the Southeastern Spine Institute help you.