There are many causes of back pain including poor posture. If you walk with a limp, the strain on your back can cause pain. Walking and running are each sophisticated but subtle forms of limping. With each step, as you fall forward, the impact of your foot striking the ground – up to 2 times your body weight when you walk, more when you run – sends jarring shock waves up the leg and into your body. This shock is absorbed through the movement of your ankles, knees, and hips, and then the joints of your back.
You may know people who seem to glide along when they walk. If you place your hand on the head of a glider you would feel very little jarring of their head because they are able to efficiently absorb the impact of walking. By contrast someone who thumps along will have a lot more jarring vibration passing through their back because they do not absorb the impact of the foot striking the ground very well at all. This can lead to back pain.
The feet must move to accommodate the shape of your legs as well as the surface of the ground upon which you walk or run. Some movements of the foot and leg can cause the pelvis to tilt one way or another causing further strain to your back and even your neck. If you have one leg longer than the other your pelvis will also tilt to one side. You will then have to tilt your head the other way to keep it level. Why is this important?
The head can weigh up to 5 kilograms. Poor posture and the jarring from not walking smoothly will add to the strain of your neck muscles to keep your head balanced over your chest and shoulders. Our podiatrists will consider your history and assess the way you stand and walk/run. A programme exercises, changes in footwear and when necessary, the use of orthoses to help to reduce the gait related strain of your back will be recommended. This is a great help to dentists and practitioners who treat conditions of the jaw such as tempro-mandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction.
Most podiatrists have experienced cases of people who report that after their foot or leg pain/posture has been improved, that they have also enjoyed a concurrent reduction of their back pain. Sadly it is not possible to predict with certainty those who will enjoy the relief of their back pain with the improvement of their posture and gait pattern alone. It is however reasonable to expect some reduction in back pain by helping you to walk smoothly. At the Brunswick Foot Clinic we strive to enhance the work of other health care practitioners to improve your core stability and thus the health of your back.