Low Back Pain? The Feet Could Be the Culprit
For example, I have a client (we’ll call him Johnny) who complained of low back pain, and sometimes a shooting pain down his left backside into his calf. It started a few days after he had played ball with his kids. Maybe he had been pushing off with his left foot too hard as he headed for the bases? I asked Johnny to walk for me (same as the exercise above). His left foot was clearly “flopping” out, indicating he had tight muscles in the left hip area down the outside of his leg. The muscles were pulling his foot out of alignment. His right foot was relatively straight. I asked Johnny to watch me walk as I imitated his gait and describe what he saw. He understood immediately. I suggested he be mindful of his left foot position as he walked for a few days, then keep me informed and we would go from there. Johnny called me later the same day, amazed. He already had experienced relief! Johnny continues to walk with proper alignment and the pain in the left hip and leg has not resurfaced.
Another client (we’ll call her Jane) came to me with pain on both sides of her low back and across her hips. It was beginning to interfere with her ability to do the things she enjoyed doing. “Sometimes I have a dull tooth ache-like feeling in my hips that will not go away for days,” she said. The pain was sporadic. She could not attribute it to any specific injury or activity. I watched Jane walk during her initial intake. Both of her feet were pointing outward, and she even had a bit of a limp. I asked her how long she had experienced this kind of “coming and going” pain. She said it had been going on for more than five years. I asked Jane to pay attention to how she was placing her feet as she walked and we scheduled another appointment. While correcting her gait proved beneficial, the time she had been walking improperly had resulted in many imbalances beyond her feet. Jane began feeling much better once she started working not only with me, but also with a chiropractor and a podiatrist. It took a good deal of time and focus to unwind and bring her body back into balance, but today, Jane feels good enough to hike on the weekends and enjoy her grandchildren again.
It is easy to underestimate the power of the feet and the critical role they play in keeping us “together” in our every day lives. If you have been suffering with low back pain and can’t seem to find “the answer,” don’t give up! Look into your gait and foot position. You may just find a solution.
-- Erica L. Thorneburg, Massage Therapist, NC LMBT #00183
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