Your feet get you from point A to point B, but as you walk I’m sure most of you don’t even notice how you walk. What you might not be aware of, is that your feet can play a significant role in your pain. The way you walk and stand can impact your whole body.
According to Dr. Positano, DPM, MPH, director of the Non-Surgical Foot and Ankle Service at the Hospital for Special Surgery, “The foot is the foundation of the body, if the foundation is not sound, it could have a deleterious effect on the joints above the foot and ankle, namely the knee and the hip.” If there is an unbalance with your feel, your shoes will likely be uneven. If your shoes are uneven, this can eventually cause weakness in your ankles, knees, and hips, making them vulnerable to injury.
Where you feel your pain is almost always never where your pain originates from. A lot of the times, pain will travel up the body. Indeed, the stabbing, throbbing, aching in your low back, hip, or knee could be a symptom, not the cause, of your discomfort. Many people don’t realize it, but how you stand and walk can play a key role in your pain.
Any problem with the foot or ankle can result in a compromised posture or gait which can lead to knee or hip pain. Some examples of common foot problems that can lead to poor posture and irregular walking patterns include:
- Plantar fasciitis, which can lead to chronic heel pain and/or arch pain
- Nerve pain or numbness in the foot, (neuromas and tarsal tunnel syndrome)
- Bunions and bunionettes (big-toe versus little-toe side, respectively)
- Excessive foot pronation (rolling in) or supination (rolling out)
If your feet automatically go into a “V” shape when you’re standing or walking; instead of facing straight out in front of you, the whole structure of your body is at least somewhat off balance, or “out of alignment.” Focusing on standing and walking with proper alignment can help ease some of the back, knee, or hip pain you are feeling.
Changing how you walk may feel strange at first, but over time it will feel more “normal.” Consciously make an effort to “square” your feet with your knees and walk with your toes pointing straight ahead. This is how to keep your body aligned, reducing your chances of injury to the low back and other parts of your body. Since the foot is the foundation of the body, it makes sense that the way you walk can affect your whole body.