Knee Pain, Hip Pain and Back Pain: How Foot Posture Affects Our Joints

Knee pain is the top complaint of people who come to visit us at The Foot Lab. Many of them think their shoes are to blame or that they’ve abused their knees too much over time and now they’re paying for it. Most of the time, however, the problem really starts lower down – at the feet. Feet that aren’t supporting the body as nature intended put extra strain on the knees, hips and lower back leading to inflammation and pain in those joints.

The old children’s song comes to mind, “The knee bone’s connected to the leg bone, the leg bone’s connected to the hip bone…” That’s not just a fun song for kids to sing, it’s actually a great example of how the human body functions as one unit. Everything really is connected and when one thing isn’t working like it’s supposed to there are repercussions all the way up the line.

If we can correct the foot’s position, we can get the body back in balance and say goodbye to all of that pain. Orthotics do this by supporting the foot in its natural posture.

Foot Posture

Your foot has an ideal posture, just like your spine does. When your spine is in alignment and the posture is right, you walk better, you sit better and you don’t have back pain, neck pain or headaches. Similarly, when your foot posture is in proper alignment, you don’t have ankle pain, knee pain, hip pain or low back pain.

Ideal foot posture evenly distributes your weight across your feet and your leg bones. Your toes are spread evenly, each bearing a portion of your weight to keep you balanced. Your heel and the ball of your foot each bear even weight and you have a nice, even arch on the inside of your foot connecting your heel to the ball of your foot.

That arch is important to the proper function of your feet and is responsible for many, many sore knees, hips and backs. It’s normal for the arch to flatten a bit when walking, this is called pronation, but sometimes it flattens a little too much. The arch falls, leading to excessive pronation, and doesn’t support the foot adequately. As a result, our ankles rotate inward and, since the ankle bone is connected to the leg bone, so do our two lower leg bones, the tibia and fibula.

The tibia and fibula are bones, not joints. They do not bend. This creates a problem when the bones are forced to rotate inward. It creates stress on the knee, pelvis and even the spine. Everything is pulled towards that inward rotation of the ankle, which means you’ve got slightly off-center leg bones sitting in the straight knee socket, basically rubbing things the wrong way. That’s why we feel knee pain. The misalignment causes undue stress and pressure in all the wrong places on our hips and back too, leading to hip and back pain.

How Orthotics Help Correct Foot Posture

Custom orthotics are molded from your own feet while they are positioned in proper alignment. They support the arch where it isn’t supporting itself. This keeps the ankle in its natural position and protects it from excessive pronation. As a result, the ankle stays straight, the tibia and fibula stay straight and connect to the knee exactly as nature intended. The body is in balance and any pain that was caused by misalignment fades away.

Think about your car’s alignment. A perfectly aligned car will travel in a straight line without your hands guiding it. This creates an even wear pattern on the tires and they last longer. It’s a similar principle with your feet. Misaligned feet cause uneven wear on your joints causing them to wear out faster than they should. A mechanic can fix your car’s alignment with a slight adjustment just like orthotics can correct foot alignment by adjusting the arch.

If you want to learn more about how foot posture affects your knees, hips and back or want to arrange a free consultation with a Board-Certified Pedorthist, contact The Foot Lab at 651-429-3333 or make an appointment online at www.thefootlab.com. It’s possible that your trouble lies with your feet and, if so, that’s something we can help you with.