If you’re currently suffering from pain in your knees, hips, or even back that you can’t explain, your feet might not necessarily be your top suspect.
But did you know that, in many cases, foot problems—especially feet that are misaligned or moving in a biomechanically inefficient pattern—can spread far beyond the feet? It’s true. And if that’s the case for you, then setting your feet right could be the start of a positive chain reaction that allows you to get your whole body back in good standing.
Let’s learn a little bit more about why this is the case.
Think of the foundation of a house or building. It needs to be sturdy and stable, because everything rests on top and depends upon it. Without a sturdy enough foundation, walls can buckle, ceilings can crack, and doors can jam. In the worst-case scenario, the whole building can topple over.
Just take for example the Sears (err, Willis) Tower. It has a cement foundation that extends 100 feet underground, which is further supported by 200 cement-filled cylinders (caissons) that extend even deeper. It might not be visible from the outside, but without that foundation, the whole building would become dangerously unstable.
You can think of your feet serving the same sort of function for the rest of your body. In order for, say, the knees to function smoothly, they have to depend on the feet and ankles being in the right place and performing their function in the right way.
When feet are misaligned, unstable, or pronating further than they should, it puts extra stress on the knees. That, in turn, may pull the thighs and hips out of the alignment. Then, the back must work hard to compensate. You can see how the problem gets worse and worse, all because the feet were out of place.
The good news, though, is that if the pain throughout your body really is being caused by poor foot structure or biomechanics, then a treatment plan that focuses on the feet can restore balance and relieve pain throughout the entire system.
Now, if you have foundation problems with your home, you could be looking at $10,000 or more to repair it, depending on the severity of the problem. Fortunately, when it comes to feet, the answer is usually a lot simpler and less expensive!
In the vast majority of cases, the best way to fix an alignment or biomechanical issue with your feet is through wearing orthotics in your shoes. While orthotics won’t physically change the shape of your feet, a properly selected set of orthotics can reposition and realign them, and help control any abnormal motion leading to pain.
When you come to our office, we’ll give you a chance to describe your symptoms, how they’ve progressed, and how they are preventing you from doing what you love to do. We will also take a close look at your feet as well as your gait mechanics, to see how they are moving. This is called a gait analysis, and will help us determine which form of treatment is most likely to help you.
In some cases, a good set of prefabricated orthotics may be sufficient to address your needs. These are, as the name suggests, premade to fit a variety of the most common foot shapes and issues.
That said, if your feet are causing you significant pain in your knees and back, it’s relatively more likely that you will need custom fit orthotics. We will make a cast of your feet and send the specifications (along with our diagnosis and notes) to the lab, which will create a set of orthotics specifically for you.
Because they are made to spec, custom orthotics can treat a wider range of foot problems much more successfully, especially for people with more severe biomechanical problems. It may take a week or two to get used to them, but after that the improvement in the way you feel can be dramatic.
That said, not everyone will need them. If we think your case is moderate enough that prefabs may do the trick, we are happy to provide them for you.
For many causes of both foot pain and pain throughout the lower body, the correct pair of orthotics can restore natural and healthy biomechanics and return you to an active, pain-free lifestyle.
But the flipside is that the wrong pair of orthotics isn’t going to do you any good. In some scenarios, it could even make things worse.
That’s why you should never just buy a set of orthotics off the rack at the pharmacy and hope they help. Instead, you should make an appointment with Dr. Anthony Spitz in Wheeling, IL.
He is an expert when it comes to foot and ankle biomechanics, and can help identify whether a biomechanical issue is truly the root cause of your pain, and (2) if so, which pair of orthotics is going to do you the most good.