The Low Back

Are Your Feet Killing Your Back?

For many people, simply standing or walking for more than 20 minutes, means an aching back. This can be due to a whole host of factors, but believe it or not, your feet and ankles can be a culprit.

When you walk the hips, knees, ankles and feet rotate in opposite directions to act as a shock absorber. In addition, your muscles provide support and cushioning to ensure that the pounding from your feet hitting the ground, dissipates throughout your legs, pelvis and spine.

Common ankle sprains, arch collapse and over pronation of the feet can lead to an over rotation at the knees and less support. Needless to say, this can change the whole mechanics of the legs. The end result is more force transmitted to your spine, which over time leads to strain and inflammation.

What you can do

  • Wear supportive footwear when possible. Avoid wearing shoes with high heels when possible. You may need to talk to your physical therapist about orthotics or inserts in your shoes, depending on your arches.

  • Keep your hip muscles strong. Weak hip muscles change the mechanics of your walking, causing strain to the back.

  • Use supportive shoes for walking in the house, especially if you have hard floors, such as tile.

  • Keep flexible, especially in your hips and pelvis. Tight adductor muscles can draw your legs slightly across when walking, causing increased pressure to the inside of the knee and arches.

How physical therapy helps

A physical therapist is a medical specialist in the biomechanics of the body. They study movement of joints, muscles and coordination. The vast majority of lower extremity pain and low back pain stems from mechanical dysfunctions. Therefore, by improving the mechanics of your body, you can easily regain strength, flexibility, function, and resolve pain.

For a biomechanical analysis of your back, hips, knees and ankles, call us today. Discover how we can help you quickly relieve your pain and put the spring back in your step.

Physical Therapy Just as Effective for Spinal Stenosis as Surgery

A new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine that followed 169 participants showed that physical therapy was just as effective for people suffering from spinal stenosis as surgery (1). In fact, the results point to what physical therapists have known for decades, people suffering with back pain should try physical therapy first, before considering more invasive procedures.

Spinal stenosis is a common back pain condition that affects people mostly as they age. In the spine there are canals that are formed by the vertebrae in which the spinal cord passes through the nerves branching off it. With arthritis, wear and tear, disc problems, fractures and injuries, the canals can become smaller. In fact, many of the vertebrae will change shape and even grow bone spurs into the canals due to abnormal stresses and strain on the spine. Spinal stenosis can be a very serious condition as the spinal cord and peripheral nerves can be irritated and even compressed.

Common symptoms with spinal stenosis are back pain, radiating pain to the shoulders, arms, buttocks or legs. Often numbness, severe pain and burning sensations can occur with compression. Furthermore, balance can be compromised leading to a greater tendency for falls. Many people with spinal stenosis also find it difficult to walk for 15-30 minutes without increased fatigue to the legs and even pain.

The good news is that there is a lot that can be done to support the vertebrae by building up the muscle support around the spine with the right physical therapy. In addition, by improving motion in areas of the spine with stiffness, the normal loads on the spine can be distributed better.

Tips for helping spinal stenosis back pain:

  • Avoid activities that cause prolonged or repetitive extension of the spine, such as reaching behind you or overhead.

  • Begin a walking program, trying to increase your distance a little more each day.

  • Keep your hips strong. The gluteus muscles help to control the movement of the pelvis, which ties to your low back. Strengthening these improves postural control with walking and movement.

  • Have regular physical therapy checkups with our physical therapists to analyze your spinal movement and strength. We then formulate a plan to improve both.

  • Avoid prolonged sitting, especially in slouched positions such as a soft couch or reading in a recliner.

  • Change positions and move when symptoms occur to alleviate irritation and pressure on the nerves.

Talk to our physical therapists today about our SPINE program and how you can help alleviate your back pain quickly, improve your flexibility and your ability to perform everyday tasks! Call us today to learn more.