Basis of the BodyThe feet are the building blocks of the body. They’re almost like a microcosm of the human body, because they’re actually very anatomically complex. With 26 bones, 33 joints, more than 100 muscles, ligaments, tendons, and a number of nerve endings, they house a whole network of functionality. While most everyone knows that feet come in all different sizes, they also come in different shapes, which can affect the rest of the body in surprising ways you may not have thought about before. The shape of your feet may have been present since birth or developed over the years. Regardless, your feet (and their shape and health) can have immense effects on your whole body. Your feet carry the entire weight of the body, allowing you to move throughout the day with ease. However, because of this, they’re also a fairly high impact area of the body, taking most of the blow of everyday impacts like walking, running, etc. every single day. This can cause issues over time, and also cause issues in the rest of the body. Let’s take a look at some of these impacts, and how we can avoid them going forward.
How Foot Problems Can Affect Your Whole BodyFoot problems like flat feet, fallen arches, injury, and others are painful and uncomfortable in and of themselves, but they can also cause a whole host of other issues above your feet. Here are some of the most common:
Back PainIf you have any sort of foot issue, it’s likely that you’re changing the way you walk to avoid hurting it more. You may not even be doing this consciously – our bodies are pretty amazing and self-sufficient! However, this overcompensation and misaligned walking patterns can cause a lot of back pain, because it causes your spine to become misaligned as well. The body is a very precariously balanced mechanism, so when something as important to your balance as the foot is off, the whole back can be thrown out of whack. This is especially the case for people with flat feet. Flat feet cause a misalignment with the ankle. This carries all the way up the body, from the knees to the hips to the spine and neck. All this misalignment can cause the body to do some pretty intense overcompensation, causing you to walk, sit, and stand in unhealthy ways that may only make the condition worse. Again, when the basis of your body is in pain or misaligned, the rest of your body is likely to be in that condition as well.
Joint PainFurthermore, flat feet also don’t have a proper arch to absorb the shock of everyday walking, running, etc. That means that the rest of the body, especially the joints, have to absorb all this shock, even though they aren’t equipped or designed to do so. Over time, this added stress and shock can cause severe ankle, knee, and hip pain and malfunction.
Imbalance and Posture ProblemsSimilarly, these types of misalignments commonly cause imbalance and posture problems as well. When your feet aren’t properly anchored and aligned with the rest of your body, it’s easy to see how that could throw your overall balance off as well. This makes you more prone to dangerous slips and falls, which could result in further injury. Although most people don’t have perfect posture all the time, poor posture is often exaggerated for people with foot problems. The postural issues often result from the body trying to redistribute weight so it doesn’t fall so heavily on painful parts of the feet, and then becomes habitual. However, it also usually results in joint pain or spinal problems which are much worse than the original foot problem, unfortunately. Correcting these issues from the get-go is the best way to avoid this foot problem spiraling into a whole body issue!
Other Referred PainAside from bone and joint issues, as we mentioned earlier, your feet are also full of muscles, tendons, and ligaments that connect to the rest of your body. Any pain in your feet can also manifest most commonly in the legs, especially the lower legs, since that is where the soft tissue is most closely connected. Calf pain or weakness can actually be a result of foot problems.
Organ FunctionIt seems hard to believe, but your feet make an impact on your organ health as well. It’s a pretty complicated system that’s hard to explain, but basically, all of those sensory nerves and touch receptors in your feet are sending messages to your brain every second. If there’s an issue with your feet, your brain isn’t necessarily getting correct messages, and it may start sending false functional information to the rest of your bodies, including your organs.
More Common IssuesSome milder bodily problems commonly caused by foot issues include:
- Muscle Weakness
- Leg pain
- Poor balance
Common Foot ProblemsHere is a list of some of the most common foot problems podiatrists see that can cause the issues mentioned above, along with some of their symptoms so you can see if you’re suffering:
Flat FeetFlat feet, otherwise known as fallen arches, is a condition in which your feet lack an arch when standing. Generally, this is very uncomfortable and creates issues with weight distribution. It can be a genetic condition, but it may also be the result of wearing shoes without any arch support for a prolonged period of time.
Bunions and CornsBunions are bumps on the side of your big toe that can cause it to bend inward toward your other toes, putting it on an angle. It can cause severe irritation and inflammation both in the bump and the toes themselves. Again, these can be resultant of genetic conditions and structure, but it can also come from wearing tight shoes or putting other types of excess pressure on the feet for long periods of time. Corns are different. They are round circles of thick skin on your toes themselves, or on the soles of the feet themselves. Your body forms them naturally to prevent blistering, but they may be resulting from poor fitting shoes. They usually aren’t very painful when they first form, but they can become irritated over time.
HammertoeNext, hammertoe, also called mallet toe, is a common condition that is indicated by one or more of the toes pointing down rather than straight ahead. It can be painful when walking, and it may cause you to lose movement in the toe itself. This condition is usually caused by arthritis or an injury, but can also be genetic, or a result of poor footwear choices over time.
Plantar FasciitisFinally, another common foot condition that causes pain is called plantar fasciitis. It involves pain in the bottom of your heel to the middle of the foot, because it is caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia ligament, which is located in this area. This condition has a wide range of pain levels, from dull to stinging. It’s usually caused by poor arch support in footwear, worn for long periods of time while standing, walking, or running. It can also be caused by weight gain, since the added strain of the weight may be too much for the foot to handle.
Sole SolutionsLuckily, there are some pretty quick and easy solutions to any of these problems – and they all start with your foot health. You should never underestimate the value of a good, supportive, comfortable pair of shoes. Those should be your marks of high quality. But if you just have to have that somewhat uncomfortable, but very fashionable pair of shoes, there are options for you too, like orthotic inserts.
ShoesIf you wear high heels, shoes that are the wrong size, or other types of uncomfortable shoes everyday, or even on a consistent basis (once a week, every other week, etc.), you’re much more likely to develop the kinds of foot issues mentioned above, or even more serious conditions like hammer toes, bunions, calluses, corns, and more. Are the heels really worth all that pain? Supportive shoes are essential to foot health, and therefore, overall health, because they evenly distribute the weight of your body where it can be held in the feet, and lessen the blow of the impact of walking. They also make specific shoes for people with common issues like flat feet to reduce the pain that comes along with those conditions.
Orthotic InsertsAnother great option for alleviating foot issues are custom orthotic inserts. These are inserts that can be fit into any shoe, and are customized to your feet – their unique shape, size, and needs in terms of support. They’re also fairly affordable, and allow you to wear those beautiful, yet possibly uncomfortable, shoes you love so much without much pain. While the best way to get rid of foot pain is to treat the root of these conditions, these shoe solutions are a great start on the road to comfort.
How Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab Can HelpAs an all-inclusive multidisciplinary chiropractic clinic, Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab can help you alleviate some of the pain that is resultant from the foot problems you may be experiencing. While it’s best to see a podiatrist to treat the root cause of the condition, the rest of your body will also need some help readjusting after being misaligned for so long. Any bone, joint, or muscle pain in the body that is the result of a foot condition can be treated at the clinics in Juneau, Wasilla, and Anchorage. With services like chiropractic adjustments, physical rehabilitative therapy, and chiropractic massage therapy all in one place, you’ll find what you need to get back on your feet, so to speak! If you call by 4 pm., we promise to get you an appointment on the same day, and you’ll never wait more than 10 minutes once you get to the office. It’s a quick and simple way to get your health back in order while simultaneously treating any foot conditions you may have.
Final ThoughtsYour feet are complex, multifunctional body parts with a wide array of nerve endings, muscle groups, and connective tissue. They are intricately connected to the rest of your body in ways you’ve probably never thought of before. As the basis for your body in terms of support, balance, posture, and overall well-being, they’re very important to take care of. However, many of us don’t give our feet the care they deserve. Conditions like flat feet, hammertoe, plantar fasciitis, and more can cause a lot of pain and overcompensation in your feet and the rest of the body. In this way, your foot health really does impact your overall health! Foot issues can cause back and joint pain, imbalance, poor posture, and even problems with organ function. That’s why it’s incredibly important to wear comfortable, supportive shoes, or get custom made orthotic insoles if that’s what you need, in order to avoid allowing your foot problems to dictate the health of the rest of your body. Take good care of your feet, and the rest of your body will thank you!
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About the Author
Dr. Brent Wells, D.C. founded Better Health Chiropractic & Physical Rehab and has been a chiropractor for over 20 years. His practice has treated thousands of patients from different health problems using services designed to help give long-lasting relief.
Dr. Wells is also the author of over 700 online health articles that have been featured on sites such as Dr. Axe, Organic Facts, and Thrive Global. He is a proud member of the American Chiropractic Association and the American Academy of Spine Physicians. And he continues his education to remain active and updated in all studies related to neurology, physical rehab, biomechanics, spine conditions, brain injury trauma, and more.