The Link Between Your Walking Style and Chronic Back Pain

Are you one of the 50% of American adults who experience back pain symptoms at least once a year or even suffer from chronic back pain? 

According to the American Chiropractic Association, chronic lower back pain is one of the most common reasons for missed work. In fact, more than $50 billion is spent each year on treating lower back pain. 

Recent research suggests that back pain may be closely linked to poor or improper biomechanics. Many researchers, in fact, agree that chronic or lower back pain may be significantly related to how you walk (gait style), a reason we are shifting our focus to the feet to treat hip and back pain. 

Unfortunately, many doctors do not look at the way you walk when assessing your chronic back pain. For this reason, it is essential to consult your local Roanoke Podiatrist to understand the potential connection between your walking style and chronic back pain. 

Let’s look into this in more detail, shall we?

Understanding Chronic Low Back Pain

Chronic lower back pain is a persistent and debilitating condition that affects millions of people worldwide. It can significantly limit daily activities, impair mobility, and impact the overall quality of life. Chronic back pain can stem from various causes such as poor posture, muscle strain, and underlying medical conditions, including chronic hip pain.

As mentioned, one commonly overlooked factor that may contribute to chronic low back pain is poor biomechanics and mechanics of foot function. When your feet do not move correctly, they can create an imbalance in the body's natural alignment, which puts stress on the lower back. This stress can result in chronic low back pain, which can worsen over time and impact overall health and wellness.

How Your Walk Affects Your Back Health

It may surprise you to know that how you walk can significantly impact your back health. Every step you take involves a complex interaction between your feet, legs, hips, and spine. Any abnormality in your walking pattern can lead to altered spinal mechanics and increased stress on your lower back. This, in turn, can cause chronic back pain that can be disabling.

Studies show that people with low back pain tend to walk differently than those without it. They may have an altered gait pattern, decreased hip motion, and a tendency to lean forward or to one side while walking. They may also have poor posture and a weak core, which can contribute to lower back pain.

Thankfully, there are ways to address these issues and alleviate your back pain. One effective method is to see your local Roanoke podiatrist, who can evaluate your walking pattern and foot structure. Podiatrists can diagnose any foot or ankle problems that may contribute to your back pain and provide customized solutions to improve your gait, such as custom foot orthotics.

Using custom foot orthotics can correct foot posture and control motion, which can alleviate back pain. They can also reduce stress on the lower back and improve your overall alignment and posture while walking. In fact, studies show that custom foot orthotics can significantly reduce back pain and improve walking ability.

If you're missing work due to back pain, it's time to consider how your walking style may be contributing to the problem. Seeing your local podiatrist can help you assess and address any walking-related issues and get back on your feet pain-free.

The Role of Podiatrists in Addressing Walking Patterns and Back Pain

When it comes to treating chronic low back pain, it's crucial to take a comprehensive approach that looks beyond just the spine. As we've already discussed, the way you walk can play a significant role in the development and maintenance of back pain. This is where podiatrists come in.

Podiatrists are foot and ankle doctors. They are uniquely qualified to assess the way you walk and identify any biomechanical issues that may be contributing to your back pain.

During a consultation with a podiatrist, you can expect to undergo a thorough examination of your feet and legs. The podiatrist may watch you walk or run to observe your gait and identify any abnormalities in your movement patterns. They may also use advanced imaging techniques like X-rays or MRI scans to get a closer look at the structures in your feet and ankles.

Once they have a clear understanding of your walking patterns and any underlying issues, the podiatrist can develop a customized treatment plan to address your back pain. This may involve a combination of treatments such as orthotic devices, physical therapy, or even surgery in rare cases.

By working with your podiatrist to address your walking patterns and other related factors, you can take a holistic approach to managing your chronic low back pain. This can lead to more effective pain relief, improved mobility, and better overall quality of life.

In addition to working with a podiatrist, there are several other steps you can take to support your back health. These may include regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight, practicing good posture, and avoiding activities that strain your back. With the right approach, you can manage your chronic low back pain and live a more active, pain-free life.

What Does Assessing and Treating Walking-Related Back Pain with a Podiatrist Look Like?

When you seek the help of a podiatrist to address your walking-related back pain, you can expect a thorough evaluation of your walking style, foot mechanics, and overall lower extremity alignment. This process may involve the use of computerized gait analysis, where you will be asked to walk or run on a treadmill with sensors attached to your body and shoes to measure how your feet and legs move during gait.

After evaluating your gait, your podiatrist may recommend custom orthotics to correct any foot and leg alignment issues that may be contributing to your back pain. These devices are custom-made inserts that fit into your shoes and can help improve your gait mechanics by providing proper support and alignment to your feet.

In addition to orthotics, your podiatrist may also recommend specific exercises to strengthen the muscles of your lower back, hips, and legs, which can help improve your overall gait mechanics and reduce your back pain symptoms.

Overall, assessing and treating walking-related back pain with a podiatrist involves a holistic approach to addressing the root cause of your pain. Your podiatrist can create a personalized treatment plan to help you move with greater ease and comfort, and improve your overall quality of life.

Additional Steps to Support Your Back Health

While visiting your local Roanoke podiatrist can greatly improve your walking patterns and help alleviate chronic back pain, there are also additional steps you can take to support your back health. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  1. Strengthen your core muscles: A strong core can help support your back and improve your posture. Consider adding core-strengthening exercises, such as planks and bridges, to your fitness routine.
  2. Improve your posture: Make a conscious effort to sit and stand up straight. Use a lumbar support pillow when sitting for long periods of time and adjust your computer screen and chair to be at the appropriate height for your posture.
  3. Stretch regularly: Incorporate gentle stretches into your daily routine to keep your muscles loose and prevent stiffness. Yoga or Pilates can also be helpful for improving flexibility and reducing back pain.
  4. Maintain a healthy weight: Excess weight can put added pressure on your back and contribute to chronic pain. Maintaining a healthy weight and exercising regularly can reduce the risk of back pain.

By taking these additional steps, you can support your back health and reduce the risk of chronic low back pain. Remember, prevention is key, so don't hesitate to speak with us at Shenandoah Podiatry if you're experiencing any discomfort or changes in your walking patterns.

Dr. Jennifer Keller
Roanoke, VA Foot and Ankle Podiatrist
Join The Conversation
Post A Comment