Foot Imbalance: How it Can Put Your Spine at Risk
Most people sat in elementary school music class singing about their foot bone being connected to their leg bone, and their leg bone being connected to their backbone. It may not be anatomically correct, but it may not be too far from the truth, either. Your body’s bone structure is just one component of the systems that need to function correctly for optimum health, and when one part of the system isn’t working, it can throw off the rest of that system, as well as others. That’s why foot imbalance, which seems like something small, can have an impact on your overall health.
What can cause foot imbalance?
Foot imbalance happens for many reasons. Some people were born with structural defects in their feet while others may have suffered an injury, like a broken leg, hip, knee, or foot, that has caused foot imbalance. Some people have poor joint function or mobility, whereas others have legs of unequal lengths. For females, extended wearing of high-heeled shoes (especially if they don’t fit properly or are too tall for a person’s given height) can also affect foot balance.
Each of those can affect the way you walk and move or your gait cycle; the three-part process of taking a step. From stepping out with your heel, to your entire foot, to your toes leaving the ground, each part of the gait cycle causes small spinal movements. Two key signs of foot imbalance are noticed during the gait cycle:
1. Pronation: When your foot rolls in when you walk.
2. Supination: When your foot rolls out.
Neither of these should happen in a properly-aligned body that has symmetrical feet and level knees, pelvis, and shoulders.
Both of these conditions can put stress on your spine, reduce its ability to absorb shock, throw off your balance, and have adverse effects on your body’s response, position and speed changes. Foot imbalance not only affects your posture and stability but also the central nervous system, which stems from the spine. Improper spinal alignment can wreak havoc on your nervous system, causing tingling sensations in your extremities, pain, and joint issues.
A gait analysis or exam performed by your chiropractor is the first step to diagnosing a foot imbalance. Not only will chiropractors evaluate your hip and shoulder heights, knee rotations and spinal curves, but they will also most likely take an X-ray. They’ll tell you about the degree or your pronation or supination, and will help to put together a care program that includes the following:
- Chiropractic Adjustments: Used to bring your spinal column back into alignment, re-training your bones to stay in their proper locations and providing you relief from pain, and better balance, coordination, and mobility. Regularly scheduled adjustments may be required.
- Orthotics Inserts: These will help to level out your feet, improving your balance, stability, and gait. These inserts will be customized to the impact you’ll be putting on your feet and the shape of your arches, and will help your spine to maintain and hold the adjustment for longer.
- Conditioning Program: A tailor-made program specifically for your needs to give you strength and teach you stretching exercises to help build up the muscles involved in your individual diagnosis.
Proper spine health stems from your feet; in fact, about one-fourth of your body’s bones are in your feet. Unfortunately, almost everyone will be affected by foot imbalance within their lives in one way or another. Chiropractic treatment of your foot imbalance can immediately relieve pain experienced when walking or moving, and help prevent long-term health issues that can come because of an improperly aligned spine. Keeping your feet healthy provides your body and spine with a strong foundation.
If you’re concerned that foot imbalance could be causing trouble throughout the rest of your body, call Access to Health at (860) 889-1475 to make an appointment. We want to make your walk through life as smooth and as pain-free as possible!