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Foot Problems

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By: Dr. Stephen O’Neil

Your feet might not be hurting, but if you've got pain in your neck, back, hips, or knees, your chiropractor should check your feet. Why? In a song, it's because… ‘your foot bone's connected to your leg bone, your leg bone's connected to the hip bone,' and so on.

Although as simple as this song might seem, it shows us how a foot dysfunction can lead to several aches and pains that exist elsewhere in your body.

Did you know that the average person walks about 250,000 miles in their lifetime? When a person weighing 165-170 pounds walks an average of 7.5 miles a day they will carry 500 tons a day on each foot! This relates to a great amount of stress placed on our feet. These stresses can eventually transform out feet. Studies show that at birth, most of us have perfect feet. By age 20, 80% develop some type of foot problem. By age 40, foot problems plague virtually everyone.

Your feet are the foundation for healthy posture. If the arches in one or both of your feet collapse (‘flat feet'), your body doesn't get the correct postural support. Like any structure, your body's foundation must be stable to support the weight above it. Movement at one joint affects movement at the other joints. And every time your foot hits the ground to take a step, you're passing imbalance all the way up your skeletal structure. Your body tries to compensate for this foot dysfunction, which can place stress or pain on other parts of your body – even if your feet aren't hurting. Fortunately, this imbalance can be easily corrected using orthotics that are custom made for each of your feet. Flexible orthotics keep your feet muscles form weakening, yet still provide the support you need for your feet, pelvis, and spine.

If you think orthotics might help get your body back in balance, ask you chiropractic doctor. Your joints will thank you for it!

Dear Dr. Steve: One of my feet is significantly shorter and wider than the other. Can this cause a problem with one's posture or anything else in the future? L.B. Tecumseh

None of us are created perfectly symmetrical. It is what makes us unique. Some have one side bigger, one arm bigger, one leg shorter, one ear lower or a general twist to their frame. Most of these asymmetries are of no clinical significance at all and I suspect that your foot falls into this category. If it was causing pain or you were having symptoms in the knee or hip on that side because of a dropped arch or short leg, some treatment may be required. If the foot is merely shorter, being fitted for heel lifts may be helpful. Then the only thing that may have to be addressed is finding different sized shoes to accommodate each foot comfortably.