Healthy Feet: how to prevent back and knee pain

It is no secret that foot pain can be a real pain in the… well, you know. But did you know that your knee or back pain could be coming from your feet? That’s right – all that walking and running around can take its toll on your feet and eventually may lead to pain in other parts of your body.

It is because the human body is interconnected. When one area is not working accurately, it can cause problems in other areas. For example, if you have a problem with your feet, it can throw off your entire posture and alignment. These can lead to knee pain, back pain and other issues.

Or, if you have a flat foot, it can strain your Achilles tendon, which then causes knee pain.

This is due to the fact that the body attempts to compensate for the injury by placing more weight on the unaffected side, which in turn puts strain on the muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the lower back and knee.

Let's briefly look at foot anatomy!

Your feet are amazing.

Did you know that your feet have 26 bones, 33 joints, and over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons? 

Each foot has three major bones: the tibia, the large bone in your lower leg, fibula, the smaller bone in your lower leg; and talus, the bone in your ankle.

Your feet also have 33 joints, including the ankle joint, which allows your foot to move up and down. Subtalar joint allows your foot to tilt from side to side, and the metatarsophalangeal joints are the joints in your toes. In addition to these bones and joints, your feet contain over 100 muscles, ligaments, and tendons.

That’s a lot of moving parts that can be susceptible to pain and injury. When something goes wrong with your feet, it can have a ripple effect on the rest of your body, especially your knees and low back. 

It is very important to understand how your bones, muscles, and joints work together as a unit.

For example, heel pain is often caused by Plantar Fasciitis, which is the inflammation of a ligament that runs along the bottom of your foot. When the ligament becomes inflamed and painful, it can lead to knee pain. Joint pain in the ankle or foot can also cause knee problems. If your foot is not balanced, then the knee joint may compensate for those issues.

The relationship between the foot and the knee:

Often enough pain in the feet is thought of as a minor annoyance, but it can lead to knee and low back pain. The way our feet interact with the ground has a direct impact on the alignment of our knees and hips. When our feet are in pain, the alignment is off, causing pain in our knees and lower back.

The first way pain in the foot can affect the knee is by causing your knee to bear more weight than it normally would. This can lead to pain and discomfort in the knee joint itself. Additionally, this can lead to problems with alignment, as the foot will try to compensate for the added weight by shifting slightly to one side. Over time, this can lead to wear and tear on the cartilage in the knee joint, which can eventually lead to arthritis.

Another way that pain in the foot can affect the knee is through changes in gait. When someone is experiencing pain in their foot, they may alter their walking pattern in an attempt to avoid putting pressure on the painful area.

What can you do to relieve foot pain?

If you're one of the many people suffering from foot pain, you are not alone. Foot pain is a common problem that can be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse, injury, and underlying health conditions.

Fortunately, there are a number of treatment options available that can help relieve foot pain and prevent it from causing knee and low back pain. Here are some of the most effective:

Rest: Resting your feet is often the best way to relieve foot pain and prevent it from spreading to other parts of your body. If you can, avoid standing or walking for long periods of time and give your feet a break whenever possible.

Ice: Applying ice to the affected area can help reduce inflammation and pain. Try icing your feet for 15-20 minutes at a time several times a day.

Exercise: Try some simple exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles in your feet. 

Massage: Try a self massage or get a foot massage at a local spa

Wearing proper shoes: That's right - the type of shoes you wear can actually help to alleviate foot pain. When it comes to finding shoes that will help with foot pain, there are a few things you need to keep in mind. Depending who you ask, there are different thoughts when it comes to proper shoes.

First, you need to decide if you want a shoe with support or no support barefoot. Both options have their benefits and drawbacks.

If you choose a shoe with support, then make sure that the shoes fit properly. They should be snug but not too tight, and they should provide support for your feet.


Second, look for shoes with cushioned soles - this will help to absorb impact and reduce stress on your feet. It's important that the support is not too high; they can put unnecessary pressure on your feet and worsen foot pain. You also want to make sure that the support is not too low. These can cause your feet to roll inward and put unnecessary strain on your muscles and joints.

If you choose a barefoot shoe, find one that fits well. Barefoot shoes have been gaining popularity in recent years. They're seen as a more “natural” way to run and walk. But are they really better for your feet? 

Let's look at the pros and cons of barefoot shoes.

  • Barefoot shoes can help strengthen your feet and ankles
  • They can also improve your balance and posture
  • Some people find that barefoot shoes help relieve foot pain
  • Barefoot shoes may not provide enough support for some people, leading to foot, ankle or knee pain
  • You may need to build up slowly to wearing barefoot shoes, especially if you are not used to walking or running without support
  • They can also be slippery on wet surfaces and uneven terrain

Here are some of my favorite barefoot shoes. I have used Vibram trail runners for most of my trail races. 

Zero   * Merrell  * Joomra  * Whitin  * Vibram

About the author 

Ani Papazyan BS, CN, LMT, LE

As a Pain Resolution Practitioner, I empower individuals to conquer body pain, reclaim their lives, and embrace personalized wellness based on their unique genetic makeup, offering tailored solutions, self-help techniques, and transformative strategies.

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