The Back bone is connected to the Ankle BoneReading Time: 3 minutes
Although the spine seems remote from our feet the two are very connected. The spine main function is to place the torso in space and to serve as a conduit for the spine cord and a support for our body. How the spine feels and function is very dependent on the bones and muscles of the lower limbs. At first blush it would seem that the lower limbs, legs and feet, are really there to just support the body and the spine. But there is a strong inter-connection between the feet/legs and the spine and what the feet/legs do will often affect the spine.
The physical connection between the spine and the lower limbs is the pelvic. Think of the pelvic as a link between the two with muscles in the spine originating in the pelvis and muscle in the legs originating in the pelvis. Therefore, it is easy to see how this link, the pelvis, can affect both the lower limbs and the spine.
One of the most important legs muscle which affects the spine through its attachment in the pelvis is the hamstring. These are the muscles on the back of the leg. The hamstring attaches on the lower leg below the knee, crosses the hip joint to attach on the back of the pelvis, As such it crosses two joints, the knee and the hip joint. The hamstring is a hard working muscle since it helps to stabilize the knee and also helps to balance the pelvis and hence the spine. A strong and flexible hamstring can be essential for spine health despite the fact that this muscle is not in the spine. For example, tight hamstring can lead to lower back pain since tight hamstring will limit pelvis rotation during walking and then leads to lower back pain. Keeping the hamstring strong and flexible is a good start to keeping the lower back healthy.
The heath and function of our feet can also affect our spine health. Most of us can appreciate a beautiful pair of high heel shoes. We can also appreciate that wearing these shoes for a long time can lead to lower back pain. The higher the heel on a pair of shoes the more the spine is placed into what is called lordosis by which the curve of the lower back is made more pronounced. Although this can be considered an attractive look, it can put additional strain on the lower back and can lead to back pain. The solution is not a proscription against high heeled shoes but rather a suggestion to maintain flexibility of the lower back therefore decreasing the chance of lower back pain when wearing these shoes.
Since most high heel shoes are not well padded, they are not very good in provided cushion to the feet and therefore transmit most of the forces up the leg directly to the spine. A easy and quick solution is to place a pad in sole of these shoes. Even the smallest amount of padding will provide a small amount of give therefore lessening the forces on the feet, legs and spine.
The spine is affected by what happens in our feet and legs therefore proper spine health involves not just attention to the spine but also attention to the what our legs and feet are doing.