If you are suffering from back pain, you may be wondering whether it is because of how you sleep, or if you slouch too much. Not many people will feel pain in their back and immediately think that the problem is with their ankle, but it’s perfectly possible that this is the case.
Despite the fact that the feet are as far away from the back as possible, they can still have a huge effect on it. So could tight ankles be the cause of your back pain?
Effects On Gait
As we have discussed before, it is actually quite common for back pain to be caused by issues in the feet. Problems such as overpronation (walking on the inner sides of our feet), oversupination (walking on the outer sides), and fallen arches can all have a subtle but consequential effect on how we walk and stand. If you imagine yourself shining a torch on a faraway wall, the smallest hand movement will make the light move dramatically on the other end. In the same way, the smallest change to your feet can throw your whole body off balance, forcing other parts of your body to overcorrect, which results in back pain.
Although a lot of foot-related conditions can result in lower-back pain, some of these are much easier to identify than others. An injury, such as a twisted ankle, is the easiest to spot, as most people will recognise the difference in how they felt before and after the injury. Even many long-term conditions, such as fallen arches, tend to be noticed eventually, even if it takes a while for the changes to become obvious.
Tight ankles, on the other hand, are essentially invisible, and therefore much harder to identify. But limited dorsiflexion, the ability to raise and lower your feet, have a big impact on how we walk, particularly on slopes, which in turn impacts our backs. Fortunately, there is a simple test you can do to see if this is the issue. Place one foot so that the tip of your big toe is 12.5cm from a wall, with the other behind you so that you are in a lunge position. If you can’t touch your knee against the wall without lifting your feet from the ground, then limited dorsiflexion may be the cause of your back pain.
The good news is that if this is the cause of your back pain, there are plenty of easy things you can do about it. There are plenty of exercises you can do yourself to improve your dorsiflexion, such as squats and lunges, and there are no major risks or complications at any point. Your main concern should be to confirm that this is in fact the cause of the issue, so if you have been suffering from back pain, be sure to visit a professional and give them a detailed account of your experiences.