Your feet could be the cause of your backache. If your arches have dropped, or have always been flat your feet won't absorb the shock of running. And when you walk the rolling movements that your feet make naturally will happen too quickly, sending a spiral shock wave up your shins to your knees with every step.
If you are a runner you might notice this effect as shin or knee pain. If you walk or stand a lot you will probably tense your thigh and hip muscles as you try to cope with the instability. Eventually the problem works its way up your body until either you compensate or your muscles reach the limit of their comfort zone. Typical symptoms: a band of pain across the low back, worse in the morning, eases with movement and gentle exercise, worse for sitting.
If you have one dropped arch and one fairly normal arch, the back pain might be low down, one-sided with sciatica.
If your arches are fine but your rearfoot is stiff, again the result can be low back pain. When you have a stiff rearfoot you take most of your weight on the outside of your foot (look for hard skin there and wearing out of the full length of the outer edge of your shoes). The usual compensation is to rotate your legs outwards and tilt your pelvis backwards, this makes your low back bend forward which puts strain on your muscles and ligaments.
Sometimes stretching can help but if there is a mechanical problem in the foot you really have to be dedicated to keep on top of it by stretching.
Also have your feet checked out by a podiatrist with a computerised gait scan, then depending on the severity, correct the problem with either prescription or over-the-counter arch supports that you wear in your shoes. This is to minimise any damage and prevent it from getting worse. The arch supports are called orthotics, and you will find that most top sportsmen and sportswomen use them, not just to deal with pain but also to optimise performance. And continue with your osteopathy treatment!
Bill Ferguson, Osteopath
My name is Bill Ferguson and I am an Osteopath and Acupuncturist.I run a private practice in Tenterden, Kent.
Bill Ferguson Osteopath and Acupuncturist Tel: 01580 762754. See here for my practice website www.billferguson.co.uk