“IT'S ALL CONNECTED...”
Just as the song goes, everybody's heard this sentiment before at some point, especially being attributed to our body:
And there's actually a pretty big kernel of truth to it.
Our body's functions, weaknesses, pain, and problems are generally all loosely connected. Which also means that pain felt in one area of the body can illicit pain somewhere else.
When an injury occurs in one area, it's important to be aware that this injury can throw off other parts of your body too. Your body works in concert with itself, in a highly choreographed system that comes together to work as one.
To ensure your body is firing on all cylinders and achieving its optimal function, one can assume that all the parts need to be well oiled, so to speak.
Here, we explore the correlations that can occur, and see how problems in your foot can in some cases lead to knee pain:
Let's Start With the Feet...
The human foot consists of 33 joints that all work together to hold 26 bones and over 100 tendons and ligaments together.
It’s a complex system that you have going on in your feet, which naturally opens the door for tons of potential problems.
Your feet, your arches, and your toes all play a part in your locomotion and weight disbursement.
When something is wrong here, it can certainly prove to be the catalyst for possible problems elsewhere... Especially your knees.
From the Feet, to the Knees
Human beings have two legs, meaning that we rely on bipedal locomotion: the biomechanics of walking on these two legs and feet.
When a problem arises in the foot or ankle, it can wreak havoc on literally any other part of the body that is above the foot.
Essentially, when your feet are hurting as a result of an injury or a condition, you may avoid putting weight on the painful area. In doing so, this can unknowingly change your gait, or way of walking.
Due to these walking adjustments you might make when you're suffering from foot pain in an effort to avoid exacerbating your foot discomfort, you can actually be placing undue pressure on your knee joints to compensate.
In short, foot pain can adversely affect your knee joints, via a follow-on effect.
Your knees, along with your hips, are the biggest joints in your body. They take on the burden of your body weight when you stand, balance, walk, run, exercise, or perform any movement.
While they are incredibly strong and durable, you can't forget that our knees are intended to work in harmony and alignment, with the load spread equally between the two knees. As a result, any movements that throw this balance out of alignment can, unfortunately, cause knee pain as well.
Then Take a Look at Your Gait
When your gait, or the way you walk, becomes compromised as a result of a foot issue, unusual stress can be placed on your knees and cause pain and problems.
Foot conditions such as plantar fasciitis or fallen arches (also known as flat feet), or even pain in the bottom of your foot where your heel bone connects to your toes can all cause you to significantly change where your foot comes into contact with the ground below you during walking. In some cases, you may limp, or even drag your leg. In addition, if you have hyper-mobile feet that cause your foot joints tend to move more than they should, this can also create an array of problems for any joint above your feet.
Switching up your gait can actually cause your knee to move in ways that it is not designed to. If your foot over-pronates (or rolls inward), then your leg follows and may rotate inward towards the center of your body and the other leg too.
When this occurs, your knee will naturally have to extend and flex while pointing inward, placing unnecessary stress on the knee joint.
If you have any pain or problems with your feet, it's important that you improve the function of your foot as a priority and take any measures possible to make the foot as comfortable as possible. This will avoid any adjustments to the way you walk and in turn prevent reciprocal issues that could cause pain in your knees.
Treatment for foot problems can, in turn, assist with your knees. Depending on the source of your pain, you may find relief in massage, physical therapy, developing a solid treatment plan, using orthotic insoles and being sure to wear appropriate footwear.
Taking care of our knees starts right at the bottom, in our feet!
Slabway Wellness Consultant