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How can custom orthotics help someone with low-back pain?

Brian Yee
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
The way the foot contacts the ground significantly affects the way your back absorbs compression to the spine. People who are flat foot footed can lead to decreased hip stability and motion. This is due to the foot not being able to provide proper support each time you step or stand on them. Over time the entire leg musculature, most importantly in the gluteal muscles lose their ability to provide proper support. This can lead to increased stress to the back...like jamming your thumb into a wall a thousand times over...you back gets 'jammed' or compressed.

Proper orthotic fitting can help the feet be placed in better alignment and thus provide proper support for the rest of the legs and ultimately the spine to be in a more efficient position to function during the day.

You should also consider that the bottom of the feet are highly sensitive with proprioceptive receptors..which detect spacial awareness. If the foot has better sense of its position, typically the rest of the body will also have better proprioception and spatial stability. It is thought that poor proprioception can make people more susceptible to injury. Orthotics can provide better proprioception.

There are many theories of how orthotics should be made. Please consult with various health practitioners to see what their opinions are about the design of the orthoses.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.