I have low back pain and fallen arches. Are the two connected?
Fallen arches (excessive pronation) result in the shins and thighs rolling inwards. People who have fallen arches tend to have knocked knees. And when I was a child my parents paid for brackes to help straighten my legs. I still had fallen arches however.
Later on when, prior to enlisting in the army I learned how to lift my arches to hide what one doctor called "flat feet."
So how does fallen arches relate to low back pain?
Some anatomy is required.
The thigh and the front of the spine have two direct muscular connections. (If we counted the back of the spine there would be three.) The piriformis attaches to the front of the sacrum. It passes through the greater sciatic notch at the back of the pelvis to attach to the top of the thigh bone.
The psoas attaches to the front of the lumbar spine and the lowermost thoracic vertebrae.
It loops around the front of the pelvis to attach to inner aspect of the thigh at a protubance called the lesser trochanter. The lesser trochanter sticks out towards the back of the thigh bone, just below the neck.
If the thigh bones are rolled inwards, because of pronated feet (fallen arches) the lesser trochanter moves backwards pulling the attachment of the psoas with it. The tension in the psoas then pulls forwards on the front of the lumbar spine.
This rotation may also add tension to the piriformis which in turn pulls forwards on the sacrum.
The leverage of the psoas, since it folds around the pelvis, is probably greater, and it is perhaps greatest on the lower lumbar vertebrae.
If you've got low back pain and fallen arches, and it feels like your lower back is being compressed from within the body this may be the cause.
The first step, or an important step is learning to fix fallen arches. You may not actually need arch supports. You can learn instead, as I did, how to activate your feet and ankles so that your arches are no longer fallen. Interestingly enough these same exercises rotate the shins and thighs outwards.
However, instead of coming from the muscles of the hips, you can learn to generate this action using the musculature of the feet and ankles.
The next step may (or may not) be learning to control and stabilize the knee joints. In some situations I find it handy to activate the knees. The single joint muscles of the knee can control rotation of the lower leg with respect to the thigh and vice versa.
The next step is where you get to work on releasing the low back.
One possible cause of residual back pain, even after fallen arches have been corrected, are hip muscles that aren't working properly. One of the best ways to train the hips (in my experience so far) is with balancing on one foot poses and exercises. These types of exercises can force awareness to the supporting leg hip and can be used to explore imbalances between the sides.
For learning how to activate the gluteus medius and other single joint muscles of the hip, check out the hip control guide. It's for anyone interested in deeper self exploration and self control of their body.
Shoulder anatomy for yoga teachers: learn the landmarks of the shoulderblade and the muscles that attach to them for improved body awareness and shoulder control.
This is a step-by-step introduction on how to do a headstand. It shows how to set up neck and shoulders and how to get comfortable being upside down in bound yoga headstand.
To improve balance with yoga it helps if you understand some basic principles for balance so that you can improve balance more efficiently.
How to lift into a yoga headstand with legs straight? This article shows you the steps and what to focus on to stay balanced.
Multifidus anatomy for yoga teachers, how it works with the transverse abdominus, quadratus lumborum and psoas major muscles to support and shape the lumbar spine.
Stability is a key factor in a lot of yoga poses. Learn about creating stability and staying balanced in headstand yoga pose.
Prior to learning the Yoga arm balance called galavasana it can help to learn how to lift and stabilize the hips in pigeon pose. This page shows you how.
Anatomy for yoga teachers is anatomy that you can feel. It's for yogi's who wants to learn to feel and control their own body and understand what they are feeling and controlling.
A progression of side plank exercises for shoulder stability, inner and outer thigh strength, quad and hip flexor activation and hamstring strength.
Psoas anatomy, stretching the psoas, using it to flex the hip, preventing lumbar shear while doing reclining hero pose.
The psoas muscle, using it to transition from up dog to down dog, role as a lumbar stabilizer, stretching the lower fibers of the psoas.
These yoga poses for abs work on the abdominal muscles (and hips) in both standing positions and seated positions.
Supine yoga poses including bridge, wheel pose, supine bound angle, big toe pose variation, and preparations for wheel pose, plow pose and shoulderstand.
Some tips for making yoga boat pose more doable while still strenthening abs and hip flexors.
Twisting poses: Passive, assisted and active twists for the ribcage and spine. Passive twists use gravity, assisted twists use the arms while active twists use the abs and intercostals.
Belly down and prone yoga poses including downward dog, upward dog, bow pose, cobra, chaturunga dandasana, locust, pigeon, frog pose, pigeon, prone twist and some shoulder stretches and resting poses.
Cross Leg stretches offer a simple way to twist and bend the spine and stretch the hips and shoulders. They can also be used for strengthening.
Seated yoga poses can be used to help isolate your spine, hip joints and pelvis. Feel and control your spine while seated, to make these same movements easier while standing.
Tips for working towards kneeling yoga poses and semi-kneeling postures.
Having trouble breathing deeply? Learn how to feel and control your respiratory diaphragm so that you can breath deeply with ease.