Low Back Pain and Fallen Arches
(And How To Fix them Both)

I have low back pain and fallen arches. Are the two connected?

Fallen Arches

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.

Psoas and Piriformis

piriformis, low back pain psoas, low back pain

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.

Fixing Low Back Pain and Fallen Arches

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.

More Anatomy

One possible cause of residual back pain, even after fallen arches have been corrected, are gluteal muscles that arent' firing. Glutes medius and maximus both have fibers that can act to externally rotate the thigh. And they can tilt the pelvis back relative to the thigh bones.

For myself I found that my left side gluteus medius felt empty. It wasn't firing. And so now I'm practicing activating both sides, but particularly the left.

Once fallen arches have been fixed, or as they are being fixed, training the gluteus medius muscles to activate may be one of the final steps in fixing chronic low back pain.

The Hip Control Guide

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.

Yoga Anatomy

Hip and Knee Anatomy

Pelvis and SI Joint

Spine and Torso

Shoulder and Elbow

Body Awareness

Pain and other Problems

Beginners, Basics and Specialized Practices

What's New?

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Continue reading "Sensational Yoga Poses"

Stability in Yoga Poses

Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in yoga poses.

Continue reading "Stability in Yoga Poses"

Video: Upward Facing Dog

Some exercises for upward facing dog including: How to activate (and feel) the back of the body and legs, pulling the shoulders downwards (or ribcage upwards) using either lats or pec minor

Continue reading "Video: Upward Facing Dog"

Bound Lotus Yoga Pose

Work towards Half Bound Lotus Yoga Pose with exercises for closing the knee, stretching the hip rotators, practicing external rotation of the shin and activating and shaping the foot and ankle.

Continue reading "Bound Lotus Yoga Pose"

Chair Yoga Pose

Do you experience knee pain while doing chair yoga pose? Here are some suggestions to alleviate knee pain. You can also use chair pose as an excuse to practice squatting.

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Half Moon Yoga Pose

Learn how to use your foot and leg to stay stable while balancing on one foot and one hand in half moon yoga pose.

Continue reading "Half Moon Yoga Pose"

Yoga Crow Pose Arm Balance

Some simple exercises to help you prepare for and balance in yoga crow pose arm balance and some suggestions for advanced movements like jumping from bakasana into chaturanga dandasana.

Continue reading "Yoga Crow Pose Arm Balance"

Hamstring Anatomy for Yoga

Hamstring Anatomy for yoga practitioners, focusing on backbending and forward bending of the hips with knees bent and straight.

Continue reading "Hamstring Anatomy for Yoga"

Muscle Anatomy for Yoga

Improve your kinaesthetic awareness. Understanding some basic muscle anatomy for yoga, learn where to direct your senses and how to better control your muscles.

Continue reading "Muscle Anatomy for Yoga"

Yoga Hamstring Stretches

A selection of standing and seated yoga hamstring stretches, both gravity assisted and muscle assisted for improving hamstring flexibility. Sensational Yoga Poses.

Continue reading "Yoga Hamstring Stretches"

Yoga Hip Stretches

Yoga Hip stretches for improved hip and leg flexibility.

Continue reading "Yoga Hip Stretches"

Yoga Tree Pose

One of the challenges of yoga tree pose is staying balanced. Another challeng is that one side may be easier than the other.

Continue reading "Yoga Tree Pose"

Hamstring Yoga

Learn how the hamstrings can bend the knees and hips and stabilize them in hamstring yoga on sensational yoga poses.

Continue reading "Hamstring Yoga"

Side Plank Step-by-Step

Some simple steps for working towards side plank so that you can balance more easily and do it with a stabilized shoulder.

Continue reading "Side Plank Step-by-Step"

Shoulder Yoga

Shoulder yoga improves shoulder flexiblity and strength by focusing on shoulder and ribcage awareness while stretching or exercising the shoulders

Continue reading "Shoulder Yoga"

Rotator Cuff Exercises

These rotator cuff exercises can be done while standing or sitting and can be used as part of a warm up for a yoga class or any other activity where the arms are used.

Continue reading "Rotator Cuff Exercises"

Cobra Pose

To work towards cobra pose I use a series of poses to teach my students how to feel and activate their spinal erectors, intercostals, glute max and hamstrings.

Continue reading "Cobra Pose"

Wheel Pose for Beginners (video)

Here's a look at wheel pose and how you can make it easier to get your head off of the floor.

Continue reading "Wheel Pose for Beginners (video)"

Latest Headstand Videos

Some basic headstand preparation exercises plus tips on how to roll out of headstand and how to avoid a collapsed back when lifting your legs in headstand.

Continue reading "Latest Headstand Videos"

SI Joint Stability Exercises

The SI Joint could allow the sides of the pelvis to act somewhat like the shoulder blades. What are the muscles that then "shape the pelvis" and or stabilize it?

Continue reading "SI Joint Stability Exercises"

What's New?

Sensational Yoga Poses

Much of how I do and teach yoga poses is based on my experience fixing guns in the army, engineering, practicing Chinese Calligraphy and my experience of anatomy.

Continue reading "Sensational Yoga Poses"

Stability in Yoga Poses

Make your yoga poses less wobbly with less effort. Grounding and centering are two techniques for creating stability in yoga poses.

Continue reading "Stability in Yoga Poses"

Video: Upward Facing Dog

Some exercises for upward facing dog including: How to activate (and feel) the back of the body and legs, pulling the shoulders downwards (or ribcage upwards) using either lats or pec minor

Continue reading "Video: Upward Facing Dog"

Bound Lotus Yoga Pose

Work towards Half Bound Lotus Yoga Pose with exercises for closing the knee, stretching the hip rotators, practicing external rotation of the shin and activating and shaping the foot and ankle.

Continue reading "Bound Lotus Yoga Pose"

Chair Yoga Pose

Do you experience knee pain while doing chair yoga pose? Here are some suggestions to alleviate knee pain. You can also use chair pose as an excuse to practice squatting.

Continue reading "Chair Yoga Pose"

Half Moon Yoga Pose

Learn how to use your foot and leg to stay stable while balancing on one foot and one hand in half moon yoga pose.

Continue reading "Half Moon Yoga Pose"

Yoga Crow Pose Arm Balance

Some simple exercises to help you prepare for and balance in yoga crow pose arm balance and some suggestions for advanced movements like jumping from bakasana into chaturanga dandasana.

Continue reading "Yoga Crow Pose Arm Balance"

Hamstring Anatomy for Yoga

Hamstring Anatomy for yoga practitioners, focusing on backbending and forward bending of the hips with knees bent and straight.

Continue reading "Hamstring Anatomy for Yoga"

Muscle Anatomy for Yoga

Improve your kinaesthetic awareness. Understanding some basic muscle anatomy for yoga, learn where to direct your senses and how to better control your muscles.

Continue reading "Muscle Anatomy for Yoga"

Yoga Hamstring Stretches

A selection of standing and seated yoga hamstring stretches, both gravity assisted and muscle assisted for improving hamstring flexibility. Sensational Yoga Poses.

Continue reading "Yoga Hamstring Stretches"

Yoga Hip Stretches

Yoga Hip stretches for improved hip and leg flexibility.

Continue reading "Yoga Hip Stretches"

Yoga Tree Pose

One of the challenges of yoga tree pose is staying balanced. Another challeng is that one side may be easier than the other.

Continue reading "Yoga Tree Pose"

Hamstring Yoga

Learn how the hamstrings can bend the knees and hips and stabilize them in hamstring yoga on sensational yoga poses.

Continue reading "Hamstring Yoga"

Side Plank Step-by-Step

Some simple steps for working towards side plank so that you can balance more easily and do it with a stabilized shoulder.

Continue reading "Side Plank Step-by-Step"

Shoulder Yoga

Shoulder yoga improves shoulder flexiblity and strength by focusing on shoulder and ribcage awareness while stretching or exercising the shoulders

Continue reading "Shoulder Yoga"

Rotator Cuff Exercises

These rotator cuff exercises can be done while standing or sitting and can be used as part of a warm up for a yoga class or any other activity where the arms are used.

Continue reading "Rotator Cuff Exercises"

Cobra Pose

To work towards cobra pose I use a series of poses to teach my students how to feel and activate their spinal erectors, intercostals, glute max and hamstrings.

Continue reading "Cobra Pose"

Wheel Pose for Beginners (video)

Here's a look at wheel pose and how you can make it easier to get your head off of the floor.

Continue reading "Wheel Pose for Beginners (video)"

Latest Headstand Videos

Some basic headstand preparation exercises plus tips on how to roll out of headstand and how to avoid a collapsed back when lifting your legs in headstand.

Continue reading "Latest Headstand Videos"

SI Joint Stability Exercises

The SI Joint could allow the sides of the pelvis to act somewhat like the shoulder blades. What are the muscles that then "shape the pelvis" and or stabilize it?

Continue reading "SI Joint Stability Exercises"