Can Foot Pain Cause Back Pain?

By Steven Gershman DPM  /  November 08, 2022 Blog Home

Few of us are strangers to lower back pain. In fact, as many as 80 percent of people have back pain at some point in their lives and half of all workers experience back pain symptoms each year, according to the American Chiropractic Association. 

Not only that, but back pain ranks as the number two reason people see a doctor

Can foot pain and back pain be related?

Sometimes, the cause of your back pain is obvious, like a sports injury or bending the wrong way. Other times, however, the reason might be surprising, like when the culprit turns out to be your feet and improper footwear.

When you walk, you put the force of as much as five times your body weight on each foot. If the foot doesn't absorb that shock or redistribute it properly, you can develop problems elsewhere.

Often, this occurs in people who have flat feet, when the arch appears to be flattened and closer to the ground.

Another major cause for back pain is hyper or over pronation. Pronation refers to an inward motion of the foot, which results in collapsed arches and flat feet when you stand, walk or run.

There should be mild pronation when you walk and run. It is a necessary motion that allows for the dynamic action of the foot and ankle to reduce impacts on the body while walking and running.

The problem arises when there is excessive or over pronation.

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hyper or over pronation


What part of the foot causes back pain?

There isn’t one specific part of the foot that causes back pain. The excessive inward motion of the foot that accompanies over pronation is causing the leg to also turn inward, affecting the knees, hip and lower back posture. 

This might be compounded when excessive foot pronation occurs only on one foot, since when that foot pronates it shortens the effective length of the leg (the distance between the hip and the floor). 

Additionally, because of the excessive foot motion, the muscles on the inside of your leg must work harder to pull your foot up. 

Can high arches cause back pain?

Yes, another foot problem that can cause back pain is hyper supination, where the feet are rolled outward with what seems to be a high arch. 

Hyper supination also causes outward rotation of the legs and extra stress to muscles on the outside of the leg.

 Note that over-pronation or hyper supination can also lead to problems in the hips and lower back.

Does arch support help back pain?


When you experience pain and you are diagnosed with a dysfunction in the foot or ankle, it is possible to reduce knee and hip pain by wearing proper footwear and orthotic insoles to support the arch, as well as improve overall foot function.

Shoes with healthy features play a significant role in back pain management. Here are the main features to look for:

  • If the back pain is due to your foot function, shoes with orthotic insoles that provide good arch support can prevent hyper pronation and help align your legs and back properly.
  • Shoes with good cushioning properties can reduce the impacts on the body and back when the foot hits the ground during walking and running.
  • High heels that are over two inches high may increase the risk of lower back pain, as they might impair back posture.
  • However, not all flat shoes are good for your feet. Flats that do not provide any arch support or cushioning may compromise leg and back posture.
  • Get the right fit. Tight shoes can aggravate foot pain and cause gait compensation. Oversized shoes can also impair gait.
  • Replace your shoes as needed. When the supporting cushioning becomes worn, it is no longer helpful.