Sore ankles? Knees? Hips? Back? Nearly everyone can identify with one or more of these issues, at some point in their life. And most of the time, a little bit of rest seems to cure the issue. The reasons for this can be due to two main factors; firstly some form of self-treatment (massage, medication, hot bath etc.) which helps to sooth tired achey muscles and painful conditions. But secondly, and more importantly, rest. Why is rest so important? Ill tell you; because the body is USUALLY good at fixing itself.
80% of the worlds population will experience back pain
Without boring you with specifics; injuries bring about inflammation (don’t worry, its a good thing!) and as long as there is no load going through the damaged part, the body heals.
BUT, when rest and self treatment alone doesn’t solve the problem, there is most likely an underlying cause that needs to be addressed…
And that’s where alignment comes in! You probably have heard of issues like scoliosis (sway back) and decreased lumbar lordosis (flat back) and you associate alignment issues with those conditions. But alignment issues can (and usually do) start lower, much lower.
19% of the population suffer from knee pain, and the risk of knee pain increases with age
I’m talking about your feet people! The feet have the tremendous task of absorbing shock, and transitioning into a rigid device for efficient gait. But the feet don’t do this alone; the entire leg (including the hip) works in unison to achieve this. To keep this somewhat simplified, I will only be talking about the feet and their roll in alignment.
Now you have most likely heard of the words ‘pronation’ (arch flattening) or ‘anti-pronation’ before, either when visiting a health professional or when buying some new footwear from a running store. Don’t be too alarmed by pronation, the foot has evolved to pronate, and everyones feet do it. The issue is when there is excessive (standing) or out-of-phase (walking/running) pronation. Again, with the intent on keeping this blog short I will focus on excessive pronation.
Excessive pronation can be due to many reasons, more commonly though it is due to muscular weakness (or tightness), poor footwear or even genetics. This excessive movement directly correlates with increased rotation of the lower leg, knee, thigh and hip; and increases the load on many different structures such as:
- Plantar Fasciatis, Tibialis posterior tendonitis, Peroneal tendonitis and the deltoid ligament at the ankle
- Menisci, cruciate and collateral knee ligaments, as well as the illiotibial band (ITB) and bursa of the knee
- Hip flexors and abductors (psoas, tensor fasciia latae and gluteus medius), as well as hip joint capsule.
When lower limb biomechanics are less than desired, compensations present themselves in the upper body. Exaggerated rotations of the leg cause tilting of the pelvis (either anterior or posterior), which alters the loading of the lumbar (low back) vertebrae and causes your centre of gravity to shift anteriorly (to the front) or posteriorly (to the back). Throw in the the complication of limb length discrepancies and you also get pelvic listing (one hip higher than the other), and what do you know, the root of your scoliosis!
Now everyone is unique, and the root of your persistent body aches will differ to the next persons, so to discuss EVERY possible cause of dysfunction is beyond what this author is willing to write.
TAKE-HOME MESSAGE: If you have a particular issue that doesn’t seem to be resolving, reach out for help from a qualified health practitioner, and ensure that they take a thorough history and address you holistically.
Humans are much like buildings; if you don’t get your foundations set then you are setting yourself up to crumble!
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