High Arches and Lower Back Pain


High Arches and Lower Back PainHigh arches and lower back pain go hand in hand because the arch of the human foot is meant to drop and lift with every step providing shock absorption for the entire skeleton. When the feet don’t work as designed due to high arches, flat feet and/or poor mechanics the ability to absorb shock is minimal.

The spring arch of the foot is a wondrous thing— if weight transfers successfully from the head to the feet, the span of the foot drops and lifts providing the spring in the step which propels us forward. This also provides an essential safeguard for the lumbar curve which supports everything above it.

There is always some kind of buffer where our bones meet; sandwiched between each vertebrae of the spine is a cartilaginous disc that squishes and rebounds with every step; the meniscus of the knee serves the same role providing a cushion for the meeting of the upper and lower leg; and synovial fluid is yet another defense against wear and tear in a well aligned body.

When we walk correctly all of the bones line up on top of one another and all of these support measures respond on contact and then rebound on push-off. When we stand correctly, using the spine as an example, all of the discs are evenly spaced front and back and side to side. When we stand with poor posture leaning backwards like most people do, the discs at the back of the spine will have a different shape than at the front of the spine and efficacy of the structure disappears.

Now imagine a foot with high arches—all of the bones of the foot are drawn too closely together due to excessive tension in the muscles, ligaments and fascia.  When the foot hits the floor there is nowhere for bones to move and the arch fails to drop.  The shock of impact will be felt most profoundly in the lower back which will bear the brunt of the arch that doesn’t drop.

I wrote in a recent post that high arches are more difficult to deal with than flat feet, which is true, but no effort to release the tight feet would be wasted.

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1 Comment
  1. Any tips for dealing with high arches? I have a client with high arches, and very tight legs/hips… I massage him regularly and over time the feet have softened somewhat but would love to know if there’s something more specific I could be doing.
    Love your blog thank you!

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