People Spend Billions On Back Pain. This Expert Believes There's A Simple Fix.

Last updated: 07-11-2019

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People Spend Billions On Back Pain. This Expert Believes There's A Simple Fix.

Lower back pain in nearly ubiquitous. About80% of adultsexperience lower back pain at some point in their life. It is the most common cause of disability on the job, and among thetop cited reasons for missing work.

Resolving lower back pain is a$60 billion industry, and one that often doesn't work. 71% of back surgeries failed to relieve pain.

To scholars of evolution, it isn’t necessarily surprising that our backs hurt. After all, we are the only known animal to stand upright, and our backs are responsible for maintaining our posture against the ceaseless force of gravity.

Yet what is surprising is that the origins of lower back pain may have less to do with our backs, and more with our feet. Dr. Dananberg, a world-renowned podiatrist, believes orthotics may be our best best for bucking back pain.

Putting Your Best Foot First

Our early ancestors had feet much like apes today: with a long, grasping big-toe useful for life in the treetops. However, all of that changed when our early ancestors took their first steps towards walking upright.

One example of an intermediate ancestor between then and now wasHomo Naledi, a strange hybrid of man and chimp found in theRising Star Cave in South Africa. From top down, Naledi was more ape than man-- he had a small brain, a large jaw, and long ape-like arms for swinging through the trees.

But from bottom up, Naledi’s legs and feet have an uncanny resemblance to our own. The main change between Naledi and those before him is the big toe joint. Dr. Dananberg, a world-renowned podiatrist, explains that this joint “changes from prehensile and opposing [in prior ancestors] to dorsiflexing and un-opposing [in Naledi and everyone after].”

According to Dananberg, this change “permitted our ability to step up and over our feet, and thus stand and walk upright for prolonged periods of time.”

Naledi’s special adaptation allowed us to walk great distances upright and conquer the entire world. But it may have also come with some unpleasant side-effects.

The average individual walks anywhere from2,500 to 15,000 steps a day, which can make for good exercise. However, those who have issues with their feet, such as flat-footedness or high arches, also tend to change their gait to compensate, which surprisingly, applies the most stress to the muscles of the lower back.

In fact, it’s not the impact (as is common in running injuries), that causes the problem, but the actual swinging of the leg that strains the musculature.

Dr. Dananberg and his colleagues found that for84% of thosewith end-stage (i.e.“incurable”) lower-back pain, shoe orthotics could improve or relieve their pain. Dananberg also found that those with orthoticsextended their hips almost 50% more,which meant less pressure on the muscles of their lower back (and 50% less pain).

Dananberg’s theories remain controversial, especially considering they suggest a relatively cheap fix to a $60 billion dollar problem. Back pain can be caused by a wide array of conditions, from infeccions to heavy-lifting, and there likely is no cookie-cutter solution for everyone.

Our locomotion is an intricate, fragile system that evolved over millions of years, and even small changes in our feet can ripple through the muscles of our legs, butt, and back, culminating in unbearable pain. For most people,cheap, over-the-counter orthoticsare good enough to relieve foot pain and even back pain.

But those with more serious conditions ought to book an appointment with a podiatrist, if you can get your foot through the door and onto their busy schedules.

Back pain is among the most common health complaints made by adults. But studies indicate that the problem may originate not in our back, but in how our feet evolved. Can we change the way we walk to safeguard our backs and live pain-free?

Lower back pain in nearly ubiquitous. About80% of adultsexperience lower back pain at some point in their life. It is the most common cause of disability on the job, and among thetop cited reasons for missing work.

Resolving lower back pain is a$60 billion industry, and one that often doesn't work. 71% of back surgeries failed to relieve pain.

To scholars of evolution, it isn’t necessarily surprising that our backs hurt. After all, we are the only known animal to stand upright, and our backs are responsible for maintaining our posture against the ceaseless force of gravity.

Yet what is surprising is that the origins of lower back pain may have less to do with our backs, and more with our feet. Dr. Dananberg, a world-renowned podiatrist, believes orthotics may be our best best for bucking back pain.

Putting Your Best Foot First

Our early ancestors had feet much like apes today: with a long, grasping big-toe useful for life in the treetops. However, all of that changed when our early ancestors took their first steps towards walking upright.

One example of an intermediate ancestor between then and now wasHomo Naledi, a strange hybrid of man and chimp found in theRising Star Cave in South Africa. From top down, Naledi was more ape than man-- he had a small brain, a large jaw, and long ape-like arms for swinging through the trees.

But from bottom up, Naledi’s legs and feet have an uncanny resemblance to our own. The main change between Naledi and those before him is the big toe joint. Dr. Dananberg, a world-renowned podiatrist, explains that this joint “changes from prehensile and opposing [in prior ancestors] to dorsiflexing and un-opposing [in Naledi and everyone after].”

According to Dananberg, this change “permitted our ability to step up and over our feet, and thus stand and walk upright for prolonged periods of time.”

Naledi’s special adaptation allowed us to walk great distances upright and conquer the entire world. But it may have also come with some unpleasant side-effects.

The average individual walks anywhere from2,500 to 15,000 steps a day, which can make for good exercise. However, those who have issues with their feet, such as flat-footedness or high arches, also tend to change their gait to compensate, which surprisingly, applies the most stress to the muscles of the lower back.

In fact, it’s not the impact (as is common in running injuries), that causes the problem, but the actual swinging of the leg that strains the musculature.

Dananberg’s theories remain controversial, especially considering they suggest a relatively cheap fix to a $60 billion dollar problem. Back pain can be caused by a wide array of conditions, from infeccions to heavy-lifting, and there likely is no cookie-cutter solution for everyone.

Our locomotion is an intricate, fragile system that evolved over millions of years, and even small changes in our feet can ripple through the muscles of our legs, butt, and back, culminating in unbearable pain. For most people,cheap, over-the-counter orthoticsare good enough to relieve foot pain and even back pain.

But those with more serious conditions ought to book an appointment with a podiatrist, if you can get your foot through the door and onto their busy schedules.


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