Flat feet and back pain:
What’s the relationship?

The Combination of Flat Feet and Back Pain Is Common

In fact, I have worked with more clients with flat feet than probably any other single condition—although each of these flat-feet sufferers also endured at least one other malady (most commonly, sacroiliac joint issues and tight calves). I’d say the question that most often arises when I first meet these students and say “Your back pain is not caused by your back, it’s starting in your feet” is:

Why? How did my feet get this way and start causing me pain?

Here’s the quick-and-dirty explanation.

As I explain in detail in Hauber’s Heal Your Back Handbook
Cover of Hauber's Heal Your Back Handbook

  1. Our bodies were designed to be upright, walking and running on our feet.
  2. Muscles are designed to be used. They burn oxygen and sugars to contract and move our bones, and they have contractile and extensile properties so they can stretch and shorten when we are moving.
  3. In our present-day society, we do not walk and run: We SIT!
  4. Therefore, the glorious, intricate system of muscles and bones in our feet are misused, atrophied, and not ready for any kind of movement when we finally demand some of them.
  5. That lack of readiness for movement causes structural changes up the kinetic chain, all the way to our pelvis and lower back.
  6. Ta da! Back pain. Caused by poorly used or unused feet.

Feet come in all shapes and sizes. But even people with really flat arches can rebuild an arch (to some extent) and retrain the muscles of the feet to contract and stretch appropriately. Once this retraining occurs, back pain usually disappears.

Retraining the feet means

  • Lifting the toes to train the muscles on the top of the foot and lengthen/elasticize the muscles, fascia, and ligaments along the bottom of the foot
  • Stretching the top of the foot and the calf muscles as the muscles of the foot are being trained
  • Using properly executed myofascial release of the bottom of the foot, from the Achilles tendon to the ball of the feet, to release tension and allow arch “springiness”
  • Taking care of the hip joint and the core so that gravity is not allowed to overburden the properly built/stretched feet ever again.

Of course, the feet are the foundation on which I designed the entire Hauber Method™ program. And each point listed above is fully addressed in the program (the myofascial videos are the newest component added to members’ videos pages).

I kind of go ape-shit when people say that orthotics (which can cost upwards of $800 and need to be replaced every few years) are the only solution to feet that are causing pain locally or elsewhere in the body. You can watch one of my many arguments against orthotics and other unsustainable back-pain “treatments” in my latest video on YouTube (below).

If you’ve gone the “traditional” route for “treating” back pain in the past, you might want to sit down for this one. Or better yet, stand with good posture and lifted toes, which you, of course, learned how to do in the free Hauber Method Session 1.

Sara Hauber (23 Posts)

Sara Hauber, M.A., has practiced the art of back-care and functional-movement therapy since 1999. She specializes in ending clients' long-term back pain after all other treatments have failed. In 2012 she released The Hauber MethodTM, a 6-week at-home program to relieve chronic low-back pain, featuring the methods that have helped her clients and workshop students live pain-free lives for more than 14 years. You can find her on , Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


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