More than 80% of the US population experiences low back pain at some point every year. There have been many valid theories posed as to why, but little seems to have been done in regards to what we are going to do about it. I am thoroughly convinced that the answer lies within each individual, and as William Earnest Henley posed in his infamous poem “Invictus” – “I am the master of my fate.” In the end we are in control of our own destiny…
Realizing this, my goal is to provide each person a unique look into what could be driving their current presentation. But, more important than knowing why someone is in pain or not functioning as they should… is what the heck are they going to do about it!!
If you have spent time at my office, at some point, chances are that I have had you take your shoes off and walk. It is also highly likely that I ran you through a little battery of tests that probably came to this conclusion:
YOUR FEET ARE WEAK!
I can honestly say that in the last five years, I have only had one person show near perfect foot strength and mechanics. So what does all of this mean?
For years Vladimir Janda, MD taught us the importance the afferent proprioceptive system has in regards to pain, stability, and muscle imbalance. Afferent being the neural signal traveling from your feet (in this example) to the brain. The loss of the signal is known as de-afferentation, and is seen in poor joint stabilization and chronic instability.
So, could it be that the problem with back pain may be related to this de-afferentation? Could our problem be that we have manipulated our environments so much that we are essentially becoming “sensory blind”.
DING! DING! DING!
As Dr. Philip Beach states:
“ each spinal segment has an army of muscles that start at that segment and course downward. Each spinal segment issues a pair of nerves that control the muscles starting from that segment, and supply a segmentally related patch of skin. The most vulnerable spinal segments are found at the conjunctional area of the lumbar spine and the sacrum ( L4/ L5, S1) which send their sensory spinal nerves down to the sole of the foot, i.e. the vulnerable segments are driven by the most information. This is important. The small muscles of the low back are thus segmentally related to the soles of the feet. Information drives all systems so here we have a sensory platform (the soles of the feet) devoted to the most vulnerable region of the low back. Shoes, from this perspective, are sensory deprivation chambers that cut down the raw information that we need to stand and walk in our precarious upright manner. To counter this I suggest to my patients they take their shoes off and walk barefoot on rough ground”
What are we going to do about it?
We can start by going barefoot, and working on building up the capacity to go barefoot on rough ground. In addition, adding in drills and exercises on a daily basis to address this will prove to be incredibly beneficial. My suggestion is to implement some facet of all of this into a 5-10 minute routine. Make this a habit. I challenge you to stick to this for a minimum of 30 days (ideal is 60). Remember what your feet feel and move like now…
Below is an example of a “flow” that I pieced together, as well as individual videos. As you can see, the flow is a five minute variation that covers several aspects in rebuilding/reawakening the foot. There is no wrong way to do this, except for not doing it at all!