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What is Subluxation and Why Does Foot Health Matter?

Updated: Jul 14, 2021

Understand the impact of subluxation and how looking after your foot health can help prevent it. Whether you’ve been to the chiropractor for a check-up or have just had an x-ray at your local hospital, you may hear professionals mention something about subluxations. If you’re wondering what a subluxation is, it’s an issue where there’s been an incomplete or partial dislocation of your spinal bones. This usually means that one or more vertebrae in your spine have moved out of place or have misaligned.

Unlike other back problems which cause general neck and back pain, subluxation can have a greater impact on your whole body as it concerns the body’s nervous system. You see, when a vertebrae shifts out of place, it can impinge on a nerve, causing distorted nerve impulses between the brain and the body. Some common problems you can encounter through a subluxation is a reduced range of motion and severe organ troubles. The good news is that protecting your foot health can play an integral role in preventing subluxation and its dreadful consequences. Here’s why... What role do your feet play in subluxations? When you stand, walk and run, your feet act as the foundation for the spine, taking the brunt of your weight. A key, yet often overlooked part of your movement is the pedal foundation – which sounds more like a bike charity! In a scientific study, it concluded that “there are small, but important, intersegmental movements of the spine during gait.” As we’ve mentioned before, an abnormal gait can cause health issues. But one lesser-known consequence of it is its role in causing subluxations. You see, when the pedal foundation doesn’t receive enough support when you’re moving around and bearing the weight of your body, the spine will be exposed to abnormal stresses and strains that will eventually cause subluxations and other back problems. Other foot/movement-related issues that cause subluxation include:

  • Shock transmission – hyperpronation or excessive supination with your feet can cause a shock to your spinal joints. Similarly, a high-arched foot with little movement can make this problem worse too.

  • Rotary stress – when your foot and ankle stay too long in pronation (the start of the gait cycle where the heel lifts off the ground), it can cause a development of compensatory shortening of the iliopsoas – which draws the spinal column out of position. This can trigger a subluxation.

  • Dropped pelvis – when there’s an inconsistency in your leg length, the pelvis is lower on one side. This causes a vertebral rotation and reoccurring subluxation. The most common cause of a short leg is through a lowered medial arch and excessive pronation.

How to look after your foot health and prevent subluxation? If you haven’t already, we’d always recommend everyone should be checked for abnormal foot biomechanics at least once in their life. A biomechanical assessment is quick and painless. This process analyses your movement and each phase of gait to see if there are any signs of pedal foundation problems, rotary stress, shock transmission or a dropped pelvis. Once you can identify biomechanical issues with your foot health, there are several long-term solutions you can benefit from, such as special insoles and shoes. If you’re unsure on whether you think your feet are the root of any spinal issues, the easiest way to check yourself is to look at the bottom of your shoes. If there’s excessive wear on one side or on the heel, this suggests your gait cycle might be causing other body problems. It’s also worth getting someone to watch the way you walk. Do your toes point out or in? Or does your foot have no visible arch and/or is it painful? If so, you should book yourself in for a biomechanical assessment. One thing’s for sure, it pays to look into it sooner rather than later, or you could develop more serious issues like subluxation. If you suffer from a foot or spinal condition which affects footwear selection please see our FREE foot care guides available here. We have looked at conditions such as wide/narrow feet as well as diabetes, a false leg length and plantar fasciitis; what shoes and services are available for your needs and how to manage your condition. Enjoyed reading this? Then check out our other foot health blogs:

  • What is Gait Abnormality and How Can You Monitor it?

  • Helping Overpronation: Why Shoe Stability is the Key

  • The Long-Term Effects of Bad Posture in the Workplace

  • 4 Common Foot Problems and What Shoes to Wear

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