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  • Writer's pictureMichael Liougas

Headaches and Foot Pain: The Unlikely Connection

Interestingly enough, pain or misalignment in our feet can lead to debilitating headaches and migraines. Though our feet seem eons away from our heads, too far for the pain to travel, that doesn't end up being true. Tension at the base of your feet, or anywhere within them, sets off a chain reaction of discomfort.

Eventually, the reaction ends at your neck and head, where a painful headache can blossom. Though foot pain and headaches are a common duo, there are many effective options for mitigating the pain and its cause. At the top of that list are custom orthotics.

foot pain and headaches are connected

Custom Orthotics: Why they work

Poor posture may be caused by a variety of issues, but the most common one to cause headaches is flat feet. Having little to no arches puts strain on the plantar fascia running along the bottom of your foot. The fascia is a fibrous tissue that connects to your heel. Beyond that tissue, low arches put strain and tension on many other tendons and tissues in the feet.

For those who may not have noticeable pain in their feet, perhaps caused by the condition plantar fasciitis or something similar, the fascia can still be your culprit. The Superficial Back Line, or SBL, runs from your feet up to your head. If anything goes awry in this line of tissue, the domino effect is similar to having flat arches. In both cases, custom orthotics work to relieve pain and mitigate the postural issue causing your headaches.

Orthotics help correct any imbalances in your feet. They help support low or fallen arches, brace your heel better, and add support to the ball of your foot. A custom-fit orthotic can help with whatever may be ailing you, subsequently relieving your headaches in the process.

And with the areas needing extra support finally supported, the chain reaction running up your body will fail to repeat. The great part about this treatment option is that it is flexible and long-lasting. Once you have a pair of custom orthotics, you need only slip them into the shoes you already own. They boast a long life span too, meaning you won't need to worry about replacement every few months.

headaches, migraines and foot pain can sometimes be related

How does poor posture lead to headaches?

If your feet aren't aligned and balanced as designed, the muscles in your lower body will need to be in constant strain in order to correct the issue. Muscles and tendons in your ankles, calves, thighs, hips, back, and neck all bear extra strain to compensate for an unnatural gait or standing stance. You may have a visibly noticeable change in your posture, which can better help you diagnose the cause of your seemingly cause-less headaches.

When your feet aren't functioning properly, your brain receives messages from your lower body. These messages are complaints of being overloaded and overworked. Overwhelmed, your brain will begin to experience inflammation in its blood vessels. That inflammation causes the horrible pounding sensation many of us are familiar with.

As you'd then imagine, a reduction in complaints from your lower body would stave the overwhelmed response of your brain. Without that response, the pounding headache won't even begin. In other cases, muscle tension builds and crawls up the body, landing at the base of your neck. Tension migraines and headaches are notoriously common, though we wouldn't usually think the tense muscles could start at our feet.

Change your posture to find relief

While custom orthotics are a great way to mitigate the effects of weak or misaligned feet, there are other treatment options available. You can stretch a tense plantar fascia through yoga and gentle stretching, which can relieve tension in the SBL that would cause a headache.

Make sure you also own shoes that are supportive and wear them often. Though giving our feet a break from the confines of shoes sounds like a good idea, it often does more harm than good for feet already affected by flat arches or other foot conditions. Aim to wear your shoes as often as you can, especially on days when you know you'll be walking around a lot.

A physiotherapist can diagnose any issues with your gait or standing posture that may be causing your headaches. If you are unsure about the root issue behind your pain, make sure you are seeking treatment or advice from a physiotherapist.

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