The Role of the Feet in Core Stability

The ability to be able to see ourselves as living and whole is key to understanding the role of the moving, breathing body, with our connection to the earth coming through the feet.

The feet are our basis for uprightness, yet we constantly cover them over without much consideration to their informational role in telling us about the ground, in standing and moving.  Another important link is the role that the feet play informationally with the low back via the sensory connections between the feet and lumbo-sacral area.

The most common areas of the low back that people have trouble with in relation to disc bulges is the L4-5 and L5-S1 area of the lumbar spine and sacrum.  The deep muscles of the low back send their sensory spinal nerves down to the sole of the foot.  This important link exists because of the systems’ need for information regarding movement and stability.

There are mythical stories of North American Indians walking in dry river beds on pebbles when they had low back pain.  Osteopath/Acupuncturist Phillip Beach recommends that people build themselves a small rock garden in their home or office, so that they can spend about 20 minutes a day, getting this type of sensory stimulation.  This is amongst a range of practices that assist our complex interrelated systems to self-correct.

3 points support at the foot

The lower lumbar and sacral nerves innervate the skin of the sole of the foot and most of the important muscles of the foot are innervated from L4-S3.  The nerves that innervate the feet are the same nerves that innervate the deep system muscles of the pelvic floor and low back.

What this means from a practical sense is that the deep muscles of the lower trunk ideally should receive information in real time from the feet.  The body, brain and nervous system function on feed-forward/feed-back mechanisms.  The feet are a feed-back mechanism for the low-back and trunk about the world in real time.  When this information is dysfunctional over long periods of time our posture, stability and living health suffer.

The good news is that we can change this story around by changing the inputs.  Given sufficient time and consistent practice, you can rehabilitate your feet and low back to functional levels through informational stimulation.  It is possible to improve back pain, balance, eveness of movement, and distribution of tone in the body through this practice.

Standing on pebbles and larger stones that have been warmed by the sun, as you walk, balance, squat and perform dog pose, so that your hands are also stimulated, is a very satisfying experience.  Like most things that sound this simple, the challenge is to begin a consistent practice for at least a month, and see what you notice. in your ease of movement.

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