What do your favourite pair of trainers and the Leaning Tower of Pisa have in common?

19 March 2024


Anyone who has visited an osteopath has heard the idea that everything is connected, and Pisa is a very pretty place to see this.

The Leaning Tower of Pisa’s website says that the tower was built on soft ground, and started leaning when the builders got to the third storey. The builders tried to correct the lean by making the remaining stories shorter on the ‘uphill side’, causing the tower to curve, and the extra weight on that side made it lean even more. What happened at the bottom affected everything above it – and trying to compensate for it caused more problems. Hold that thought.

Another idea in osteopathy is that no-one’s body is perfectly symmetrical; if you want proof, then stand in front of a mirror, holding a hand-mirror side-on in front of your nose so you see a whole symmetrical face; you will look very different. The vast majority of the time, asymmetry doesn’t case any problems at all – but if your base is uneven, it can cause problems higher up as your body tries to compensate. Put simply, unevenness in your feet or the way you walk can cause problems in your knees, hips, back and even your neck. It works the other way round too – problems in any area of the spine can show up in the hips, knees or feet.

Here's where your favourite trainers come in. Look at the soles. If you have had them for a while there will be a ‘wear pattern’ on the bottoms – perhaps the outside edge of the heel is more worn than the inside edge, or more on the inside than the outside; or perhaps the wear is more noticeable on one foot than the other. This means you are putting your weight down off-centre, and that could, but not will, cause problems elsewhere, now or in years to come. Mention this to your osteopath; they will be able to ‘check your levels’ and see if there’s any misalignment that can be corrected.

Your favourite shoes might be as comfy as slippers, but keep an eye out for the wear pattern. If there is a worn area on the edge of your heel, then every time you take a step your foot will roll more as it lands, potentially stressing your knees and causing compensation and misalignment higher up. Put your shoes on a table and look at them from behind: is there a noticeable gap between the table and the heel? Once the wear pattern gets to that stage, then sorry, but you need to get yourself another pair of shoes to make your favourites!

For any running or sport injury you may be experiencing, do take a look at how we treat and advise.


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