If your bunions are causing you pain, then you may find yourself placing your foot on the ground in a different way. How your feet are placed on the ground can affect your entire body. During a walking gait cycle, the arch of the foot tends to roll in, causing the hip and knee to be less supported. This altered walking position can affect glute activation via the Lateral Kinetic Chain, (the outside of your leg).
The ‘glutes’ or ‘bum’ comprise of three muscles. The mighty gluteus MAXIMUS, and then the lesser known medius and minimus. The gluteus medius (glute med) has multiple actions, one of which is to support the pelvis during walking or running to keep the hips level as you move forward. This muscle is often “underactive” or “weak” due to the lifestyle many of us live these days. Even if you do 100 squats a day, it is unlikely you will be fully activating or strengthening this muscle.
The QL, or Quadratus Lumborum, in your lower back, also can work as a hip stabilizer. When the ‘glute med’ starts slacking off, the QL now has the sole responsibility to stabilise the hip, causing it to become tight and overworked. Subsequently this tends to alter the positioning of the rib cage/ spine, causing the opposite shoulder to slightly elevate, placing pressure through the muscles of the shoulder, causing neck pain and creating headaches.
In this scenario the shoulder, nor the neck, is the problem – they are innocent bystanders, the victims. You can treat the shoulder muscles until the end of time and it will probably keep going back that way until we strengthen up the ‘glute med’.
Here is an exercise that will help and can be performed anywhere:
Myotherapy can help manually release tension through the neck and shoulder, as well as help relieve those poor overworked QL’s. With dry-needling and trigger point work we can also reactivate and awaken those lazy ‘glute meds’.
So in conclusion, yes! Bunions can cause neck pain. Have a look at your feet and see if your big toe is pointing straight ahead or inwards towards your other toes. This may be the start of a bunion forming, if so, get it checked out before it starts to become painful and swollen.
At Boost we work as a collective. Podiatry can assess and assist the original cause, The Bunions. After which, Exercise Physiology will target and strengthen the ‘glute meds’ helping to keep you staying active and happy.