The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine

Feet and Knee Pain: Fixing Your Feet to Fix Your Knees

Posted by on Monday, August 27th, 2012


Today we are going to talk about knees.

Whoa, hold on, cowboy, what do you mean “knees?” Isn’t this supposed to be a foot blog?

This is indeed a foot blog, but did you know that knee pain is often related to a problem with your feet? Yes, that’s right, happy feet are the key to happy knees.

Let’s take a look at what can go wrong between your feet and your knees and how you can make it better.

Flat Feet I know, you’re thinking, “Seriously, don’t I have enough problems from my flat feet? Now I have to worry about my knees as well?” The short answer is, umm, yes. A study from the Framingham Foot and OA Studies, a research team from Boston University School of Medicine and the Institute on Aging Research found that older adults who suffered knee pain were more likely to have flat feet. I bet if there was an Institute on Younging Research they would have found the same thing.

It’s not that complicated–flat feet can throw your entire body’s alignment out of whack, putting undue stress on your knees. You may just feel nagging knee pain when you’re younger, but damage is being done to the cartilage in your knees. By the time you’re old enough to be studied by the Institute on Aging Research, all that damage may add up to arthritis.

The solution? Add some arch support. You can buy inserts that support your arches at a drug store, or you can see a podiatrist at The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports Medicine (212.996.1900) to get orthotics custom fit for your feet. If you’re a runner, go to a good running shoe store and ask a (hopefully) knowledgeable salesperson for shoes that are good for flat feet.

(Did you suddenly think that you should take ten million photos of your flat feet to post everywhere in order to show the world the source of your knee problems? Please don’t. One is fine.)

Overpronation Your feet naturally roll inward a little when you take a step; when you roll in more than normal, that’s called overpronation. As with flat feet, this throws your body out alignment. Think of your knees as hinges–when the hinge is perfectly lined up, the lower leg swings easily. If those hinges are bent inward, then the lower legs grate and stick rather than swing.

The solution to overpronation is pretty much the same as it is for flat feet. Orthotics can add support to keep your feet from rolling in too much. The right shoes can also keep your feet in line.

Duck Feet It’s great to have feet that naturally turn out if you’re a professional ballet dancer. It’s not so great if you’re everyone else. Known as duck-footed, these type of feet also throw your knees out of line, causing knee and foot pain.

Unfortunately, it’s easiest to correct this when you’re a child. I had duck feet when I was a wee little kid and my mom constantly reminded me to turn my feet in. I corrected one foot completely but the other one still turns out to some degree. As an adult, it’s probably best to work with a running coach or physical therapist who can give you exercises to improve your running technique so you don’t put stress on your knees.

Bad Shoes Yes, bad shoes. This means shoes with heels that are too high to provide stability. If you’re wearing shoes like that, your knees are likely to drift inward causing knee pain. I know, there are plenty of times when you’ll just look like a big weirdo if you’re not wearing heels;  if you wear them one or two nights a week, just a few hours at a time, you’re not going to do permanent damage. Don’t wear precarious heels around all day, five days a week, though, and try to choose heel heights that are manageable for you and that are wide enough to provide some stability.

If you’re a runner, make sure that you are wearing the right type of shoes for your feet and your style of running. It’s also important to replace them when they’ve worn out; six months is about tops for most running shoes worn by steady runners.

So there you go–not sure why your knees are hurting? Try checking out your feet–they may be the key to your knees!



If you have any foot problems or pain, contact The Center for Podiatric Care and Sports MedicineDr. Josef J. GeldwertDr. Katherine Lai, Dr. Ryan Minara and Dr. Mariola Rivera have helped thousands of people get back on their feet. Unfortunately, we cannot give diagnoses or treatment advice online. Please make an appointment to see us if you live in the NY metropolitan area or seek out a podiatrist in your area.