The Effects of Footwear on Your Spine

On the Job Health Back & Neck Pain / April 24, 2017
shoe heels pain

When your lower back is hurting, you can think of several reasons that could be the root of the problem. Maybe it was all those years spent in a physically demanding job, maybe it is time for a new mattress, or maybe it is just age. One source you may not be thinking of is right at your feet.

What’s the real story? Knowing about the impact of shoes on the spine can help prevent back pain.

Heels and Other Types of Shoes That Cause Back Pain

By now, you probably know that high heels are a major culprit of back pain. When you wear them, your toes are pointed down and there is more pressure on the ball of the foot; you are also altering your gait because the calf muscle is shortened while you’re in high heels. High heels also overarch the back and position you forward, which can cause low back pain as well as neck and shoulder pain.

Heels are not the only shoes that can contribute to back pain. Backless shoes, whether heels or flats, fail to provide good arch support and tend to slip off your feet. If your feet tend to slip in and out of the shoes, you could be scrunching up your toes while you walk to keep the shoes on, which tightens the arch of the foot and shortens your gait.

Flip flops are another common cause of back pain. The flatness and lack of support in these shoes, that nearly every Floridian wears, can cause arch, heel, ankle, and knee pain. Flip flops also cause you to put more pressure on the outside edges of the foot rather than the heel.

Ballet flats seem like a good alternative to high heels and flip flops, but they can also cause spinal problems. Similar to flip flops, most flats lack arch support and have flimsy soles.

If you have a favorite pair of shoes that you wear nearly every day, it might be time for new ones. Over time, the support your shoes once provided will be no more. Once the shoe begins to fall apart, it impacts your gait. The concept is of great significance in athletic shoes. You might think that you’ve officially broken in those running shoes after putting dozens of miles on them, however, you could just be hurting yourself by not giving your body the support it needs.

Selecting the Right Shoes to Reduce Back Pain

It might seem like athletic shoes are going to be your only option moving forward, but that’s definitely not the case. There are several ways you can still wear your favorite shoes, without sacrificing your back.

First, make sure you are choosing the right shoe for your particular foot type. Your shoes shouldn’t be too big that your feet slip forward or too small that your feet are scrunched up. The shoes you choose should provide arch support, whether it’s low, normal, or high arch support.

If you are active, a professional can help you find the right training shoes that provide the best support possible.

Think you can’t give up your favorite heels or flip flops? Consider alternating your shoes and buying specially designed insoles for extra support. Additionally, cut back how often you use heels and flip flops.

If you’ve switched out your shoes and are still experiencing back pain, it might be time to see a chiropractor.

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