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From Heel to Spine: Understanding the Connection Between Footwear and Back Pain

From Heel to Spine: Understanding the Connection Between Footwear and Back Pain

Back pain is a common problem many people experience. In some cases, the cause can be obvious, such as lifting heavy objects, poor posture, or sleeping on the wrong type of mattress. But in others, the cause of chronic back pain can be a mystery. Unfortunately, many people commonly overlook their footwear as a possible cause for their ongoing pain issues. If you’re wearing the wrong footwear and suffer from chronic back pain, learning which shoes to avoid and which types of footwear can improve comfort and eliminate back pain can be the key to preventing low back pain in the future.

Many people with back pain may draw the conclusion that there’s an issue with their spine. However, back pain can be caused by a wide range of issues, including the shoes you wear. Feet are the foundation of the body, playing an important role in maintaining balance while moving. When the shoes you wear aren’t providing the type of support you need, it can lead to back pain.

How Can Your Footwear Cause Back Pain?

There are a few ways the wrong type of shoes can cause back pain:

If the shoes have a poor design, they fail to provide the proper support the feet need, offering insufficient support or compressing the support to the natural arch. This can cause back pain over time.

The wrong shoes can take away the foot’s ability to absorb shock. This can cause severe pain in the hips and lower back.

Shoes that have the wrong design or long heels can push the pelvis forward and the hips backward.

How to Prevent Back Pain Caused by Footwear

When you go shopping for a new pair of spine-friendly shoes, there are many factors you should consider before you buy. A shoe that fits correctly shouldn’t compress the toes, pinch, or irritate any part of the foot. If you’re shopping for everyday shoes, always try on the shoes before you buy them and walk around in them to ensure they’re the right fit.

Each step you take when you wear bad shoes can impact the force through the legs and spine. Over time, any type of extra strain or stress can build up in the discs, ligaments, and joints. Purchasing shoes with some type of shock absorbent insert can protect against the hard impact from the ground. There are many popular types of flat-soled shoes, such as ballet shoes and flip-flops, that fail to provide a buffer for the feet.

Wearing shoes with lower heels is also a must. The long-term use of high-heel shoes can cause a number of health issues including back pain, and joint pain, and can increase the lordotic curve in the lumbar spine. Ideally, never wear shoes with a heel that’s higher than two inches.

Wearing shoes that are not stable and have a smooth sole may not provide the support your feet need. If people with overpronation don’t wear shoes that provide the stability they need it can cause poor foot posture, and muscle pain, and will develop into lower lumbar pain over time. 

Footwear to Avoid

The more you’re on your feet during the day and the more walking you do, the more important it is that you choose shoes that offer the right support. The wrong type of footwear can cause leg pain, foot pain, and intense pain in the lower back. 

The following types of shoes should be avoided to prevent foot and back pain:

Flip flops are a popular footwear choice during the hotter months, allowing you to toss on shoes and take a quick walk, however, these shoes are not recommended for all-day use, especially if you already suffer from ongoing back pain.

House shoes can present the same issues as flip-flops. Wearing these shoes around the house is fine, but wearing them outside, on hard surfaces, and for extended periods of time can result in chronic back pain.

Avoid wearing anything that has a negative heel, including ballerina flats and loafers. These types of shoes rotate the pelvis in a manner that can worsen back pain.

High-heeled shoes with a heel over two inches should be avoided. 

Additionally, shoes that feature an air cushion or memory foam can also be problematic because some types don’t provide the right level of support, combined with the heavy cushioning. However, you can find shoes that have an air cushion or memory foam that come equipped with a more supportive heel.

Barefoot shoes and other types of minimalist footwear are also not recommended due to their very thin soles.

Casual sneakers, such as Chuck Taylor’s can cause issues over time due to the lack of support and narrow, flat soles.

Footwear You Should Buy for Better Support

Sneakers, shoes, and other types of footwear should feel comfortable and provide support throughout the day.

Shoes with a slight heel will work the best. The slightly elevated heels will allow the ankle to turn a bit and rotate differently. Shoes with a slight heel should be under two inches. Shoes with a heel this height can help alleviate the pressure on the feet while walking.

Aside from heel height, how well footwear absorbs shock is also important and can impact how your back feels.

When walking, some people may strike the ground with their heels harder than others. This can send a shock up the legs and into the back. The issue can worsen when wearing flat shoes or high heels. Opting for shoes with cushioning can provide extra shock absorption.

Rocker bottom soles are thick soles that curve up at the front of the shoe. Some types of rocker bottom soles curve up at the front and the back. This type of shoe minimizes the amount of pressure that’s placed on the bottom of the foot and the joints when a person is walking.

These soles are commonly found on therapeutic shoes and are often prescribed to people who suffer from foot problems related to diabetes.

If you must wear sandals, make sure you choose a style with arch support. These days, there are many types of orthopedic-style sandals that can provide the comfort and support you need for a long day at the beach.

Back Pain Relief Methods

There are many ways you can alleviate back pain, however, if your back pain is caused by the wrong type of footwear, unless you stop wearing the shoes that are causing the problem, you can risk chronic pain issues in the future.

At home, you can try:

  • Stretching
  • Yoga
  • Over-the-counter anti-inflammatories
  • Rest
  • Elevating the feet
  • Hot and cold compresses

Keep in mind, if you’ve been wearing the wrong types of shoes for years, it may be time to make an appointment with a chiropractor for an evaluation. A chiropractor can determine if there is a misalignment, perform a spinal adjustment, and recommend exercises that can help prevent and minimize back pain.

Contact Cornerstone Chiropractic Today to Schedule an Appointment

If you’ve purchased different shoes but you’re still suffering from back pain, it may be time to visit the chiropractors at Cornerstone Chiropractic for an assessment. Our experienced chiropractors can help identify the cause of your back pain and can even recommend other footwear options that can help minimize pain and prevent back pain in the future. Contact us today to schedule an appointment.

Contact Us

The longer we wait to address a problem, the longer it will take to resolve it. The sooner we attend to your health issues, the sooner you will be able to enjoy a happy, healthy, and pain-free life. Please complete this form to begin your healing journey. Or you can call our chiropractic offices at (605) 540-4004.