It may seem strange to think that your shoes could make your back hurt, but it’s important to remember that your body is all of a piece. Your feet may be far away from your back, but they are the foundation of your body. If your feet are improperly supported or out of alignment, your body will be, too. In this article, we will provide an overview of some of the most common ways in which your feet can affect your back. We will also provide smart tips on choosing the right shoes to help reduce and manage back pain. Read on to learn more.
When you walk, the force with which your foot hits the ground travels up your legs to your body. If your feet are improperly cushioned, this constant jarring can have a very negative effect on all of your joints and your spine. This is why having shoes with thick, supportive soles and insoles is so important.
In addition to simple cushioning to protect your feet, the soles and structure of your shoes must also support and align your feet. Ideally, you should be walking along smoothly with your heel contacting the ground first and your foot rolling forward to transfer the weight of your body evenly from heel to toe.
Unfortunately, your own physiology can cause interference with this smooth process. For example, if your foot tends to roll inward (over-pronation) your arch will be flattened and your great toe will end up carrying a lot of weight. This can cause you to be unable to propel yourself forward with adequate force. Your body will naturally come into play to solve the problem by engaging your lower back and your hips to swing your leg forward more. The end result is hip and back pain.
Another common problem is supination. This happens when you tend to carry most of your weight on the outside edge of the foot. This puts a lot of weight and pressure on the pinky toes and causes strain to the hips, lower back, knees and ankles.
If you have a problem with over-pronation, you need to seek out shoes that have ample cushioning in the center of the sole to balance your foot and distribute your weight more evenly. If you are experiencing supination, good arch support can help by providing more contact with the sole of the shoe. If your arches are very high, you may need prescription insoles.
Choosing The Best Shoes To Ease Back Pain
When looking for the best pair of shoes to contribute to your overall comfort, you must first determine whether or not you are experiencing supination or over-pronation. Additionally, you need to identify your foot shape and determine whether you are flat-footed, high-arched or low/normal arched.
Have a look at a pair of your well-worn shoes. Examine the soles to see the wear pattern. Set them on a table in front of you with the heels facing you to see if they tend to tilt outward or inward.
If you find a lot of wear on the outer edges of the soles and the shoes tilt outward, you are supinating. If the wear is toward the arch and the shoes tilt inward, you are over-pronating.
You can also check your foot shape and the degree of arch in your foot by stepping into a shallow tub of water with your bare feet and then stepping onto a piece of dry cardboard. Have a look at your footprint.
1. Flat foot: The entire bottom surface of your wet foot came in contact with the cardboard and left a print. Choose a shoe with a sole and construction that provide motion control and stability. Your shoes must fit well and not allow your foot to slide about.
2. Low/Normal arch: There is a mild, dry indentation in the arch area of the footprint. You can wear most types of shoes, but you must choose shoes with good cushioning for effective stability and shock absorption.
3. High arch: There is an extreme, dry indentation in the arch area of the footprint. Choose a shoe with neutral cushioning that supports the arch and provides flexibility.
What Kind Of Shoes Are Best?
Shoes that are designed for running and walking are usually the best choices for everyday wear. These types of shoes are designed to provide good cushioning, secure fit and ample room in the toe box for good balance and weight distribution.
If choosing between running shoes and walking shoes, remember that running shoes provide the most cushioning and support in the heels and under the ball of the foot. This gives the foot and ankle more range-of-motion.
If you suffer from over-pronation, seek out a running shoe that provides motion control to prevent having your feet roll inward excessively. If your feet tend to supinate (roll outward) choose running shoes that have extra cushioning in the arch to help prevent this motion.
Walking shoes should provide good cushioning throughout. The insole of the shoe should contour and conform to the surface of the sole of your foot. Memory foam insoles are very good for this.
Walking shoes must also have a well-fitted heel counter that prevents your heel from slipping forward as you walk. Your toes should not be cramped or forced into the toe box area. They should have plenty of room to spread and wiggle.
For everyday, extended wear a shoe with a flat sole or even a negative heel is preferable to shoes with elevated or high heels. If your heel is higher than the ball of your foot, the unnatural angle is very likely to cause lower back pain.
This angle also puts unnecessary pressure on your forefoot and can tend to cramp your toes. Always choose shoes with generous room in the toe box. Cramped toes cause imbalance, stress and pain.
Replace Your Footwear Regularly
If you have been experiencing back pain, it is very likely that poorly fitted shoes are causing the problem. When choosing the best shoes to manage or eliminate back pain, follow the tips presented here to evaluate your gait and the shape of your foot. Keep your level of activity and the types of activities you pursue in mind as you make your choices.
Good shoes are expensive, but they are really vital to overall good health. When you purchase high quality footwear, it should last and wear well. Additionally, when you invest in a good pair of shoes with removable insoles, you may be able to get even more wear from them by simply replacing the insoles regularly with over-the-counter or prescription orthotic insoles.
If your purchase of good quality, supportive footwear does not resolve or improve your problems within a week or so, be sure to see your doctor, chiropractor or podiatrist for a proper diagnosis and treatment.