When selecting shoes, we think of color, design, style, and the activity we want the shoe for, but rarely do people consider their back and spine health during the shoe selection process. However, your footwear choices substantially impact your spine and the way it functions because of the lower limb kinetic chain. Your lower kinetic chain relates to the flow of the joints in your lower lumbar and how they interact with each other. This chain includes your ankles, knees, hips, and your spine. Your feet and ankles are at the bottom of your kinetic chain, meaning your choice of footwear has a direct impact on the position and stability of your ankles, knees, hips, and spine.
When you wear certain footwear, you can place the joints listed at risk of being in a position that moves more forward or backward than it should normally be. This misalignment can lead to muscle imbalances, muscle tightness, and eventually joint and back pain.
How Can Shoes Cause Back Pain?
Back pain is one of the most common reasons people in the U.S. visit their primary care physician. Between poor posture, straining our necks all day to look down at a phone screen, sleeping in awkward positions, and even our shoes, our spine health is constantly being impacted.
When you wear shoes that don’t fit well, provide little to no support, or that slide around easily, these shoes are likely contributing to your back pain. Picking shoes that negatively affect your spinal health can cause damage to your muscles, often causing soreness and tightness and can even shift your spinal alignment. Any time you have to walk a specific way or adjust your feet in a specific way to accommodate for your shoes rather than your spine, problems can arise.
Shoes That Are More Likely to Cause Back Pain
Certain shoes may also affect the arch of your foot or the tightness of your calf muscle, which can lead to leg and foot pain alongside back pain. Four of the most problematic shoes are:
- High heels
- Flats with little to no arch support
- Thin flip flops with no cushion
- Old or poorly fitted shoes
If you find that the shoes mentioned above are some of your go-tos and you’re experiencing recurring or chronic back pain, it may be time to consider shoe shopping with your spinal health in mind. Some helpful tips to remember when shoe shopping include:
- The lower the heel, the better
- Flip flops are not everyday shoes
- Choose well-cushioned shoes
- Replace athletic shoes as often as possible
- Avoid tight shoes
- Make finding good arch support a priority
Taking care of your spinal health doesn’t mean constantly wearing ugly yet comfortable shoes. Instead, it’s about switching out your more stylish shoes for those with more support just a few times a week to help give your spine some relief from the strain.
Suffering From Chronic Back Pain? Contact NJ Spine & Orthopedic
Living with chronic back pain can make life difficult, not just because it may limit your ability to work, but because it also impacts your emotional and mental health. At NJ Spine & Orthopedic, we understand that back pain can be the result of numerous factors and that each patient requires individualized care to help find the source of their pain. Our award-winning surgeons are here to help you find the least invasive treatment possible so you can return to your life as soon as possible without the looming presence of back pain.