Around 16 million adults in the United States report chronic back pain that limits their activity levels and can be a frequent cause of missed work and troubled sleep. Managing your back pain may or may not involve clinical care, and the first recommendations for treatment are usually lifestyle changes you can make on your own.
Before undergoing costly treatment and rehabilitation for your back pain, consider taking a look in your closet. Your shoe rack, specifically, can offer insight into a possible contributing factor to your back pain. Wearing certain types of shoes places extra stress on your spine, leading to back pain and other complications.
Board-certified family physician John Monroe, MD, and the Healthy Life Family Medicine team in Goodyear, Arizona, can help you make smart and supportive choices in footwear. Shoes with plenty of support go easy on your back and can improve your pain immensely. A mindful change in footwear might help you avoid relying on medications, injections, or even surgery to manage your chronic back pain.
Ready to choose shoes to ease your back pain? Follow our easy guide for back-friendly footwear:
Bump up your arch support
The arches of your feet help to absorb shock when you walk and run. They give your foot some spring to absorb the shock of every step you take.
Flat-soled shoes don’t do your feet any favors. When your footwear doesn’t offer any support for your arches, the shock usually absorbed by the arches of your feet can travel up your legs and into your back. If you wear unsupportive shoes like flip-flops every day or almost every day, the stress can accumulate into long-term back pain or make existing back pain worse.
While shopping for shoes, search for a pair that aligns with the natural arch of your foot. Alternatively, you can add a pair of orthotic arch support insoles or inserts to shoes you already own.
Give your feet some cushioning
Shoes with thin soles increase the impact of your feet hitting the ground. Shoes that are too soft on the bottom have a similarly adverse effect that can cause or worsen pain in your back.
Ideally, you should wear shoes that aren’t too hard or too soft on the bottom. They should have at least some cushioning that can absorb shock and minimize the impact of walking and running on your legs and back.
Skip the high heels
Many people enjoy wearing high heels for the height increase and their flattering effect on their legs and buttocks. But high heels are not so friendly when it comes to back pain.
High heels place your feet on a downward slope that isn’t natural for walking or standing. This causes your ankles and legs to function differently than they normally do and changes the angle of your pelvis. Much of the stress of this unusual position travels to your back to contribute to chronic back pain.
If you choose to do so, you can still enjoy a pair of high heels on occasion. However, you’re better off with a short kitten heel than a stiletto. If you’re at risk of back pain, search for 1-2-inch heels for evenings out on the town.
Get help choosing your back-friendly shoes today
If you’re interested in learning more about shoe choices and how they contribute to back pain, or if you’d like to learn more about custom orthotics to add support and cushion to your shoes, give our office a call, or schedule an appointment online at Healthy Life Family Medicine.