4 pointers about shoes that can help reduce back pain

November 26, 2014

Back pain can be an uncomfortable problem, especially when it's caused by ill-fitting shoes. Fortunately, it needn't become a part of your daily routine because there are a few things you can do to ease the discomfort, starting with the right shoes. Here are four pointers when wearing shoes to help prevent back pain from happening and lessen its severity once it's there.

4 pointers about shoes that can help reduce back pain

[Photo credit: iStock.com/Wavebreakmedia]

Although it might seem counter-intuitive that shoes often cause pain in the back and not in the feet, wearing improper footwear or standing improperly on your feet can make your back hurt.

  • Feet are the foundation upon which the body stands, so their alignment and placement determine how the rest of the body – including the spine and the back – is aligned.

Improper alignment throws your balance off centre and may force certain muscles to work harder than nature intended. The potential result? An achy back.

1. Wear sneakers whenever possible

Foot experts say that sneakers are the best type of footwear for providing proper back support and preventing injuries.

  • Sneakers have high backsides, which support the heel correctly. Moreover, they also have a rigid mid-sole to support the arch.

These features, combined with laces that can keep the shoe tight on your foot, provide the most supportive footwear experience.

  • Of course there are times when sneakers are inappropriate to wear, such as at the office. You can always slip on a pair of sneakers on your commute to and from the office, as well as at lunchtime, to give your feet a break.

2. Avoid flip-flops at all costs

Although stylish, flip-flops are one of the shoe types that present the greatest risk of back pain.

  • Walking in flip-flops can cause undue stress on the tendons and joints in your foot and the back of your leg because they don't have a backside.
  • Flip-flops usually cause arch or heel pain first, followed often by back pain from their prolonged use.

Experts recommend only wearing flip-flops when relaxing or doing minimal movement, and never for walking or exercising.

3. Reconsider the height of your heels

Despite their glamorous look, high heels put an unhealthy amount of stress on the lower back. Given enough time (or a very long day) and the discomfort can last even long after the shoes are removed.

  • For people who love wearing heels or those who have formal events to attend, doctors recommend wearing heels that are under four centimetres (1 1/2 in.) tall.

4. Always wear supportive insoles

Even the best of shoes may not fit your feet quite right: you may have high arches or flat feet; bunions or ingrown toenails. The answer? Insoles.

  • Insoles are supports that can be placed inside shoes to help keep arches in the right position.
  • Doctors say that using insoles in less supportive shoes is a great way to make sure your back doesn't hurt after wearing them.

You can purchase cushioning and supportive insoles at most drugstores.

  • As another option, you could have custom insoles (also called orthotics) made to fit your feet perfectly. They will, however, cost much more.

While some people put fashion before comfort when it comes to shoes, in the long run it's not worth the chronic back pain. If you insist on keeping swanky (but uncomfortable) shoes in your wardrobe, you can at least minimize the discomfort they cause.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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