Next time you experience back pain, consider your footwear. Why? Well think of your footwear like tires on a car, when the tread wears on the tires it can cause an imbalance and the car will begin to perform poorly. This is why auto mechanics recommend regular rotations, alignments, and service. Our bodies are not much different when it comes to this. Our feet are our foundation when walking and standing, how they perform can have a direct influence on how the rest of our body feels. Here are some tips when it comes to footwear to help avoid back pain.
- If you have foot and ankle problems get it checked out or it can lead to back problems – Pain or dysfunction in your feet affect your gait and standing posture which directly affects your back.
- Replace the “tires” – Like the tires on the car your shoes should be replace between every 3-6 months, depending on how much you wear them. Do not think that because the shoe shows no outward wear that they aren’t worn. The pressure from your feet inside the shoe will apply wear to the inside support, which is hard to see. If you wear you shoes often you may need to change them sooner due to wear on the soles.
- Make sure your shoes are a right fit – Even if you have worn a size 10 shoe for 20 years, your size may have changed. As we age the arches in our feet begin to change and even though we are no longer growing, our feet can flatten increasing the length of our feet. Make sure the shoes you are wearing have about 1/2″ space between the tip of the shoe and you big toe.
- Wear orthotics – Fitted orthotics can significantly improve joint alignment. Most over the counter orthotics might provide temporary foot relief, many aren’t design to help improve posture which directly influences back pain.
- Go to a running shoe store to get fit for shoes – Even if you don’t run, the running shoe store has an amazing number of options for all kinds of feet. The employees at running shoe stores are often trained to analyze foot strike patterns to help you find the shoe that fits your individual need. Runners are the ultimate footwear users, learn from their experience.
- Form versus fashion – Telling a woman not to wear high heels is like telling them to jump off a tall building, you just don’t do it. But there are considerations, high heels have a lot of potential negative effects on our feet and back. Limit how long you wear high heels. Carry a pair of flats with you to change out in when you are going to be on your feet for much of the day, and put the high heels on when it is “necessary”.
- Sandals – Limit sandal and flip-flop wear. They provide little to no support for the foot and can lead to foot problems, resulting in back pain. Flip flop and sandals should only be worn on a day that involves limited walking or standing.
While your back pain may have many different causes, having a good foundation and making sure you have proper footwear is a good place to start. Footwear and back pain often come together.