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Can My Shoes Cause Back Pain?

Woman with back painIf you have back pain, the culprit is not always clear. Sometimes, it can even be something that you wear, and can range from a wallet in your back pocket to the shoes on your feet.

As a chiropractor in the Chesapeake region for more than 20 years, I have had many patients with back pain due to their shoes. In this article, I will explain how your shoes can lead to back pain, and the steps you can take to correct it.

How the Wrong Shoes Can Cause Back Pain

The wrong shoes can lead to back pain for several different reasons related to spine biomechanics. Poor shoe choices can cause a chain reaction impacting not only comfort in the foot, but also in the ankles, knees, and hips – which leads to back problems. Specifically, the wrong shoes:

  • Cause a person’s pelvis to tilt, putting pressure on the back
  • Put a person’s heel below the level of the toe, rotating the pelvis
  • Provide little to no shock absorption, cushioning, or arch support
  • Have a heel exceeding 2 inches, which thrusts your chest forward and interrupts the natural S-curve of the spine, leading to spinal imbalance and back pain

In some cases, a person may have medical issues that require treatment and special attention to their shoes. These include:

  • A leg length discrepancy: Legs that are of different lengths – even if it’s only a fraction of an inch – can lead to back pain as your body tries to compensate for shoes that don’t correct for the height difference.
  • Flat feet (fallen arches): Hyperpronation occurs when the ankle turns inward, but the rest of the foot turns outward. As a result, too much body weight is placed on the inside of the foot, causing the arches to collapse. This causes extra pressure on the knees which leads to imbalance in the hips and lower spine.
  • High arches: Hypersupination occurs when too much pressure is placed on the outside of the foot. This impairs the ability of the foot to absorb shock, and can lead to both shin splints and back pain.

Shoes to Avoid if You Have Back Pain:

Multiple types of shoes can cause or exacerbate your back pain, and it is best to avoid them if possible. These include:

  • Shoes with a completely flat sole: These include flip-flops, ballerina flats, house slippers, and moccasin-style loafers. Such shoes effectively press the heel below the level of the toes. This is called a “negative heel,” which can rotate your pelvis, misalign your spine and lead to back pain.
  • Shoes without shock absorption: These include dress shoes and extremely thin-soled shoes. Because they do not absorb shock, back pain can result.
  • Shoes with cushioning but no support: Some memory-foam style shoes feel soft but do not actually support your foot, leading to back pain.

Tips For Choosing Shoes to Ease Back Pain:

Because everybody is different, the shoes that help resolve your back pain may be different than the shoes that help someone else. However, you should take several factors into consideration when choosing footwear to ease your back pain:

  • Choose comfortable shoes with arch support and cushioning: Shoes that do not support your feet, or that irritate and pinch your feet, can cause you to change your posture, which can lead to back pain.
  • Choose shoes with a slight heel: A heel up to 2 inches in height may alleviate strain on your back.
  • Choose shoes that absorb shock: Some people’s heels strike the ground with excessive force, leading to back pain. Shock-absorbent shoe materials, such as heels made from rubber or cork, can absorb shock when you walk, thereby reducing pain.

Types of Shoes that Can Help Relieve Back Pain:

Some shoes are better than others at relieving your back pain. Good shoe choices include:

  • Birkenstock-style shoes: These shoes are soft but firm, which can help ease back pain.
  • Athletic shoes: Athletic shoes, including running and walking shoes, are specially designed to absorb shock at the pressure points in your foot, making them ideal for preventing back pain.
  • Rocker-bottom soled shoes: Rocking soles allow less pressure on the joints when you walk, which may help alleviate back pain in some people.
  • Prescription orthotic shoes and inserts: Although often more expensive and requiring a visit to a podiatrist, customized orthotic shoes or inserts are specially designed for the biomechanics of your feet and can help relieve pain.

Stopping Shoe-Related Back Pain at Precision Spinal Care

At Precision Spinal Care, I believe strongly in making sure that you have all the information you need to make a well-informed choice about chiropractic care, and the type of chiropractic care that may best serve your health care needs.

My experience and expertise in spinal biomechanics allow me to competently and safely address your back issues, including those related to the biomechanics of your feet. I am a trauma and hospital-qualified spine management physician. I have credentials in MRI spine interpretation, spinal biomechanical engineering, and orthopedic testing through the Academy of Chiropractic. I am also a fellow in Spinal Biomechanics and Trauma which is recognized through the SUNY Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine.

As a certified NUCCA chiropractor and spine management physician, I work closely with you to optimize your health. I base all my treatment plans on the most recent clinical evidence and studies about chiropractic care. To accomplish your care goals, during your first visit, I will do a thorough examination. Afterward, I will go over my evaluation with you in detail. I will discuss my treatment strategy with you. I will take the time to answer all your questions and make sure you are comfortable with the facts about chiropractic care.

Together, we will set reasonable expectations and milestones. We will also put together a treatment plan that meets your care needs. I will reevaluate you to make sure you are meeting your goals.

If I find that chiropractic care is not the best solution to suit your needs, I will recommend the type of specialist who is most appropriate for you.

We understand that you need to explore all your options when you look for expert treatment. At Precision Spinal Care, we are happy to help you determine the best way to address your specific needs and discuss all your options.

Call our office at (757) 382-5555 to speak to the doctor or set up a consultation. You can also set up an appointment through our webpage.

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