Back pain is a common condition, which affects about 30% of the UK adult population annually. Many back pain sufferers come to our chiropractic clinic in Ealing, looking for much-needed pain relief.
For some patients, the main treatment challenge is identifying the root cause of their pain. Several lifestyle factors can contribute to back pain, including excessive sitting, failure to exercise, and smoking.
Even the type of shoes you wear can contribute to back pain. In this post, our Ealing chiropractor explains how shoes affect the back and offer a few tips for choosing the right pair of shoes.
Why Shoes Matter To Your Back
The feet are a remarkable part of the human body. Each foot contains over 100 muscles, tendons, and ligaments, along with 33 joints and 26 bones. That’s a lot of components given the relatively small size of your feet. The feet are complex because they have several important roles to play:
- Supporting movement
The feet must change shape as they work with the muscles and joints in the legs to propel the body forward. When you first start walking or running, the foot will form a rigid lever which transfers power from the muscles in the leg through the ball of the foot. Then, after the other foot lands on its heel, the foot splays out and absorbs the shock of your body weight hitting the ground.
- Providing traction
The toes and soles of the feet are incredibly flexible and capable of hugging any terrain you cross. The additional traction they provide prevent you from slipping.
- Improving balance
The flexibility provided by the feet’s muscles and joints also help you maintain your balance. This is why many people find it easier to balance while barefoot.
When you wear a pair of shoes, the feet are constrained and cannot move as they would while barefoot. This is particularly true if the shoes you are wearing are the wrong size, uncomfortable, not flexible enough, or have incorrectly sized arches.
A bad pair of shoes will negatively affect your movement, balance, and traction. This can change your gait and stance, which may force the spine and pelvis into an unusual position.
This postural change can place more pressure on the spine and the intervertebral discs that cushion the spine. This is how a bad pair of shoes can cause back pain.
High Heels Are Much Worse Than Other Types Of Shoes For Your Back
High heels are one of the worst types of shoes you can wear, as they change your posture dramatically by altering the natural S-curve of the spine. They will change the angle of the pelvis and can place a substantial amount of pressure on the lower back and intervertebral discs.
Heels can also increase the amount of strain placed on the knees, ankles, Achilles tendons and calf muscles. This can impact your gait, which might place more strain on back muscles.
So, while wearing high heels might make your legs look fantastic and add a few inches to your height, they can eventually contribute to back pain.
Selecting Shoes That Protect The Spine
Here are a few tips for choosing footwear that protects the spine and reduces the likelihood of back pain occurring.
- Wear lower heels
If you love your high heels too much to get rid of them, consider choosing a shoe with a slightly lower heel. It will place less pressure on your feet and have a less dramatic impact on your posture. You could wear your high heels less often to give your back a break.
- Wear shoes that provide plenty of cushioning
As mentioned earlier, putting shoes on means your feet cannot perform many of the normal movements designed to absorb shocks to your musculoskeletal system. Make up for this loss of cushioning by choosing shoes that have a comfortable foam or rubber sole which absorbs shocks well.
- Ditch the flip flops
Flip flops are another form of footwear which can dramatically change your gait, placing more pressure on the back. They can also increase the risk of injury as you are more likely to trip. Swap them out for a pair of sandals or shoes with good ventilation.
- Update your running shoes regularly
If you go for runs or long hikes, be aware that the foam in your shoes will wear out surprisingly quickly. After about 6 months of regular use, running shoes need to be replaced. To get a little more wear time from your shoes, add memory foam insoles to improve their cushioning capacity.
- Wear correctly sized shoes
It may sound obvious, but make sure your shoes are well suited to the size of your feet. It is often a good idea to go to a shoe shop instead of shopping online, as you can try on many different products from various shoe makers to find the perfect fit. The staff at the shop can also help you measure your feet accurately and find the best possible shoe.
- Don’t skimp when buying shoes
Spend a decent amount of money on a good pair of shoes. Not only will they be more comfortable, they will last much longer than a cheap pair.
- Place orthotics inside your shoes
Orthotics are shoe inserts which provide additional support for the feet. They can be custom made to match the unique shape of your foot, ensuring they are very comfortable.
How Visiting Our Chiropractors in Ealing Can Help
Our chiropractors can perform an assessment of the health of your spine and your posture. They will be able to assess your gait to determine if your shoes appear to be changing the way you move. They can also perform chiropractic adjustments which correct spinal subluxations (misalignments).
Our team of chiropractors are here to help you if you are suffering back pain. To book an appointment call our clinic on 020 8900 9004.