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How Your Shoe Choice Can Affect Your Back

Some of the choices we make every day affect how our body feels. One example of this is our choice in footwear.  Believe it or not, your shoe choice can affect your back and any back pain you may experience. Let’s take a look at some shoes that can exacerbate your back pain and others that can help provide support to a hurting back.

how choice of shoes can affect our back

How High Heels Affect Your Back

Many in the scientific community believe that wearing high heels can alter an individual’s posture and cause problems within their spine. However, not all studies have shown this to be the case. (Read more in our article on high heels and your back.)  So, whether or not high heels will create back problems is open to debate.

However, if you have existing back pain, you may find that wearing high heels makes the pain more uncomfortable. If this is the case, try some lower heels, or some flats. When it comes to high heels and your back, it’s best to listen to your body.

Are Flip Flops Bad For Your Back?

We talked about high heels, but what about no heels…or no support. Flip flops are a common shoe in the summertime but are they really good for your back? Unfortunately, they’re not.

Most flip flops offer very little cushioning so your body takes more of the beating with each step you take. In addition, studies have shown that flip flops actually alter the way you walk. Finally, and probably most importantly, there is usually no arch support in flip flops.  The inside arches of our feet help us maintain our body’s alignment and balance as we walk or run. If you have a lower arch or a flat foot, wearing flip flops for long periods of time can be painful for your feet and rest of your body.

Do Insoles Help With Back Pain?

They can. The appropriate footwear should provide support to your heels, toes and arches. If your current choice in shoes doesn’t provide appropriate support then adding an insole or orthotic may be beneficial.

For example, if you have a fallen arch or flat foot, a shoe insert with an arch may help with your balance and stability.

Or, let’s say you have spine condition that puts pressure on your spinal cord, causing pain. The constant movement of your spine as you walk can be painful. Wearing a cushioned insole can reduce the vibration inside your body with each step and may help reduce your pain.

How to Make Good Shoe Choices if You Have Back Pain

It’s easy to see now how your shoe choice can affect your back and/or spine. So what are some other things you should consider when deciding which shoes to buy or wear? Let’s take a look.

  • Wear shoes appropriate for the surface you’ll be walking on.
    • Avoid wearing shoes that are slippery on smooth surfaces.
    • If you’ll be walking on rough terrain, make sure your shoe’s soles will keep your feet protected and help prevent you from falling.
  • Buy shoes that fit.
    • But you can only find those cute shoes in a size too small? Think you can squeeze your feet in them? Maybe you’re better off with a different style that will fit better.
    • Shoes that are too big aren’t good either. They can throw off your balance or make you more prone to slipping.
  • Wear shoes (and insoles) appropriate for your feet.
    • If you have a flat foot or fallen arch, try to find an insole that can provide some arch support.

Dealing with back pain isn’t fun. So, if you have back pain, choosing appropriate footwear is just one thing you can do to help you manage the pain. Think twice before you put your shoes on tomorrow.




*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery