By Jo Van Cutsem
When you think of the causes of back pain, things like sports injuries and heavy lifting probably quickly pop into your head. What you may not know, however, is that there is a less obvious, everyday culprit that can cause that pain: footwear. Your feet are the foundation for all of your movement, and any disruption at that source can put a lot of stress on the rest of your body. Because of this, making healthy decisions about your footwear can greatly reduce your risk for back pain.
Anyone with a job that entails standing for long periods of time, or who regularly has to carry considerable weight at work or at home is particularly vulnerable to the effects of poor footwear.
Connecting backache, and even neck ache to your shoes might not be quite so obvious, however, but the wrong kind of shoe can increase stress on the vertebrae, destabilize the spine and cause fatigue and wear in the muscles and ligaments supporting the spinal column.
It’s not just excessively high heels that can cause back problems; totally flat shoes providing no arch support and the new fitness trend for shoes that separate out the toes can also trigger a cascade of problems in the spine. Some shoes can cause immediate back pain, trigger old injuries to begin hurting again or cause chronic symptoms over time. Shoes affect the way we walk, the way we stand and how much stress is put on the spine as we go about our everyday activities.
A natural gait involves the heel touching the ground first as we step, with the foot’s arch then rolling inwards (referred to as ‘pronation’), then the ball of the foot and the toe make contact and these then provide the momentum to push off the ground again. Those wearing shoes that affect the gait may have either under pronation or over pronation, causing excess shock to the spine or the lower body to rotate inward. Both of these result in excess strain on the back.
Just as ballet flats are terrible for the feet and the spine, so are flip-flops. The peculiar gait necessary to keep flip-flops on the feet causes problems with the back, knees, hips and the feet themselves and such footwear should be avoided for anything other than incidental use at the pool.
When you think of your feet as the foundation for all body movement, it’s easy to understand why worn shoes are a bad idea. They simply don’t offer the support that you need to make sure that your body is moving efficiently and comfortably. Over time, worn shoes offer less shock absorption and arch support, and this can result in back pain as well as a permanent alteration to your gait. Because of this, it’s important to replace your shoes when you notice that they are starting to show wear.
No round-up of shoes bad for the back is complete without the mention of the dreaded stiletto. These narrow-heeled shoes are highly likely to cause a raft of health complications, including leg strain, hip strain, and back pain. High heeled shoes put all the stress on a single point of the foot and every step shoots that stress right up the spine. The body has to work incredibly hard to absorb this stress and balance the body and this can lead to fatigue, wear and tear and premature degeneration of the discs, ligaments, muscles and bones in the spine. Anything over a two inch heel is advised against and even lower heels should only be worn very occasionally as these too can destabilize the spine.
Athletic shoes, on the other hand, have quality cushioning and shock absorption since they are designed for physical activity. Because of this, they are some of the most comfortable, back-friendly footwear options.
Your choice of footwear, together with Eldoa-exercises, offers a daily opportunity to do right by your spine. So, next time you have back ache after a long day standing at work consider whether your shoes are to blame for your lower back pain.
Now, that you have read all the above information, you might understand why we prefer to go barefoot during the workout sessions at SolCore Fitness.
Jo Van Cutsem
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