Just as the stability of a house or building is dependent upon the sturdiness of its foundation, the human body’s stability and balance depend on our feet, and the support that we provide to them.
Though neck and back pain can arise from accident or injury, poor posture and many other sources, a large portion of the patients that we see could have avoided their pain if they’d only paid more attention to what they wore on their body’s foundation — their feet.
If you’re not sure about the impact of proper footwear on back pain, just ask anybody who’s ever tried to cook Thanksgiving dinner wearing their bedroom slippers, or something equally unsupportive. It’s a mistake people generally only make once – the following year, they’re likely to be wearing some seriously cushioned athletic shoes – and to be feeling much better when they finally sit down to dinner.
Wearing the wrong shoes can cause a lot more than foot pain. By not providing the rest of your body with adequate support or throwing your spine out of alignment, the wrong shoes can lead to pain in the knees and hips; to headaches; and to tension and pain in the shoulders, neck and lower back.
Slippers and Flip Flops
Most people associate pain from footwear with high heels, but wearing shoes that are so flat that they don’t provide support can create a problem too. Our feet have evolved to support us, but they don’t have the shock absorption or support that is needed to withstand long hours of standing or walking for extended periods of time or long distances. Trying to do either in slippers or flip flops is likely to lead to pain.
All you have to do is look at some high heels to know that they can’t be good for your feet. In addition to the very real risk of falling and spraining an ankle, the high heels that are designed to make the legs look more shapely and to create a leaner, taller appearance can throw your entire spine off balance.
When your center of gravity shifts by more than a couple of inches (which it does when you’re wearing heels that are more than 2” high), you end up walking in a way that strains the back.
Avoid shoes that are any higher, and take them off and switch to supportive athletic shoes if you’re planning on walking any kind of distance or on an uneven surface.
Not all athletic shoes are equal – if you’re not sure of that, take a good look at the so-called “barefoot” sneakers that were popular a few years back. These shoes may have replicated running the way that indigenous people do, but it was also responsible for plenty of back problems, as well as injuries to Achilles tendons.
For athletic shoes to provide the right amount of support, they should have a rigid heel counter and midsole, and a fair amount of cushioning for shock absorption.
For more information, contact us.