Back pain is a common condition that affects most people at some point in their lives. There are different kinds of back pain, and while some might be temporary, others might require medical attention...Learn more
Your shoes are not often the first thing you think of when trying to find the cause of your back pain. It might not be a natural conclusion that two parts of your body that seem separate and removed from each other could actually affect each other. That is precisely what happens; how one part of your body moves can affect other areas in your body. This is called a kinetic chain.
Wearing shoes that neglect your back health could mean that your lower back (lumbar) muscles need to work harder to keep your spine aligned. These muscles then become over-worked and stiff, causing back pain and influencing your posture. Besides placing strain on your lower back muscles, wearing the wrong shoe could even cause disc compression or arthritis development.
Why Shoes Can Influence Your Back Pain
Your feet support your entire body when you stand, walk, or run. Wearing ill-fitting or uncomfortable shoes that do not provide the needed cushioning and support could have numerous consequences. They could affect the way you walk as well as your posture, which could affect your ankles, knees, and hips. More than that, it could affect your spine, setting it out of alignment or causing other back problems. Besides affecting your gait and posture, good shoes absorb the impact from walking or running that would otherwise be transferred to your ankles, knees, hips, and back.
Fallen arches (also known as flat foot) could cause something called hyperpronation. The arches collapse and place pressure on the inside of your knees and legs. This causes imbalances and causes more significant pressure on your hips and lower back. On the other hand, supination could cause arches to heighten. Higher than normal arches place strain on the outside of your legs and knees, affecting your hips and lower back. Both flat feet or high-arched feet could lead to severe spinal injuries, particularly to the vertebrae and intervertebral discs.
What are the Worst Shoes For Your Feet
When you wear high heels (higher than 1-2 inches), your lower back curves as your pelvis tilts forward, your chest moves forward, and your knees stay slightly bent. This disturbs the natural alignment of your spine and places strain on your lower back.
Besides this, wearing a high heel shoe also places a lot of pressure on your foot's arch and ball, which could cause or increase back pain. Men's shoes are not exempt from this; even a slight heel like those on some dress shoes could contribute to back pain.
Flip Flops and sandals
Although flip flops or sandals could be nice and soft, they do not give you the cushioning and support you need - especially around the arches of your feet. This could cause pain in your arches, ankles, knees, and back. This favorite summer footwear also requires your toes to clamp down to hold on to your shoe while walking - adding to the strain placed on your feet and legs.
These kinds of shoes have bits on the soles to make them uneven. The idea is that they require you to use muscles that you would not ordinarily use while walking in order to keep your balance. This is supposed to tone your legs and help with weight loss. It also changes your gait and distributes your body weight in a way that could place strain on your Achilles’ tendons. It could also put a lot of tension on your ankles, knees, and back. Toning or fitness shoes could even lead to severe injuries like herniated discs, hip locations, and even broken bones in extreme cases. Best to stick to an old school running shoe or athletic shoe.
Wearing a flat shoe could be as bad for your back as wearing high heels. Flat shoes that do not provide enough support can lead to tight Achilles tendons and place strain on your plantar fascia leading to plantar fasciitis. Your plantar fascia is a web-like ligament that runs underneath your foot, connecting your heel with the front part of your foot. This ligament helps you to walk and supports the arch of your foot. The strain on your Achilles tendon and plantar fascia could lead to overstretching and tearing of the tendons and ligaments in your feet, eventually causing back pain.
Flat shoe - the kind that has thin soles and offers little to no cushioning and support - could place 25 percent more pressure on your feet than high heels. These shoes absorb very little (if any) of the shock you occur when walking. This could injure your feet, hips, and back as the force of the impact is transferred to these areas.
How to Choose the Best Shoes For Back Pain
Good shoes absorb the impact when your feet hit the ground and reduce the force of impact on other parts of your body. They need to be comfortable while providing lots of support and cushioning and stabilizing the position of your feet.
The arch support of your shoes should support the natural arch of your feet. The arches of your feet could be naturally low (also known as flat feet), neutral, or high. If you have either low or high arches, your feet and ankles could overpronate - roll downwards when your foot makes contact with the ground. Overpronation increases the impact with which your feet hit the ground and could affect your body's alignment.
Your shoes should provide adequate cushioning to absorb the impact between your feet and the ground. Shoes with high shock absorbency, well, absorb most of the shock that occurs when your feet hit the ground. That means that there is less shock for your body to take on, keeping your joints - and back - safe.
Shoe soles typically consist of three parts.
- The outsole, which is in contact with the ground.
- The insole, which is in contact with your foot.
- The midsole is sandwiched between the outsole and the insole.
These three parts work together to provide cushioning and support while absorbing shock.
The outsole, especially a rubber outsole, gives you traction and prevents you from slipping and sliding everywhere. Your shoe's outsoles should be sturdy and thick enough to protect you from anything that could hurt your feet, like thorns or other sharp or hard objects.
The midsole is all about providing cushioning for your feet. It is what makes a sneaker and walking shoe feel super soft - some might even liken it to walking on clouds. Good midsoles slightly give way when you put pressure on your foot to lessen the impact of walking or running. Running shoes generally have a thicker midsole to provide more shock absorption, making them heavier. While shoe shopping, you might see something called 'EVA midsole.' This refers to the material that the midsole is made of (ethyl vinyl acetate).
Specialized insoles provide your feet with a supportive shoe you need while cushioning your feet and keeping them comfortable. Prescription or custom orthotics (insoles) are specially designed to provide support, cushioning, and comfort for specific foot shapes or issues. They work similarly to an orthopedic shoe to support and align the position and mechanisms of your feet. Both orthotics and orthopedic shoes aim to reduce foot pain and eliminate or reduce pain in other parts of your body caused by the kinetic chain.
Our Ultimate Insoles give you all the benefits of a custom orthotic insole without the need to make any additional purchase. We are so passionate about your feet and foot health that we use a space-age foam in our insoles. Kuru Ultimate Insoles work with your body heat to mold to your heels, arches, and forefoot. Essentially your Kuru shoes transform into uniquely and specially designed orthotics. This gives you the best support, cushioning, and comfort, almost as if your shoes were designed and made just for you. That makes them some of the best shoes for back pain.
While orthotics work well in closed shoes, they don't always pair so well with sandals or flip flops. Fear not; you are not destined to spend sweltering summer days wearing shoes that leave your feet hot and bothered. Look for sandals or flip flops that provide plenty of support - like our range that includes our Ultimate Insoles as a part of their design. These kinds of shoes give you the airy feel that your feet might crave in summer while giving you all the support and cushioning you need.
Well-fitting shoes should be snug without being too tight. A larger toe box will allow your toes to grip and move naturally as you walk. This will reduce the pressure on your toes and the joints higher up in your body, including your back.
When trying on shoes, wear socks that you would normally wear with them. You might also consider shopping for shoes later in the day once your feet have naturally expanded a bit.
Selecting the right shoe could go a long way to managing, and in some cases preventing back pain. Shoes that provide enough support and cushioning while promoting your feet' natural movement are the best shoes for back pain.