Your Shoes May Be the Culprit for Your Chronic Low-Back Pain


If you suffer from chronic low-back pain, it’s natural to assume that the underlying cause of your condition is located in your back. In fact, problems like herniated discs, compressed spine, and muscle spasms are indeed the main culprits for this type of pain, especially if it doesn’t subside over time. However, if your physician cannot locate the cause of your chronic pain in the back itself, it could be the result of problems stemming from the area of your body you least expect: your feet.

Foot Problems Lead to Misalignments in the Spine

Common foot conditions like plantar fasciitis, over-pronation, and flat feet can affect the manner in which people carry their weight in the feet. When this occurs, people compromise their natural gait to compensate for pain that arises when they walk. Over time, this unnatural gait places excessive pressure and strain on the muscles that support the back, causing misalignments in the spine that eventually lead to chronic low-back pain, accompanied by muscle spasms and strains.

What Do the Shoes Have to Do with It?

Although issues with your feet can occur on their own, the type of shoes you wear on a regular basis can make these conditions worse. Ensuring proper support of your spine begins with maintaining good posture and gait, and the shoes you wear can negatively affect the way you walk, placing additional strain on your feet, legs, hips, and most importantly, your back. Once your natural walking motion and postural support are compromised by your footwear, chronic
pain is likely to develop after trying to compensate for the lack of support.

The Worst Choices

There are several types of footwear that can be detrimental to your spine health, and if you wear them on a regular basis, they may be the cause of your chronic low-back pain. Following are three of the worst choices that can lead to issues with your feet, back, and spine:

  1. High Heels: Many podiatrists refer to high-heeled shoes as “shoe-icide,” as they are known to cause anything from ankle sprains to chronic back pain. Whether they are exceptionally high or mid-heel, these shoes place the foot in an unnatural position which affects an individual’s natural walking motion. Not only can this lead to chronic pain in the muscles and bones of the feet, it also displaces the position of the hips, causing misalignments in the spine.
  2. Flats: Flats offer no arch support for the feet, keeping them from functioning at their optimal level. Over time, this can lead to chronic pain in the feet, knees, hips, and back. In fact, poor arch support has also been linked to the painful foot condition known as plantar fasciitis, characterized by weakness, swelling, and irritation in the ligament that connects the heel bone to the toes.
  3. Flip Flops: Like flats, flip flops offer no support for the natural arch of the foot. Unfortunately, these shoes are a staple for many people during the warmer months of the year, causing serious pain in the feet, legs, and back. Wearing flip flops for long periods of time also affects the muscles used for walking, altering natural gait and causing additional strain in muscles that normally would not be put under such immense pressure during daily walking.

There are a number of reasons why your footwear may be your back’s worst enemy; however, it is unrealistic to recommend people to only wear the most comfortable and supportive shoes at all times. Certain occasions like days at the beach or a formal gathering often call for unsupportive footwear – the key is to understand why these shoes are causing you problems and try to limit the amount of time you wear them. If you suffer from chronic back pain, pay special attention to the shoes you wear each day – it could be the solution you need for pain-free living.

About the Author: Dr. Marc Browner is a Co-owner and practicing chiropractor at Windmill Health Center in Weston, Florida. A graduate of the University of Florida in 1991, he earned his Doctor of Chiropractic degree from Life Chiropractic in 1995. In private practice since 1998, Dr. Browner is a member of the Florida Chiropractic Society, the Florida Chiropractic Association, and he attends continuing education seminars, classes, and workshops to remain abreast of the most current treatment methods and technological advances in the field.


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