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  • Dr. Eric Carlsen

The Impact of Poor Footwear on Back Health: Why Choosing the Right Shoes Matters


different types of women's shoes

As a chiropractor, I am passionate about helping people achieve optimal health and well-being. Often, when we think about back pain and its causes, we tend to focus on factors like poor posture or improper lifting techniques. However, one crucial aspect that is often overlooked is the impact of footwear on our back health. Our feet serve as the foundation for our entire body, and wearing inappropriate or ill-fitting shoes can lead to a chain reaction of problems that extend to our back and spine. In this blog, we will explore the profound effects of poor footwear on back health and understand why choosing the right shoes is paramount to our overall well-being.


Misalignment and Posture

The way our feet interact with the ground directly affects our posture and spinal alignment. When we wear shoes that lack proper arch support or cushioning, our feet are forced into unnatural positions, leading to imbalances in our gait. As a result, our body compensates by adjusting our posture, leading to strain on our back muscles and spinal misalignments. Over time, this can contribute to chronic back pain and discomfort.


Impact Absorption

Walking, running, and even standing involve repetitive impact on our feet and joints. High-impact activities, especially when performed in shoes without adequate shock absorption capabilities, can have a detrimental effect on our back health. When our shoes fail to absorb and distribute the impact forces properly, the jarring effect can reverberate through our spine, leading to increased stress on the vertebral discs and surrounding tissues. This can contribute to conditions like herniated discs, sciatica, and general wear and tear on the spinal structures.


Arch Support and Stability

The arches of our feet are designed to provide support and distribute weight evenly as we move. However, wearing shoes without proper arch support can lead to collapsed arches or excessive pronation (rolling inward) of the feet. These biomechanical abnormalities can result in altered gait patterns and instability, leading to strain on the muscles, ligaments, and joints of the lower back. By choosing footwear with adequate arch support, we can maintain a more neutral foot alignment and promote proper spinal alignment.


Footwear and Lumbar Spinal Stenosis

Lumbar spinal stenosis is a condition characterized by the narrowing of the spinal canal in the lower back. This narrowing can put pressure on the nerves, leading to pain, numbness, and weakness in the legs and lower back. Wearing shoes with high heels or elevated platforms can exacerbate this condition by causing an exaggerated forward tilt of the pelvis, increasing the lumbar lordosis (excessive inward curve of the lower back), and compressing the spinal canal further. Opting for shoes with a lower heel height and good stability can help alleviate symptoms and reduce the risk of aggravating lumbar spinal stenosis.


Footwear and Weight Distribution

Our feet bear the weight of our entire body, and the distribution of this weight plays a significant role in spinal health. Wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow can cause excessive pressure on specific areas of the feet, leading to localized discomfort and altering the way we distribute weight while standing or walking. This can result in compensatory movements, such as leaning forward or shifting weight unevenly, which can strain the muscles and joints of the lower back. Choosing shoes that provide ample room for the toes and allow for proper weight distribution can help prevent these issues.


When it comes to back health, every small decision matters. By recognizing the impact of poor footwear on our overall well-being, we can make informed choices that support our body's natural alignment and function.

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