Back pain can come from a variety of sources, but don’t overlook your feet. Specifically, your shoes. Your footwear choices may be the soul of your problem, so to speak.
Two New York City–based podiatrists, speaking in Everyday Health, offered tips for how to choose shoes to help ease the pain. They agreed shoes should feel comfortable and not pinch any part of your foot. No matter how good they look, don’t buy shoes that are too tight, too loose or unsupportive.
Start with the heel. A heel that’s the same height as or lower than the toe affects the way your leg and pelvis move which, in turn, affects your spine and lower back. The ideal heel range is between 1 and 2 inches. Most men’s shoes have the heel and toe on the same level, which might help explain why men have less back pain than women.
How well the heel absorbs shock is also key. Some people strike the ground harder than others with their heel, sending a shock up their legs and toward their back. Cork heels can help, as can rubber heels or wedge-style shoes.
Sandals and flip-flops don’t provide much support because their soles are too thin to absorb this shock. Most of them also lower your heel below your toes, creating a negative heel. The same goes for loafers and ballerina-type shoes with a very flat sole, which can rotate your pelvis and worsen back pain.
Visiting a podiatrist is a good start when it comes to problems with your feet. Those needing help selecting shoes should consider speaking to a pedorthist [peh-DOR-thist], someone trained on fitting therapeutic footwear and orthotic devices.
Following these simple guidelines can be a step in the right direction in easing back pain.