The Worst Shoes for Back Pain

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Back pain is the second most common reason for doctor visits. While sports injuries and ruptured discs are among the causes of back pain, shoes are an equally common if less obvious cause. The feet are the body’s foundation, so anything that affects them can affect the rest of the body. Improper shoes, for example, can throw the whole body out of alignment.

1) High heels

Any heel that’s over an inch high creates an angle that forces the wearer to walk with slightly bent knees and an arched back. That unnatural posture puts stress on all the joints and muscles from the ankles up, and that strain makes it way up to the spine. Nor is this just a problem for women. Dress shoes and cowboy boots for men can also have high heels and thus cause the same problems.

2) Very flat shoes

Extremely flat shoes like ballet slippers are also bad for the back. Many of them provide no support for the arches. Some researchers have found that extremely flat shoes create 25 percent more impact pressure on the feet than do high heels. That pressure goes up the legs to the hips and lower back and eventually causes constant pain.

3) Old shoes

Even if they fitted perfectly when new and provided all the support one could ask for, shoes do eventually wear out. They lose their support and shock absorption capabilities, and those changes can force you to alter your posture and gait to compensate. Over time, those changes affect the back.

4) Flip flops

Flip flops cause the same problems that ultra-flat shoes do. Additionally, in order to keep flip flops on your feet while walking, you have to tightly grip the thong with your toes. That makes it harder to move the front of the foot forward, and your hips have to compensate. Consequently, you end up with tired muscles, trouble balancing, and a sore back. Flip flops also force you to take smaller steps, so you take more steps and increase the impact pressure on your feet and back.

5) Rocker bottom shoes

Rocker bottom shoes are a kind of sneaker with a curved bottom that allegedly helps you burn fat all day long. What really happens is that the curved bottoms make your gait unstable so your muscles have to work harder to keep you upright and moving. The super-thick bottom also keeps your foot from flexing properly, so your body absorbs more impact when you walk. As a result, you can develop pain everywhere from your feet to your back.