Fancy or Flimsy: Footwear Choice Makes a Big Difference in Back Pain
When it comes to footwear, what comes first: style or function?
For many of us, answering honestly, it would be style, right? We often choose shoes on the basis of their good looks, perhaps even the brand, before considering how those shoes will support our entire body. But shoes must be looked at as part of the big picture!The fact is, walking is the action with the most potential for reptitive trauma for our entire body. We should strive to walk about 10,000 steps a day; falling short of this, we are still striking the ground thousands of times per day. Each steps represents an opportunity to reinforce patterns of shock that travel up the body, affecting every joint in the lower body and spine.
How walking affects the back
In many ways your feet are the front line of defense for your spine. As each foot strikes the ground, shockwaves ripple up the body. So while walking is beneficial for cardiovascular and musculoskeletal health, it also poses a challenge that we need to be proactive about addressing. Each shockwave is absorbed by joints in a successive chain that leads up to your spine. While the intervertebral joints are at the end of the chain, and thus receive the least intense shock compared to the ankles, knees and hips, they are already contending with other forces, namely the weight of the upper body. Any additional shock adds an undesirable burden onto the hardworking joints in the back. What’s more, when a force like striking the ground is not interpreted by your foot properly, the force is liable to create bodily misalignment, joint degeneration and muscular imbalance that is then reinforced with each successive strike. The shoe is your first layer of support to mitigate such potential for damage and dysfunction.
Making a more informed footwear decision
Shoes like high heels, cowboy boots, flats and flip flops each pose different, but equally burdensome, challenges to the spine. They reinforce imbalance and misalignment rather than working to prevent it. If you are going to wear unsupportive footwear, make sure to invest further in customized insoles that will provide your feet with the support they need to protect your spine.