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High Heels and Flip-Flops Cause Back Pain

What do shoes have to do with your spine pain? Everything!

Shoes support your entire body as the only contact between you and the ground. Alignment, support, ride quality … Hey, this is beginning to sound like a tire commercial. Well, shoes are like tires because they provide for your comfort (ride quality), your stability (support), and your posture (alignment). Good shoes can put you on the road to spine health.

Comfort
Suppose you had to walk around barefooted on a concrete floor for a few hours. That would not feel very comfortable because nothing is cushioning you against the jarring of the hard surface. With every step like a jack-hammer, the impact travels all the way to your spine. Pound, pound, pound … Over time, these shock waves will cause pain in the pressure-sensitive structures of your spine like the discs, joints, and ligaments.

You must buffer your back against the hard reality of the ground. Most high-heeled shoes, cowboy boots, and sandals (including flip-flops) fail to give a cushy step in your stride. You need air pillows to ease the hurt caused by the hard ground. The tire manufacturers figured that out when they switched from hard rubber to inflatable tires. Before you hit the road, it's time for you to upgrade to better ride quality with well-cushioned shoes.

Stability
Your shoes also need to be very supportive. If your foot is wobbling, slipping, and sloshing around, all the extra movement travels right up the leg to your spine, which is hanging on for dear life just to maintain balance. Some women seem to enjoy teetering on their toes in the spiked high heels. Walking should not be a balancing act that places your body at risk for injury.

Flip-flop wearers especially endure an unstable shoe. Flip-flop, flip-flop … That is what the heel is doing, just flopping around. A good shoe always controls the heel with a strap or a cup. By stabilizing the heel, your shoes should provide a solid foundation for the entire limb and spine. Without good footing, your back will blow out from all that stressful shaking and leave you stuck at home.

 

green flip-flops, white sandles

 

Posture
When was the last time you checked your alignment? That's right your alignment—your posture. Start by checking your feet. Foot position affects the position of your ankles, knees, hips, and spine.

High-heeled shoes unnaturally place the heels above the toes. Even the slightest adjustment to the foot can throw off your body's entire alignment. The spine is very vulnerable because it has specially designed curves that evenly distribute your weight. High heels alter these curves. Eventually, this poor posture places too much uneven wear on the discs, the joints, and the ligaments of the back.

Wear out your back parts and you will have pain. All the parts in you (or your car) have to lineup properly or the whole system breaks down, leaving you on the side of the road.

A shoe has everything to do with how your back feels. By providing comfort, stability, and proper posture, your shoes are the foundation for you. Shoes are the only contact between you and the road. And like tires, shoes have everything to do with your performance on the road.

It is fine to wear bad footwear (like high heels and flip-flops) occasionally; just don't make it a habit because unhealthy habits lead to chronic pain. So next time you choose shoes to wear, think about choosing to feel better. With comfortable ride quality, stable support and proper alignment, your spine will feel better over the long haul.

Updated on: 09/07/12
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