Shoes for Back Pain

Articles researched and written by Sally Ann Quirke, a fully qualified professional chartered Physiotherapist based in Ireland.

When it comes to back pain relief products, your shoes and footwear can have a surprising effect on your back pain - and back pain relief!

From the age of 21 I started developing bunions on both feet. Bunions are bony lumps off the side of your big toe! They are actually the top of a bone in your big toe that subluxes laterally, causing this lump of bone to appear!

Bunions can be hereditary but more often they are due to poor foot biomechanics. Following on - poor foot biomechanics can be hereditary or else they can result from injury or trauma to your legs or feet. They are silent but deadly! What I mean by that is that they do not appear overnight. They gradually appear over years, and one day you will see them and the next day they will hurt!

Thankfully, early detection and intervention has resolved the pain and deterioration of my bunions. I wear orthotics, and by understanding footwear I have a wardrobe of shoes that are comfortable and good for my feet and back. I truly believe good footwear is a fundamental part of back pain management.

Recently, I advised a client to wear a higher heel and within one week her back pain had reduced considerably. However footwear is only a part of my overall lower back pain treatment protocol. Good footwear is fundamental in the treatment of biomechanical injuries.

Most of you will be familiar with fallen arches, otherwise known as flat feet. Often people go to their pharmacy or shoe shop and buy “arch supports”, or shoes with inbuilt arch supports. These can often be doing more harm than good. The reason for this is that the cause of your fallen arch must be identified. If it is due to poor alignment of your hip or knee, then these areas must be treated and then appropriate footwear advised.

If you wear supports or shoes for fallen arches and the problem is in your hip you may over time end up with a very sore hip or knee! However, it is a tricky one as when you wear this footwear initially you may feel better. This is due to the shoe or support shifting the weight off the sore part of your foot. However, over time the truth will reveal itself and further breakdown of your body may occur. Seek a chartered physiotherapist’’s opinion, who has studied foot biomechanics in detail before you embark on the wardrobe of unworn shoes!! Trust me I have been there!

So, what are the best shoes for back pain relief?

Unfortunately, there is no simple answer. Each person will require a different piece of advice regarding their shoes. This is dependent on their posture, foot type, weight and the cause of your injury if pain is present.

If you notice you are wearing your shoes to one side, do not continue to attend a cobbler to fix them. Visit a physiotherapist or another biomechanical expert to look at the alignment of your feet and lower limbs before pain and breakdown of tissue occurs. Early intervention and prevention is better than trying to fix a problem after it occurs.

So, back to shoes! An everyday shoe should be deep in the heel cup. It should have an inbuilt shock absorbing insole that travels as far as the top of the inside of the shoe. It should be leather. It should be wide enough at the front to allow for the width of your toes without being too wide! Never buy a shoe one size bigger than your foot to accommodate the width of your foot! This always leads to trouble!

High heels are ok for some and deadly for others. This depends on your back posture. If you have a lordotic lower spine, heels may just drive your back pain crazy! Listen to your body and if you feel aches after wearing heels keep them for very special occasions.

If you have flat arches, bunions, thickened skin under your foot, or pain you may require an orthotic. This is a specific insole designed for your foot. A physiotherapist will mould your foot and assess your body. From this template a perfect position for your foot will be found and you will be very happy indeed.

So far, the results are great and much cheaper than other methods. However, exercises are also an important part of using orthotics. Please ask the professional!

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From a medical perspective, ‘Fallen arches’ or ‘flat feet’ often disrupt normal knee function and hip alignment. This can also cause strain on muscles in the lower limbs and back, leading to a wide range of common complaints

Read more …

Posture Shoes »

Posture shoes

Our individual postures are very different. As a result the height and heel type of the shoe that you wear will influence your posture in a very different way to the person next to you - who is often wearing…

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While the content and materials contained in the articles on this website have been written & researched by Sally Ann Quirke, a professional, practising & fully qualified Chartered Physiotherapist (Physical Therapist) based in Ireland, they are provided for general information and educational purposes only. They do not constitute medical advice on any particular individual situation. Please see your Chartered Physiotherapist or other medical practitioner for full and individual consultation.

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