Let’s use the term “posture shoes” to remind ourselves that this is one of the main functions of all footwear (apart from protecting your feet and keeping them warm!) - and I’m not just talking about MBTs here!
Our individual postures are very different, and as a result the height and heel-type of the shoe that you wear will influence your posture in a different way to the person next to you - even if they are wearing the same type of shoe.
However, before you rush out and buy the right type of shoe to work with YOUR posture - it’s important to take a step back and have a look at how your “body mechanics” are affected by your choice of footwear.
The most common pain presentations I see in my physiotherapy practice related to shoes are:
Lower back pain resulting from wearing high heels for long periods of time while standing or walking. This is due to the effect high heels are having on the curve of your lower back.
When you wear high heels the negative effect is that your lower back is excessively deepened, causing you to have a lordotic posture, or your centre of gravity shifts forwards excessively resulting in you having a sway back posture.
Both these postures resulting from wearing high heels and, over time, may place excess strain on the structures of your lower back thereby causing pain.
Initially the pain you experience may disappear by taking your heels off, but over time the situation may worsen and recovery may not be so easy or immediate. However, high heels combined with posture correction and education can allow you to wear high heels for good lengths of time without problems and pain. So Girls, dont throw out your heels yet!!
Arch and foot pain resulting from wearing shoes with no support. Many fashion shoes are lovely to look at but terrible for your feet. Your foot carries your weight around all day so have a little respect for them! Wear shoes that support your heel, arch and forefoot for the majority of your day. Keep non-supportive (or purely good looking shoes without the structure) for socialising at night!
It is much easier to prevent postural problems that arise from your feet and back, by simply wearing good shoes, than to treat the results of neglect over time.
You should always seek advice from a chartered physiotherapist on the correct type of footwear for your posture type.
My general advice regarding footwear and posture is:
- Never wear high heel shoes for long lengths of time if you suffer from lower back or neck pain.
- Wear supportive shoes that have good heel and arch support.
- Wear shoes that are made from breathable material as often as possible.
- Wear a flexible shoe.
Remember, prevention is better than cure.
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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