Does your back bother you when you wear high-heeled shoes and dance the night away? After jogging five miles in your favorite tennis shoes? If it does, you’re not alone. To get to the root of your backache, start at your feet.
Your Amazing Feet
Your feet are complicated things. Each foot has 26 bones – together they have nearly one-quarter of the bones in your entire body. Your feet are specially designed to take you places while carrying the weight of your body.
When the Shoe Doesn’t Fit
In normal movement, your big toe maintains balance and your body weight is centered over your foot. The wrong shoes can disrupt this balance and make your back ache.
* High-heeled shoes throw off your body’s natural balance, forcing you into a swayback position that puts stress on your lower back.
* When you buy shoes that are too small, your feet wind up adjusting to the shoe, resulting in problems such as hammertoes, bunnions, calluses or ingrown toenails. Cush problems can make you change the way you walk to take pressure and weight off the sore foot. Doing this tends to pull an strain on your muscles and throw off your natural alignment.
* When you wear sandals or the wrong type of shoe for jogging, walking or other exercise, your feet don’t get enough support and protection.
* Wear protective shoes on the job if your feet are at risk of injury.
Put Your Best Foot Forward
Although proper foot care doesn’t prevent or solve everybody’s back pain, improper foot care often leads to serious back problems. Wear the right shoes for each activity and make sure your shoes fit properly.
When Buying New Shoes
* Shop for shoes in the afternoon when your feet are at their largest. Your feet tend to swell late in the day.
* Choose shoes of leather or fabric so your feet can breathe.
* The end of your longest toe should be a thumb’s width away from the end of the shoe when you’re standing.
* Measure both feet and buy shoes that fit the bigger foot comfortably.
* If shoes are uncomfortable in the store, don’t buy them with the idea you’ll “break them in.”
* Make sure your new shoes are comfortable by walking on carpet for a while. Most stores will give you a refund if the soles have not been worn or soiled.