How Your Shoes Play a Role in Your Spine’s Health

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If you’ve ever experienced back pain as most people have, you have likely tried to pinpoint the cause of it. Did I sleep weird last night? Did I pick up something too heavy? Did I twist or turn the wrong way? Sometimes, back pain can be as simple as one of those things, but back pain from those issues will generally go away within a few days. If you have more chronic back pain or recurring back pain, you need to look to your lifestyle habits and explore what might be causing it. While it could be caused by a more serious condition like arthritis, it is most likely due to something you’re doing—or wearing—on a daily basis.

Shoes come in all shapes, sizes, and styles, and depending on what your job is and what your lifestyle is like, you may find yourself in a number of different shoes during any given week. Take a look at the most popular shoe types, how they affect your back pain, and what you can do to ease the discomfort.

How Do Shoes Affect My Back?

The best shoes will fit you perfectly, have proper arch support, give you enough cushion between your foot and the ground, and allow you to walk with your normal gait. Whether you’re a fashionista at heart who needs her high heels, a business professional who lives in flats, a beach lover who wears nothing but flip flops, or somewhere in between, all your shoe choices play a role in how your back feels at the end of each day.

Heels shorten your calf muscles and put too much strain and pressure on the balls of your feet, making you change your gait and shift your center of gravity slightly forward. Heels also offer little to no arch support.

Flats have no arch support and have very thin soles, offering no cushion or shock absorption from the ground. These shoes are also notorious for not fitting properly. Either they’re too small and your toes are squished in them, or they are sliding off your heel with every step you take. Both of these issues cause you to change your gait, which leads to increased pressure and strain on the spine, leading to neck and back pain.

Flip flops and backless shoes are another popular choice for more casual settings, but they also bring about big problems for your spine. You have to squeeze your toes while you walk in order to keep your flip flops on, and that tightens your arch and leads to foot pain, as well as affects your gait. They also offer barely any arch support or cushion, and they tend to make you walk with more weight on the outsides of your feet than on your heel.

Improve Spinal and Overall Health by Upgrading Your Shoes

You don’t have to swear off all of your favorite shoes forever and you don’t have to live in tennis shoes either. However, it’s good to overhaul your shoe selection and make improvements and better choices where you can. Maybe that involves getting custom insoles to give you more arch support, or maybe it means wearing heels only twice a week instead of every day. If you insist on wearing flip flops or flats, choose some pairs that have some decent support, or put an insole in the flats to get more cushion and arch support.

Whether you believe your shoes to be the culprit of your back pain or not, seeing a Charlotte chiropractor can also improve your overall spinal health and bring about relief from your back pain. Visit Dr. Grant Lisetor at Greater Life Chiropractic to learn more about how chiropractic impacts your overall health and wellness. Contact Dr. Grant and make an appointment today!



Stewart, K. “The Best and Worst Shoes for Back Pain.” Everyday Health, 2016 Dec.

Lisón, J.F., Pérez-Soriano, P., Llana-Belloch, S., Sánchez-Zuriaga, D., Salvador-Coloma, P. “Effects of Unstable Shoes on Trunk Muscle Activity and Lumbar Spine Kinematics.” European Journal of Physical Rehabilitation Medicine, 2016 Aug; 52(4): 440-446.


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