Treating back pain often requires a 360-degree approach, and the things you do and wear on a daily basis can have a big impact on how comfortable you end up feeling. That extends to your shoes too.
“Feet are responsible for posture and the alignment of your back while holding up your body weight as you stand or move from one place to another,” Miguel Cunha, a podiatrist and founder of Gotham Footcare, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “Improper shoe gear can lead to back pain.”
If your back pain struggle is real, you’ll generally want to follow a few rules for footwear, according to Melissa Lockwood, a podiatrist at Heartland Foot and Ankle Associates in Bloomington, Ill. For starters, you’ll want to swap out your go-to shoes for a new pair every six months. “If you’re wearing older shoes and they’ve worn down, it can throw your gait off and increase your back pain,” Lockwood says.
When it comes to buying a new shoe, you’ll want to make sure that what you buy has a natural arch support in it, Lockwood explains. Shoes with specifically engineered foot beds and molded EVA midsoles are also good options because they help support your foot, heel and arch, which helps support your ankles, knees and back, says Cunha. You also can’t go wrong with a shock-absorbing outsole, ideally one made of rubber. That “will help alleviate the impact of each step on the spine far greater than a shoe with a hard sole,” Cunha adds.
In general, you want to steer clear of stiletto high heels and flimsy flip-flops, since they don’t offer up much support for your feet — and therefore back — at all, Lockwood says.
Here are some great sneaker and shoe options to get relief from back pain.
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You need to be wary of many ballet flats when you suffer from back pain (largely because they usually don’t offer up good support), but Vionic shoes have a lot of great features that make them an exception to the rule, Lockwood says. This slip-on has an EVA foot bed and thermoplastic rubber outsole for comfort. An elasticized collar also ensures that the shoe will stay where it belongs — on your foot.
Brooks and comfort practically go hand-in-hand, and that extends to your back as well. The Ghost 11 feels lightweight but has great arch support and plenty of cushioning to keep you comfy while you work out or just go about your day. It also comes in several different shades, so you can find the look that’s right for you.
In the market for a sandal with great support? Look no further. The Farra has a microfiber-lined EVA foot bed for shock-absorption and arch support, and a durable rubber outsole for traction control.
This sneaker has Mizuno Cloudwave technology to give you extra cushioning. It also has a carbon rubber outsole for long-lasting wear and a DynaMotion Fit upper to help keep your feet supported, no matter what you’re doing.
You don’t have to sacrifice your back’s comfort for dressier occasions. The Naturalizer Erica has all the great features you expect with a Naturalizer shoe, but in a cute silhouette. These Mary Janes have a durable non-slip outsole and contoured footbed with arch support to keep you comfortable, no matter what.
For those times when you just need to have fun with your footwear, there’s the Onitsuka Tiger. These shoes come in a wide range of fun colors, but still have all the back-friendly features you need like a cushioned foot bed for support and rubber outsole for shock-absorption.
Shop it: Onitsuka Tiger by Asics, $80, zappos.com
If you’re in the market for a pair of flip-flops that won’t wreck your back, Clarks is here with the answer to your prayers. The Breeze Sea thong has the look of a flip-flop, with the comfort and support of a sneaker. These sandals have an EVA foam foot bed and rubber outsole for support and traction. The outsole is also way thicker than that of your standard flip-flop, making shock-absorption a non-issue.
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