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Improving Your Spine Health, One Shoe at a Time

By Donna Stark

Several years ago, I moved from the northeast to the southwest, and in the process, I was able to lighten my load. I donated my parkas, snow pants, and other winter gear and opted for "cruise line casual." My preferred choice of footwear? Flip-flops. And although I don't miss my snow boots, or the three layers of socks I used to wear with them, I do miss my pain-free days. Because you see, it was all a little too easy for me to wear flip-flops every day for most of the year, and before I knew it, my back started to hurt as much as my skin did in that cold winter weather.

Shoe Choice is a Big Deal

If you've been experiencing back pain and can't seem to figure out why, try looking down. Your shoes can have a significant effect on your spine, and unbeknownst to you, may be the cause for your discomfort. And while this is typically more of an issue with women, poor footwear choices can also be made by men too, so basically, we're all starting our days on the wrong foot. Let's take a look at the biggest culprits.

  • High heels - High heels keep your body in a position that isn't very spine-friendly and can cause increased incidences of back pain. High heels tilt the pelvis and place the hips out of proper alignment. They put excessive pressure on the knees and increase the risk of injury to your ankles. Wearing them on a regular basis can have significant effects on the body because they cause your entire posture to change. And the change is definitely not for the better.
  • Flip-flops - The ease and convenience of flip-flops often make them the preferred choice of footwear when the weather allows, but if you are like me, and wear them more often than not, you may be sacrificing the health of your spine for that convenience. The problem with this type of shoe is that they do not offer any type of ankle or foot support, which can leave you extremely vulnerable to back pain, poor spine health, injuries, and extra strain on your joints.

Tips for Picking a Great Pair of Shoes

Keeping these tips in mind when shopping for shoes will help reduce your pain and improve the overall health of your back and spine. Take a look.

  • To get an accurate fit, go shoe shopping in the afternoon
  • Get your feet measured every year before buying new shoes
  • Wear the same type of socks that you intend to wear with the shoes
  • When trying on new shoes, walk around and take some time to stand in them
  • Choose shoes that provide ankle and foot arch support
  • Prevent blisters by choosing shoes that don't rub against parts of your foot
  • Check the tread of the shoe for extra safety

Shoes as a Health Investment

You may not have looked at it this way, but buying the right kind of shoes is an investment in your overall health. So don't be like me. Make some smarter choices with what you put on your feet every morning and enjoy those pain-free days, no matter where you live!

To learn more about your health, wellness, and fitness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic in West Sacramento, Calif.

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