7 signs you may be wearing the wrong shoes

shoesYou may think of shoes as a simple fashion statement, or maybe just a functional piece of your wardrobe, but your shoes play a foundational role to your overall health. Here are seven ways to know if your shoes are causing you unnecessary back pain.

Changes to your gait. Pay attention to the way you walk barefoot, and then compare that to your gait when wearing different pairs of shoes. Chances are – especially with high heels – that certain pairs of shoes will negatively alter your gait. This unnatural change can put undue stress on your spine and lead to misalignments.

Uneven balance. If you find yourself off balance when trying to walk in a straight line or even just standing still, that particular pair of shoes will do you more harm than good. Heels especially put you at risk for further injury because they make your whole body unstable.

Walking flat-footed. The correct way to walk is heel first; your weight should be evenly distributed as it rolls back to front – from your heel, to the ball of your foot, and then off your toes as you push forward to continue walking. If you find yourself walking flat-footed, meaning on the middle of your foot, you could be causing damage to your spine due to poor shock absorption.

Poor fit. Shoes that pinch or rub against your skin may cause you to subconsciously change your gait so you can avoid further irritating a point of pain. While you’re focused on your developing blister, your back may start suffering from your awkward changes in posture.

Poor function. The shoes you wear should match the pace and function of your lifestyle. If you spend the majority of your time on your feet, it is essential to find shoes that have appropriate support and fit.

Poor support. Unfortunately, everyone’s beloved flip-flops fall into this category. Extensive walking in flip-flops exposes your spine to stress and unabsorbed shock. Imagine bumper cars without bumpers; it would be quite the jarring experience! Proper shoes act as the “bumpers” for your body, providing necessary shock absorption upon every step and protecting your joints and vertebrae from damage.

Poor quality.  Everyone can appreciate a good bargain, but quality shoes are worth the investment. Purchase 2-3 pairs of quality shoes that you can wear every day. Also consider finding a shoe store with salespeople trained to properly examine and fit you for shoes. They should watch you walk and check the length and width of both feet. They may also consider your height and weight. All of these elements contribute to finding the ideal pair of shoes.

Next time you’re slipping your feet into a pair of shoes, or trying on a new pair for size, think twice about how your shoe choice may be affecting your back.

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