Helpful Information

How Your Shoes Affect Your Spine

Are you experiencing unexplained back pain? If so, your shoes might be to blame. Often, back pain that is attributed to footwear begins in the lumbar (lower spine). Your feet support your entire body, including your spine. They absorb the shock your body experiences while running, walking, dancing, etc. If you choose shoes that don’t offer your feet proper support and protection from that shock absorption, your spine could become compromised and lead you to have back pain. Below are some tips for choosing the right types of footwear, stretches for your feet and more.

Choose the Right Shoes

Ironically, two of the worst shoes for your spine are flip flops and high heels. With high heels, when you put them on, your posture immediately changes. Often, when wearing heels, people begin to move their lower back forward without even noticing. This leads to lower back pain and discomfort. With flip flops, your foot is completely flat and your gait shortens, becoming unnatural. This also leads to pain and discomfort around the spine. While the right shoes may not be the most fashionable, they’re worth it in the long run.

Stretch Your Feet

It’s not always feasible, whether due to a job or special occasion, to wear shoes that aren’t the best for our spine health. But, you can stretch and exercise your feet to help them better support you, no matter what kind of shoe you are wearing. Try spending some time with your feet before you start your day and when you end it. Simply pointing and flexing your toes, lifting and lowering your heels, and rolling out your ankles for 5-10 minutes every day can make a huge difference. And, for those who have flat arches, consider rolling your arche along a tennis ball or an aluminum can, to give them a nice massage.

Take Your Shoes Off 

Your feet were designed to support you without shoes on. So – yes – we are telling you to go barefoot from time to time. Whether you walk around your house or in your front yard or take a jaunt down the beach sans flip-flops, by giving your feet time without shoes, you’re reminding them that they can support your spine all on their own.

Get Fitted For Shoes

For runners, athletes and other people who spend the majority of their day on their feet, it’s worth getting fitted for shoes. There are many local shoe stores and other businesses that will take you through a short test that will help you find the right shoes for your feet (and spine).


Dr. Bendt P. Petersen is an orthopedic and neurospine surgical specialist with over twenty years in operative clinical practice. He is a fellowship-trained surgeon whose practice is the only one in the Mobile-area devoted exclusively to the treatment of your spine. The Center for Spine Health employs the most advanced operative and nonoperative therapies in concert with the most highly-trained physical therapists and other advanced ancillary practitioners to help you live the life you want to live.

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