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Are your shoes causing you pain?

Published in For the Health of It Author: Patti Regnier, Physical Therapist

When I was dating my husband, his mother once asked me, “Why do my feet hurt all the time?” When she saw me look down at her shoes, she said “And don’t say it’s because I always wear sandals.” Never before have I ever been so afraid to say: “Yes, your shoes are causing you pain.”

When a patient comes to therapy to address any kind of joint pain (back, hip, knee or ankle), I find myself:

  1. Looking at what shoes he/she are wearing; and
  2. Asking if that is typical of the shoes he/she wears

It is astounding how many people have pain because of inappropriate shoes and how quickly pain can be relieved with appropriate footwear. The foot can affect the body in numerous ways including:

  • foot pain
  • knee pain
  • hip pain
  • low back pain
  • shoulder and neck tensions
  • headaches

The feet are the foundation of the body. If the shoes you wear don’t give you the proper support, they can cause discomfort throughout your body.

Flip-flops are flat shoes that offer no arch support, heel cushioning or shock absorption with walking or other activities. This can strain the muscles and joints through the legs and even the low back. Flip-flops and/or sandals should not be worn for walking at any length and certainly not for any exercise.

High-heels throw off your alignment and may lead to injury and increased pain. High-heels change the center of gravity, causing extra stress and strain on the low back so then you don’t walk in a natural posture/position.

A good supportive shoe has:

  • A rigid heel (back of the shoe) for shock absorption to prevent joint pain in the legs/back.
  • A rigid midsole (middle sole of the shoe) to disperse weight through the foot.
  • Laces that are tightly tied for improved support.