Sometimes people suddenly start to experience back pain and sciatica and have no idea what they could have done to cause it. Often times they forget to look at their feet! People do not realize that if their shoes are not fitting correctly, it can actually change the way they walk and move around. And even a small change in their gait like that can lead to added pressure on the back, which in turn can lead to back pain and sciatica.
Here are 8 ways that your shoes may be causing or adding to your back and sciatica pain:
- Your shoes don't fit. Any shoe that does not fit like it should can throw off your body's balance. If your shoe is too big, too small, too long, too short, wide, tight, or whatever, get ones that fit properly.
- Your shoes do not provide any support. Support is crucial for your feet and back, especially if you walk a lot. The arch of your feet need to be supported and cushioned to reduce impact.
- You are not wearing the right kind of shoe for whatever activity you are doing. Certain types of shoes are designed for certain things. For instance, running shoes are designed with extra support and "shock absorbers" to help protect your feet while running.
- Your feet have changed but you still have the same shoes. Shoes should be replaced often, even if they are still in good shape. People's feet change sizes as they age, and over the years feet may broaden and arches may change or fall. Make sure to have your feet measured by a professional every time to find any changes to your foot size.
- You do not get custom shoes, even if your doctor says you need them. A lot of doctors or back specialists may recommend buying custom fit shoes to help with your sciatica or back pain. Shoes can be expensive, and custom fit ones can cost a bit more than normal ones. But when it comes to the health of your feet and back, paying a little extra is worth it.
- You do not shop for shoes in the afternoon. Your feet are at their largest in the afternoon, so that is the best time to go shopping. Otherwise your shoes might be too tight in the mornings and evenings.
- You do not buy shoes with sufficient toe room. Many people buy shoes because they look good or fit well enough, but there may not be enough toe room at the front of the shoe. If your toes do not have room to move, it can affect the way you walk and could add to your back and sciatica pain.
- You do not get orthotics if you need them. Orthotics are like systems of padding added or built in to shoes to help restore the foot's natural alignment. This can greatly help in preventing or relieving problems resulting from poor posture and an unbalanced gait, like back pain and sciatica.
If you are one of the many people whose gait is unbalanced, you could end up with sciatica or lower back pain, even with supportive shoes. Some of the problems that can occur include flat feet, fallen arches, or placing too much weight on the outside or inside of your feet. Sometimes this problem is so slight that people do not even realize it until back pain and other issues begin.
To find out if you have an unbalanced gait, get a pair of old shoes that you've worn for a while and check how the sole is worn. Walking shoes tend to wear out more on the heel and running shoes in the middle of the foot, but if the soles of your shoes are worn out more in other areas it may mean your gait is unbalanced.
At the Illinois Back Institute we strive to educate everyone as much as possible about their back pain and sciatica, because it is proven that the more people know about their problem the more likely they are to eliminate it!
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