Back pain can be both annoying and debilitating, and its source is often a puzzle. From poor posture to overuse of muscles, many things can cause back problems, and the solution often lies in eliminating the source. One common cause of back pain that is frequently overlooked is inappropriate or inadequate footwear.
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The Shoe-Spine Connection
The old spiritual that says "the knee bone is connected to the hip bone" holds golden nuggets of truth that apply to human skeletal alignment. When one joint is out of line, it sets off a chain reaction that throws other joints off-balance, and places strain on the spine. Healthy posture promotes a strong and stable spine. Because good posture begins with the feet and ankles, supportive shoes lay the foundation for proper postural alignment that takes stress off the spine.
Ergonomically Correct Footwear
A growing class of footwear is ergonomically engineered to coax your body into proper postural alignment. In an April, 2009 article published in Northwestern University's Medill Reports, author Gina Morgano identifies five basic goals of ergonomic footwear: Proper body weight distribution, improved postural alignment, better balance, decreased back pain and improved muscle tone. The design of this genre of shoes varies to include earth-type shoes which place the heel below the forefoot, rocker soled shoes that force you to find your balance as you walk, and sandals with wobble board technology. Reports of the effectiveness of ergo-shoes vary, and the jury is still out with regard to their benefits.
Fit is Paramount
Shoes that fit correctly will give you the best support and stability and will be most effective in protecting your spine. Rex King of Foot Solutions warns buyers, "Don't be hung up on name brands." King emphasizes the importance of getting a well-fitting shoe for your particular foot type. Shoes should be painlessly comfortable, with good arch support, shock absorption and stability. Trying on different brands of a similar style will help you narrow your selection to the shoe that works best for you.
To a certain point when buying shoes, you get what you pay for. Inexpensive shoes may feel comfortable when you try them on in the store, but their ability to perform on the job will not measure up over time. Quality footwear incorporates design technology and materials that endure, costing you less in the long run. Athletic shoes in particular should be selected for quality because of the high levels of stress they are subjected to, and their important role in protecting you from injury.