MD Podiatrist Provides Tips on Buying Shoes if You Have a Bad Back

When determining what shoes are best for back pain, podiatrists say it is particularly important to avoid a rigid design, or shoes that do not bend easily in the forefoot. “If the forefoot cannot extend properly, this causes excessive contracture of the calf muscles, which will overly flex the knees and unlock the pelvis,” says Dan Michaels, DPM. Because an unstable pelvis leads to tightened lower-back muscles and pain, you’ll want to be mindful of the rigidity of a shoe when making a selection.
Orthopedic shoes are designed to fit the foot of the wearer and may eliminate “tight spots” and compression forces on the foot, which can lead to compensations in gait that can cause back pain. If your back pain is mostly due to foot deformity and conventional shoes are not a good fit, Dr. Michaels says orthopedic shoes may be a good solution. “If back pain is coming from unstable, hypermobile feet, then walking shoes-which are more stable and more rigid than running shoes-would be the right shoe,” Dr. Michaels says. “If the back pain is coming from rigid, non-flexible feet, then a soft, shock-absorbing running shoe would work best.” In other words: It’s not always (or ever) one-size-fits-all.