Your Footbone’s Connected to Your Backbone

January 27, 2008

Does your back bother you when you wear your high-heeled shoes and dance the night away? After jogging five miles in your favorite tennis shoes? If it does, you’re not alone. The connection between back pain and your feet is well documented but often overlooked. To get to the root of your backache, start at your feet.

Foot Facts

Your feet are complicated structures. Each foot has 26 bones. Together they have nearly one quarter of the bones in your entire body! Your feet are designed for mobility and to bear the weight of your body.

In normal movement, the big toe maintains balance and the body weight is centered over the foot. Ill-fitting, inappropriate and too-high shoes can disrupt this balance and make your back ache.

When The Shoe Doesn’t Fit

High-heeled shoes throw off your body’s natural balance, forcing you into a swayback position that places stress on your lower back.

Shoes that are too narrow in the forefoot or too tight in the toebox when you buy them probably will not stretch. Your feet will wind up adjusting to the shoe, This adjustment can create hammertoes, bunions, corns and calluses as well as throw off your natural alignment.

When you wear tennis shoes or sandals for jogging, walking or other exercise, your feet do not get adequate support and protection. Wearing inappropriate shoes on the job can result in serious injury.

Many common foot problems are responsible for back pain. Pain from bunions, calluses and ingrown toenails may make you adapt your walk to take pressure and weight off the sore foot. Doing this tends to pull and strain your muscles and throw off your natural alignment.

When buying new shoes, keep these pointers in mind:

  • Your feet tend to swell late in the day. Shop for shoes in the afternoon when feet are at their largest.
  • Choose shoes of leather or fabric so your feet can breathe.
  • The end of your longest toe should be a thumb’s width away from the end of the shoe when you are standing. You should be able to pinch the leather across the widest part of your foot.
  • Measure both feet and select shoes that fit the bigger foot comfortable.
  • If shoes are uncomfortable in the store, don’t buy them.

Put Your Best Foot Forward

Although proper foot care doesn’t prevent or solve everybody’s back pain, improper foot care often leads to serious back problems. Follow these simple precautions to protect your feet and back. Select appropriate shoes for your activities, make sure your shoes fit properly and follow good foot hygiene.


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