Imagine for a moment, from the time you were a child, that you were told to put gloves on your hands every time you left your home. Your fingers would be pressed together, unable to feel the world, isolated from outside stimulation. Can you imagine what your hands would look like? Would you be able to write or type, to pick up small objects or be able to grip objects tightly?? Probably not.

Well this is what we do to our feet! They’re put in gloves that squeeze our toes together all day. We comfort them with support and then we can’t think of why our feet are so ticklish or weak, or why we roll our ankles so much! As a local Mesa chiropractor, I’ve seen this many times!

The shoe that is culturally fashionable is somewhat detrimental to our health and posture. If you look at your shoe it is funnel shaped, bigger at the heel than the toe. Our feet are actually shaped the opposite way! Our toes should spread out and be free to feel around. 

Shoes and sneakers today also have a heel that is higher than the toes. This small heel places our calves in a shortened state, which shortens our hamstrings, and pulls on our low back creating low back pain! 

Lastly, support in shoes is like walking on a mattress all day. Without feedback from the ground through the foot, the ankle has no reference as to what it’s stepping on and where it’s stepping! This causes instability up the entire “chain” and can cause an unstable pelvis and spine, which can perpetuate low back pain.

Think of the foundation of a building. If the foundation is soft, the building will eventually topple and fall. But if the foundation is strong, then the building is strong from the ground up. Our bodies are the same. As a Mesa chiropractor, I have seen many patients with the wrong foundation; shoes that cause pain higher up in their bodies.

So if you’re having low back pain, check your shoes first. I recommend a slow transition to minimal shoes. This transition can take up to 8 months. This is due to the adaption of the ligaments in the foot slowly becoming more malleable and spread with the changing environment. But it’s worth it for a lifetime without low back pain.

How To Fix Low Back Pain With My Shoes

1. Transition from normal sneakers to ALTRA sneakers – they have a zero drop, meaning the heel and the toes are level. Alternate between these shoes starting at an hour a day in the ALTRAs and increasing an hour a day per week until you can tolerate them all day.

2. ALTRA sneakers to minimal sneakers – there are various minimal sneakers that are preferable. I wear Merrell Vapor gloves. The Merrell Trail gloves are a perfect balance between minimal and protection from the environment. They have little support, which is a good thing! We want our feet to support themselves. Again, transition slowly, starting with an hour a day in the minimal shoes and slowly increasing every week.

Avoid pain! If you have pain in the new shoes then wear what’s comfortable. Some days you’ll be able to wear the minimal shoes longer, some days you won’t be able to wear them at all. 

The end game is to reduce your low back pain! Reduction of other pain is just a huge plus!!

Seeing your chiropractor will also help the transition move along more quickly. Adjusting the feet, ankles, and low back will put you in perfect position to adapt to the change as quickly as possible. 

Good luck, from Goodman Human Performance!