Your body goes through many physical stresses throughout the day. And regardless of how much we try to “fix” our postures in our daily lives, the accumulation of hours walking in the wrong pair of shoes can actually cause your spine to misalign over time.
Did you know – when you’re walking, you put the force of as much as 5 times your body weight on each foot! By nature, humans were originally designed to move on all fours, rather than upright on our two feet.
The wrong pair of shoes alters the way you walk, stand, and balance, which ultimately affects your spine and the distribution of body weight. It might be time to take a second look at the shoes you wear and see if you are aggravating your back pain with each step you take.
Here are 5 footwear to avoid wearing on a daily basis:
1. Flip Flops
While these shoes seem breezy and comfortable (especially in Singapore’s hot and rainy weather), flip flops cause substantial damage to your body because there is no support for your toes and arch of your foot, or cushion to absorb the impact for your heel. In addition, you unknowingly bunch up your toes to keep flip flops from falling off while you walk. This limits the mobility of the front of your foot when you move forward, forcing your hips to work harder to keep you walking. The result is lower body fatigue, muscle imbalance, and a sore lower back.
An alternative to your usual flip flops can be fitted sandals. Having thicker straps ensures that the sandal will be secured to your foot so you won’t have to grip it with your toes as you lift your feet. The footbed would hug and support your arches while helping you maintain natural alignment as you walk. Furthermore, a thicker sole with the right material will provide adequate cushion and support for your heel.
2. Ballet Flats
Ballet flats, while pretty, are typically flat (as per the name), and don’t provide support for the arch of your foot. Poor arch support means the muscles in your body have to accommodate to help you balance as you walk. This alteration can lead to knee, hip, and back problems. Poor arch support can also cause a painful foot condition called plantar fasciitis.
Flats may not provide enough support so it is recommended to find a pair of shoes that provide some kind of cushioning to help you absorb the pressure while walking.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to compromise the convenience of slipping into your next pair of ballet-style shoes. Just remember to choose a pair that activates the right leg muscles, enhances comfort and natural balance as you move.
3. slip ons
Just like flip flops, wearing slip ons causes you to grip your shoe with your toes while walking, or affects your gait (as you struggle to keep the shoe on) which puts immense added strain on your feet and lower legs. The repeated impact of walking with no meaningful support or cushioning, whilst also gripping your toes can cause stress on joints over time – not to mention the immediate discomfort at the time.
It might be better to wear a pair of slip ons that covers your heel as you walk so that you won’t tire your feet out at the end of the day.
4. High Heels/ Dress shoes
While a pair of heels are a staple in most women’s shoe closets, high heels make you arch your back, unnaturally increasing the curvature of your low back. Your gait may change as your pelvis shifts to compensate for this additional stress imposed on your spine. When considering your next pair of heels, try thicker heels within the ideal heel height range of 1 to 2 inches. 2-inch heels are also shown to alleviate the pressure on your feet while walking.
Men, you too are not discounted from heels as dress shoes also have slight heels and such shoes aren’t designed for comfort. Their thin leather soles afford very little cushioning and tend to be hard and slippery. While it can be difficult to find dress shoes with appropriate arch support, adding insoles for dress shoes can make all the difference.
Arch support insoles for dress shoes will significantly boost your comfort by distributing weight over a larger portion of the foot. Opt for a pair of short insoles that are just ⅔ in length. This will ensure that they fit in the low-cut structure of men’s dress shoes
5. Platform heels and wedges
The extra weight and height from these shoes can not only increase the demand on the muscles on the front of the shin, but they also place more stress on your entire body with every step.
But with that said, you don’t have to avoid wearing platform shoes altogether. In fact, platform sneakers are the better option compared to flats or heels as the thicker sole can provide more arch support, shock absorption, and comfort for your feet. You just have to ensure that the height of your platform shoe does not exceed more than three inches and the difference between the front and back of the shoe never exceeds 3⁄4 inches because it will alter your posture and gait.
In summary, before you buy your next pair of shoes, check for stability, flexibility, and comfort. During your test walk, make sure that the shoes fit firmly in place as you move through your entire range of motion for a stable gait during wear.
Tips for better shoes
- Make sure the shoe bends comfortably at the toe box without it being too flexible.
- Make sure there is sufficient arch support that fits naturally to the arch of your own foot.
- When choosing heels, look for chunky ones that are less than 2 inches high
Footwear should be flexible enough to give easily at the base of the toe for a smooth gait, and there should be cushioning at all the right places with plenty of room for the toes to move. Shoes that properly fit your feet mean that your walk will be more natural and healthy which ultimately protects the alignment of your spine.
In partnership with MBT Singapore, we’ve compiled a list of alternatives for the footwear above for you to consider before making your next shoe purchase!
MBT’s shoes are known for their patented rocker bottom sole which helps to change the way how most of us use our muscles to walk/run as well as reduce shock forces to our entire skeletal system.
The shoes are based on the study of biomechanics and natural stability to create the footwear that combines a balance of function and style with its patented construction. Some of MBT’s curved sole benefits include improved posture and balance, activates neglected muscles, reduced lower back pain and enhanced recovery.
1. "Fitted" Sandals
An alternative to your flip flops can be MBT’s LAMU Women’s Recovery Sandal In White. Anatomically shaped foot bed hugs and supports your arches, while helping you maintain natural alignment. Made of a special MBT cushioning material for that ultimate cushioned ride, the deep heel cups cradle and support your heel.
Accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association for promoting quality foot health.
2. Cushioned "ballet" flats
MBT HANA Women’s Fitness Walking Shoe In Taupe. With slip-on convenience and unprecedented relief and protection, the rockered HANA activates leg muscles, enhances comfort and natural balance as you move. Accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association for promoting quality foot health.
3. Comfortable Slip-Ons
MBT MODENA II Women’s Slip On Fitness Walking Shoe is an example of a comfortable pair of heels that has a cushioned footbed and rubber soles to soften the impact as you walk. First generation MODENA SLIP ON was a huge success and had been called back to the collection as people are saying it’s a must have in everyone’s wardrobe. Easy to wear, easy to match and is extremely comfortable. MODENA II has increased comfort and better fit. Accepted by the American Podiatric Medical Association for promoting quality foot health.
4. Block Heels
This post was a collaboration between Chiropractic Singapore and MBT.