Whether just going for a walk around the block, or going on a five-mile hike, summer is the perfect time to be more active. However, how often do we actually think about the kinds of shoes we’re wearing? After all, we do a decent amount of walking nearly every single day; why should going on a brisk walk down the street or through a nearby trail be any different? But walking shoes play a vital role in our exercising—perhaps even more than we thought.
Good walking shoes serve as protection for our feet, which helps keep the rest of your body aligned. If there’s even a slight imbalance in your feet, it can completely throw off the rest of your body, leading to issues such as alignment problems. As a result of this, your body tends to compensate by redistributing the weight elsewhere.
A small imbalance in your feet may not feel like such a big problem now (and we are all guilty of thinking this way) but minor problems like this can build up over time, leading to bigger, unnecessary problems in the future, like poor posture or spine alignment, muscle strain, and back pain.
If possible, I highly recommend finding a store that will provide a service not often found in large chain retailers, where the employees will watch a customer’s walk to decide which shoe is the best fit for him or her.
A good shoe will help improve both posture and balance while walking and assist with the feet’s ability to roll slightly inward and outward (pronation and supination, respectively).
However, a lot of people have problems with pronation. In fact, many people’s feet will either under pronate (roll excessively outward) or over pronate (roll excessively inward), which can lead to balance problems. In over pronation:
In order to discourage under or over pronation, or other potential foot problems, you really need to pay attention to the kinds of walking shoes that you are purchasing.
When shopping for shoes, you really want to focus on three primary factors: stability (giving your foot a feeling of balance), flexibility (so that the shoes are not too lose but your feet are still comfortable moving and flexing), and comfort (containing padding in the right places, such as the heel and midfoot, to give your feet support while simultaneously leaving a decent amount of room at the front of the shoe).
Particularly, while you’re shoe shopping, pay attention to these parts of the shoe:
Prior to going shoe shopping, make sure to measure both of your feet. Your left foot very well could differ from the right, or vice versa. Also, make sure you measure your feet at the end of the day, because they could swell as the day goes on.
In addition, while trying on shoes, be sure to wear socks like the ones you’ll be wearing while you’re exercise walking.
Do not buy shoes that feel too tight. Despite the break-in period, any shoes that already feel tight are not going improve much and will only lead to further foot pain when you begin walking in them.
Sometimes walking shoes do not provide enough support and you may need orthotics, removable shoe inserts that provide you with better support, cushioning, shock absorption, and balance.
I hope this was able to help you in your next shoe shopping endeavors! However, if you’ve been noticing some consistent pain or discomfort that may be the result of improper walking shoes, please don’t hesitate to contact our Rochester Hills office. We would be more than happy to speak with you about the problem and ways that we can help!
What If Your Back Pain Is Caused By Your Bad Posture? Here Are Simple Tips To Correct Poor Posture And Reduce Back Pain.
Here at Restore Physical Therapy, we help a lot of people with lower back pain and neck pain, we recently had a patient come in with bad back pain and tension and discovered upon evaluating him that this was the result of bad posture. After talking with him about his hobbies and work, we realized he holds a desk job in which he sits for long periods of time, staring at a screen—one very big culprit of bad posture.
Desk jobs are fairly common, and even if you have a job that allows you to move more frequently, many of us are still guilty of developing bad posture, either through sitting at our computers, staring at our phones, or relaxing on our couch after a long day of work.
The results of bad posture can actually be worse than simply a little bit of discomfort, tightness, or pain. Over time, bad posture can alter the anatomy of your spine, increasing the possibility of constricted blood vessels and nerves or muscle and joint problems. These, in turn, can lead to neck and back pain, fatigue, headaches, and, in some extreme cases, problems with breathing and major organs.
That’s why I’m going to give you a few tips on how to improve your posture in different situations and straighten your back in the process.
If you, too, have a desk job, or are in any other kind of situation where you are sitting in an office chair for long periods of time, you want to first make sure that you are sitting with your back against the back of the chair and your arms are at a 75-to-90 degree angle. Your feet should also be planted on the ground, with your knees at the same level as, or even slightly higher than, your hips. And even if you have perfect posture, don’t forget to walk around and stretch from time to time. This will drastically improve your posture, stretch out your back, and make you feel better, helping you to make it through the end of the workday!
If you’ve noticed your posture suffering while standing around, catching up with friends, my suggestion is to keep your feet spread about shoulder-width distance apart and keep your weight mostly on the balls of your feet. However, if you’re standing for long periods of time, you can also try shifting the weight from one foot to the other or rocking back and forth from heels to toes. Keep your knees unlocked and arms loosely hanging at your sides.
Also, be sure your head is square on your shoulders. A good way to test this is to stand with your shoulders and bottom pressed against a wall. If your head is not touching the wall, this means it’s too far forward and you will need to tuck your chin in slightly to make sure your head is even and angled correctly.
If you notice yourself slouching while walking through a store or down the street, try focusing on keeping your head up, staring straight ahead, and your shoulders aligned with the rest of your body.
While driving, make sure to keep your back pressed against the back of the driver’s seat. Make sure that you can reach the pedals without stretching too far, leaning, or slouching down in your seat, and that the headrest keeps your head upright so that you are looking straight ahead while driving. Adjust the seat or headrest if you need to.
Lifting or Carrying Heavy Objects
I’m sure you’ve heard this next one a lot, but when lifting or carrying heavy objects, remember to ALWAYS bend at the knees, NOT the waist, and hold the object close to your chest. Make sure you are using the muscles in your leg and stomach to do the lifting rather than those in your lower back. When carrying a heavy bag, backpack or purse, keep it on the lighter side, if possible, and try to balance the weight on both shoulders or shift between both shoulders. Also, avoid leaning forward or hunching your shoulders. If the weight is just too much, consider using a backpack or suitcase on wheels.
Apart from occupation, sleeping tends to be another major culprit of bad posture we see in our clinic. A lot of this is caused simply from having the wrong kind of mattress. Choose first and foremost a mattress that feels comfortable to you, but if a softer mattress just isn’t working, try choosing a firm mattress to lend you good back support.
Also, try sleeping on your side or back, rather than your stomach, to reduce the tension placed on your back while sleeping, and make sure you have a good pillow to keep your head aligned with the rest of your body.
If you still experience a lot of back pain and tension when you get up in the mornings, try placing a rolled-up towel under your neck and a pillow under your knees (if sleeping on your back) to lend better back support. If you are sleeping on your side, put a fairly flat pillow between your legs, and this will help align the spine and take any added tension and pressure off of your back.
So there you have it, simple things you can very easily put into action in your day as soon as today, to improve posture and reduce back pain. If you don't do anything about it, it's likely to worsen and affect your ability to move freely.
P.S. If you would like more tips on how to ease back pain, you can download my free report that shows you ways to ease back pain naturally. Go here to get your copy and take it with you: www.restoreptllc.com/back-pain.
Oliver Patalinghug is the trusted health expert and founder of the Metro Detroit's Leading Specialist Private Practice Physical Therapy for people in their 40's, 50's and 60's who want to keep healthy and active.