Running Shoes and Back Pain

Running shoes are probably the most functional shoes you own. Although they provide you with support and comfort, the wrong choice in running shoes can exasperate or even cause back pain. Understanding how your running shoes may affect your back can help you know when it may be time to consult with your chiropractor rather than your podiatrist.

Changing the Point of Contact

Cushioned running shoes designed to make it feel like you’re running on a cloud may seem cool, but what those shoes are really doing is changing the way your foot hits the ground. Los Angeles spine surgeons and specialists have even noted that some cushioned running shoes end up forcing the impact to go towards the middle of the foot and the toes rather than the heel. What this really does is create a misalignment that may ultimately radiate to your lower back over time.

Not Getting Proper Support

While an argument can be made for running barefoot, this isn’t always a realistic option if you already have some degree of lower back pain. The tricky part of getting the proper support you need is determining where you actually need the support. For instance, some people need more ankle and arch support while others need some extra support around the heel. In order to find the proper support, consider:

  • Getting a comprehensive diagnostic evaluation (x-rays, MRI) to determine whether or not your back pain is actually related to a lack of support from your running shoes
  • Investing in specialized footwear (usually involving inserts or orthotics)
  • Wearing different types of running shoes for different levels of running (there’s a difference in the impact from casual jogging and competitive running)

If a change of running shoes doesn’t work for you, consider changing your running habits – or at least finding a different surface area to run on, like smooth pavement instead of gravel. Remember, if foot pain or back pain persists between runs, it’s time to see the doctor.

If you are an active adult living with chronic back pain, find out the source of your pain by reaching out to The Spine Institute Center for Spinal Restoration. We take a conservative approach to spine care, exploring all treatment options available from physical therapy to spine surgery. For more information or to request an in-person consultation with one of our physicians, call 310-828-7757 today.