Back Pain Contributor: A mere 1” shoe heel?

Can it really be possible that just a 1” heel on a shoe be a contributor to back pain?  Yes, most certainly!  Imagine a bookshelf that is as tall as you are.  Instead of imagining, you can actually do the experiment but don’t blame me if things fall off of shelves and break!  Elevate the backside of the shelf by just 1”.  Notice the angle of the shelf at this point and also notice that the stuff on the top shelf may possibly start sliding forward or even fall off.

Now imagine a 2”, 3” or even 4” elevation which is not uncommon with many women’s shoes of today.  An elevated heel does that same sort of thing to us except that we, unlike a stiff bookshelf, have many joints from our ankles to our heads that are bendable.  We are able to move our joints in ways to make it appear that we are standing upright.  In order to stand upright we will need to do any number of things with our body.  Just to name a few, we may need to bend our knees, arch our back, tip our chin up so that our eyes meet the horizon.  Every joint from our ankle up will need to accommodate this, or any, shoe elevation.  Because of this accommodation, we may end up with issues anywhere along our body.  Back pain is one of the highest complained about issue from people seeking my help.  The heel of men’s shoes are also commonly at least 1” or higher, so this subject matter is not just for women to think about.

The recommendation for this information is for you to start transitioning to shoes that have no heel elevation to them.  And please take the “transition” wisely.  If you are used to wearing a 3” heel, then transition to a 2” heel for a couple of months and then a 1” heel for a couple of months until you can comfortably walk and stand with no heel elevation at all.  Otherwise, you may run into other issues because your muscles will not be accustomed to no heel elevation.  Refer to the book Whole Body Barefoot: Transitioning Well to Minimal Footwear by Katy Bowman to help you safely transition to minimal footwear which will get you on the road to a pain-free back.