Earth Shoes For Lower Back Pain

Are Earth Shoes alright to wear if you have a lower back pain problem? Will they help or be harmful?

The answer is... that all depends on your lower back pain problem.

First lets explain what this shoe is.

What Is An Earth Shoe?

Earth Shoes (Kalso Earth Shoes) are shoes with a negative heel relative to the forefoot. In other words, the heel of an Earth Shoe is lower than the front or ball of the feet when standing flat on a level surface.

Earth Shoe showing a negative heel relative to the forefoot.

The negative heel will cause a very slight dorsiflexion of the foot. Dorsiflexion of the foot is when the foot is raised upward toward the front of the leg as when walking on your heels. This is the opposite action of what occurs with a higher heeled shoe or a shoe with and elevated heel. A higher heeled shoe causes plantarflexion. Plantarflexion occurs when you walk on your toes.

Is A Negative Heel Shoe Good Or Bad?

Whether it is beneficial or not depends on the individuals lower back problem and how they react to different heel elevations.

If you have a disc problem that is made worse with trunk flexion, or forward bending, then a negative heel may cause further disc bulging and thus create more nerve pressure and pain.

The opposite may be true. If you have disc degeneration that has caused a stenosis of the inter-vertebral canal (opening between vertebra that nerve roots exit), a facet syndrome, or spondylolysis/spondylolisthesis that is made worse and more painful with extension, or backward bending, then a negative heel shoe could very well help in your treatment.

Try This Experiment

A simple test, although not 100% accurate and reliable, is to bend forward in an attempt to touch your toes and then bend backwards as far as you can. If you have more pain with backward bending then a negative heel shoe would be a good choice to try.

If bending forward causes more pain, while backward bending has little or no effect, then it may be wise to avoid using a negative heel shoe.

Some other considerations that may indicate beneficial results from the use of a negative heel shoe are:

  • Pain in the lower back when lying on your stomach.
  • Lower back pain when working overhead.
  • Pain during pregnancy, especially in the last trimester.

There is no hard fast rule. The above suggestions and observations may prove helpful to you if you are considering buying a negative heel shoe to help in the management of your lower back pain.

Your best action may be just trial and error. Wear a higher heeled shoe for about a week or two, as much as possible, when on your feet. Then try a negative heeled shoe for another one  to two weeks and compare the difference. If you feel better when using an earth shoe then by all means go ahead and try wearing them full time.

Wear the shoes full-time during the trial period. The body requires time for adaptation to change to occur. If you constantly go back and forth between a regular shoe and a negative heel shoe, you may never fully ascertain which is best for you.

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