For years I’ve been asked as a physical therapist what I think about the negative heel shoe. This is the type of shoe where the heel actually sits lower than the rest of the foot. Remember earth shoes?
So as part of my job (and in support of my shoe addiction) I have tried them myself with not much of a result either way. The arch support was really good; but the negative heel made the back of the shoe hit too high, which resulted in a blister.
It didn’t seem to affect my back or knees in any significant way. As a physical therapist I am often teaching people how to balance with their weight distributed toward their heel instead of biased to the forefoot, so I understand the philosophy behind the shoe.
More recently I’ve had a few people describe the onset of their back pain with the use of these shoes. I started playing with changing my center of balance in various postures. What I determined is that if I’m in healthy upright posture, varying my center of weight was easy and I could adapt. I have decent flexibility and foundational strength. However when I’m in postures that I see frequently in my clientele I feel an immediate increase in strain on my back.
So I now have an opinion on negative heel shoes and here it is.
In general I find that our population is centering their weight too far forward in their foot. But simply changing your shoes won’t correct this. If you can’t stand completely upright without restrictions or fatigue, you could easily cause problems.
A person needs to have the flexibility, foundational strength, and balance to be able to change their center of weight from the forefoot to the heel.
In my profession I have found that to make these changes takes a consistent and specific exercise program and recently. Of note is that I have found our new CoreAlign exercise technology has successfully begun to help me foster this type of training.
For more information on our use of CoreAlign at Alpine Physical Therapy, click here to visit our clinic website.