Approximately 80 percent of Americans suffer from back pain at some point in their lives, and many people turn to medication or surgery for relief.
You already know that too much activity, as well as prolonged sitting or standing can leave you with an achy back -- but you probably didn't know that a hidden cause of back pain -- as well as an easy fix -- can be found on your own two feet!
"As a yoga instructor, I meet a lot of students wanting to get relief from back pain, and most of them don't realize that a lot of back problems are often caused by their shoes," says wellness expert Peggy Hall.
Peggy says that an ill-fitting pair of shoes can strain your back and also cause pain in your ankles, knees and hips -- even your neck.
Here's why: High-heeled shoes put all your weight on the ball of the foot, which causes your lower back to over-arch. Peggy says that the other extreme (which is a mistake that a lot of people make) is to choose shoes with a really thin sole, like flip-flops or ballet-style flats.
"Thin-soled shoes just don't give you enough padding between your foot and the pavement," Peggy explains, "causing the impact of each step to be absorbed by your spine."
Instead, Peggy recommends choosing a supportive shoe with at least a half-inch thick sole.
"I personally like a low platform type, which keeps my feet well padded and also level" Peggy says. "If your house has tile or wooden floors, be sure to wear well-padded shoes inside as well."
Another tip is to make sure your shoes fit well and get them repaired when the heel starts to wear down, otherwise you've got an uneven surface, which can strain your back.
For immediate relief, Peggy recommends this easy back stretch, which anyone can do: Put your hands on the edge of a desk or table, walk back and stretch your spine long.
"Basically, your back is parallel to the floor and your arms are in line with your ears," Peggy explains. "Just stretch to your point of sensation -- easy does it! Don't over do it. Just a minute or two every day will do the trick."
In short, don't overlook this hidden cause of back pain. Invest in a good pair of shoes that give you the right amount of support.
"Think like Goldilocks," Peggy says. "Choose a shoe with a heel that's not too high, not too low....but just right."
For more of Peggy's yoga stretches, visit her web site at www.YogaforSurfers.com
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