When you have lower back pain, it can be hard to find shoes that are comfortable. It can be even harder to make the right choice when you’re shopping online. To help you out, we’ve put together a list of some great options that will help you get through the day in comfort.
Asics Gel-Nimbus 20 – This is one of the most popular running shoes on the market today, and it’s easy to see why. The Nimbus 20 features an excellent cushioning system and a high-quality fit that makes it perfect for long runs or everyday wear.
New Balance 1300 – This is another classic option from New Balance, which has been making shoes since 1906. It features a leather upper with mesh panels along the sides for breathability, as well as a padded tongue and collar for extra comfort.
Vibram FiveFingers Classic – If you’re looking for something unique, these are the best shoes for lower back pain in 2021! Vibrams look like socks with individual toe pockets on each foot so you can feel like you’re walking barefoot while still providing some protection against hazards like hot pavement or sharp rocks. They’re also very lightweight and flexible which makes them easy to walk in without any support
Best Shoes For Lower Back Pain 2021
There are a variety of things that can lead to back pain: not stretching properly after a workout, going against nature’s design and sitting for 10 hours a day in front of a computer, or…it could be because you’re not wearing the right shoes for back pain.
“Improper shoe gear can affect the alignment of all the joints in your lower body,” says podiatrist Cary Gannon, DPM. “Think of your feet like the foundation of your house. It must be stable to support [everything] above it or the house falls.” Meaning: If your feet aren’t stabilized, neither are your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. This makes your muscles work harder to keep yourself aligned and steady, which can lead to lower-back pain because those muscles are tightening and working abnormally.
“If pain is concentrated in your lower back or hips, it may be related to improper shoe gear,” Dr. Gannon says. Also, should you frequently wear high heels, they’re likely contributing to that pain because, as Dr. Gannon says, “High heeled shoes in all forms are terrible for your feet and back.”
What to look for in a shoe when you have back pain
“Back pain could stem from inadequate shock absorption in the feet, which are the foundation of the weight bearing body,” say NYC Podiatrist Dr. Nelya Lobkova, DPM at Step Up Footcare. “The lower back, as well as the knees and heels, are weight bearing bones that transmit ground reaction forces up the kinetic chain as we walk.” Thus, if you have back pain, it’s important to look for shoes that have adequate cushioning, such as platform boots, sandals, or plush sneakers.
Dr. Patrick McEneaney, owner and CEO of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists, notes that it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation because people can have all different kinds of back pain or ailments. However, having shoes that have more shock absorption can help decrease the heel pounding on the ground, which then gets shot up the chain into the back. He says to look for shoes that have more cushioning at the heel, but also have good support in the midsole so that you’re not putting a lot of unnecessary motion into your foot and leg.
In addition, functional orthotics placed inside the shoes can reduce back pain. “Functional orthotics (also known as custom orthotics) are the only devices that place the foot in neutral by providing the correct tilt in the heel as well as providing arch support.” Custom orthotics, if made correctly, can minimize excessive motion in the heel and alleviate knee and back pain. Over-the-counter orthotics may also help with back pain, but since they’re made of a soft and flexible material, they provide limited support.
How we chose best shoes for back pain
When purchasing shoes for back pain, first, your shoes need to fit properly. “You should have a full thumbs width of space at the end of your toes in your shoes. Your feet swell daily so shoes should fit loosely in morning and by afternoon will fit more snuggly,” explains Dr. Gannon. Second, she says to choose shoes that are the right shape for your feet—basically, avoid tapered toe shoes. Third, choose shoes that are structured and more rigid. “Flexible shoes are the main cause of foot pain and instability,” she says. She highly recommends HOKA shoes, along with Nike Air Force One, Golden Goose, Birkenstock, Dromedaris, and Ecco.
Ahead find nine pairs of podiatrist-approved shoes for back pain.
These super cushiony shoes are both supportive and comfortable, especially around the ankles, and they have shock absorption. They are available in regular and wide widths, and in a variety of colorways ranging from bright and cheerful to minimalist and neutral.
The low-top, iconic sneaker has a classic silhouette and is incredibly comfortable. Its boxy design gives your feet plenty of space to expand as they swell during the day, which is in important design element in shoes for back pain.
If you want to splurge on a shoe that’s podiatrist-approved, look no further than Golden Goose thanks to their sturdy soles that offer a solid foundation for your foot and cushioned, padding to tread on all day long.
These platform Birkenstocks are just like your favorite pair of sandals, but with more lift. They come in black or white vegan leather, and are lightweight and comfy. Adds Lobkova, Birkenstocks have maximum cushioning and arch support as an added bonus (since you can’t put your orthotics into your sandals).
These white sneakers have a minimalist design that feels elevated and polished—not to mention, they will go with pretty much everything in your closet. Those are all reasons to love them, but the reason their worth it if you’re looking to alleviate back pain is because of their stiff soles and roomie toe box.
Dromedaris is known for its ultra-comfy, removable footbeds, which help provide stability and keep pressure off of your toes. These boots feature a low heel and rounded forefoot that doesn’t taper so you don’t have to worry about your toes getting squished. That combined with a rigid sole offers ample support with every step.
American Podiatric Medical Association-certified, these Sauconys are very cushioned but also lightweight. They have a mesh upper that’s breathable, and come in a variety of bright colors to help your feet stand out in a crowd.
Back pain doesn’t take a break during warm days, so these sandals, another recommendation from Lobkova will keep you stylish and supported. They have a foam cushioned sole and lightweight construction, and an easy-to-adjust velcro strap to make sure they stay in place.
Sporty, waterproof, and breathable, these boots are ready for any adventure. They have a wide fit, a two-inch heel, and also a good amount of midsole cushioning for shock absorption.