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How do I Choose the Best Shoes for Back Pain?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 04, 2024
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Choosing good shoes is very important, because improper footwear is one of the leading causes of back pain. To begin, it is best to determine the way your feet roll while you are walking; if your feet tend to roll inward, this is known as overpronation, and if they tend to roll outward, this is underpronation. The best shoes for back pain are often the ones that provide enough support and stability for the feet so that they strike the ground without rolling too much to either side, leading to an even and steady stride.

First, it is best to avoid shoes that are known to cause back pain. These include high heels as well as very flat shoes that don't provide good arch support. Heels tend to tilt the pelvis forward, compressing the lower spine, which can actually lead to damage over time — and pain immediately. Flats or sandals are preferable to heels, but they often do not provide any support at all, leading to a flat-footed type of walk, or one in which the feet roll excessively to one side or another, causing pain.

Sneakers are often the best shoes for back pain, though the use of orthotics in other styles of shoe can help to provide support to the feet. It will be necessary to try the sneakers on before making a purchase; stability or motion control shoes are a good choice for people whose feet roll inward, or overpronate, whereas people who underpronate will want to choose shoes with a softer insole and a tougher outsole that allow more natural movement. A salesperson in a shoe store will often be very helpful, and be sure to give the shoes a test walk around the store or on a treadmill to see if they are comfortable and supportive.

Some people made need orthopedic shoes for back pain, but this is usually not necessary unless the pain is very severe or is also occurring with sciatic or hip pain. It is best to avoid shoes such as flip-flops, which are fine for walking around at the beach or pool but can stretch the tendons in the feet as well as lead to back pain. Be sure that you can stand with good posture when wearing the shoes as well; the spine should be relatively straight without causing the shoulders and upper back to slump forward or the lower spine to curve inwards.

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Discussion Comments
By anon335217 — On May 18, 2013

Buy them from Nordstrom in the store or Nordstrom online or Zappos online. They have the best return policies.

By candyquilt — On Mar 04, 2013

I think many of us directly blame the shoes when we experience back pain. Of course, shoes are important but they're only part of the picture.

If there is severe back pain, there is almost always a need to strengthen back muscles.

By SteamLouis — On Mar 03, 2013

I'm a runner and I've come to the conclusion after going through many pairs of running shoes that you cannot know what shoes are best for you until you try them out.

I have two running shoes that are perfect, that never cause back pain and I use them constantly. If I need a new pair, I'm going to buy from a store that will allow me to return shoes after trying them out. I can't figure out if the shoes are right without a good run in them.

By turquoise — On Mar 03, 2013

I have to wear orthopedic shoes because I have a herniated disc in my back, as well as flat feet. I can't wear heels at all because it causes lower back pain and flats cause feet pain because my arches are literally flat.

I paid a lot for my orthopedic shoes but it was worth it. I don't have back pain or feet pain with these even though I wear them all day. They also have a semi-formal look to them so that I can wear them to work.

If any of you are suffering from serious health issues like I do, please don't waste time with sneakers and directly go for orthopedic shoes. Some companies can even make orthopedic shoes especially for the customer depending on what type of feet and back problems they have.

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