Two dreaded words – back pain. The reason I describe it with such intensity is that when you experience back pain, everything you do seems to be affected. Your back spans almost half, if not more, of your entire body length and if there is pain involved, it can radiate to both the upper and lower parts.
The challenging part about back pain is that it can be triggered because of so many things, such as lifting too much weight or sleeping in the wrong position. But it can also be caused by unobvious reasons such as wearing a poorly designed backpack for a few hours or wearing ill-fitting shoes.
What we know for certain is that the well-being of the whole body, including the back, is determined from the ground up – by the feet. When your feet are not functioning in the proper biomechanical way, the rest of your body suffers. And that starts by wearing the right shoes. But finding the best shoes for back pain can be a real challenge.
How Do Your Feet Cause Back Pain?
Your feet can have an impact on your back and lead to back pain. Of course, there can be many different triggers, but the most common causes are listed here:
Sciatica: a nerve that spans from the lower back to the legs and feet. When this nerve is pinched, pain can radiate up and down. Ill-fitting shoes, such as narrow or tight ones, apply pressure on the nerve in the toes and create lower back pain.
Biomechanics of the body: your gait, otherwise known as the way you walk, can affect your back. Dragging your feet, leaning towards one side or uneven leg length can trigger back pain.
Flat feet: having flat feet is very common and is one major cause for back pain. Flat feet puts tremendous pressure on the arch and causes the feet to overpronate and turn inwards when you walk. This misaligns the knees, hips and back causing pain. Furthermore, since flat feet have a minimal or no arch, they sit closer to the ground.
Pronation: pronation or supination can lead to back pain. The excessive rotation of the foot either inwards or outwards, makes the legs, knees, hips and back misalign.
The features in back pain shoes
Most shoes you find in shoe stores or online are designed with basic and minimal features. Health and wellness or orthotic footwear brands are your answer as their shoes are usually designed by professionals and physicians and they don’t skimp on the details.
The features called out below are some of the most important ones if you are looking to purchase shoes to alleviate back pain.
Orthotic insole: a crucial element in any style that fills the empty space under the arch to support it. A good insole will be anatomically designed to keep the foot in a neutral position to minimize pronation and align it with the entire body – legs, knees, hips, and of course lower back. Better yet, if there are options for the type of arch or an adjustable arch, that should be your choice since it will offer a more customized fit.
Shock absorption: the more cushioning your feet receive means direct forces will not impact them. The shock will be dispersed by the several layers of materials. When the feet subjected to direct pounding, your legs, knees and back are also spread from this. Pain will not radiate from the bottom up.
Shape of shoe: When your feet wear shoes that fit their unique shape, they will function properly and experience comfort. Too many shoes today have a narrow shape, plus a toe box that crams your toes and doesn’t let them move around freely. This can impact how you walk and where you place more pressure, which can lead to back pain. Opt for styles with a round, wide and tall forefoot for a pressure free fit.
Available widths: When your shoes are the right size and shape for your feet, your feet will feel the difference and will move with ease, freely and without pain. This of course, will affect your entire body, including your back. Too many times our feet are squished into shoes that are too narrow. Professional shoes companies take the extra step to offer multiple widths ranging to the really wide widths.
Extra depth: shoes designed with extra depth not only feel more comfortable since there is more room for your feet, but they will also prevent other issues from developing, including back pain.
So, how do you know what shoes are good for you to prevent back pain? We have rounded up the best shoes for back pain sufferers.
The best back support shoes for women
These stretchable knitted fabric tennis shoes come in a variety of colors to compliment any outfit. If you also have bunions, hammertoes, or swelling, the forgiving upper material takes the pressure off these problem areas. Not only that, they will also conform to any silhouette your foot has. Almost like buying a custom shoe!
For back pain sufferers, these are ideal since they were designed by a team of pedorthists, engineers and medical professionals that understand the mechanics of the body and how what you wear impacts the back. An anatomical orthotic insole will keep your feet and lower limbs in the proper position, which in turn aligns everything above, preventing back pain from happening.
The 5 layers within the shoes are made from thick materials that don’t bottom out and disperse shock forces for a softer landing. Less force is absorbed by the feet, therefore the forces do not travel upwards towards the back.
Some extra features that will make you fall in love with these shoes is the no-tie bungee cord that is gentle on the hands and ensure you get in and out of your shoes quickly and easily. The cord is fully adjustable allowing you to tighten and loosen the grip similar to a traditional lace.
This style has the new & improved outsole made from a special rubber and unique tread pattern for increased traction and grip on wet surfaces.
Available in gray, maroon, navy and rose.
Talk about new and improved, Delta recently received a major makeover from the original version (still available and great too!) so that you can now use it in more demanding situations, such as rainy, snowy and slippery conditions or whenever you need more grip.
A waterproof leather upper, gusseted tongue and sealed seams make it impermeable to penetrating liquids. The bottom of the shoe has a new look made with rubber, deep groves and plenty of raised blocks to ensure you walk confidently.
Your feet, legs and back will thank you once you put these on and start adventuring. These boots are packed with pain relief features and will also prevent any further issues from developing. They come with a premium insole that over time shapes to the arches and hot spots in your foot – closest option to custom at an over-the-counter price. The arch will support your foot and ensure it doesn’t over or under pronate. Once the feet are properly in place, your lower limbs and hips will align, averting pain in the lower and upper back.
Delta is designed with plenty of cushioning all around. From the foam & polyurethane insole, to the extra pocket design in the heel area, to the tongue and forefoot, your feet will be protected no matter what you do.
As the weather is finally warming up, you will definitely need a pair of sandals in your wardrobe that will feel great on your feet and not cause any back pain. Malibu is a popular style and we can certain see why.
The quarter strap design is a classic and provides the most secure hold for your foot. Every one of the straps is adjustable, including the forefoot and heel. This ensures a custom for virtually every foot type, shape and size. And if your feet swell throughout the course of the day, they will accommodate that.
They are ingeniously designed with a two way strap system which means you can strap and unstrap them from either side of the sandal. For some this is a lifesaver, as reaching the outer part of the shoe can be very difficult.
An orthotic insole plays the most important role in keeping your back pain at bay. Together with the shock absorbing cushioning to minimize forces up the legs and back, and rocker bottom sole that rolls the foot forward for easy stride, your back will be pain free.
Malibu is available in multiple staple colors black, brown, cream & pewter and can accommodate feet up to extra wide (2E).
The professional advice is never to walk barefoot, even around the house. Therefore it is only fitting that you also have a pair of back pain slippers to keep your feet supported, protected and comfortable.
The Orthofeet Louise slipper is one of the most raved about styles by customers with all kinds of foot conditions, including back pain sufferers. To start, they are well constructed, durable and have all the features of an orthotic shoe, which means they can be worn outside too!
They don’t just have any footbed in them, rather the signature orthotic insole made from several layers of varying density foams to control overpronation plus redistributing forces to reduce stress and strain on your entire body.
Louise is great for many types of feet since it is made with stretch fabric upper that shapes to every bump or swelling you might have. It is also very breathable and will create a cool environment for your feet, perfect for warmer months or for those of us who tend to perspire.
There is also a functional strap around the instep to tighten the grip and prevent slippage.
Louise is available in black and tan.
If you need something more feminine to wear with your cute summer dress, look no further. Sanibel mary janes combine function and style and will have your back at 100% (no pun intended)!
The upper is made from breathable fabric and suede to circulate air and cool off your feet.
There is an instep strap with lots of padding to prevent skin irritation and keep you comfortable for hours on end. And of course, the strap can be tightened or loosened based on how high or low your instep is.
There is another strap around the heel area which enables you to expand or reduce the heel area. A foot that is wider in the back, AFO or brace or on the flip side, a foot with a narrow heel, will always get a perfect fit thanks to the strap that can be adjusted.
Your back pain will be non-existent when you wear these mary janes because of the innovative technology that is designed within them. Your whole body will feel great with the arch shaped insole that straightens the feet, legs, knees and lower back.
The multi-layer construction is made with cushioning foam that absorbs shocks to deflect impact away from the hips and back. Plus, the minimal heel to toe drop rocks the foot forward and facilitates walking.
If you stand all day on your feet because of your job, you have undoubtedly experienced back pain. Back pain on the job can be an issue and may prevent you from performing to your ability and can even cause you to stop working. With Sonoma, you will not have any back pain, and you will be able to stand on your feet longer than before!
What makes Sonoma great for on the job is the special features that aren’t found in other shoes. To start, the waterproof leather upper is extremely durable, easy to clean and is ideal for environments where liquids can get in the way, such as kitchens, hospitals, or outdoor settings. The impermeable construction will protect your feet and keep them clean and dry. In addition, the outsole is meant for slippery surfaces because of its distinctive material and tread pattern.
The interior and exterior constriction of the shoes boast technology that will support your feet, offset forces, facilitate foot motion to prevent any back pain. With multiple layers of state-of-the-art cushioning, your feet and back will feel like they are walking on clouds.
Sonoma waterproof sneakers are available in black leather, a must for any demanding occupation.
Flip flops are a big no no because they are flat and almost always lack any support and cushioning. They tend to be made from flimsy materials that can create problems for the foot and body. However, the good news is that you can still wear flip flops if you wear Gaya!
Gaya is a post toe orthotic sandal that has all the features of “orthotic” shoes. It has a built-in insole, several layers of cushioning and is actually good for your back. Your feet will be aligned, your posture straight, and your back will be free from any pain.
The innovative design allows you to adjust the sandals according to your needs with the instep strap. The toe post has a slim silhouette and is soft which means no rubbing in between the toes. The footbed top cover is treated with anti-microbial technology which wicks moisture away from the foot and prevents the build up of fungus and bacteria.
Gaya is available in a soft pewter and can be dressed up or down with any outfit. So if you love summer and to flaunt your toes, Gaya is the one!
Men’s back pain shoes
If you are looking for the men’s version of these back pain shoes, below are the top picks:
Lava stretch knit sneaker: https://www.orthofeet.com/products/lava-no-tie-black
Hunter waterproof boot: https://www.orthofeet.com/products/hunter-black
Cambria quarter strap sandal: https://www.orthofeet.com/products/cambria-black-mens-sandal
Eldorado orthotic flip flop: https://www.orthofeet.com/products/eldorado-black
Hudson stretch knit slipper: https://www.orthofeet.com/products/hudson-black
Pacific Palisades waterproof sneaker: https://www.orthofeet.com/products/pacific-palisades-waterproof
Porto casual boat shoe: https://www.orthofeet.com/products/porto-canvas-athletic-shoe-gray