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12 Best Shoes for Sciatica Pain Relief

Medical information provided by Dr. Josh White DPM - Written by OrthoFeet Team on Nov 30 2023

Sciatic pain can be a real pain in the, well, you know where, as well as the lower back and legs. Often, sciatic pain is caused by irritation or compression of the sciatic nerve, resulting in pain and discomfort extending from the lower back to the legs. The thing is, the manner in which we walk, what’s referred to as ‘gait’, can be the deciding factor between alleviating or exacerbating this condition.

The reason shoes can help is quite simple. Sciatic pain often results from compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back down the legs. In some cases, this stems from a herniated disc along the spine, complicating routine movements. Improper gait can exacerbate sciatic pain by putting additional strain on the affected area. 

By wearing appropriate footwear, or insoles for sciatica, you can improve your gait, ensuring a more natural and supportive walking motion. This, in turn, reduces stress on the joints, particularly those associated with the spine.

In this article, we delve into the science behind selecting shoes tailored to address sciatic pain, exploring how strategic choices can contribute to improved biomechanics and enhanced overall comfort.

All the recommended shoes listed below are designed with features to improve gait and minimize strain on the joints and affected area. These features include:

  • Lightweight design
  • Arch support
  • Ample cushioning
  • Optimal heel height 

 

If you want to learn more about each specific feature, scroll down past the shoe recommendations. 

Now, here’s our list of footwear that will help alleviate or prevent sciatica issues. 

What are the best shoes to wear when you have sciatica?

Best sneakers for sciatica (for both walking and running)

Women’s Kita | Men’s Yari

Kita Blue

Why you’ll love it

  • Hands-free on/off wear eliminates the need for bending over
  • Lightweight materials make walking easier and less strenuous 

Specs

  • Sizes: men 7-14 | women 5-12
  • Widths: women Standard (B) - Extra Wide (2E) | men Standard (D) - Extra Wide (4E)
  • Upper materials: stretch knit
  • Available colors: Kita - black-black, black, blue, gray, rose, white | Yari - blue, white, black, gray

 

The men’s Yari and women’s Kita sneakers promote natural realignment of the feet with overall body posture, effectively reducing sciatic pain and discomfort. Achieving this is the result of their professionally cushioned and ergonomically designed orthotic insoles, which are further complemented by premium arch support.

Moreover, the incorporation of a wide toe box ensures a pressure-free fit, addressing concerns related to sciatic pain. The slip-resistant outsoles provide stability on various surfaces, enhancing safety.

The stretch knit uppers of these sneakers offer a custom fit, molding to the unique shape of your feet and accommodating any swelling or protrusions. This design provides not only cozy comfort but also unwavering support.

In addition, breathable upper materials allow for constant aeration, preventing infections and odors. 

Still, beyond these highly advanced supportive features, the sneakers are equipped with a hidden spring mechanism in the back. As you insert your foot, the spring gently recoils around your heel. This innovative design facilitates a quick and easy wearing experience, eliminating the often painful need to bend over.

Feedback from users

Kita

“The Kita hands-free shoes are remarkable. I have a sciatic nerve problem on my right leg. When I wear any of my Orthrofeet shoes, it is no longer a problem. No pain! Love the no tie shoes! I don't have to keep re-tying my shoes. So VERY Comfortable. I don't buy any other brand anymore.”

Linda Locke

Yari

“With all of the medical problems that I have, these are the best shoes for me, for I don't have to bend over to put them on or tie them. Not only that, these shoes are stylish enough to either wear with jeans or dress slacks.”

Jack L. Perkins

 

Best boots for sciatica

Women’s Florence 

Florence

Why you’ll love it

  • Very lightweight, packed with foot-health goodness
  • Soft, non-binding waterproof leather uppers

Specs

  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Widths: Standard (B) - Extra Wide (2E)
  • Upper materials: leather
  • Available colors: camel, brown, black, taupe

 

Remarkably, these boots don't compromise foot health for style, incorporating full orthotic support and cushioning, offering relief for various conditions, including sciatica. 

With their rocker bottom sole, these boots add a subtle spring-like quality to each step, minimizing walking effort - an invaluable feature when you’re dealing with foot discomfort.

Featuring two hook and loop straps across the ankles, the Florence boots prioritize accessibility and a customized fit, allowing you to effortlessly step in and achieve a secure fit tailored to your unique foot shape. 

Crafted from soft, treated leather with sealed seams, the Florence are entirely waterproof, ensuring dry and warm feet even in wet conditions. The rubber, slip-resistant sole with a unique tread design provides excellent traction for confidently navigating winter's surfaces. 

Feedback from users

“They are so comfortable. I am on my feet all day long. These boots give wonderful support for my feet and my lower back. I have less pain and discomfort in my knees and lower back since I started to wear these boots. I have been wearing them almost every day for a month.”

Hong Zhou

 

Men’s Ryder

Ryder

Why you’ll love it

  • Easy on-off wear with two back zipper
  • Expertly cushioned, lightweight soles

Specs

  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Widths: Standard (B) - Extra Wide (2E)
  • Upper materials: leather
  • Available colors: camel, brown, black, taupe

 

Featuring ingenious dual zippers at the heel, the men's Ryder boots offer a hassle-free experience. Putting them on and taking them off is a breeze – a simple slide of the foot, and you're ready to go, eliminating the need for dealing with laces.

The specialized rubber sole, equipped with a clever tread design, helps keep you steady on your feet on various surfaces. The sole is also lightweight, ergonomic, cushioned and designed with a mild rocker bottom. All these features help maintain proper foot alignment and reduce the effort required while walking.

The wide and tall toe box caters to those with bunions, hammertoes, or swelling feet, allowing toes to move freely and rest in their natural position. The soft leather upper provides a relaxed fit, while the seam-free interior in fabric ensures protection for even the most sensitive feet.

Beyond comfort, these boots are bio-mechanically engineered to support and stabilize the ankle, enhancing overall comfort and stability. 

Feedback from users

“It’s one of the most comfortable boots I’ve ever worn. They have a zipper in the back which makes it easier to get on and off without tying shoe laces.”

Anthony Morrell 

 

Best work shoes for sciatica

Women’s Alma

Alma

Why you’ll love it

  • Rubber lug soles provide exceptional stability and traction
  • Water sealed uppers also allow moisture to escape

Specs

  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Widths: Standard (B) - Wide (D)
  • Upper materials: stretch knit
  • Available colors: khaki, gray

 

These sneakers keep your feet dry inside and out. The water sealed uppers prevent wetness, while allowing sweat and moisture to evaporate, preventing discomfort and potential infections.

The sneakers feature lightweight orthotic insoles that align the foot, improving overall posture and promoting a more natural walking pattern.

Walking with the women’s Alma or men’s Avalon sneakers on your feet is impressively stable, thanks to the deep grooves that provide traction on wet and slippery or dry, flat or uneven surfaces.

Another neat feature of these sneakers is the heel band that wraps around the heel, and can be tightened or loosened to create a secure grip.

Feedback from users

“These shoes are the best. They are comfortable. No breaking in needed. They bend. The rubber sole is flexible. Supportive yet cushiony. I love them. Just this morning I thought that I have to order another pair.”

Cait

 

Men’s Dolomite

Dolomite

Why you’ll love it

  • Composite safety toe and waterproof leather
  • Notches added to the outsole help catch ladder steps

Specifications

  • Sizes: 7-14
  • Widths: D-4E
  • Upper materials: waterproof leather

 

Constructed with a composite safety toe, these sturdy work shoes provide essential protection with resistance to impact, compression and electric hazards. 

The unique design of the outsole features ladder grab notches that enhance stability when navigating ladder steps. The slip-resistant sole further contributes to stability on diverse surfaces, minimizing the risk of slips and falls.

The upper material is crafted from durable, waterproof leather, ensuring longevity and protection in demanding work environments. The interior is lined with soft materials, alleviating pressure on the foot and providing the necessary sturdiness to support the foot's anatomy.

Incorporating orthotic technology, these shoes go beyond basic comfort. They enable individuals to stay on their feet throughout the day without experiencing fatigue or pain.

Feedback from users

“These work shoes have solved my foot, hip, back, and neck pain at work. The cushioning and arch support is the best I've experienced in a work shoe. Wish I knew about these earlier. Definitely recommend. Thank you Ortho-Feet!”

Reg Will

 

Best slippers for sciatica

Women’s Louise | Men’s Hudson

Louise

Why you’ll love it

  • You can use them indoors, or keep them on when you go out
  • Insole with arch support realigns the feet and improve gait

Specs

  • Sizes: women 5-12; men 7-14
  • Widths: women Standard (B) - Wide (D) | men Standard (D) - Extra Wide (4E)
  • Upper materials: stretch knit
  • Available colors: Louise - beige, black | Hudson - black

 

The Louise and Hudson slip-on slippers are perfect in any season.

Crafted with stretch knit uppers, these slippers provide continuous ventilation, keeping moisture at bay and ensuring your feet remain refreshingly comfortable. They are also versatile, so you can wear them indoors or outdoors.

Despite the open back, these slippers offer both support and safety. An adjustable strap steps in to enhance the fit, grip and stability. Effortlessly customizable, the strap minimizes the risk of slips and falls while accommodating fluctuations in foot size or swelling, ensuring a secure and comfortable fit throughout the day.

The slippers’ wide and roomy toe box provides enough space for toe movement, alleviating pressure on the forefoot for enhanced comfort and foot health.

Delving inside, these slippers boast a lightweight and comfortable design complemented by a mild rocker bottom. This not only makes walking effortless, but also significantly reduces the risk of falls, delivering the stability and support necessary for enhanced mobility and confidence.

Feedback from users

Louise 

“I have enjoyed my ’slippers’, but I wear them daily as shoes...They are stylish and oh so comfortable. I love the stretchable/adjustable option to fit my feet, especially when my feet are swollen from arthritis; I also have had lumbar back surgery recently and the support I get with these shoes helps with that as well. I did end up ordering the extra arch support insole piece and that made a huge difference for me as I have very high arches. I will definitely be ordering another style soon to try.”

Lynn Harmon

Hudson 

“I liked them so much I bought a second pair for my office. They look good, give me the support I need and they are comfortable.”

Greg Weaver

 

Best dress shoes for sciatica

Women’s Chelsea

Chelsea

Why you’ll like it

  • Adjustable straps on both sides of the shoe
  • Extremely comfortable and good for your feet, without compromising on style

Specifications

  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Widths: Narrow (A) - Extra Wide (2E)
  • Upper materials: soft leather
  • Available colors: dark cherry, black

 

Boasting a quality orthotic support system, these shoes excel in providing outstanding arch support, cushioning and anatomical alignment, making them an excellent choice for those dealing with issues associated with sciatica.

The relaxed fit and spacious toe box allow toes to spread naturally, reducing pressure and addressing concerns like bunions and hammertoes. The interior is lined with seamless, padded fabric, preventing irritation and enhancing overall comfort.

The slip-on design adds an element of convenience, making them effortlessly easy to put on and take off, while a two-way strap system enables fastening on either side of the shoe and provides easy fit adjustment.

Despite their focus on comfort and functionality, the Chelsea shoes don't compromise on style. Their versatile design seamlessly transitions from casual to more formal occasions.

Feedback from users

“I'm so glad I finally found some well made shoes that are able to support my feet all day so I don't have sore feet when I go home. I have flat feet and the inserts that come with the shoes are greatly appreciated to have a better fit…I will definitely be ordering again!”

DD

 

Men’s Moreno

Moreno

Why you’ll like it

  • Look super smart, feel super comfortable
  • Fully cushioned soles realign the foot, improving posture

Specifications

  • Sizes: 7-14
  • Widths: Standard (D) - Extra Wide (4E)
  • Upper materials: soft leather
  • Available colors: brown, black

 

The Moreno dress shoes are a classic and smart choice, offering comfort that goes beyond aesthetics.

With their premium orthotic insoles, these shoes are designed to provide relief, featuring anatomical arch support that not only alleviates discomfort, but also realigns the foot and improves overall body posture.

Crafted from soft, water-repellent leather, Moreno shoes offer a non-binding fit crucial for sensitive feet. The soft, padded fabric interior, free of overlays, eliminates irritation, providing superior protection for sensitive feet.

The cushioning sole, featuring a mild rocker design, doesn't just make walking easier; it adds a spring to your step, enhancing comfort and mobility. The rubber outsole ensures advanced grip and excellent stability, making these shoes a reliable choice for those seeking both style and relief from sciatic discomfort.

Feedback from users

“Best decision. After twenty years of constant foot pain, I have finally found relief. I wish I had found Orthofeet twenty years ago”

Donald Enright

 

Best sandals for sciatica

Women’s Juno

Juno Black

Why you’ll love it

  • A two-way strap allows for easier on-off wear
  • Insoles that improve your gait

Specs

  • Sizes: 5-12
  • Widths: Standard (B) - Wide (D) 
  • Upper materials: leather
  • Available colors: chocolate, black

 

Premium orthotic insoles take center stage, offering anatomical arch support and convenient removability. These insoles also contribute to realigning the foot and improving the gait, relieving pressure on the joints and the sciatic nerve.

The cushioning sole, with its mild rocker feature, turns each step into a breeze, significantly enhancing walking comfort and reducing the impact on the feet.

The wide toe box of the Juno ensures a comfortable fit, preventing unnecessary stress on sensitive areas of the foot. Crafted from soft leather and fabric, the upper provides a non-binding fit, allowing for natural foot movement.

The two-way strap system simplifies the process of putting on and taking off the sandals, catering to individuals dealing with mobility issues.

The Juno sandals don't stop at the exterior; their soft, padded fabric interior, free of overlays, ensures irritation-free wear, providing superior protection for sensitive feet.

Feedback from users

“I have several issues making it hard to find shoes, especially a warm weather shoe since I can't wear most sandals. These shoes hit the spot, very happy and extra thrilled because they are brown that has been hard to find for several years.”

Leona Bartram Streva

 

Men’s Gemini 

Gemini

Why you’ll love it

  • A smart strap system for a customized, snug fit
  • Top-notch cushioning from heel to toe

Specs

  • Sizes: 7-14
  • Widths: Standard (D) - Extra Wide (4E)
  • Upper materials: soft leather
  • Available colors: brown, black 

 

These sandals feature an innovative two-way strap system, providing maximum convenience whether slipped in from the wide inner side or finely tuned using the outer strap, catering to your comfort preferences effortlessly. 

Unlike many other sandals, the Gemini provides exceptional stability with a secure back strap cradling your heels, and a strategically placed toe strap preventing unwanted slipping.

The cushioning sole, designed with a mild rocker, minimizes the effort required to lift the front part of the foot, promoting a more natural and effortless stride. The rubber outsole ensures advanced grip and better balance.

Crafted with a soft leather upper and free of overlays, Gemini sandals ensure a snug, comfortable and irritation-free fit.

Premium orthotic insoles dynamically conform to your foot contours, providing essential customized support for those with foot drop, while multiple foam layers offer top-notch cushioning, creating a mild rocker effect for enhanced comfort.

Feedback from users

“These shoes have been very comfortable to wear. I stand all day and they have alleviated any pain from that. I have also used them for several long walks - 4-7 miles at a time, and they have performed great with no discomfort or pain. Well worth the purchase if you stand all day or walk a lot. The straps make it adjustable to any foot size or width and the tread is grippy even in wet conditions.”

Sean

 

What shoes to wear for sciatic nerve pain?

Sciatica refers to inflammation of the sciatic nerve, the longest nerve in the body that runs from the bottom of the spine down to each foot.  As mentioned earlier, the right shoes can help lessen the discomfort caused by this painful condition by:

  • Cushioning the impact of heel strike with step.
  • Supporting the arch to enable the foot to propulse most  effectively.
  • Offering lightweight and comfortable fit to make walking easy.
  • Making it easy to put shoes on and off without having to bend over.

Here are the features that constitute ‘the right shoes’:

  • Lightweight design. In order to minimize stress on the inflamed nerve, opt for lightweight shoes. Choosing footwear that is barely noticeable when worn provides relief and comfort for those experiencing sciatica.
  • Arch support. Addressing the potential pain that can radiate from the foot up to the leg and back, it is crucial to choose shoes with adequate arch support. Insufficient arch support can contribute to discomfort.
  • Proper cushioning. Tennis shoes are often recommended for those dealing with sciatica nerve pain due to their superior cushioning. The abundance of cushioning in these shoes helps to reduce the impact on joints during walking, providing a more comfortable experience for people managing sciatic pain.
  • Optimal heel height. Choose shoes with a heel height below one inch to maintain a neutral torso position over the pelvis, preventing exacerbation of sciatica pain. Higher heels cause the torso to lean forward, putting extra pressure on the nerve as it crosses the hip.

 

FAQ

What type of shoes should I avoid if I have sciatica?

If you have sciatica, it's crucial to steer clear of footwear that further inflames the nerve. High heels should be avoided as they offer little arch support and rotate the pelvis forward, increasing pressure on the feet, legs, hips and back. This awkward positioning can aggravate the sciatic nerves where they originate at the base of the spine.

Generally speaking, you should be wary of any unsupported footwear if you have sciatica. These shoes provide no foot support, keeping your arch flat and close to the ground. Excessive strain on the plantar ligaments  can lead to issues like plantar fasciitis.  Lack of support can put additional pressure on the back leading to chronic strain.

Orthopedic footwear provides essential support to withstand extended pressure and unstable surfaces, helping alleviate symptoms. Failure to wear supportive shoes may lead to the worsening of sciatic symptoms.

Finally, not replacing worn-out shoes is another common error to avoid. While sentimentality may attach to a beloved pair, wearing shoes that have lost their support and cushioning can contribute to sciatic flare-ups. Regularly replacing shoes is crucial to preventing the aggravation of sciatica symptoms.

Does walking make sciatica better or worse?

Generally, moderate activity is good, but whether walking helps or worsens sciatica depends on your situation. It's essential to talk to your doctor or physical therapist to figure out if walking is right for you and to know how much is okay.

Chronic pain caused by this inflammatory condition can often be reduced by gentle exercise. For many, walking is a great way to stay in shape and acts as an anti-inflammatory. However, pay attention to how walking makes your sciatica feel. If it doesn't make things worse, it can be a good activity. But for some, walking might make sciatica symptoms worse.

The key is to strike a balance between staying active and avoiding activities that intensify your pain. Always listen to your body and if walking aggravates your sciatica, it's advisable to explore alternative activities.

Are flip flops good for sciatica?

Wearing standard flip-flops may not be the best choice for those dealing with sciatica. These shoes lack essential foot and ankle support, offer minimal cushioning and increase the risk of trips and falls. What's more concerning for lower back health is that they alter your walking pattern compared to regular shoes.

Moreover, flip-flops require you to pinch or curl your toes to prevent them from slipping off, leading to a shortened stride. This adjustment puts unusual strain on your feet, hips and lower back muscles.

When walking in flip-flops, your foot contacts the ground differently, with more pressure on the outside edges and less on the heel. This shift causes a slight rotation of the lower leg, altering the angle of your pelvis and increasing torsion of the lower spine. These changes in body mechanics can result in stiffness and pain in the lumbar region, which may worsen over time.

Why might hands-free shoes be good for sciatica?

Sciatica may make it painful to bend forward and to sit, and hands-free styles can be put on and taken off without having to touch the shoes. They offer all best in class support and cushioning while holding the heel securing it in place.