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Best Shoes for Back Pain – Our Top Picks & Recommendations

The connection between footwear and back pain can be a chicken-and-egg situation.  Do the shoes you’re wearing aggravate an existing back condition?  Or could wearing the wrong shoes be the reason your back hurts in the first place? If you’re trying to find the best shoes for back pain, a little homework (and probably a chat with your doctor or chiropractor) is the first step.

Maybe you have an injury, structural abnormality, or other underlying factor that causes pain. Proper diagnosis is the basis of understanding your treatment options, which should definitely include evaluating what kind of shoes you’re wearing.  Why?  As a chiropractor once explained to me, “everything’s connected.”  A stress in or misalignment of one part of your body affects numerous other parts.  And what’s supporting it all?  Your feet!   This also explains why improper footwear is often the culprit behind unexplained back pain.  Anything affecting the feet can ultimately affect the back.

Just as back pain can result from a number of different causes, there’s no cookie-cutter footwear solution.  You’ll need to consider your particular situation and maybe be patient with a little trial-and-error (which thankfully is made easy by many online retailers’ free shipping & return policies.)  But here are some general guidelines to follow when seeking out the best shoes for back pain:

shoes for back pain

Klogs Austin

Avoid completely flat shoes, and also high heels.  A low heel (1/2″ to 1″) will be most comfortable.  The Merrell Circuit MJ Breeze is one example.  We have personal experience with how well this shoe works for women with back issues.  The Merrell Encore also comes up frequently online as one of the best shoes for back pain.  Want a little more height?  A heel offset by a platform is a great option, like the Klogs Austin.  The heel is 2″, but is offset by a 1″ platform.  These soft but supportive clogs get rave reviews from people with all manner of back, foot, and leg issues.

shoes for back pain | Vionic Spark Minna

Vionic Spark Minna

 Look for shoes that flex with your foot, but also have good arch support, like the Nurse Mates Velocity, which boasts a “firm-but-flexible” footbed among other great comfort features.  If you need a dressier shoe, the Vionic Spark Minna might be a good option (Vionic shoes are known for their extraordinary support in very wearable styles).

Shoes for back pain | Hotter Maisie

Hotter Maisie Sandal

Say NO to flimsy flip flops, and YES to soft-but-supportive sandals like the Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed.  Traditional Birkenstocks can feel a little hard to those suffering with back pain, but the soft foot bed makes a big difference.  (And guess what?  Birks are actually in style now and come in gorgeous shades of lavender, blush and even metallics! Don’t you love it when fashion and comfort come together?)  If Birkenstocks aren’t your thing, Fitflop and Hotter footwear are both great choices with wonderfully cushioned, contoured insoles.

Shoes for back pain | Alegria Essence

Alegria Essence

Find shoes with plenty of toe room.  Your back stays happier when your toes can grip and flex naturally as you walk!   Keen is a brand known for generous toe boxes & great comfort in general.  We’re loving the Keen Terradora hiker, the Keen Elsa sneaker, and the Keen Rose sandal.   We also have to mention the Alegria Essence, a popular, versatile sneaker with lots of toe room that has earned literally thousands of 5-star online reviews for arch support and ability to take an orthotic.

Shoes for Back Pain | MBT Speed 17 Slip-on

MBT Speed 17 Slip-on

Consider a rocker sole or negative heel technology.   Many people have found back pain relief from a curved or “rocker” sole which helps minimize back pain by reducing pressure on foot joints.  MBT makes a wide range of styles with a rocker sole, including running shoes, dressier shoes, and casuals like the MBT Speed 17 Slip On.    Other back pain sufferers swear by Kalso Earth shoes, which have a patented negative heel technology which positions your toes higher than your heels to help improve posture and reduce joint stress.  This unique design is said to mimic walking barefoot in the sand.  Check out the Kalso Earth Ziggy (lace-up oxford), Kalso Earth Harvest (slip-on loafer) or Kalso Earth Solar (Mary Jane flat).

Is your back pain caused by overpronation (foot collapsing inward, often due to low arches)?  Stability shoes with more aggressive arch support may help, like the Asics Gel Exalt 3 or the Brooks Addiction Walker.

Shoes for Back Pain | On Swiss Performance Shoes

On Swiss Performance Shoes

Are you a runner? If your active lifestyle has been hindered by back issues, consider the Hoka One One shoe with an oversized midsole for maximum cushion and unique “bucket seat” foot frame for extra stability. FYI – even non-runners love this shoe for its unique comfort features. Also if you prefer a barefoot or minimalist shoe but crave cushioning for back or knee pain, consider Swiss brand, On. Highly adaptive rubber “cloud” outsole pods provide both vertical and horizontal cushioning for a soft landing relieving shock to back and knees.  We know first-hand how great On shoes are – check out our full review of the On Cloud here.

Try adding quality insoles. Sometimes your favorite shoes can be adapted for superior support and comfort by removing their insoles and replacing them with higher quality insoles like Aetrex Lynco Memory Foam Orthotics or Birkenstock Birko Arch Supports.

Shoes for back pain | SAS Sunny

SAS Sunny

Look for footwear with extra cushioning to soften the impact of walking. Shoes like the FitFlop Superskate and the SAS Sunny both have extra cushiony supportiveness and get great reviews from women with back issues.

We’ve done our best research, but is there anything we’ve missed?  What are your recommendations for the best shoes for back pain?  Have you tried any on our list?  Readers are often our best source of information – let us know your thoughts! Leave a comment here or over at our Facebook page.

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17 Responses to Best Shoes for Back Pain – Our Top Picks & Recommendations

  1. Pam says:

    Since Kirsten introduced me to “healthy” shoes, I’ve enjoyed relief from plantar fasciitis and my back feels so much better when wearing shoes she solidly recommends. Alegria and Vionic seem to be my go to brands. Thanks Kirsten!

    • April Magat says:

      hi there im just wondering what shoes did you get? coz i have the same problem like yours.. i got plantar fascitis and my back really hurts so bad.. anyway thank you and have a good day.. 😀

  2. Bette says:

    When my lower back starts bothering me, I switch over to a flat pair of Naots for a few days. Flat means no heel — so, not the Koru line or those with a raised heel, but instead, the Elegant Flats line. With my feet flat on the ground, on top of a cork and latex sole, my spine straightens out and says thanks.

  3. Ash-li says:

    Many of these shoes don’t come in a 12 and/or run small. There do not seem to be many options.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Nothing fits me. I’m wearing a 7 year old worn out Sketcher shoes style that’s been discontinued.
    I am a 7.5 size wide running shoes size but all Sketcher’s wide is not as wide anymore! I have thin foot skin that bruise easily and probably sweat or scrape more. My toes are crooked, callused, and so are my under skin. I have bunions and most of all I suffer from bad circulation. I also have flat foot.
    I work as grocery cashier, stand 6-8 hours and by 3rd hours, my knees are painful, my thigh muscles are heavy for standing on rubber mats and pressing on foot belt levers daily.
    I’ve bought new work shoes, 3 -4 pairs but after 2 days, my bunions, toes, arches etc are all red for marks from designs, or tightened grips of elastics or leather cuts!
    I really need a very wide, rounded front, smooth lining and comfortable cushion especially on the toes, bunion sides and liner sides.
    Please recommend a brand that creates these features!
    Thanks!

    • Janna says:

      Have you tried the Altra Torin 2.5, or similar Altra? They have the widest toe box I’ve seen. They resemble the old Earth Shoes. I just bought my first pair and I have high hopes for these.

  5. Rose Armstrong says:

    What do professional women wear (ie. when you’re expected to wear pumps)?

  6. V says:

    Any thoughts on Abeo shoes and /or inserts?

  7. Ronda says:

    I’m a professional, management consultant, with Hallux Rigidus and I can’t wear typical heels. I make due with sleeker platforms, booties, Mary Janes and boots. My go to brands are Dansko (not clogs), Naot, Born and Vionic.

  8. Patti says:

    Curious for your thoughts about Chacos…..I know they’re supposed to be very well designed but my backs and hips hurt more when I wear them. I’m trying to decide if I need to continue to try to wear them or just take my losses.

  9. Dorothy says:

    I have narrow feet 9.5 (2A) and overpronation. It is difficult to find any attrractive shoe or sandal for my situation. Any suggestions?

  10. Joan says:

    What about easy spirit. I loved those for years as a bank teller and their exercise shoes

  11. Tess says:

    Hard to believe you recommend Hotter Maisie Sandal when they have a 1 star rating from over 58% of those who reviewed.

  12. Heidi says:

    Hello, can you recommend a good slipper for an 85 year old with back pain. She is permanently bent over from a botched back surgery. Thanks

  13. Chantal says:

    Low back issues and Parkinson disease , what are the best shoes for impact walking on concrete – models with shoelaces and models with no shoelaces –
    Thank you
    CDR

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