Shoes for Back Pain

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people see the doctor and one of the most common reasons people have to take disability from work. At, we know that finding the right shoes can be crucial when parts of our feet and body are sore or not working the right way (plantar fasciitis anyone?). But the aching soreness and even sharpness of back pain can make it hard to focus on much else. We’re happy to say in our hundreds of reviews we’ve found styles and brands that can provide comfortable and actually stylish shoes for women with back pain.

Shoes for back pain

Back pain has a variety of causes. Sometimes your shoes can contribute to the ouch!

Cause of back pain

How about them arches?

Did you know the way your feet are shaped the way you specifically walk, also known as your gait, may sometimes contribute to back pain? As gals interested in shoes you might be interested to know the arches of your feet can be related. The arches and the mechanism that occurs through your feet and arches as you step act like giant shock absorbers for your body–taking the weight of your body and absorbing the impact in striking the ground. When the arches don’t function like those in typical feet, it can lead to back pain.

And we have some not so good news for our flat-footed friends. One report said women with flat feet are 50% more likely to have lower back pain. Other things that can affect your arches include pronation and supination (do your feet turn overly in or overly outward when you walk?) When you overpronate, your feet have a tendancy to roll inward when you walk. This causes the arch to flatten out, also known as flat feet. According to, “Over pronation…will create excess motion in the leg as it internally rotates. The pelvis tilts to compensate for the rotation of the leg, tightening muscles in the lower back, fatiguing, and stressing the components of the spine.” Ouch. If you are someone with underpronation, your feet may roll outward when you step. “One or both feet fail to pronate and excessively roll outward, impairing the body’s ability to absorb shock. This added force is absorbed through the joint and muscles of the lower back and lower extremities, which over time may cause injury.”

Experts say you should think of your feet are like the all-important foundation of a house or building. If you’ve ever watched a home improvement show, you know if the foundation is not supporting correctly, the rest of the structure has to compensate. For us gals with foot problems, we may have actually changed the way we walk to compensate for our feet. They way we use different muscles or less supportive walking motions can lead to knee, hip and even back pain.

Heels may through off your body's alignment

Unsupportive heels that are too high or too flat may bring on sore backs

Other times women throw their body alignment off voluntarily by wearing high heels without any support or super low flats or flip flops that don’t support the arches. Both of these can contribute to sore back and knees. (Yes we know they are cute. But barking dog shoes has reviewed heels and flats options that are stylish and supportive for your feet.

An overuse injury

Other common causes of back pain include too much physical activity causing the muscles and ligaments to get stretched or injured. This can be from yard work, playing golf or overusing your back to lift something too heavy (remember: bend from the knees!). You can also develop back pain from sitting with poor posture or sitting for long periods of time, or even standing too long on hard surfaces in non-supportive shoes. Usually this type of pain leaves you stiff or sore for a few days. But sometimes back pain can also be a symptom of something else. Experts say in some cases arthritis, a disk injury, herniated disk, or even spinal stenosis could be causing your back issues when the pain lasts more than a few days.

Body changes as we age

Unfortunately back pain in general can become more of an issue for us gals as we get a wee bit older. As we age we lose some of our body’s natural cushioning and muscle tone. According to “Low back pain is more likely to occur in individuals between the ages of 30 and 50. This is partly due to the changes that occur in the body with aging. As you grow older, the fluid content between the vertebrae in the spine reduces. This means discs in the spine experience irritation more easily. You also lose some muscle tone, which makes the back more prone to injury. This is why strengthening your back muscles and using good body mechanics are helpful in preventing low back pain.”

Symptoms of back pain

If you’re dealing with back pain you are not alone. Experts say up to 80% of Americans will have back pain, specifically lower back pain, at some point. The symptoms of back pain may sound obvious – your back hurts! But here are a few better descriptions from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons information page on the symptoms of back pain. “Back pain varies. It may be sharp or stabbing. It can be dull, achy, or feel like a “charley horse” type cramp. The type of pain you have will depend on the underlying cause of your back pain,” the AAOS site explains.

Depending on your anatomy and the underlying cause, doing things like sitting, standing, walking or bending may aggravate your pain. It can be hard to be comfortable. Back pain may be felt in the upper and lower back and even the buttocks area but typically it does not extend down your leg. For some people who have a condition called sciatica, they may have pain and numbness all the way down the leg to the feet.

Treatment of back pain

Back pain is one of the most common reasons people visit their doctor. Before you make that appointment, experts say there are things you can do at home that may help relieve or reduce symptoms of back pain. According to AAOS, most people find laying back with your feet up or lying down will improve low back pain, no matter the underlying cause.
Other types of home treatment may include:

  • Ice
  • Heat
  • Over the counter pain medicine
  • Practicing proper posture
  • Avoiding heavy lifting

Experts say if a two weeks of home care doesn’t help the pain, you should see a doctor. Or if you have back pain along with a fever, chills, or unexplained weight loss, you should call your doctor to rule out something more serious as a cause.

During a visit to a doctor for back pain, your physician will likely want to examine you to see how you can sit, stand, move, and bend with the pain. Treatments your doctor may suggest include:

  • Physical therapy
  • Back braces
  • Yoga or Pilates to help strengthen and stretch muscles to support your back
  • Cortisone shot for pain
  • Losing weight and maintaining a healthy weight
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage

Your doctor may also want to take x-rays to look for damaged or ruptured disks or spine issues or osteoporosis. If a doctor has ruled out more serious causes of back pain, they may look at your gait and feet to see if your ‘foundation’ is affecting the body structures above. “Your doctor will try to rule out the most serious causes of back pain, such as a herniated disk, spinal infection, bone fracture, arthritis and cancer. Once those are ruled out, then considering how your posture, foot shape and shoe choices may be causing your back pain is appropriate,” said an online write up about shoes choices for back pain.

Comfortable shoes for women with back pain

At we believe the right shoes can go a long way towards eliminating back pain while standing or walking. We’ve reviewed hundreds of shoes and can help provide advice on styles that may help you, especially if you’re one of the many women in our online community with foot problems.

A few basics on finding for comfortable shoes for back pain:

  • Be sure you buy the correct size. Your foot size can vary over time and the number size can vary by brand. Another tip, shop for shoes later in the day when your arches may be flatter so you can correctly judge how they fit. We love ordering online from places like Zappos with free returns, allowing you to order more than one size.
  • Consider the heel: women with back pain may want to avoid shoes that are either too high or two low (avoid pancake flats to save your feet and your back!)

Here are few additional tips you can find in my review of the Best Casual Shoes for Back Pain
Look for:

  • A shoe with a 1 1/2″ heel or lower. Remember, in supportive platform styles you can subtract the platform height from the overall heel height.
  • A cushioned foot bed. We’ve reviewed many styles with memory foam, PU (polyurethane) foam and a material called Poron. At barkingdogshoes, you can find cushioned supportive shoes in surprising styles. How about a 3 inch platform sandal with high performance Poron in the foot bed?
  • Shoes with good arch support or shoes with a removable insole so that you can add your own inserts or orthotics. Wondering about these? You may have shoes at home with the lower heel height but now you realize you need more support to keep your feet from over-pronating or under-pronating, both of which can cause lower back pain. We have a few shoe inserts that may help enhance the support of your current footwear. The Birkenstock Birko Natural Arch Support may help lower to medium arches. It is designed to fit casual or walking shoes. If you read through the reviews at Zappos, you’ll see positive remarks about how this arch support relieves lower back pain and plantar fasciitis.
    If you know that your back pain is most likely caused by over-pronation due to flat feet or low arches, the Vionic Oh Active Orthotic may bring help your feet help your back pain. The Oh Active orthotic is designed to fit in walking and running shoes.
Dansko Prima

Supportive rocker soles may help ease or prevent back pain.

As for shoe options, we have some great ideas in our reviews including the Dansko Prima rocker sole. Several shoe makers also have special technology that may help to relieve back pain. Vionic features orthaheel technology. Kalso Earth has negative heel technology, which means the heel is lower than the forefoot. Merrill makes shoes with Q-form comfort technology that take into account the unique way women’s hips, knees and feet are designed. See more explanation at Another brand to consider are shoes from Naot. I jokingly refer to these pricey but great Naot shoes as ‘advil for the sole and lower back’. Naot has multiple styles with removable cork foot beds which can accommodate orthotics.

We hope this explanation of back pain and our advice on shoes for back pain will help keep your feet stylish and your feet and your back comfortable and pain free.

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Have you found a pair of shoes to help your back pain? At we love to hear what works for you. Feel free to join our active Facebook community or comment on our shoe and comfortable boot reviews on the website.

Related links

“Low back pain tied to flat feet” news article by Reuters walking shoe guide low back pain information
American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons lower back pain information page
“Reduce back pain with new shoes” Wikihow

Note: the above content is not intended to be medical advice or substitute for seeking the advice of a qualified medical professional. We’re talking shoes here.


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