12 Best Shoes For Back Pain: Reviews, Ratings & Comparisons

Most people have complained about back pain at one time or another in their lives. And studies suggest it’s the second-most prevalent reason for Americans to consult a doctor. The thing about back pain is that it can destroy your life.

For one, you’re less likely to exercise, which leads a whole host of health issues. Living with chronic back pain can lead to anxiety, stress and depression. In short, it can seriously affect your lifestyle.


Comparison Table - Best Shoes For back pain?


Image 
Product Name
Type of Shoe
Colour Options
Amazon Rating
View Product
Asics Women’s GT 2000 3

ASICS Women's GT-2000 3 ​

Running Shoe

6 Options

Ryka Women's Devo Plus 2 Walking Shoe

Ryka Women's Devo Plus 2​

Walking Shoe

8 Options

Ahnu Women's Taraval Walking Shoe

Ahnu Women's Taraval ​

Walking Shoe

6 Options

Alegria Women's Keli Professional Shoe

Alegria Women's Keli

Slip-on

50 Options

Cobb Hill Rockport Women's Angelina Dress Pump

Cobb Hill Rockport Angelina

Smart Shoe

7 Options

Asics Men’s Gel Kayano 20

ASICS Men's Gel Kayano 20​

Running Shoe

Paloma/black/lightning, Pine/lightning/white 

New Balance Men's MW928 Health Walking Shoe

New Balance Men's MW928​

Walking Shoe

Black, White, Brown

Thorogood Men's American Heritage 6'' Safety Toe Boot

Thorogood Men's American Heritage 6"​

Walking Shoe

Walnut

Rockport Men's Margin Oxford

Rockport Men's Margin Oxford

Smart Shoe

Black, Nubuck, Espresso Nubuck, Black Leather

Vionic Unisex Wave Toe Post Sandal Black

Vionic Unisex Wave Toe Post

Sandal

Khaki, Chocolate, Black


Can bad shoes cause back pain?


If you want to get to the bottom of your back pain, you might want to start at the bottom: with your feet. Think of that old children’s song: “the toe bone’s connected to your foot bone, the foot bone is connected to your ankle bone”, and so on. The technical term for that is the kinetic chain. Everything’s connected.

If something affects the way you stand or the way you walk, your back may eventually pay the price. Bad footwear can throw your entire body out of alignment and affect your posture. That can have disastrous consequences for your back.

If you spend most of your working life on your feet, your shoes matter. The average person takes about 7000 steps a day and every step has a knock-on effect on your back. Doesn’t your back hurt just thinking about that?


Types of shoes that cause back pain


So, which shoes are the worst culprits in causing back pain? We all know the answer to that one: high heels.

High heels, especially those Carrie Bradshaw-type stilettoes, force you to walk unnaturally, making wearers arch their backs and bend their knees slightly. This throws your body out of whack, which, over time, can cause back pain.

It’s not only skyscraper heels that are to blame; any heel higher than two inches can cause a problem.  And it’s not only women’s footwear that can do considerable damage, but also men’s dress shoes and even cowboy boots with a heel.

If high heels are to blame, you’re safe wearing flats, right? Well, no, it’s not that easy. Flat shoes that offer no arch support can cause just as much, if not more, damage to your back. Those dainty-looking ballet flats deliver 25% more impact pressure on your foot than high heels. Flat shoes also lack padding. That results in sore feet, which alters your gait, which, in turn, can affect your posture. You get the picture.

Flip-flops are possibly the worst shoes for your back. Not only do they offer very little in the way of arch support and padding, they change the way you walk. Your toes are forced to hang on for dear life, which unbalances your body and puts your back at risk.

When it comes to running shoes, just because they have padding and arch support, doesn’t mean your back is completely safe. Over time, the shoe structure and cushioning will start to wear down. As with your car tires, you must change your running shoes every so often. If you continue to run in down-at-the-heel shoes, you could seriously compromise your back.

If, like me, you walk everywhere, your walking and everyday shoes are probably the hardest-working footwear in your wardrobe. The state they’re in is important, since every step you take in them, reverberates up your spine. If your walking shoes can’t offer you complete stability, again, you’re putting your back at risk.


How can good quality shoes make a difference?


Shopping for shoes can be a pain, literally. Here are some things to look out for if you’re looking for shoes for back pain.

Stability

Your shoes should be able to reassure you that every step you take is safe. Your foot needs to be properly cradled by your shoe. Shoes that you find difficult to keep on your feet do nothing but throw your body out of alignment.

Arch support

Everyone experiences some pronation, where your foot rolls inwards. But where the pronation is excessive, it’s called hyper-pronation. This is where adequate arch support is particularly important. Hyper-pronation is caused by dropped arches (otherwise known as flat feet).

The opposite – hyper-supination is caused by high arches, and the correct arch support is also important. You must ensure that the arch support is suited to your own feet. Good arch support will also help you to align your legs and back properly

Cushioning

Good quality shoes will have sufficient padding to cushion your foot as it hits the ground while running or walking. That will reduce the impact of the hard ground on your back and the rest of your body.

Heel

Look for shoes with a heel less than two inches high. In fact, under one inch would be better. Your back will thank you for the sacrifice in height. Some running specialists also advise runners to find shoes with zero drop between heel and toe, so your foot is completely level in the shoe

Toes

Steer clear from pointed shoes or shoes that have a narrow toe box. This applies to men and women. You toes must be able to move freely and naturally, so your gait is as natural as possible.

Fit

It should go without saying, but make sure your shoes fit properly. Don’t rely on the shoe stretching over time. If the fit is too tight or too loose, you might overcompensate with your gait.

Always go shoe shopping at the end of the day to take the bigger size of your swollen feet into account. And the rule of, erm, thumb, is to allow some space, about the width of your forefinger between the your shoe and your big toe.


Best 12 shoes for back pain reviewed


The list below is by no means exhaustive. Bear in mind that everyone’s physiognomy is different and what works for one need not work for another. That said we tried our best to find the best shoes for back pain available out there.

Don’t expect the shoes to do all the work for you. If you suffer from chronic back pain do see advice from a health professional.


Best women’s shoes for back pain


1. Asics Women’s GT 2000 3

Asics Women’s GT 2000 3

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

80%
 Chance of Success

My first pair of running shoes, when back and knee pain weren’t an issue at all, was a pair of Asics.

Decades later, Asics have kept up with the pace and my ageing body’s needs. There’s a reason Asics are still routinely rated among the best running shoes on the market.

The GT 20003 trainers offer great support for over-pronators like me, thanks to the fancy Impact Guidance System (IGS), which keeps your foot aligned. Their rearfoot and forefoot GEL cushioning system is vital if you want to protect your back.

I also appreciate their Heel Clutching System which stabilizes your foot and improves posture vital for the health of your back. My only real gripe is that the toe box is a little narrow and can squeeze your toes. You might want to go up a size.

Pros

  • Great heel stability
  • Corrects overpronation
  • Extra cushioning
  • Wide range of colours
  • Lightweight, so no foot fatigue

Cons

  • Narrow toe box
  • Run a little too small

2. Ryka Women's Devo Plus 2 Walking Shoe

Ryka Women's Devo Plus 2 Walking Shoe

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

84%
 Chance of Success

This shoe is for serious walkers. They sacrifice a bit in the looks department for comfort, although they do come in a wide range of attractive colours. They’re made to go the distance and are also recommended if you’re on your feet all day.

Their Rezorb technology on the midsole means you’re walking on shock absorbers all day, which is good news for your back. The footbed is fashioned to cup your foot precisely and comfortably to aid your posture and gait.

They’re so lightweight it’s like walking on air. The mesh uppers mean they’re perfect for summer, but you wouldn’t want to wear them in rain or snow.

Pros

  • Shock absorbent
  • Lightweight and cool for summer
  • Precisely molded footbed
  • Great range of colours

Cons

  • The look a bit clunky
  • Not suitable for wet weather

3. Ahnu Women's Taraval Walking Shoe

Ahnu Women's Taraval Walking Shoe

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

76%
 Chance of Success

These shoes look too good to use them for walking only. If you commute to work, they’re good for standing for prolonged periods and for long walks over concrete sidewalks. And you don’t have to change when you get to the office.

These walking shoes feature more technology than the Apollo space mission, such as the Numentum neutral positioning system that promotes a stable, balanced stride.

The dual density EVA heel and arch support also provide shock absorption – which is all good news for your back.

There’s also lots of wiggle room for your toes. Just a caution: you might have to compensate the neutral positioning with your own insoles if you overpronate or supinate.

Pros

  • Versatile
  • Stability
  • Good shock absorption
  • Toe room
  • Waterproof

Cons

  • You might have to compensate for pronation
  • Pricey with a top price of more than $160.

4. Alegria Women's Keli Professional Shoe

Alegria Women's Keli Professional Shoe

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

63%
 Chance of Success

If you‘re going to be on our feet all day, I’d trust what the nurses say. The Alegria is made for all-day comfort and is kind to your feet and back.

The slip-resistant polyurethane outsoles are structured to provide a natural rocker walking motion, which promotes good posture relieving your joints of any pressure. The insoles are made of cork and memory foam. I don’t think you’d need to replace the insoles, but you can if you want.

The arch support is robust enough to withstand daily wear and tear without being too invasive.  These leather slip-ons are as comfortable as clogs but less tiring on the foot as your toes don’t have to keep gripping all day. The size seems to run a bit small, but if you get a size up, you should be fine.

Pros

  • Slip-resistant
  • Promote good posture
  • Comfy insoles
  • All-day comfort

Cons

  • Sizing is out
  • Heel slips a bit, but doesn’t rub

5. Dansko Women's Louise Oxford

Dansko Women's Louise Oxford

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

76%
 Chance of Success

Of course, Dansko had to feature somewhere on this list. With Nappa leather uppers in cream, black, brown and stone, these are some seriously stylish shoes. The heel is a reasonable height at 1.2”, so it won’t affect your posture negatively.

The contoured footbed cushions your feet from stress and strain while the leather inner lining also ensures a comfortable ride. The toes are slightly tapered but there’s still enough room for movement. The steel shank in the tuckboard ensures both stability and durability.

The sole is soft, so it’s very comfy, but it does tend to wear down quickly. Though the shoes offer some arch support, it might not be enough for you. But that’s easily remedied with a gel insert. I’d wear these shoes to bed, if I could.

Pros

  • All-day comfort
  • Stability
  • Stylish and versatile

Cons

  • Sole wears out quickly
  • Insufficient arch support for some

6. Cobb Hill Rockport Women's Angelina Dress Pump

Cobb Hill Rockport Women's Angelina Dress Pump

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

71%
 Chance of Success

It’s difficult finding women’s dress shoes that meet the criteria for preventing back pain, since most heels are too high, the toes too pointy and there’s no stability. These Rockports might be a bit too quirky for some but I’m obsessed with their retro styling. The heel is an undaunting 1.5”, just enough to give you a bit of height but nothing to throw your back out.

The outsoles have been designed to promote your natural walking pattern. And the T-bar design offers an extra dose of stability. The EVA insole cups your foot gently for comfort all-day long and there’s enough wiggle room at the toe. It’s available in colors from tan to Bordeaux.

Pros

  • Stylish
  • Flexibility
  • Stability
  • All-day comfort

Cons

  • Take a while to break in
  • Small fit

Best men’s shoes for back pain


1. Asics Men’s Gel Kayano 20

Asics Men’s Gel Kayano 20

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

80%
 Chance of Success

There are so many good shoes to choose from nowadays as technology and our understanding of the way the body moves improves. It was a toss-up between these and the Brooks Glycerin 15 but we’re staying in the Asics family. You don’t get much better in terms of stability, comfort and alignment than the Gel Kayano.

Starting with the fit, the multi-directional stretch mesh means the shoe can be adapted to fit any runner’s foot. They’re made to fit like a glove. The shoes offer stability and support through its “dynamic Duomax support system” and its improved exoskeletal heel clutching system. And all that extra support and stability don’t come with extra weight.

The Gel Kayano 20 also offers guidance technology to enhance your gait efficiency and the structural integrity of your midfoot. Asics’ patented gel cushioning on the rear foot and forefoot absorbs any shock during impact and toe-off ensuring a comfy ride. The shoe is geared to wards neutral or slight over pronation.

Pros

  • Adaptable to most feet
  • Gel cushioning
  • Motion control

Cons

  • A bit pricey at up to $180
  • Might be too lightweight for some heavy users.

2. New Balance Men’s MW928 Walking Shoe

New Balance Men's MW928 Health Walking Shoe

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

88%
 Chance of Success

As the old song goes, these boots were made for walking. Okay, strictly speaking, they’re not boots. They tick all the boxes when it comes to staving off back pain.

NB’s “rollbar” technology will ensure your foot is kept stabile whatever the terrain. The Abzorb rubber used in the soles has a cushioning effect which softens the impact of the ground.

The midfoot cushioning also helps with stability. The toe box is wide to accommodate your natural toe movement. And the rocking forefoot helps promote a smooth gait.

The shoes are quite heavy but, then again, they’re for walking, not for running. They’re available in synthetic material or leather. The leather is worth the extra investment.

Pros

  • Stabilizing technology
  • Cushioning
  • Wide toes
  • Comfortable, padded collar

Cons

  • Can be a bit heavy
  • Style is a bit clunky

3. Thorogood Men's American Heritage 6" Safety Toe Boot

Thorogood Men's American Heritage 6'' Safety Toe Boot

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

80%
 Chance of Success

Thorogood boots have been worn on factory floors since the late 19th century so they know about hard work and the necessity of comfort.

When you’re standing on hard surfaces all day in hazardous areas, you want boots you can trust. Not only does the boot meet the highest safety requirements of your employers, but also your requirements for comfort and support.

They offer a lightweight fiberglass shank for added support, a removable inner sole for shock absorption and a padded shaft for all-day comfort.

The polyurethane rubber midsole and slip-resistant sole keep you comfortable and safe at the same time. Finally, the Goodyear welt means your shoes will be with you for years.

Pros

  • Meets safety ratings
  • Mid-sole comfort and support
  • Breathable lining
  • Removable insole
  • Stability

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Not waterproofed
  • Might be too warm in summer

4. Rockport Men's Margin Oxford

Rockport Men's Margin Oxford

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

83%
 Chance of Success

There’s nothing super-fancy about the Rockport Oxfords. They are classy and comfortable. And judging from the rave reviews, it seems that once you’re a Rockport man, you’re always a Rockport man. The shoes are classy enough to be worn to the office and just on the right side of casual to be worn with jeans.

In terms of comfort, the latex, breathable footbed cushions the foot beautifully. Add to that the foam chamber on top of the footbed, and you’ll be walking on air. The shoe offers forefoot flexibility which enhances your natural gait. The polyurethane outsole also acts as a shock absorber, which is great news if you’re on your feet all day.

Pros

  • Available in stylish nubuck suede and leather.
  • Comfortable foot bed
  • Versatile
  • Breathable footbed
  • Available in extended sizing

Cons

  • Sizing runs little small
  • Toes might be narrow for some
  • Suede must be waterproofed

5. KEEN Utility Men's PTC Slip On Work Shoe

KEEN Utility Men's PTC Slip On Work Shoe

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

73%
 Chance of Success

You don’t have to be a nurse to appreciate the comfort of this Keen slip-on. Anyone in the service industry, from chefs to real estate agents, will appreciate the comfort that these Keens provide. 

They seem to fit people with wider feet a little better and they do stretch. The grip is great, so you won’t be slipping all over the show.

The shoe features a shank for your stability and an EVA midsole to take care of your arches. The KeenCush insole is made from recycled polyurethane, cork and memory foam that cradles your foot with care.

Unfortunately, the insoles tend to wear down after a while, so I’d invest in a pair of good inserts.

Pros

  • Memory foam insole
  • Stability shank
  • Arch support
  • Grip
  • Toe protection

Cons

  • Insole wears down
  • Shoe might stretch too much

6. Vionic Unisex Wave Toe Post Sandal

Vionic Unisex Wave Toe Post Sandal Black

Our Rating

Will These Shoes Fit Me?

75%
 Chance of Success

I know we said flip-flops were among the worst shoes for back pain. But if you insist on wearing flip-flops this is the way to go.

At least the Vionic toe-post sandal offers arch support and a heel cup that manages to keep your foot stable. A lot of people who suffer from plantar fasciitis swear by them.

That said, they won’t damage your back either because of the cushioning provided by the lightweight EVA insole, which reduces foot stress and fatigue.

They’re great for around the house, on the beach or around the campsite if you’re that way inclined. They’re a unisex fit, so be sure to buy a pair for your partner too.

Pros

  • Unisex fit
  • Comfortable, soft toe post
  • Stabilizing heel cup
  • Arch support
  • Insole cushioning

Cons

  • Not waterproof
  • No heel-strap model available

Causes of lower and upper back pain


The causes of back pain are many and varied, ranging from too much exercise to too little exercise. Whatever the cause you should consult your doctor or another health professional if the pain persists. If you think you’re safe because you don’t spend a lot of time on your feet like nurses or servers, you’re wrong.

Back pain is often caused by spending too much time hunched over your computer or desk. Anything that keeps your spine out of alignment can spark back pain. Granted, back pain can due to an underlying health condition, like arthritis, or an injury, such as a from fall or a motor vehicle accident. But the degree to which your back improves depends on how you take care of it afterwards, including the type of shoe you wear.

Back pain can also result from trying to pick up heavy objects the incorrect way. The power to lift a heavy weight should come from your legs not your back. You never see Olympic weight lifters bend at their back to lift their weights, they always go into a deep squat, bending at the knees.

Any movement that requires lifting and twisting simultaneously, like golfing, can cause back pain. It can also result from something as inconsequential as bending over to pick up something or overstretching at gym.


Jobs that can cause back pain
and need quality shoes


best shoes for bad knees old couple

There’s a reason you don’t see nurses or doctors walking around in dress shoes or flip-flops. If you’re going to be walking up and down slippery hospital corridors for hours on end, you need to wear shoes that are comfortable, offer proper support for your feet and your posture, offer adequate shock absorption and that have traction. In addition, your shoes must be quiet.


Similarly, chefs and servers need shoes that are comfortable, supportive and are properly cushioned. In addition, their shoes need to be protective enough to withstand dangerous items, like dropped knives, boiling water and broken glass.


On top of that, waiters’ shoes must look smart and need to be easily cleaned. The shoes for both hospital and restaurant staff also need to be durable, since they will be worn for hours on end almost every day of the week.


Builders and tradesmen need shoes that include many of the features above with an extra layer of toughness. Shoes in this industry need to act like hard hats for the feet. Builders and tradesmen will be traipsing through anything from concrete to dirt. They’re up and down ladders most of the day, so their shoes must be flexible and slip-resistant.


Corporate women are often expected to wear high heels to work, which puts a lot of tress on your back. The problem is that they’re often on their feet all day, rushing from one meeting to the next, giving boardroom presentations and attending business events.


Comfort and support need to be paramount in their minds when selecting shoes. There can be nothing worse than trying look calm and professional when your shoes are pinching your toes and your back is killing you.


Added to all those requirements is the need for them to look professional and stylish. While you’d probably like nothing more than wearing your trainers to the office, they are, unfortunately, frowned on in most corporate environments.


Even if you’re mostly deskbound, you may spend hours on your feet during your train or bus commute. And, if like me, you have to stand because you’re always too late to find a seat on the train, your feet take a beating.


Then you must still traverse a mile or two of hard concrete sidewalks. By the time you get to the office, your feet invariably feel like two throbbing cinderblocks, to say nothing of your aching back. You quickly begin to appreciate the value of good footwear.


Other options for treating back pain


If you have persistent back pain, do not hesitate to contact your doctor or chiropractor. They will be able to offer you short-term relief and advise you on a further plan of action.

You may have to visit a podiatrist who can check out your feet, your gait, posture and alignment. Take along a pair of shoes as they will probably want to see how the shoes affect your walking. They can also tell a lot from the wear on the tread of your shoe sole.

You can have specialized shoes made, but that’s can cost a small fortune and your feet may change as you age. They might suggest that you wear inserts in your shoes. These you can buy from all good shoe stores.

Amazon also has a wide variety on online ranging from $10 to $50, designed to fit different types of shoes. Get advice on which insert or insole is best for you. You can also get custom-made insoles, which can last a long time but are obviously more expensive.


Conclusion


Whether you’re on your feet all day or you’re slaving over a computer, back pain will sooner or later become an issue in your life. Wearing the right shoes can help prevent back pain or it can mitigate the symptoms. Back pain need not be a life sentence. You can put your foot down.

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