‘I’m a Podiatrist, and These Are the 6 Best Shoes for Sciatica That I Recommend to My Patients’

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Experiencing pain of any kind is no fun, especially if it has to do with the sciatic nerve. "Sciatica nerve pain is pain that radiates from the sciatic nerve at the level of the lower spine down the buttocks and back of the leg," says Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a podiatrist based in New York and founder of Step Up Footcare. It's caused by the compression of the sciatic nerve at the base of the spine, likely due to a herniated disk along the back bone, and can make everyday movements no walk in the park. Thankfully, sciatica nerve pain can be managed through a combination of stretching, strength training, and wearing the proper shoes (yes, shoes make a big difference).

Experts In This Article

We tapped a podiatrist for their input on the best shoes for sciatica. Ahead, you'll find their recommendations and tips on what to look for.

The best shoes for sciatica

Best sneaker

Klaw 528 — $148.00

Kiss your back pain goodbye with the Klaw 528. Recommended and designed by Dr. Lobkova, this supportive shoe has all of the elements for stability and comfort, including arch support and a heel cup. This shoe has a seven millimeter heel-to-toe drop, promoting better foot mechanics, and decreasing the amount of stress on your body. Even more, the shoe has a cushioned midsole to absorb shock.

Sizes available: 6-11, regular and wide

Colors available: 4


  • Arch support
  • Cushioned
  • Deep heel cup


  • Bulkier in size

Best sandal

Photo: Birkenstock
Birkenstock Arizona Platform — $130.00

Another iteration of the Arizona line, the Birkenstock Arizona Platform is Dr. Lobkova’s sandal of choice. That’s because it has a cork footbed, which provides arch support, and molds to your feet with each wear. It’s also lightweight and has adjustable straps, so your sandals don’t slip and slide. What can we say? Birkenstocks reign supreme when it comes to foot-friendly sandals.

Sizes available: 4-12.5

Colors available: 2


  • Contoured footbed
  • Lightweight
  • Adjustable straps


  • Harder to wear in cold weather

Best running shoe

New Balance Fresh Foam x Vongo v5 — $120.00

The New Balance Fresh Foam x Vongo v5 is a cushioned sneaker with a four millimeter heel-to-toe drop. You can go the distance thanks to the shoe’s knit upper, which cradles your feet as you stride out. Constructed with a foam footbed, these kicks will cushion any hard blows to your back and prevent compression on your sciatic nerve.

Sizes available: 5-13, standard and wide

Colors available: 1


  • Cushioned
  • Breathable
  • Helps control pronation


  • Some reviewers say it takes time to adjust to the insole
Saucony Kinvara
Saucony Kinvara — $55.00

Dr. Lobkova recommends these Saucony shoes, which have maximum cushioning and support and a 4mm drop. They’re lightweight and responsive, and have midfoot contouring. The upper is breathable and contains recycled materials, too.

Sizes available: 5-12, regular, VIZIPRO, and wide

Colors available: 15


  • Lightweight
  • Cushioned
  • Roomy toe box


  • Some reviewers say the run small

Best boots

Geox Falena Abx Ankle Boots
Geox Falena Abx Ankle Boots — $230.00

The Geox Falena Abx ankle boots are lightweight and have midsole cushioning for shock absorption. Although boots are notoriously known for trapping heat, the these boots are thermo-regulating, keeping your feet warm on cold days but still letting them breathe (no more sweaty feet). The boots are finished with a waterproof layer, so you’ll be able to walk out in rain or snow, and there’s a zipper closure to make it easier to put them on and take them off.

Sizes available: 5-11

Colors available: 1


  • Cushioned to provide shock absorption
  • Thermo-regulating
  • Zipper closure


  • Bulkier design

Best budget

Photo: Merrell
Merrell's Moab 3 Waterproof Shoe — $110.00

Waterproof and skid proof, the Merrell’s Moab 3 shoe has got you covered whenever it’s wet outside. The outer layer and tongue locks out water and debris, while the textured sole gets a hold of the ground (no more slips and slides). It also has a firm heel counter for extra stability and shock absorption.

Sizes available: 5-12

Colors available: 4


  • Contoured footbed
  • Reinforced heel cushioning
  • Sole has traction


  • Some reviewers say they run small

Best loafers

Photo: Macys
Zee Slip-on Loafers — $80.00

Dressing to impress, but want to stay comfortable? Dr. Lobkova recommends the Zee slip-on loafers. While low, the platform provides shock absorption, and the cushioned footbed levels out any pressure on your joints. It comes in gray, black faux leather, and six other colors.

Sizes available: 5-11, regular and wide

Colors available: 4


  • Cushioned
  • Insole has shock absorption
  • Sole has traction


  • Some reviewers say there’s not enough support

Best walking shoes

Ryka Perform Walking Shoe
Ryka Perform Walking Shoe — $135.00

Ryka shoes are designed specifically for women’s feet and have a narrower heel and more room in the toe. These walking shoes have a 8mm drop, and soft and responsive cushioning for shock absorption. They also have “skeletal guidance,” which provides additional firmness in the midsole, says Dr. Lobkova.

Sizes available: 5-11

Colors available: 3


  • Soft cushioning
  • Extra support in the midsole
  • Breathable


  • Some reviewers say there isn’t much arch support

Best trail shoes

altra torin
Altra Torin — $120.00

Foot shaped and with a zero drop, Altra shoes let your feet sit in their most natural position to help encourage better alignment. These shoes also have midsole cushioning and grippy soles to help you hit the roads or trails. Bonus: the shoes also have the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance, so you know your feet will be happy in them.

Sizes available: 5.5-12, regular and wide

Colors available: 7


  • Zero drop
  • Foot-shaped
  • Wide toe box


  • Some reviewers say the tongue is uncomfortable

Should you walk when you have sciatica?

"Walking, in fact, should help when you have sciatica," says Dr. Lobkova. "Sitting for prolonged periods of time can exacerbate sciatica because sitting compresses the piriformis muscle that is overlying the sciatic nerve," she says. However, when walking, it's important to make sure you have the proper posture.  "Make sure you are lifting the knees high enough so that the feet do not shuffle and the back is straight," she recommends.

Is there a way to reduce pain when you have sciatica?

Initially, when experiencing sciatica pain, stop what you are doing and ice. Ice reduces the inflammation around the nerve root and thus reduces the pain. Ice for 20 minutes on and 10 minutes off over the course of an hour twice a day for the first day or two. After that, It may be helpful to do some light stretching (particularly hip and glutes), apply heat, and walk to increase the blood flow to the area and help reduce inflammation. Physical therapy and acupuncture may be helpful as well. If pain persists, see a specialist, such as a pain management doctor or orthorthopedist.

Can wearing certain shoes help with sciatica?

"If shoes fit properly, meaning both length and width is sized correctly, there is a decreased chance of fall or injury causing sciatic nerve compression," Dr. Lobkova says. Additionally, supportive and stable shoes can promote good posture, which can prevent sciatic nerve irritation.

What to look for in a shoe for sciatica

Heel-to-toe drop

A heel-to-toe drop is defined as the comparison of the amount of cushioning beneath your heels and the amount beneath your toes. Dr. Lobkova recommends shoes with lower heel-to-toe drop to prevent a pressure load on your hips and knees. So, just like Limbo, the lower the heel-to-toe drop, the better. She recommends a shoe that is 0-8mm drop, because higher heel to toe drop causes the upper body to tilt forward, which exacerbates sciatica.

Heel height

When picking shoes for sciatica, look for a shoe with a heel height no higher than one inch. "A heel height above one inch causes the torso to tilt forward over the pelvis, which can worsen sciatica pain," explains Dr. Lobkova.


To reduce strain on your sciatic nerve, you'll want a shoe that's supportive and rigid, particularly in the midsole and heel counter. To determine whether your heel counter is firm, "make sure you cannot pinch this part of the shoe," Dr. Lobkova says. You'll also want to check for a rigid midsole because "support from a shoe that is not too flexible has midsole rigidity," she adds. To test, try to bend your shoe's toe box and heel in half. Rigid midsoles shouldn't fully fold in half.

Cushioned midsole

Finally, Dr. Lobkova says to look for shoes that will adequately absorb shock through a cushioned midsole. "This diminishes the stress on the weight bearing areas of the body, including the heels, knees, and notably the lower back," she says.

Finding the right shoes is half the battle, but now you've got the resources and knowledge to make it happen.


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