"Improper shoe gear can affect the alignment of all the joints in your lower body," says podiatrist Cary Gannon, DPM. "Think of your feet like the foundation of your house. It must be stable to support [everything] above it or the house falls." Meaning: If your feet aren't stabilized, neither are your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back. This makes your muscles work harder to keep yourself aligned and steady, which can lead to lower-back pain because those muscles are tightening and working abnormally.
“If pain is concentrated in your lower back or hips, it may be related to improper shoe gear," Dr. Gannon says. Also, should you frequently wear high heels, they're likely contributing to that pain because, as Dr. Gannon says, "High heeled shoes in all forms are terrible for your feet and back."
When purchasing shoes for back pain, first, your shoes need to fit properly. "You should have a full thumbs width of space at the end of your toes in your shoes. Your feet swell daily so shoes should fit loosely in morning and by afternoon will fit more snuggly," explains Dr. Gannon. Second, she says to choose shoes that are the right shape for your feet—basically, avoid tapered toe shoes. Third, choose shoes that are structured and more rigid. "Flexible shoes are the main cause of foot pain and instability," she says. She highly recommends HOKA shoes, along with Nike Air Force One, Golden Goose, Birkenstock, Dromedaris, and Ecco.
Here are six pairs of podiatrist-approved shoes for back pain.
If you haven’t hopped on the Birks train yet, it’s time to give in. These slides come in a variety of colors and are made from a lightweight, waterproof, durable material that’s also hella comfy. They also happen to be favorites among Well+Good staffers.
These white sneakers have a minimalist design that feels elevated and polished—not to mention, they will go with pretty much everything in your closet. Those are all reasons to love them, but the reason their worth it if you’re looking to alleviate back pain is because of their stiff soles and roomie toe box.
Dromedaris is known for its ultra-comfy, removable footbeds, which help provide stability and keep pressure off of your toes. These boots feature a low heel and rounded forefoot that doesn’t taper so you don’t have to worry about your toes getting squished. That combined with a rigid sole offers ample support with every step.
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