10 Best Shoes for Lower Back Pain 2018

by Purposeful Footwear - Last Updated: October 1, 2018

4 out of 5 people either experience back pain or will develop it in their lifetime.

If your back pain has increased lately, it may have everything to do with your shoes. Footwear with little arch and heel support can contribute to your back pain. These shoes will make your foot turn inward to maintain your balance. The misalignment of your feet can put extra pressure on your back and your joints, causing abnormal back pain. Finding shoes with proper shock absorption and support for your heel and arch can alleviate your back pain and possibly eliminate it.

We’ve collected the best shoes for lower back pain in our review; we even included some stylish sandals for casual wear!

Athletic Shoe/Casual SandalFitPriceBest Feature
New Balance Men’s MW877 Walking ShoeMen's Expensive, but our pick for the best men's shoe for lower back painWalking Strike Path rubber outsole provides stability during walking and running
Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 18Women'sExpensive, but our pick for the best women's shoe for lower back painBioMoGo DNA engineering specifically catered for a woman's foot; soft but durable with great bounceback
Skechers Performance Men’s Go Walk 4 Incredible Walking ShoeMen's Budget-friendlyGoga pillars on rubber outsole under the ball of the foot and the heel for shock-absorption
Brooks Addiction Walker Men's Walking ShoesMen'sExpensiveFluid inside insole cushion heel and ball of the foot
Orthofeet Asheville Men’s Orthopedic Leather SlippersMen'sModerately-pricedLeather mule sandal designed for those with high arches and foot issues such as plantar fasciitis, knee and back pain, etc.
Orthaheel Plantar Fasciitis Pain Relieving SandalsUnisexExpensivePerfect for wet conditions, like a day at the beach; non-slip rubber sole and upper strap dries quickly
Vionic Women’s Walker Classic Shoes Women'sExpensiveOrthotic tennis shoe designed by podiatrists
Brooks Women’s Ghost 11 Women'sExpensiveSegmented Crash Pad – shock absorption cushions for smoother heel to ball transition
Easy Spirit Women’s Traveltime MuleWomen'sBudget-friendlySlip-on mule sandal designed specifically for women
Clarks Women’s Arla Glison Flip FlopWomen'sBudget-friendlyOrtholite footbed for more foot support

Best Shoes for Lower Back Pain

New Balance Men’s MW877 Walking Shoe

Image of the New Balance Men's MW877 Walking Shoe, Grey, 11 D US

New Balance is known for their comfortable athletic footwear. The New Balance Men’s MW877 Walking Shoe’s suede and mesh upper holds up over time, and the Walking Strike Path rubber outsole provides stability during activity. The MW877 gives you the support where you need it. The ABZORB midsole cushioning has excellent bounceback, and the removable insole has extra cushion in the heel and the ball of the foot. Recommended for wide feet, this running shoe has a roomy toe box with a padded tongue and collar for extra comfort.

The New Balance MW877 has a mild break-in period, during which the leather upper takes some time to stretch. They run large, so you may have to order a size down from your average size. Men with high arches may not find the New Balance MW877 as supportive as they would like, but you can replace the removable insole with an insert suited to your needs.

Pros

  • Our pick for the best men’s shoe for back pain
  • Lightweight, comfortable running shoe recommended for wide feet
  • Suede/mesh upper holds up over time
  • Walking Strike Path rubber outsole provides stability during walking and running
  • ABZORB midsole cushioning has superior bounceback
  • Wide toe box, comfortable padded tongue and collar
  • Removable insole with extra cushion in heel and ball of the foot

Cons

  • Run large
  • Minimal arch support; not recommended if you have a high arch
  • Mild break-in period
  • Expensive

 

Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 18

Image of the Brooks Women's Adrenaline GTS 18 Ebony/Silver/Pink 8.5 D US

Similar to the Ghost 11, Brooks has another model that can relieve back pain. The Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 18 comes in a variety of color schemes, with a mesh and synthetic upper that forms to your feet. It is designed to relieve stress on your joints and your back. With a breathable internal lining and a wide toe box, the GTS 18 has a padded collar and tongue for a comfortable experience. The shock-absorbing segmented crash pad on the rubber outsole alleviates stress on your heels and the ball of your foot. With a removable foam insole with Brooks’ BioMoGo DNA, the GTS 18 reacts to you, giving you bounceback with each stride. Designed for overpronators, the Adrenaline GTS 18 has a tri-density midsole that corrects your gait and instep.

The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18 has a looser fit than its predecessor, the GTS 17. This can deter some buyers from investing in this expensive running shoe, especially if they like a tight fit in their athletic footwear. There is a mild break-in period, during which the mesh upper will shape to your foot. There have been some complaints that the soles and stitching fail within a year, but this usually happens with consistent, daily use.

Pros

  • Our pick for the best women’s shoe for back pain
  • Designed for overpronators; comes in a variety of colors and styles
  • Mesh/synthetic upper that forms to your feet
  • Rubber sole with a wide toe box
  • Breathable internal fabric lining, padded collar and tongue for more comfort
  • Removable foam insole
  • BioMoGo DNA – engineering specifically for women; soft yet durable with bounceback
  • Segmented crash pad increases shock absorption
  • Tri-density midsole corrects gait and instep

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Mild break-in period
  • Fit looser than the previous model GTS 17
  • Some reports that the soles and stitching fails within a year

 

Skechers Performance Men’s Go Walk 4 Incredible Walking Shoe

Image of the Skechers Performance Men's Go Walk 4 Incredible Walking Shoe, Black, 8.5 M US

The budget-friendly Skechers Performance Men’s Go Walk 4 Incredible Walking Shoe is a lightweight and durable walking shoe. It doesn’t have laces: it is a convenient slip-on shoe with heel tabs. The mesh upper expands when you walk, conforming to the movement of your foot. A breathable bamboo liner inside of the shoe is an anti-bacterial material that combats odors. Ideal for standing or walking, the Skechers Go Walk 4 Incredible cushions the heel and the ball of the foot. With a tapered 5GEN midsole that has superior bounceback and Goga pillars on the bottom of the sole, this shoe has excellent shock absorption. The soft insole is removable, but it has enough support to where you won’t need to replace it.

There is no break-in period with the Skechers Go Walk 4 Incredible: they are comfortable to wear as soon as you receive them. There are some specific differences between the Go Walk 4 and its predecessor, the Go Walk 3. The newer model has a scuff guard around the toes and a higher heel cup. It also has a narrower toe box, which can change the feel of the shoe. They run narrow: those who wear half or wide sizes should purchase a size up. The soles are not slip-resistant, so they are not recommended for use on rocky or uneven terrain. Those with extremely defined arches have complained that the tapered midsole can make walking uncomfortable, so they are best for low and medium arches.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly, lightweight walking shoe
  • Mesh (expands when you walk)
  • Breathable bamboo liner with anti-bacterial material that combats foot odors
  • Excellent for long-term standing or walking
  • 5GEN midsole provides cushion and bounceback
  • Goga pillars on rubber outsole under the ball of foot and heel improve shock absorption
  • Removable insole
  • Heel tab/hole to help slip on and off
  • No break-in period

Cons

  • Softer, thinner sole than the Go Walk 3
  • Go Walk 4 has a scuff guard around toes, higher heel cup
  • Narrow toe box
  • Run narrow
  • Not slip-resistant
  • Not recommended on uneven or rocky terrain
  • Tapered midfoot sole not ideal for those with high arches

 

Brooks Addiction Walker Men’s Walking Shoes

 

Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoes come highly recommended for long work days on your feet. The strong leather upper and the slip-resistant, synthetic flexible outsole bend to your movement. The MoGo midsole keeps your foot stable, and it has Hydroflow technology that improves bounceback and shock absorption. Fluid in the insole under the heel and the ball of the foot also increases the shoe’s cushion. The Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoes are best for men with low arches. The Extended Progressive Diagonal Bar corrects overpronation, which can relieve lower back pain.

The only downfall of the Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoe is that they don’t last in heavy-duty environments. There is some stiffness in the leather until you break them in, and the shoes do not breathe well. They have a narrow fit, including a tight toe box, so you should order a size up from your normal size in athletic footwear. There have been some quality complaints about the Brooks Addiction Walker Walking Shoes, such as squeaky soles and unraveled stitching within a year of use, but these are relatively minor problems. They are also expensive for a pair of walking shoes, but they are so comfortable that it is worth the extra money.

Pros

  • Extremely comfortable; highly recommended for long work days on your feet
  • Leather upper
  • Slip-resistant, synthetic flexible outsole
  • Low-top walking shoe (2.4” from arch)
  • Fluid inside insole cushion heel and ball of the foot
  • MoGo midsole is stable; Hydroflow technology has bounceback and shock absorption
  • Best for those with low arches
  • Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar corrects overpronation

Cons

  • Not for heavy duty environments
  • Stiffness in leather
  • Little breathability
  • Run narrow, with tight toe box
  • Some reports of squeaking and unraveled stitching within a year
  • Expensive

 

Orthofeet Asheville Men’s Orthopedic Leather Slippers

Image of the Orthofeet Most Comfortable Arch Support Asheville Diabetic Mens Orthopedic Brown Leather Slippers

Orthofeet designs footwear catered to those with foot conditions. The Orthofeet Asheville Men’s Orthopedic Leather Slipper is a leather mule sandal with a removable orthotic foam insole that shapes to your foot. The shoe has air inside the insole that offers bounceback with each step. This Easy Gait Technology relieves pressure on your hips, knees, and joints in the feet. Made to be comfortable, the Asheville’s wide toe box and soft, padded interior lining make the shoe the most comfortable sandal on the market. This mule sandal has an adjustable strap for tightening or loosening the fit, making it ideal for those with issues such as plantar fasciitis and knee and back pain.

Those who are new to the mule design need some time to get used to the style of the Orthofeet Asheville. Walking in mule shoes is a learned behavior, and they may slip off at first. The Asheville is heavier than a typical sandal, and there have been some complaints that the Asheville is stiff and inflexible. As with most well-used shoes, there have also been reports that the sole separates from the upper within a year of constant use. Despite these few reports, the comfort and support of the moderately-priced Orthofeet Asheville come highly recommended for those with high arches or severe foot conditions. 

Pros

  • Leather mule sandal designed for those with high arches and foot issues such as plantar fasciitis, knee and back pain, etc.
  • Removable orthotic foam insole shapes to your foot, with arch support and heel cushioning
  • Easy Gait technology – air in insole has great bounceback with each step
  • Ortho-Cushion technology relieves pressure on joints
  • Wide toe box
  • Soft interior lining with foam padding makes the shoe comfortable
  • Adjustment strap for tightening and loosening fit
  • Moderately priced

Cons

  • Take some time to adjust to mule fit if first pair; slip off sometimes
  • Some complaints that the sole feels too high
  • Heavier shoe than a sandal; some claims that the sole is stiff and inflexible
  • Sole separates from upper within a year

 

Orthaheel Plantar Fasciitis Pain Relieving Sandals 

Image of the Orthaheel Mens/Womens Wave Sandals (Mens 11 Womens 12, Black)

For those looking for a stylish sandal that you can wear to the beach without killing your feet, Orthaheel designed their Plantar Fasciitis Pain-Relieving Sandals with you in mind. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis or any other foot conditions, you will feel the relief after the first wear. The firmness of the non-slip rubber sole relieves pain associated with several foot problems, and they have excellent arch support. You can even get these unisex sandals wet; the strap dries quickly, so it won’t ruin your day.

The Orthaheel Plantar Fasciitis Pain-Relieving Sandals run large, and there is a minor break-in period that should only last for a few days. There is no memory foam in the outsole, which makes them more durable, but there have been some complaints that the heel needs more support. Although they are expensive for a pair of sandals, their comfort is the only reason you should buy them.

Pros

  • Non-slip rubber sole
  • Firmness of sole helps plantar fasciitis
  • Perfect for wet conditions, like a day at the beach; strap dries quickly
  • Great arch support
  • Unisex sandals that hold up well

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Run large
  • Mild break-in period
  • Some complaints that they need more heel support
  • No memory foam

 

Vionic Women’s Walker Classic Shoes

Vionic has built their reputation on creating comfortable, athletic footwear. The Vionic Women’s Walker Classic Shoes are orthotic tennis shoes designed by podiatrists to reduce foot and back pain. Focusing on comfort, Vionic manufactured a durable upper and a roomy toe box that won’t crush your toes. The cushioned rubber outsole and the removable, dual-density EVA foam insole provide excellent shock absorption and bounceback. With .5” elevation, the shoe facilitates a more natural stride from the heel to the ball of the foot. The Vionic Women’s Walker Classic Shoes are ideal for both overpronators and supinators because they correct your gait by helping your feet and knees stay in alignment.

There is a mild break-in period: those new to the shoe will need some time to get used to the fit. With an arch positioned lower than other athletic shoes, the Vionic Women’s Walker Classic Shoes correct the placement of the heel, encouraging a more natural stride that will relieve back pain. Due to their design to adjust your gait, some have complained that the shoe is too clunky and loose around the ankle. Some reviews complained that the waterproofing failed: the Vionic Walker Classic Shoes are only water-resistant, so they won’t last in extremely wet environments.

Pros

  • Orthotic tennis shoe designed by podiatrists
  • Leather upper and a wide toe box
  • Cushioned rubber outsole
  • Removable dual-density EVA insole provides shock absorption and bounceback
  • .5” elevation; more natural movement from heel to ball
  • Helps feet and knees stay in place for overpronators and supinators

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Run small; those with foot problems should order a wide
  • Mild break-in period
  • The arch location corrects the placement of the heel, feels awkward at first
  • Some complaints that they are clunky and loose around the ankle
  • Water resistant, not waterproof

 

Brooks Women’s Ghost 11

 Image of the Brooks Women's Ghost 11 White/Pink/Black 8 B US

The Brooks Women’s Ghost 11 is a lightweight shoe for runners or those on their feet for extended periods of time. The comfortable mesh upper molds to your foot, creating a snug fit. Designed for comfort for those who have medium to high arches, the Ghost 11’s DNA LOFT heel crash pad absorbs impact for a softer landing on the heel. The rubber outsole has a segmented crash pad for even more shock absorption throughout your entire foot, creating a steadier transition from the heel to the ball of the foot. Brooks uses their BioMoGo DNA technology, which creates a women’s running shoe engineered especially for women: the insole is soft for comfort but durable enough for sufficient bounceback.

The major complaint against the Brooks Ghost 11 is that it is designed only for runners. For those who want a comfortable tennis shoe for every day walking or errands, you should choose another shoe. The design, which includes a lift in the toes, can make them uncomfortable for activities other than running. The toe box is also very narrow, which can be a deal-breaker on purchasing this expensive athletic shoe.

Pros

  • Lightweight shoe for runners or those on their feet for extended periods of time
  • Mesh upper molds to your foot
  • For medium to high arches
  • DNA LOFT heel crash pad has shock absorption for a softer landing on the heel
  • Segmented Crash Pad – shock absorption cushions for smoother heel to ball transition
  • BioMoGo DNA technology – engineering specifically for women; soft yet durable with bounceback

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Narrow toe box
  • Designed for runners; lift in the toes can make them uncomfortable

 

Easy Spirit Women’s Traveltime Mule

Easy Spirit is a women’s shoe company that is known for their casual and athletic footwear. The Easy Spirit Women’s Traveltime Mule is a budget-friendly, slip-on mule sandal that is designed specifically for the shape of a woman’s foot. The leather/fabric upper and rubber sole move with you, eliminating stress on your joints. With good arch support, the Easy Spirit Traveltime Mule has a removable, shock-absorbent insole designed to relieve pressure on your heel and the ball of your foot.

The Easy Spirit Traveltime Mule runs small and narrow, so you will have to order a size up from your regular size. The Traveltime Mule also has a narrow toe box, so it is better for women with smaller feet. There is a short break-in period, during which they can be noisy as you walk. Once you break them in, you’ll be surprised at how comfortable they are. The Easy Spirit Traveltime Mule will become your favorite lounging and errand shoe.  

Pros

  • Budget-friendly slip-on mule sandal
  • Designed for women
  • Leather/fabric upper
  • Flexible rubber sole
  • Removable insole shock absorbent and comfortable
  • Good arch support

Cons

  • Run small and narrow; better for smaller feet
  • Tight toe box
  • Fall apart within a year of use
  • Some complaints that they are noisy

 

Clarks Women’s Arla Glison Flip Flop

Image of the CLARKS Women's Arla Glison Flip-Flop, Black Fabric, 9 Medium US

The Clarks Women’s Arla Glison Flip Flop is so comfortable that you can wear it almost anywhere. With a soft, textile strap and a cushy and flexible rubber sole, the Clarks Arla Glison provides more foot support than your average sandal. It has a 1.5” heel for more shock absorption on impact, and a ¼” platform with Cushionsoft technology that makes them comfortable enough to wear all day. The lightweight, microfiber EVA sole and an Ortholite footbed give added arch support on the ball of your foot as well as your heel.

All this added comfort in the sole can make the Clarks Arla Glison heavier than most flip-flops, but several customers have reported that the soles are like walking on air. They do run narrow, so you may have to go a size up from the sandal size you usually wear. For those with extremely sensitive arches, the incline may be too hard on the ball of your foot. Although they are comfortable flip-flops, the Clarks Arla Glison isn’t ideal for a day at the beach; they can be challenging to get back on if they get wet. Some customers have complained that the sole wears down between six months to a year after purchase, but they are so budget-friendly that you can buy another pair.

Pros

  • Budget-friendly
  • Comfortable textile strap
  • Flexible, synthetic sole for durability
  • Cushy soles
  • ¼” platform for more comfort
  • 5” heel
  • Cushionsoft technology extra cushion; comfortable to walk in
  • EVA and microfiber sole for better support and lightweight
  • Ortholite footbed for more foot support
  • Good arch support

Cons

  • Not ideal for beach wear; hard to slip back on when wet
  • Run narrow
  • Some complaints that the slant is too hard on the ball of the foot
  • Heavier than normal flip flops
  • Some claims that the sole breaks down between six months to a year

 

The Bottom Line

When you have back pain, a comfortable pair of shoes can make a huge difference in your quality of life. Having enough stability and support can relieve the pressure off of your feet and joints, eliminating your back pain. Our selections for the best shoes for back pain are the New Balance Men’s MW877 Walking Shoe and the Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 18. Both have superior support and comfort, while their drawbacks are relatively minor. If you are not looking for an athletic shoe, any of the sandals on this list can give you the support and stability that you need to relieve your back pain.

 

Resources:

“Suffering from back pain? Forget popping pills – just ditch your flat shoes and switch your pillows.” Daily Mail UK. https://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-3601098/Suffering-pain-Forget-pills-ditch-flat-shoes-switch-pillows.html

Butler, Sara. “The Best Shoes for Back Pain Relief.” The JOINT Chiropractic. https://www.thejoint.com/louisiana/monroe/monroe-18001/213175-best-shoes-for-back-pain

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