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What are the Best Shoes for Back Pain?

What are the best shoes for back pain and how can the wrong shoes affect your back? In this three part series we’ll discuss how shoes can affect your back.  Stay tuned next week for part two.

Part 1: What are the best shoes for back pain?best shoes for your back - saratoga spine

Part 2: Flip flops and your back – are they a good pair?

Part 3: Are high heels bad for your back?

The Effect of Walking on the Spine

The anatomy of our feet and how we walk can have a great impact on our spine. The arches of our feet play an important role in acting as “shock absorbers” when we walk. If our feet rotate in or out too much these shock absorbers don’t function properly and the rest of our body is left to absorb the impact of each step. This constant jarring can have a detrimental effect on the intricate features of our spine.1 (Learn more about the spinal anatomy.)

Underpronation and Overpronation

When we walk, our heel touches the ground first. Then, our arch rolls inward slightly, the ball of our foot touches the ground and, finally, the toe touches to push off for the next step.

The inward movement of the arch is called pronation. If your arch rolls inward too much it’s called overpronation. If your arch doesn’t roll inward enough, then you underpronate.

Best Shoes for Back Pain

Our shoes can have a huge impact on the way we walk. And, since we know that the way we walk can impact our back, it makes sense that the type of shoes we wear can have a big impact on our back pain.

So, which are the best shoes for back pain? Well, it depends on how you walk.

Remember we talked about how your arch moves when you walk and underpronation versus overpronation? Well, the best shoe for you depends on your anatomy, gait and if you underpronate or overpronate.

Best Shoes for Flat Feet

If you have flat feet, or fallen arches, you overpronate when you walk. The best shoes to correct for this condition, are those with a supportive arch.

Best Shoes for High Arches

In contrast, those with high arches tend to underpronate. When you underpronate, your feet don’t properly absorb the impact of your steps. This causes the rest of the body to absorb more of the impact. Shoes with good overall cushioning can help to act as shock absorbers and are, therefore, the best shoes for those high arches.

Custom Orthotics

If your under- or overpronation is severe, your doctor may prescribe a custom orthotic. Custom orthotics are insoles that are specially designed for your individual feet to counteract an incorrect alignment when you walk.2


So, what are the best shoes for your back? The ones that help your feet absorb the constant movements and pressures associated with walking. Stay tuned for part 2 of our series next week when we’ll be taking a closer look at flip flops and how they affect your back.


  1. Laser Spine Institute
  2. Everyday Health
  3. Foot Ankle Institute
  4. Feet Genius
*Please Note: Information on this site or any recommended sites should not be used as a diagnosis or a substitute for talking with your doctor. Always talk with your doctor about diagnosis and treatment information.
Blue Distinction Center for Spine Surgery