Research has shown that there is a close relation between running shoes and lower back pain. In fact, a wrong choice of footwear is the reason behind increased pain while on the track. But if you are suffering from back pain, you can still get the best running shoes for back pain.
Having the right shoes should provide stability, cushioning and support. It also offers a pain-free running experience, especially to your lower back. So, how do you identify the best running shoes for lower back pain?
Here, I will identify different factors that you should know when shopping for your shoes to have a good running experience despite the discouraging lower back pain. I will also review for you the running shoes for back pain in the market.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
Most people who are suffering from back pain experience stabbing pain or muscle aches in the lower back pain when bending, lifting heavy objects, or standing and walking. Besides, the pain can become unbearable when it moves and gets to your legs, rendering you unable to walk. Even worse, it may result in a severe medical condition.
Comparison table for back pain among men and women in two countries
|% of Affected Men
|%of Affected Women
But did you know back pain can be a result of a simple cause? Yes, causes such as
- Muscle strain caused by bad posture while lifting heavy objects,
- Soft tissue injuries.
- Poor sitting and standing postures
Besides, research has shown that severe causes of lower back pain include the following:
- Diseases such as spinal cord cancer and arthritis
- A herniated or ruptured disc
- Kidney infections
- Spine infections
It would be wise to seek medical attention if the lower back pain becomes chronic and lasts for more than a month.
Why Running Shoes Are Important For Back Pain
Good running shoes not only improve your gait and posture on the track, but also offer cushioning and support to your ankles, knees, hips, and ultimately your back.
They help absorb impact that occur when your foot hits the ground. As such, your lower back will not bear the effects of the running force.
Besides, good running shoes prevent muscle strain and pain in the lower back by aligning muscles, bones, and joints. This ensures efficient coordination between your joints and lower back, resulting in a comfortable run.
So, are your shoes causing you lower back pain while on the track? It will help if you buy ideal shoes that will assist you to beat the lower back pain.
Choosing the Right Shoes for Back Pain
Researchhas shown that eight out of 10 people in the United States experience lower back pain. One factor that might contribute to lower back pain is the poor choice of shoes.
Therefore, choosing the right shoes might make a huge difference in alleviating back pain, provide the arch support you need for your back and reduce back pain symptoms.
Remember, good running shoes should not be about the latest fashion or low prices in the market. But, always strive to make comfort and quality your priority when choosing the right shoes.
Therefore, when you are ready to buy new shoes, keep the following tips in mind. You will be glad you did because you need a pain-free running experience.
Best Running Shoes for Lower Back Pain
New Balance 1080 V11 Running Shoe – Best Cushioning
Our number one running shoes for back pain are the New Balance 1080. Being a New Balance’s premium flagship, it brags the latest and superior technology available.
The 1080v11, just like the prior v10, incorporates a Fresh Foam X midsole. There’s a slight variance, though, with the v11 feeling much softer than before. This adds to the trainer’s max cushioning while ensuring a bouncy energy return.
On the midsole are laser engravings which together form a honeycomb design. It comes in handy during heel strikes by helping soften and compress your landing.
The 1080v11 then features a notable outsole right under the midsole. It uses blown rubber for the most part making the trainer nothing less durable.
You would also expect the blown rubber to deliver superior grip, which it does. Hence, you can enjoy runs even on wet surfaces without fretting about slipping.
The outsole then includes flex grooves on strategic spots. Besides enhancing the sole’s flexibility, these grooves also allow room for your toes to flex, especially during toe-off.
The 1080v11’s upper boasts top-tier knitting. Not only is it thinner but stretchy as well, giving the shoe good conformity. It’s also more pliable and softer, allowing the trainer to achieve a comfortable, snug fit.
Moreover, the Ultra Heel counter comes with a redesign. The flare isn’t as evident as before and also features a slight toning down.
Another key feature of the 1080v11 is its roomy toe box. For this reason, this trainer best suits runners with high-volume feet that would appreciate the extra space. There are also numerous pores on the toe box that enhance the shoe’s breathability.
HOKA ONE ONE Elevon 2 – Best Ride
Any runner who has run in HOKA One One trainers before can attest to their exceptional cushioning. The Hoka One One Elevon 2 is no different. And besides the ample cushioning, it’s also highly durable with a smooth ride.
It doesn’t feel overly lightweight on your feet but is deceivingly quick. In other words, it doesn’t affect your pace as other heavy trainers do.
Unlike the prior Elevon 1, the Hoka One One Elevon 2 then boasts an extended heel. This feature is a steal for heavier heel strikers. It comes with a jutting-out design for more shock absorption.
It also incorporates more heel cushioning and extra hell counter support. Through these, the shoe locks your foot in. This results in ensuring you remain stable every time you hit the ground.
Again, the Hoka One One Elevon 2 has notable cushioning, which you’ll feel from the first moment. It is hence an ideal trainer for moderate to slow pace runs as well as recovery runs. For this reason, the Elevon 2 is one of the best running shoes for back pain.
The shoe’s midsole features a dual-foam design. Closer to the foot is a softer PROFLY foam with a firmer foam covering it.
The dual-foam combo offers a good balance between cushioning and firmness. As a result, the Hoka One trainer achieves a decently responsive underfoot.
Below the midsole is a crystal rubber outsole. The material provides excellent underfoot protection and grip to boot.
They use a simple and lightweight engineered breathable mesh upper. Through this mesh upper, it facilitates breathability while providing a clean aesthetic. The tongue includes lightweight padding with a cutout for extra comfort.
ALTRA Paradigm 5 – Best Support
When it comes to reasonable control, innovative midsole cushioning, and cozy comfort, the ALTRA Paradigm 5 is the prize.
The shoe comes with a zero drop and a foot-shaped rounded toe box. Being a top-tier max cushioned stability shoes, it is ideal for long runs and workouts. It also suits runners with poor circulation, balance issues, and bunions.
It was one of the first models to include guide rails. Unlike the traditional medial post, guide rails can fix one foot without affecting the other.
In simple terms, they help runners who highly over-pronate or under-pronate by guiding their feet back into place.
The Paradigm 5 comes with Altra’s Ego Blend midsole. Most cushion shoes make your feet sink into them, which is not the case this time.
This midsole cushioning does allow you to enjoy the extra cushioning. But at the same time, it gives your foot a springy and bouncy feel.
The breathable upper uses a stretchy material. Not only does it facilitate breathability, but it also hugs your foot much better. This results in a snug fit and comfortable runs even during humid environments.
The Paradigm 5 has an overall soft feel and includes a plusher heel cup. It then features firmer SabiliPods for stability.
The pods don’t nearly stick out as much as in the previous model. And you’ll even hardly notice their presence in this trainer.
On the outsole is a durable rubber that strengthens the contact spots. It adapts to your movement and mimics your foot anatomy to achieve a more natural ride.
Brooks Launch GTS 8 – Best Design
Do you want a running shoe for picking up the pace without compromising support? If yes, the Brooks Launch GTS 8 delivers just that.
These running shoes for back pain boast a striking design, feels lightweight, and is incredibly comfortable.
This Brooks trainer features Brook’s ecological BioMoGo DNA foam for the midsole. The BioMoGo DNA makes it springy and firm to boot.
The material comes in handy to allow easy lift-off after impact. And although the foam isn’t the most responsive out there, it is impressive for the price.
The Brooks Launch GTS 8 then includes a Guide Rails system. These guide rails come as extra pieces of firm foam on each side to cradle your heel.
During impact, they guide your foot into place but only if necessary. They don’t restrict your feet in any way as it is with some medial posts. However, this trainer only best suits slightly overpronating runners.
The Brooks Launch GTS 8 uses blown rubber on its outsole. With such material, expect this Brooks trainer to handle long mileages. The outsole pattern design is also notable as it allows quick transitions off your feet.
The Brooks shoe then incorporates a breathable mesh upper. It ensures excellent breathability for comfortable runs and can also keep your toes warm in the cold.
The upper also delivers a snug fit without blisters or hot spots of any kind. There’s also ample toe box room for your toes to flex.
Saucony Hurricane 22 – Best Snug Fit
Saucony has quite a reputation for top-quality running shoes in the market. And fortunately, Hurricane 22 proves that. With this trainer, you’ll enjoy a blend of moderate stability and soft cushioning.
This trainer does include a few updates from previous models. For instance, Hurricane 22 comes with a new FORMFIT upper. This is different from the last ISOFIT design.
The new FORMFIT upper is more like a luxury bucket seat. It conforms to your foot type, delivering a perfect fit.
At the same time, the upper brags a plush feel offering comfort from all angles. There’s also a plush heel collar and a meshed tongue attaching to a sleeve.
Between the midsole and the sock liner is an additional 3mm piece of padding. This delivers a comfy feel underfoot, making the Hurricane 22 ideal for long runs.
The shoe then comprises vertical support strips. This works alongside the shoe’s medial post to prevent twisting during foot strikes.
There’s a thick layer of mesh upper that bears several slit cuts for ventilation. It starts from the support strips to complete the forefoot. And being an inch higher around the tip creates extra room for your toes.
The Hurricane 22 comes with an all-new PWRRUN+ midsole. It’s more responsive and 28% lightweight than the prior EVERUN midsole. On the outsole, this trainer uses Tri-Flex Crystal Rubber. Thanks to this material, expect the Hurricane 22 to last quite a mileage.
ALTRA Torin 4.5 Plush – Best Cushioning
The ALTRA Torin 4.5 Plush offers decent extra cushioning, allowing you to put in some extra miles. It is more like a version update to the Torin 4 Plush.
The main upgrade of the Torin 4.5 Plush is the upper. The shoe now comes with a knit upper, which is slightly stiff. Although not very noticeable, the new upper makes the trainer marginally lightweight.
The upper is also not very striking in design. But far from appearance, it offers impressive breathability and a comfortable, snug fit.
As for the lacing system, it is more straightforward than on the Torin 4. The laces tie tightly and stay put all through your runs.
The midsole incorporates a Quantic foam material. It’s a bit stiff and may require some long distance to break in. This midsole is not very responsive but boasts a smooth, well-cushioned ride. For a more responsive cushioned ride, try the standard Torin 4 version.
Even after long mileages, you won’t experience any blisters or underfoot soreness. Thanks to the trainer’s cushioning and the roomy toe box that mimics your foot type.
Like with every other Altra running shoe, the Torin 4.5 Plush also has a zero drop. This works alongside the broad toe box to enhance your posture.
The shoe’s tongue boasts a sleek design with a seamless edge. However, it is pretty short and tends to cut into the ankle’s bend. You may have to consider wearing shoes with some crew-cut or ankle socks.
Asics Gel-Kayano 27 – Best Flexibility
Some of the most reliable stability trainers in the market are from the Gel-Kayano range. The Asics Gel-Kayano 27 is no exemption. It comes with a few upgrades that make it softer and lightweight for a better ride experience.
When it comes to fit, many runners concur that the Kayano collection does not disappoint. Well, the same applies to the Gel-Kayano 27. It brags a specific design that helps it conform to your feet.
This trainer then fits true to size and features a comfy, new engineered upper. It’s stylish and promotes your foot’s natural movements. Besides, it significantly adds to the remarkable Kayano 27’s structure.
The breathable upper allows for excellent ventilation. Your feet will hence stay dry and fresh even during extended runs in humid surroundings.
On the shoe’s outsole is AHAR rubber. This material is not just durable but also delivers excellent traction on both dry and wet surfaces. The deeper flex grooves on the outsole help enhance the shoe’s flexibility.
The midsole includes a dual-foam structure. The bottom layer features Flytefoam Lyte, which provides a solid base. And making up the midsole’s upper layer is Flytefoam Propel.
The shoe then includes more Gel cushioning on the midsole and in the forefoot. Through this, ASICS enhances the Kayano 27’s shock-absorption ability. It, therefore, qualifies among the best running shoes for back pain.
Finally, this trainer features a Dynamic DuoMax support system. Alongside a Trusstic system, the shoe offers a great deal of stability on each stride.
Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 – Best Stability
If a comfortable, smooth-riding trainer is what you are after, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 is for you. It boasts a plush feel and delivers more adaptable arch support and stability with each stride you take.
The shoe is not very different from the prior GTS 20. It does, however, include minor improvements. The GTS 21 boasts a new breathable and supportive upper. As a result, you will be able to enjoy long runs while keeping your feet fresh.
In addition, the upper also delivers solidity, stability, and structure to the midfoot. It is slightly stretchable as well to allow for movement while retaining its shape.
With the GTS 21, you won’t fret about your foot slipping. The shoe includes a unique lacing system that helps hold your foot in place.
About its appearance, the GTS 21 lacks pointless decorations. It instead comes with an old-school look and is relatively lightweight than previous versions.
Identical to the GTS 20, this trainer also employs Brook’s Guide Rail system. On each side of the foot are two guide rails. Through these, the shoe offers balance to your foot as you run.
The outsole of the GTS 21 comprises blown rubber which guarantees durability. It then incorporates Omega flex grooves on strategic spots to increase the trainer’s flexibility.
Pairing up with the grooves are segmented crash pad. The segmented crash pad works closely to help smoothen the transition from your midfoot strike to toe-off. This results in impressive flexibility while running.
The Adrenaline GTS 21 then employs a dual-foam midsole structure. It includes BioMoGo DNA and DNA Loft that comprises the primary foam. The midsole provides a sturdy yet responsive ride.
Buying Guide for the Best Shoes for Lower Back Pain
When buying running shoes to help you curb lower back pain, consider the following four factors
- Consider arch support
- Consider cushioning and shock-absorption shoes.
- Chose the right fitting shoes
- Consider orthotics
Different people have various types of foot arch. The design of your foot arch determines how you pronate while walking, running, and standing. The arch of your foot might be high, neutral, or low. Therefore consider a shoe that will cater to your arch type. Besides, such shoes ensure proper arch support and help eliminate lower back pain.
For example, consider the following shoes for your type of arch.
A neutral arch is characterized by a foot bottom that is half-filled. However, such an arch is known to provide proper body support. That means you pronate normally. Therefore, when choosing shoes to help curb your back pain, consider a shoe with a firm midsole and one that provides stability in the rear.
A person with a low arch has the bottom of the foot filled, and when they step on a flat surface, you see a total footprint. Such people are considered overpronators, and they experience muscle stress while running. So, they should choose shoes that have straight sole and offers motion control.
A high arch typically shows minimal footprints when stepping on a flat surface. Unfortunately, such people experience excessive muscle strain because their foot has no shock-absorbing mechanism. Therefore, shoes with curved soles and raised cushioning promote comfort on the truck and provide shock absorption.
Cushioning and shock-absorbing shoes
If you are suffering from back pain, the right shoe choice shields your feet against impact while running. It should also protect your back against muscle strains and stress. Most running shoes have sole designs that offer increased cushioning to your feet.
One part of the footwear to consider when buying a shoe is the midsole. It is a part between the outer sole and the inner sole, made of firm material.
Materials such as polyurethane foam, ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA), or any other material can cushion your feet and act as shock absorbers. Moreover, consider shoes made of materials that are lightweight but more durable.
Again, your foot arch type will determine the kind of midsole to choose to facilitate cushioning of your lower back against injuries and pain. For high arches, consider shoes with softer, raised midsoles. While for low arch’s, a firm midsole will be ideal in helping you to control the pronation levels while running.
It is easy to determine if your shoes have a firm midsole that will lower your back pain. Push the inner part of the sole using your thumb, and you will feel the material. Most medical experts recommend shoes designed with EVA midsoles because they are lightweight but more firm and durable.
Right Fitting Shoes
The shoe size that you chose should fit your feet both in width and length. This will reduce the chances of hurting your back and determine how well you will perform while running on the track.
Do not be overwhelmed by the sheer beauty and fashion of the shoes available in the market. But consider your musculoskeletal health. There are several key factors to consider when buying running shoes for back pain. They include the following.
- Ensure you know the size of your feet. You can do that by measuring the length and width of your feet, or you can ask the salesperson t help you measure your feet while at the shoe store.
- Choose a shoe that best fits your feet and resist the temptation of fashion and beauty.
- Always ensure your shoes have sturdy and perfect soles designed to handle the impact of running.
- Consider the health and comfort of your lower back. It should come first despite the enticing features described by the designing company of the shoes.
- Try on the shoes before you leave the store. Wearing shoes and walking around helps determine if they fit well. It will help you to determine if they fit you. Remember, the shoes should securely fit your heel and comfortably create enough room at the ball of your feet.
- Lastly, develop a habit of shopping for shoes in the afternoon. This is because your foot tends to expand in the afternoon than in the morning. Therefore, shopping in the afternoon makes you have the right and closely fitting shoes.
Shoe inserts play a crucial role in enhancing stability while cushioning you against the force while running. This is important because it helps protect your back, your feet, and joints against injuries. The orthotics act as shock absorbers against stress while on the track.
Most of the running shoes in the market are designed with these orthotics. However, if you fail to find the best orthotic that fits your arch type, then a podiatrist or chiropractor can design a fitting one for you.
Besides, you can do the following to have the best fitting orthotics for your lower back pain;
- Choose rigid orthotics to offer good arch support if you have a low arch. It will help you to have motion control.
- For high arches, consider orthotics that are curved, soft, and flexible but durable. It should be rigid enough to cushion you against back injury and reduce pain.
- Always test the set of orthotics you have bought for your feet. Stand on them and make sure they are ideal for your feet.
Remember, it takes time to get used to shoe inserts. Therefore it is essential to keep wearing your shoes, and with time you will realize the pain in the lower back keeps fading.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the best running shoes for lower back pain?
Always consider shoes that are soft, spongy, and lightweight. The shoes should also have proper cushioning and support your back correctly as they help control motion. Besides, it should absorb shock resulting from the running impact hence minimizing the lower back pain.
What are the best shoes to wear if you have a bad back?
For the best shoes for a bad back, consider comfortable, well-fitting shoes, offer good support and maintain excellent posture. The outer sole should have rigid materials, preferably rubber, to help cushion your back and absorb shock while standing, walking, or running.
Is it okay to run with lower back pain?
Yes. Running is one form of aerobic exercise that has proved to be effective in handling lower back pain. However, be careful, and you do it in the right way. Therefore ensure you have the right shoes, maintain the proper posture. Above all, seek medical advice before you start running.
Can my running shoes cause lower back pain?
Yes. Running in the wrong shoes can cause lower back pain. For example, running using shoes that do not fit properly, using shoes with high heels, worn-out and old shoes, shoes with wrong soles, and poor cushioning can cause muscle strains and ankle sprains, resulting in lower back pains.
Finding the best running shoes for lower back pain can indeed be a challenge. However, with numerous types of shoes in the market, always pay attention to your health and choose a shoe that helps solve your problem.
Choose a well-cushioned shoe, properly fitting, offers support, and absorbs the shock resulting from the running impact. Besides, consider an outsole made from spongy materials and placed strategically to increase bounce and flexibility during running.
Remember, the best running shoe should not only reduce your lower back pain, but it should create a good foundation for your body.