The 6 Best Shoes for Sciatica, According to a Podiatrist 2022

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Experiencing pain of any kind is not fun, especially if it has to do with the sciatic nerve. “Sciatic nerve pain is pain that radiates from the sciatic nerve at the level of your lower spine, down your buttocks, and down the back of your leg,” says Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a New York-based podiatrist. York and founder of Step Up Footcare. It is caused by compression of the sciatic nerve at the base of the spine, likely due to a herniated disc along the spine, and can make everyday movements difficult. Fortunately, sciatic nerve pain can be managed through a combination of stretching, strength training, and wearing the right shoes (yes, shoes do make a big difference).

“If the shoes fit correctly, meaning both the length and width are the correct size, there is less chance of falls or injuries causing compression of the sciatic nerve,” she says. Also, supportive and stable shoes can promote good posture, which can prevent sciatic nerve irritation.

We tapped with a podiatrist for his opinion on the best shoes for sciatica. Below you will find their recommendations and tips on what to look for.

best shoes for sciatica

best sneaker

Photo: Klaw

Klaw 528 — $148.00

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

Available sizes: 4-11

Available colours: 4

best sandal

Photo: Birkenstock

Birkenstock Arizona Platform — $130.00

Another iteration of the Arizona line, Birkenstock’s 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 every wear. It’s also lightweight and has adjustable straps, so your sandals won’t slip or slide. What can we say? Birkenstock sandals reign supreme when it comes to comfortable foot sandals.

Available sizes: 4-12.5

Available colours: two

The best running shoe

Photo: New Balance

New Balance Fresh Foam x Vongo v5 — $150.00

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

Available sizes: 5-12

Available colours: two

best boots

Photo: Geox

Geox Aerantis 4×4 Abx Ankle Boots — $95.00

Geox Aerantis 4×4 Abx cleats have “a good amount of cushioning in the midsole to absorb shock,” offering support for people with sciatica pain, says Dr. Lobkova. Although boots are notoriously known for trapping heat, Abx booties are made with the brand’s signature ventilation system, allowing trapped heat to escape (no more sweaty feet). The boots are finished with a waterproof coating, so you’ll be able to walk in rain or snow.

Available sizes: 5-11

Available colours: 1

best budget

Photo: Merrell

Merrell Moab 2 Waterproof Shoe — $95.00

Waterproof and slip-resistant, Merrell’s Moab 2 shoe has you covered when it’s wet outside. The outer layer and the tongue block the passage of water and dirt, while the textured sole grips the ground (no more slips and slides). It also has a firm heel counter for added stability and shock absorption.

Available sizes: 5-12

Available colours: 4

best loafers

Photo: Macy’s

Zee Slip-On Loafers — $45.00

Do you dress to impress, but want to be comfortable? Dr. Lobkova recommends the Zee slip-on loafers. While it’s low, the platform provides shock absorption and the cushioned insole evens out any pressure on your joints. It comes in gray, black, and six other colors of faux fur.

Available sizes: 5-7.5

Available colours: 8

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 under the heels and the amount under the toes. Dr. Lobkova recommends shoes with a lower heel-to-toe drop to avoid pressure loading on the hips and knees. So, like Limbo, the lower the heel-to-toe drop, the better.

heel height

When choosing sciatica shoes, look for a shoe with a heel height of no more than one inch. “A heel height greater than an inch causes the torso to lean forward over the pelvis, which can worsen sciatica pain,” explains Dr. Lobkova.

Stability

To reduce stress on the sciatic nerve, you’ll want a shoe that offers support and rigidity, especially in the midsole and heel counter. To determine if your heel is firm, “make sure you don’t pinch this part of the shoe,” says Dr. Lobkova. She’ll also want to look for a stiff midsole because “the support of a shoe that isn’t too flexible has stiffness in the midsole,” she adds. To test, try folding the toe and heel of the shoe in half. Rigid midsoles should not be folded in half.

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

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These products are independently selected by our editors. Making a purchase through our links may generate a commission for Well+Good.

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