The 11 Best Shoes for Back Pain of 2022

Hoka’s Bondi 8s and Brooks’ Glycerin 20 provide plush cushioning and support

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While there are many causes of back pain, common treatments such as physical therapy, targeted exercises, and medications can often reduce symptoms. Something as simple as wearing a pair of supportive, well-cushioned shoes can also make a difference in helping to alleviate the pain or keep it at bay.

Reviewed & Approved

Hoka’s Bondi 8 Running Shoe has shock-absorbing cushioning, excellent traction, and a wide, stable platform. For men with back pain, we recommend the versatile Brooks Glycerin 20 Running Shoe, which provides excellent support, responsive cushioning, and reliable traction.

When selecting shoes for back pain, the most important factors to consider are the stiffness of the sole, excellent support and cushioning, and a proper fit, according to Omar Yaldo, MD, a foot and ankle surgeon with Hoag Orthopedic Institute. While running or walking shoes are typically the best option for back pain, there are some sandals, boots, or other shoes that provide the right cushioning and support. Since there’s a variety of shoes, there’s also a big range of prices, so you could expect to pay anywhere from $40 to $160 for a high-quality pair.

We chose the best shoes for back pain by researching dozens of pairs from the most popular, trusted brands. Additionally, we spoke with foot experts to understand what shoe features are most beneficial for preventing back pain. To help determine our list, we also consulted the American Podiatric Medical Association’s list of shoes that have earned their Seal of Acceptance. We considered each pair’s cushioning, support, fit, design, comfort, value, and more.

Based on our research, here are the best shoes for back pain on the market.

Best Women's Overall: Hoka Bondi 8 Running Shoe

4.9
best gym shoes

Hoka

Pros
  • Plush, shock-absorbing cushioning

  • Very comfortable upper

  • Wide platform for good stability

Cons
  • Bulky design

  • Expensive

With plush cushioning, Hoka’s Bondi 8 provides the comfy support and excellent shock absorption that those with back pain need, making it an easy choice for our best women’s overall pick.

The shoe features a Meta-Rocker design, which helps to propel the foot forward, promoting smoother transitions from heel to toe and softening the impact on joints. It also has impressive arch support in the full-length EVA foam midsole, keeping your feet in alignment so there’s less stress on your back muscles.

The shoe’s wide platform and reliable traction also make it quite stable, while the roomy toebox allows feet to spread for even more stability. An engineered mesh and lycra upper hugs the foot for a comfy, secure bit, and also allows for good breathability.

A popular choice among walkers and runners, the podiatrist-approved Bondi 8 is available in regular and wide widths, so it can accommodate a range of foot shapes and sizes. While some may not love the shoe’s somewhat bulky design, the Bondi 8’s impressive cushioned comfort and support are what wins people over.

Price at time of publication: $165

Weight: 9 ounces I Materials: Engineered mesh and lycra upper, rubber outsole I Cushioning: High I Closure: Lace-up

Best Men's Overall: Brooks Men's Glycerin 20 Running Shoe

4.9
Brooks Glycerin 20 Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Soft but responsive

  • Very durable

  • Breathable, comfortable upper

Cons
  • Expensive

Brooks’ Glycerin 20 running shoe is our men’s top pick because it's supportive cushioning provides the super-soft, plush comfort and shock absorption that those with back pain need.

The shoes’ cushioning dynamically adapts to each step with responsive rebound and a lightweight feel. Additionally, the Glycerin’s midsole and outsole help absorb shock and disperse impact for smooth, even transitions. The rubber outsole adds to the overall stability, with reliable, grippy traction.

The breathable mesh upper provides a snug, comfortable fit right out of the box, with no break-in period required. They come in regular and wide widths, and there’s plenty of room if you need to use orthotics or insoles in them.

The versatile Glycerin 20 is light enough for shorter runs or all-day wear, but also provides the comfort and stability you need if you’re running or walking longer distances. Like other high-quality running shoes, this pair of Brooks is on the pricey side, but the reliable support and comfort they offer make them well worth the price.

Price at time of publication: $160

Weight: 10.6 ounces  I  Materials: Mesh upper, rubber outsole I  Cushioning: High  I Closure: Lace-up

Best for Walking: Ryka Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoe

4.9
Ryka Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Good shock absorption

  • Budget-friendly

  • Wide toe box

Cons
  • Too thin for cold weather

Ryka’s Devotion Plus 3 walking shoe stands out as a solid women’s pick for those who love fitness walking and don’t want back pain to get in the way of reaching their daily step count. With plenty of cushioning and support, especially around the arch, heel, and ankle, the shoe offers plush landings and good shock absorption, to help protect your back and joints.

The shoe’s roomy toe box, stable footbed, and narrow heel offer the perfect combination for a comfortable, secure fit. Meanwhile, the shoe’s durable, high-quality rubber outsole adds to the overall stability with dependable traction. It even provides enough grip, support, and protection for walking on moderate trails, making it a versatile option at a budget-friendly price.

A breathable engineered mesh upper and soft, smooth lining add to the shoe’s overall comfort. One concern we have is that the thin upper material may not be protective enough for cold weather, so the Devotion Plus 3 is better suited for walking in warm or cool conditions.

Price at time of publication: $100

Weight: 8.2 ounces I  Materials: Engineered mesh upper, lycra lining, rubber sole I Cushioning:  Medium I Closure: Lace-up

Ryka Women's Devotion Plus 3 Walking Shoe Review

Verywell Fit / Christine Luff

What Our Testers Say

"The well-placed foam cushioning definitely helped to soften impact without feeling too squishy and evenly distributed weight throughout the shoe." —Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, certified personal trainer and Verywell Fit product tester

Best Budget: Saucony Cohesion 20 Running Shoe

Saucony Cohesion 20 Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Light, breathable upper

  • Comfortable and supportive

Cons
  • Narrow toe box

If you’re looking for a budget-friendly option, Saucony’s Cohesion 20 is a comfortable, supportive shoe for those looking to ward off back pain. The shoe’s cushioning rivals the impact protection and shock absorption of more expensive options, promoting a smooth, comfortable stride from start to finish.

The breathable mesh upper offers a snug, custom-like fit and feel while keeping your feet dry and comfortable. A firm midsole provides excellent support, without being overly stiff. With a durable, grippy rubber outsole, this shoe can handle walking and running on pavement in various conditions.

Some users note that their toes feel a bit crowded in a regular width, but the Cohesion 20 does come in wide sizes. It’s a good value for those with back pain who want to add a comfortable, supportive athletic shoe to their rotation for walking, running, or gym workouts.

Price at time of publication: $75

Weight: 9.1 ounces I  Materials: Mesh upper, rubber outsole I  Cushioning: Medium I Closure: Lace-up

Best for Running: Adidas Ultraboost 22 Running Shoe

Adidas Ultraboost 22 Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Excellent impact protection

  • Made with recycled materials

  • Snug, comfortable fit

Cons
  • No wide sizes

  • Expensive

When you’re pounding the pavement, you need a shoe that’s supportive and cushioned, especially if you have a history of back pain. Adidas’s Ultraboost 22 running shoes provide the ideal combination of cushioning, stability, and support. The shoe’s plush, full-length midsole provides good energy return with every step, while still providing the impact protection and shock absorption that runners with back pain want in a running shoe.

The ergonomic heel structure and the foot-hugging upper combine for a supportive, snug fit that prevents heel slip as well as foot blisters. The rubber outsole bends naturally for a smooth, flexible ride, while also providing superb traction on wet and dry surfaces.

Made with recycled materials, the Ultraboost 22 comes in a wide range of men’s sizes, but they’re only available in regular widths. Whether you like short or long distances, this shoe is an excellent pick for outdoor runners who prefer paved roads or paths. Plus, the comfy fit and streamlined design makes them ideal to serve double-duty for casual wear.

Price at time of publication: $190

Weight: 12 ounces I Materials: Recycled polyester upper, rubber outsole I Cushioning: Medium I Closure: Lace-up

Best for Road Running: Asics GEL-Nimbus 24 Running Shoe

Asics GEL-Nimbus 24 Running Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Good shock absorption

  • Very durable

  • Soft and responsive

Cons
  • Expensive

The ASICS GEL-Nimbus 24 is a durable, well-rounded running shoe that offers the dependable cushioning and support needed for road running. The shoe’s signature GEL padding in the forefoot and heel combines with the soft and springy foam to absorb shock and cushion your feet, while also protecting your joints and back. ASICS updated the midsole foam in this version of the Nimbus, making it lighter and softer, but still very responsive. Additionally, the shoe’s unique technology provides adaptive support if the foot rolls too much, allowing for a balanced stride and smooth transitions.

Available in medium or wide widths, the Nimbus 24 is a versatile shoe that feels great right out of the box. With a soft, engineered mesh upper and flexible midfoot panel, it offers a snug, comfortable fit. The rubber outsole is made with lighter but stronger materials than standard outsoles, providing additional stability and good resistance against abrasion.

Whether you’re a distance runner or need a comfy, supportive shoe for all day on your feet, the Nimbus 24 is a great choice for advanced impact protection. It’s more expensive than some of the other options here, but we think the quality and features are worth the investment.

Price at time of publication: $160

Weight: 8.7 ounces I Materials: Engineered mesh upper, rubber outsole I Cushioning: Medium I Closure: Lace-up

Best Lightweight: On Cloud 5 Running Shoe

On Cloud 5 Running Shoe

REI

Pros
  • Lightweight but supportive

  • Comfortable, shock-absorbing cushioning

  • Made with recycled materials

Cons
  • Debris and dirt may get stuck on bottom

  • Not available in wide widths

On’s Cloud 5 running shoes are ideal for those who want a lightweight feel, without sacrificing support and comfort.

The shoe features a lightweight, cushioned midsole that provides soft landings and good shock absorption without feeling too plush or bulky. On’s unique pods on the outsole, which compress as you walk or run to reduce impact and absorb shock, provide even more protection for your joints and back. One downside that may not affect all users, depending on where you typically walk or run, is that the pods on the bottom can catch small pebbles and dirt.

Cloud 5’s aren’t available in wide widths, but they do feature a roomy toe box. The shoe’s breathable, antimicrobial mesh upper keeps you feeling dry, cool, and fresh, while abrasion pads on the outsole provide plenty of traction.

Made with recycled materials, the Cloud 5s are versatile for running, walking, cross-training, or comfortable casual wear. And you don’t have to worry about tying your shoes since the shoe’s easy-entry bungee lacing system allows for quick on and off.

Price at time of publication:  $140

Weight: 8 ounces I Materials: Recycled polyester upper, rubber outsole I Cushioning: Medium I Closure: Bungee lace

Best Sandals: Skechers On-the-Go 600 Brilliancy Sport Sandal

On-the-Go 600 Brilliancy Sport Sandal

Amazon

Pros
  • Adjustable, all-over straps

  • Responsive, supportive cushioning

  • Very lightweight

Cons
  • Not waterproof

Sandals often lack the cushioning and support that people with back pain need, but Skechers delivers that and more with these sports sandals. First, unlike many slip-on sandals, they have adjustable straps that hold your foot securely in place, which is crucial to getting the right fit and support.

The sandals also feature responsive cushioning for excellent shock absorption and overall comfort, as well as a cushy footbed that adds support and impact protection. And, while some sandals have a smooth and slippery sole, these feature a rubber bottom with multi-directional traction for extra stability. However, they’re not waterproof, which some may prefer for sports sandals.

At just 6  ounces, these sandals are lightweight yet still provide enough arch support and plush comfort for all-day wear, making them a nice option for walking, hiking, or active vacations.

Price at time of publication: $50

Weight: 6 ounces I Materials: Mesh upper, rubber outsole I Cushioning: Medium I Closure: Adjustable Velcro straps

Best for Flat Feet: Hoka Arahi 6 Running Shoe

Hoka Arahi 6 Running Shoe

Zappos

Pros
  • Excellent cushioning

  • Good stability for flat feet

  • Very durable

Cons
  • Runs wide

  • Bulky design

Although it’s a stability shoe, Hoka’s Arahi 6 shoe features the brand’s well-cushioned midsole for shock absorption and comfort, making it an excellent option for overpronators who have back pain.

The shoe features a stabilizing J-Frame, which protects those with flat feet, who tend to overpronate—or roll their feet inward as they run. A J-shaped section of firm, dense foam on the medial side helps keep the arch from collapsing, providing essential support and stability. Additionally, the outsole features Hoka’s meta-rocker design, which promotes a natural gait and allows easier heel-to-toe transitions.

Even with all that support and cushioning, the shoe is surprisingly light, helping to reduce strain on the feet and back. It’s also extremely durable, with rubber on the bottom to cover high-wear areas.

Hoka shoes are a bit bulky in the sole and typically run wide, and that’s definitely the case for the Arahi 6. Although the shoe may not work for those with narrow feet, it’s a great option for those who want a well-cushioned stability shoe for running, walking, or all-day wear.

Price at time of publication: $140

Weight: 8 ounces I  Materials: Synthetic upper, rubber sole I  Cushioning: High I  Closure: Lace-up

Best for Wide Feet: New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12

4.7
NEW BALANCE FRESH FOAM X 1080V12 RUNNING SHOES

Amazon

Pros
  • Excellent traction

  • Protective cushioning

Cons
  • May not work for narrow feet

  • Expensive

If you have wide feet, check out New Balance’s Fresh Foam 1080 v12 Running Shoes, which feature a roomy toe box, as well as more space throughout the entire shoe. The shoe comes in regular, wide, or extra-wide options, so you can get a more custom-like fit.

The shoe’s Fresh Foam X padding feels plush and luxurious underfoot while providing dependable shock absorption. It also features a rocker in the sole that allows for smooth, easy transitions, taking some pressure off lower back muscles.

Additionally, the shoe has a wide, stable base for extra support and a grippy rubber outsole, both crucial for those concerned about getting off balance and tweaking their backs. A sturdy heel counter helps to keep your feet in place and prevent excessive lateral movement that could lead to injuries.

Although this shoe is a bit pricey, it’s ideal for wide-footed runners or walkers who need a supportive shoe with plush, shock-absorbing protection.

Price at time of publication: $160

Weight: 9 ounces I Materials: Knit and mesh upper, foam midsole, rubber outsole I Cushioning: High  I Closure: Lace-up

Best Orthopedic: Orthofeet Edgewater Athletic Shoe

Orthofeet Edgewater Athletic Shoe

Amazon

Pros
  • Anatomical orthotic insoles

  • Wide, stable sole

  • Excellent shock absorption

Cons
  • Sizes may run small

If you want an athletic shoe with built-in orthopedic support, Orthofeet’s Edgewater shoe is a comfortable option that can help prevent both back and foot pain. It features orthotic insoles with anatomical arch support to help keep the foot in alignment and promote good posture. Plus, a firm heel counter helps to control overpronation, while a wide sole increases overall stability.

Its well-cushioned sole absorbs shock, softening your stride and preventing much of the impact from reaching your lower back. The sole also features a mild rocker for better energy return and smoother transitions.

The stretchy, knit upper conforms to the contours of your foot, providing a comfy, snug fit and avoiding painful pressure points or irritation. Meanwhile, a wide toe box also helps to prevent bunions, blisters, or hammertoes and helps alleviate pressure on them if you have existing ones. Users report that the sizes run small. However, the Edgewater comes in a range of widths, from medium to extra-extra-wide, so you should be able to find the right fit.

Price at time of publication: $140

Weight: N/A I Materials: Mesh upper, rubber outsole I Cushioning: Medium I Closure: Lace-up

How We Selected the Best Shoes for Back Pain

To choose the best shoes for back pain, we first asked Timothy Swartz, DPM, a podiatrist at Kaiser Permanente in Kensington, Md., Jessica Merker-Levy, DPM, consulting sports podiatrist for Atlantic Sports Health and team podiatrist, New York Red Bulls, and Omar Yaldo, MD, a foot and ankle surgeon with the Hoag Orthopedic Institute, for their expert advice on the best shoes for back pain and what to look for when selecting them.

We then researched dozens of running shoes, walking shoes, sandals, and other types of shoes from popular, trusted running shoe manufacturers. We evaluated them for fit, cushioning, support, design, comfort, style, price, and more.

What to Look For in Shoes for Back Pain

Shoe Type

Athletic shoes, such as running shoes, are available in many different shoe types and offer the best support for all foot types,” Dr. Swartz says.

Additionally, you should consider your foot structure and gait when selecting the best shoes for you. “Flat feet and high arched feet both cause muscle imbalances and place increased pressure on the feet, ankles, legs, knees, hips, and back,” Dr. Merker-Levy says. If you have flat feet, for example, you’d want to consider a motion-control shoe like the Hoka Arahi 6 Running Shoe.

If you’re going to opt for a sandal, be sure that it has good cushioning and arch support, as well as a strap in the back to hold it on, like the Skechers On-the-Go 600 Brilliancy Sport Sandal. “Avoid flip flops when you know you will be doing a lot of rigorous walking or standing,” Dr. Swartz says.

Arch Support

Good arch support ensures that your feet stay properly aligned and takes the pressure off your knees, hips, and back, lowering the risk of pain. “You want a shoe with a rigid sole and solid heel cup for the most support of your foot and ankle,” Dr. Swartz says. “If you can twist your shoe or fold your shoe in half, it doesn’t have enough support in the arch.”

While anyone with back pain can benefit from a supportive shoe, be sure that the shoe’s support is appropriate for your feet and gait. For example, overpronators need a stability shoe with extra medial support to prevent the arch from collapsing.

Cushioning

Shoe cushioning absorbs shock and reduces the impact on every step, reducing vibration and helping to alleviate pain in the back. A well-cushioned shoe, like the Hoka Bondi 8 Running Shoe, provides plush comfort and support.

Wearing shoes without adequate cushioning, especially for running or other activities, means that the back muscles must absorb a large shock every time a foot hits the ground.

Fit

Make sure you choose running shoes that fit properly. If shoes are too tight, they could cause painful rubbing and foot blisters. The irritation could force you to alter your gait, making your back pain worse. If shoes are too large, your feet will slip and slide, which also increases your risk of injury.

Shoes with a wide toe box or ones that come in wide sizes may be necessary to prevent cramped toes. “Avoid tight shoes and use shoes with some wiggle room around the toes,” Dr. Swartz says.

The correct fit will also ensure your feet are properly aligned, which helps prevent aches and pains, including in your back.

Materials

Look for shoes that are made with high-quality, durable materials such as EVA foam and rubber. Shoes that are flimsy and don’t have a lot of cushioning or support can contribute to back pain. “Shoes that have very flexible soles place higher forces through the feet, which ultimately can result in higher strain in the lower back,” Dr. Yaldo says. “A reliable way of finding a stiff-soled shoe is by attempting to bend the shoe through the sole—a stiff sole will not allow the shoe to bend.”

Traction

Shoes with excellent traction will keep you stable and prevent you from slipping, which can hurt your back, especially if you’re already prone to back pain. Look for grippy rubber outsoles with a textured pattern.

Durability

Wearing worn-out shoes with inadequate cushioning and shock absorption can increase the risk of back pain.  “Many shoes can wear out in as little as three months,” Dr. Swartz says. “It is important to replace your shoes when the cushioning is worn out.”

Look for shoes made of quality, durable materials that won’t wear down quickly. Thick, rubber outsoles and protective overlays can help increase a shoe’s lifespan.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What kind of shoes should you wear for back pain?

    Running shoes are among the best shoes for lower back pain, since they’re typically well-cushioned and designed to help absorb the impact of walking or running. They also have ample arch and ankle support, so they can help keep your feet in position for correct posture.

    “The best types of shoes that may help alleviate back pain are stiff, supportive, and well-cushioned shoes,” Dr. Yaldo says. “I recommend comfortably fitting running or cross-training shoes that have some level of arch support built into the shoe.”

    Look for comfortable, low-heeled shoes, and be careful when selecting sandals, which often don’t have enough support or cushioning. “If the shoes don’t keep your feet from slipping out while you walk, or if your feet have to grip the shoe to hold it on, it’s not a great choice,” Dr. Merker-Levy says.

  • Can back pain be caused by shoes?

    Yes, wearing the wrong type of shoes can cause back pain. If your shoe doesn’t have enough cushioning, the shock of impact can cause inflammation and pain in the back muscles.

    “Shoes that are unstable—such as flip flops and slides—shoes that are flat with no arch support, heels that are too high, and shoes that offer little or no shock absorption can all cause back discomfort,” Dr. Merker-Levy says.

    Wearing ill-fitting shoes or the wrong type of shoe for your gait can also cause biomechanical issues that can lead to back pain.

  • How much does a pair of quality shoes for back pain cost?

    Generally, you can expect to pay about $40-$165 for high-quality shoes for back pain. Less expensive options may include sandals or running shoes without a lot of high-tech features. Shoes on the higher end of the price range may be made with more expensive materials and feature the latest shoe technology.

    The cheapest option on our list, the Skechers On-the-Go 600 Brilliancy Sport Sandal, is often available for less than $50, while our top picks, the Hoka Bondi 8 Running Shoe and Brooks Glycerin 20 Running Shoe were $165 and $160 respectively when we published this list.

Why Trust Verywell Fit

As a running coach, certified personal trainer, marathon runner, and fitness writer, Christine Luff, ACE-CPT, has spent years researching and recommending running and walking shoes. To exercise in comfort and reduce injury risk, she suggests getting properly fitted for shoes and replacing them regularly.

5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. National Institute of Arthritis and Muscoloskeletal and Skin Diseases. Back Pain: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Steps to Take.

  2. Harvard Health Publishing. Daily moves to prevent low back pain.

  3. American Podiatric Medical Association. Which Running Shoe is Right for You?

  4. American College of Sports Medicine. Selecting Running Shoes.

  5. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Low Back Pain Fact Sheet.

Additional Reading