Best Athletic Shoes for Lower Back Pain 2021

by | Updated on September 5, 2021

Our top choices among the best athletic shoes for lower back pain are:

  • Neutral running shoe: Hoka One One Clifton 8, a low-profile shoe known for its soft and light features.
  • Stability running shoe: ASICS GEL-Kayano 28, a shoe many consider as the most comfortable stable shoe.
  • Walking shoe: VIONIC Walker Classic, a shoe designed to solve various foot problems, aches, and pains while walking.
runner with lower back pain

The most common cause of lower back pain among runners is a torn muscle. Although it doesn’t usually happen in an instant, you can put stress on any of your muscles in the lower back if you push your limits or work out more than normal.

While normal levels of muscle soreness are necessary for the hardening process of the road or for improving strength and conditioning, be aware that a running shoe with poor cushioning and support can cause the force of impact to target even your lower back.

You can also have a sore back through repetitive wrong movements such as lifting a heavy load. At the same time, your body is in an awkward position or sitting or lying down for a long period with your body postured incorrectly.

Since the pain in the back may come from more serious problems such as postural deformity, arthritis, spinal degeneration, ligament damage, etc., ignoring it can only make the condition worse. According to health professionals, back pain is a leading cause of disability around the world.

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What are the Best Athletic Shoes for Lower Back Pain?

The best sneakers for back pain are well-cushioned shoes that can redirect the force of impact away from your lower back. In general, an athletic shoe with a lower heel-to-toe drop (0-8 mm) will be gentle on your knee, hip, and back.

But since known deformities in the foot and posture can also cause a sore back, you might need a shoe with stabilizing features. The shoe with stabilizing and motion control features can help align the foot and knee and relieve pain in the lower back.

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Best Running Shoes for Back Pain

Here’s a list of the best running shoes for back pain sufferers:

– Hoka One One Clifton 8 –

Hoka One One Clifton 8
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If you supinate (or has underpronation), this running shoe will be a joy to have. Hoka One One Clifton 8 has the ideal mixture of plush cushioning and a heel-to-toe drop that is gentle on your knee, hip, and back. It can prevent an excessive outward roll of the foot and help align your body for efficient running.

This running shoe has the legendary early-stage Meta-Rocker technology, which can literally push you forward for a smooth ride. This technology from Hoka is also gentle on the forefoot at toe-off, which is a plus if you have problems on the forefoot. This shoe has a full-compression EVA midsole, which offers a unique Hoka cushioning.

Most helpful consumer review:

Size is wide but they fir perfectly. my back pain is gone and the comfort level is off the chart.

Shop Clifton 8 »

Note: If you are used to high drop running shoes (over 8 mm differential), gradually reduce the heel-to-toe drop of your shoe by a couple of millimeters at a time, as well as reduce your mileage until your Achilles and calves can adjust.

– Hoka One One Bondi 7 –

hoka one one bondi 7
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The Bondi 7 is Hoka’s most cushioned running shoe. It’s a true low drop shoe, which can fit a wider foot. And it has an option for width as well.

This running shoe will be very comfortable for those runners who prefer to strike through the midfoot or forefoot and those who love maximalist running shoes.

Having only a 4 mm heel-to-toe drop, Hoka One One Bondi 7 is a game-changer when it comes to giving comfort to your knee, hip, and lower back. This shoe has a refined early-stage Meta-Rocker technology, which offers a smooth ride from heel strike through toe-off. And it has a molded Ortholite footbed, which only compresses 5% throughout its lifetime of use.

The Bondi 7 has stabilizing features that can align your foot so you won’t suffer any pains while running.

Most helpful consumer review:

I have suffered with plantar fasciitis for years along with lower back pain. These shoes are so supportive.

Shop Bondi 7 »

– ASICS GEL-Kayano 28 –

asics gel-kayano 28
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The GEL-Kayano 28 is the most supportive running shoe of ASICS but flexible enough to comfort the neutral runner. In fact, it has an Impact Guidance System (IGS), which enhances the foot’s natural gait from heel strike through toe-off. This new model feels softer and more flexible than its predecessor.

ASICS GEL-Kayano 28 has Rearfoot and forefoot GEL cushioning systems designed to reduce impact during foot landing and allow for a smooth transition. It has a Dynamic DuoMax Support System, which aligns your foot, gives you the stability you need, and correct common foot problems so you won’t suffer body pain while running.

Most helpful consumer review:

I have a low arch on my feet and overpronate a lot. I also spend long hours on my feet working as a nurse, and these shoes alleviate the excruciating pain I used to have on my back, feet, and knees.

Shop GEL-Kayano 28 »

– Altra Torin 4.5 Plush –

altra footwear torin 4.5 plush
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Altra Torin 4.5 Plush is arguably the plushest zero drop running shoe available today. And if you love a stack height that is equal from heel to toe, this running shoe is one of your best options.

Altra Torin 4.5 Plush has a stack height of 28 mm with a comfortable and roomy Footshape toe box. It has a FootPod technology in the outsole, which encourages a natural movement underfoot. Having a 0 mm heel-to-toe drop, this shoe offers a balanced cushioning, which encourages a low-impact landing.

Most helpful consumer review:

I have back issues and needed some comfortable shoes. I love how they feel. Feels like I’m walking on clouds!

Shop Torin 4.5 Plush »

– Saucony Kinvara 12 –

Saucony Kinvara 12
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The models of Saucony Kinvara have always been among the most comfortable fast running shoes. And this latest item of the Kinvara is trendy among those who are quick on their feet. In fact, it is the best-selling neutral running shoe of Saucony.

If you are looking for a true mid-drop running shoe built for speed, Saucony Kinvara 12 is one of your best options. Weighing only at 6.5 oz, this running shoe continues to use a PWRRUN midsole, an award-winning cushioning technology designed to be more lightweight, offers softer landings, and absorbs more impact.

Shop Kinvara 12 »

– New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 –

new balance fresh foam 1080v11
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If you are looking for ultra support and lightweight ride in a neutral running shoe, New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v11 is one of your best options. It has plenty of luxurious Fresh Foam midsole technology from New Balance, a foam cushioning invented from the athletes’ demand for ultra support and lightweight ride.

Having an 8 mm heel-to-toe drop, the NB 1080v11 will have the right balance if you don’t want to put too much load on any parts of your lower limb. It has a level 5 cushioning, which is a maxed-out cushion in running shoes. It also has Ultra Heel technology, which hugs the back of your foot for a snug, supportive fit.

Shop Fresh Foam 1080v11 »

Best Walking Shoes for Lower Back Pain

Here’s a list of the best sneakers for back pain (they can also be your best work shoes for back pain):

– Hoka One One Bondi SR –

Hoka One One Bondi SR
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The models of Bondi are the most cushioned Hoka One One shoes. And if you love a maxed-out cushion for a running shoe, you’ll also love a well-cushioned walking shoe that can handle the demands of daily life.

Hoka One One Bondi SR is a workplace warrior, which offers plush, all-day cushioning. It has a full-length EVA midsole with an early-stage Meta-Rocker, a technology unique to Hoka One One, which offers a smooth ride. This walking shoe has a water-resistant leather upper and a slip-resistant outsole.

Shop Bondi SR »

– Brooks Addiction Walker 2 –

Brooks Addiction Walker 2
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The Addiction Walker 2 is Brooks’ flagship stability walking shoe. Designed for overpronation and those who have fallen arches, this shoe has excellent cushioning and support for all-day comfort. It has the looks fit for any walking activities and any workplace.

Brooks Addiction Walker 2 has a BioMoGo DNA midsole, which adapts to your walking speed. It has an Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar (PDRB) design to provide pronation control and address various foot problems. And it has motion control features that can help align your foot and prevent pain in the knee, hip, and lower back.

Most helpful consumer review:

This is the best shoe I have had in a long time. Good support, no back, leg or foot pain.

Shop Addiction Walker 2 »

– Merrell Jungle Moc –

Merrell Jungle Moc
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There’s a good reason why the Jungle Moc is the best-selling walking shoe of Merrell. While some Merrell shoes are just okay when it comes to supporting your feet, Merrell Jungle Moc ticks all the boxes in terms of comfort and support.

This walking shoe is built for a long day of adventure. It has a Nubuck leather upper and a breathable mesh lining. It has an EVA contoured footbed with an M Select FIT.ECO that repels odor and makes sure your foot stays fresh all day. And a Merrell Air Cushion midsole designed to absorb shock and offer long-lasting support.

Most helpful consumer review:

They are the only shoe I can work in all day and not have back pain.

Shop Jungle Moc »

– VIONIC Walker Classic –

vionic walker classic
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VIONIC Walker Classic is the go-to shoe for various foot problems. It has a podiatrist-designed footbed and motion control features that can align your foot and deliver maximum comfort. This athletic shoe is suitable for any walking exercises and work that requires you to be on your feet all day long.

VIONIC Walker Classic has a 12 mm heel-to-toe drop, which is gentle on your foot, ankle, Achilles, and calf. It has actual users that say the longer they wear it, the more it becomes comfortable. Since it can align your foot, it can also prevent pain in your knee, hip, and lower back.

Most helpful consumer review:

I have sciatica issues, and I was advised by ER doctor to purchase. As soon as I wore them, no pain in my back or legs.

Shop Walker Classic »

Final Thoughts

There are plenty of factors that cause lower back pain, and some of them you can correct without the help of a well-cushioned shoe. But some conditions are not easy to control, like spinal degeneration and injury. With such problems, you need to have the best shoes available for your feet to help prevent body pain.

The best shoes for lower back pain don’t only have the right comfort; they also have the support to align your feet and improve gait efficiency and provide stability where you need it.

See also:

Frequently Asked Questions

Can shoes cause back pain?

Yes, if the shoes have poor cushioning and support. During foot landing, the force of the impact should be absorbed by the shoe and dispersed at a larger surface. But if your shoes are unable to do that, the stress can radiate through your foot, knee, hip, and lower back.