Shoe Inserts for Back Pain

Lower back pain has many causes and many cures, and if your doctor recommends shoe inserts (after a thorough examination including X-rays and a comprehensive physical), you should consider it. Back pain is often associated with poorly fitting shoes, and you might need orthopedic shoes. Locating just the right pair, however, may be a bigger task than you think. It can be expensive, with the need to see orthopedic doctors and medical shoe specialists.

Perhaps an insert can solve the problem, easing your discomfort through a variety of means, including padding the foot, elevating the heel, or cupping the heel, relieving ankle strain and changing your gait.


You will need to nail down what your problem is specifically. If you find a specific pair of shoes causes you discomfort in your back, legs or feet, the simplest solution is to not wear those shoes. But there may be cases where it’s not feasible (either it’s too expensive for new or you just love those shoes) where you want to find an insert that allows you to be comfortable and even helps ease some of your chronic lower back pain. You may wish to simply have your feet be more comfortable all the way around, with no attendant back pain to worry about. A general gel insert could be the ticket, offering additional comfort to the bottoms of your hard-working feet. Some offer odor control as well. However, your favorite pair of loafers may cause spasms in your back after wearing them for a short time; a solution could be as simple as a shoe insert.

You can find inserts at your local pharmacy and in many cases the pharmacy section of your grocery store. There are a few name brands you’ll recognize, and the price is such that you can try a few things before committing to an insert that you’ll replace a few times. There are orthopedic specialists who can custom-fit your feet for inserts in specific shoes, but know that this process can be expensive, and you’ll need a prescription from your physician for orthopedic inserts. Make sure your insurance covers it before you decide whether or not to simply ditch the shoes that are causing the problems.

A good place to start is an all-around arch support insert. Many times back pain is caused by flat feet or over-strained arches, which cause you to walk in a way that hurts your back. Arch supports may be gel-filled or foam, and should fit snugly in your shoe so that they don’t shift during walking. You might find that a wedge in your heel solves the back and foot problems. They raise your heels slightly within your shoe, and relieve pressure from your ankles, supporting your Achilles tendons. Heel cups work in the same way, supporting your tendons and taking pressure off the tops of your feet. They pad your heels and partway up the sides, cradling your foot and easing pressure.

Filed Under: Back Pain
Written By:  Updated:
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Jesse Cannone, CFT, CPRS, MFT

Jesse is the co-founder and visionary CEO of The Healthy Back Institute®, the world-leading source of natural back pain solutions. His mission as a former back pain sufferer is to help others live pain free without surgery and pharmaceuticals.

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