Best Running Shoes for Lower Back Pain in 2018 Oct.

Updated and medically verified by Patricia Nolan. Last updated on Aug 22, 2018.

If the eyes are the window to the soul, then the feet are the supporting structure for the house with those embedded windows. Problems with the feet can lead to harmful stress to the body.

This can be especially true for people who run. The feet are the first absorbers when we take to the pavement to log miles. The aftershock taken by the feet can move up the leg through the hips and wreak havoc on the back and spine.

We have reviewed five different sneakers that we feel have something to offer for people who suffer chronic or acute back pain and enjoy jogging.

5 Best Running Shoes for Lower Back Pain

Rating

Product

Price

My Rating

EDITOR'S CHOICE

Hoka One One Clifton 3 Running Shoes

BEST VALUE

Saucony Guide 10 Running Shoes

3.

Brooks Glycerin 15 Running Shoes

4.

Adidas Ultra Boost Running Shoes

5.

Nike Air Zoom Vomero 12 Running Shoes


The Five Best Running Shoes for Lower Back Pain (Review)

The moment has arrived! Here are what we consider to be the five best running shoes for lower back pain:

Hoka One One Clifton 3 Running Shoes

PROS

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    Comes from a long line of exceptionally good shoes.
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    The sneakers are very light weight and may surprise you with how much cushion they provide.
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    The shoe has a slightly tapered back and front that helps propel you forward during your run.
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    This extra responsiveness doesn’t sustain the hard impact of the landing.
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    If you are looking for a lightweight and comfortable shoe, the shoe comes highly recommended.

CONS

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    The durability can sometimes be called in question.
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    There are cases where the sole comes off.
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    Also, as with other sneakers, the size of the shoe can’t be relied on.

Saucony Guide 10 Running Shoes

PROS

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    A very solid stability sneaker.
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    The shoe is light and fast but doesn’t lack in cushion for a dependable soft run.
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    Provides great support – especially if you tend to over pronate.
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    The flexibility in the shoe lends itself to a responsive ride helping you to stay fresh and strong.

CONS

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    Saucony shoes have always run narrow and the Guide 10 is no exception.
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    They also have added extra padding at the front of the shoe which makes the size tough to calculate. It is best to try on before making a purchase.

Brooks Glycerin 15 Running Shoes

PROS

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    This shoe has quality cushioning, posh padding and a comfortable feel.
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    Top-line arch support and cushion to neutralize impact forces.
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    The ample cushioning gives support for people with high arched feet.
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    The shoe has a plush transition zone that makes the transition from heel to toe soft and smooth.
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    This makes for less stress on the tendons of your feet.

CONS

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    Made for neutral runners.
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    If you are a supinator or pronator, this sneaker might not be the one for you.
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    They lack the snug feel that other sneakers in this review have.

Adidas Ultra Boost Running Shoes

PROS

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    This sneaker has good traction which will help prevent you from slipping in wet weather.
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    It uses a proprietary Sockfit technology that adds to the comfort and support.

CONS

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    Is known to be fairly constrictive.
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    Favors people with narrow feet.
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    Some report that the feel is a bit flimsy.

Nike Air Zoom Vomero 12 Running Shoes

PROS

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    This sneaker is all about shock absorption.
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    The sole is made of foam rather than the usual rubber which helps with a softer run.
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    There is also foam surrounding the inner shoe.
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    This provides a snug feeling and a solid sense of control for the foot.
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    The sneaker is light which will keep the legs and lower back fresh.

CONS

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    The sneaker can be a bit narrow.
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    This is especially critical when the foot swells during a run.
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    The shoe size can also run small.
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    Be particularly careful to try the shoes on to make sure that the size you expect is the size of the shoe.
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    Also, the toe box could be bigger.

Why Most Doctors Diagnose Back Pain Incorrectly

Dr. Michael Graham, DPM, FACFAS, FSAP is a board certified podiatric surgeon. In his YouTube video  he explains why most doctors treat the wrong symptom when a runner comes in complaining about back pain.

Logically, you might think if a person goes to his or her doctor for back pain the problem is caused by something involving the back. But, as Dr. Graham points out in his video, more times than not the problem is the result of misaligned feet.

A misaligned foot is when the ankle does not line up with the bones of the heel. This can lead to kinetic chain dysfunction – when one joint becomes a bad support system for another. This dysfunction is then carried up the chain from the feet to affect the knees, hips, back and sometimes neck and shoulders.

The constant jarring from running can cause the feet to become misaligned. Back pain could possibly be avoided with the right type of running sneaker.

Do You Know the Sneaker Type That is Best for Your Feet?

It is important that you understand the different types of sneakers and the function that they serve. Getting the wrong sneaker type could lead to the worsening of an existing problem or the creation of another.

Essentially, there are three sneaker types that can help with preventing or possibly correcting back pain:

  • Motion Control Shoes – this type of sneaker helps people who tend to roll their foot inward when striking heel to ground (called over pronation.) This action can lead to serious misalignment of the feet causing lower back stress. People with low arches or flat feet are often the sufferers.
  • Stability Shoes – this type of sneaker is meant to provide moderate support and cushioning. Oftentimes runners will fall into bad habits that can result into bigger problems if left unchecked. Stability Shoes are for those people who have a neutral stride and normal arch, but, may have lost their good form to compensate for some minor pain or discomfort.
  • Cushioning Shoes – this type of sneaker is for people who are the opposite of the people needing Motion Control Shoes. These people roll their foot outward (supinate.) This puts a lot of pressure on the arches (which are higher than the over pronators). The cushion feature absorbs a lot of the force and helps prevent breakdown of joints which can cause back pain.

How to Correctly Find the Right Size Sneaker

You can understand the need of a good sneaker, understand the features and benefits of the different types of sneakers, but, if you don’t get the fitting right you may as well buy some Tylenol on the way back from the running store to take care of the back pain you will receive.

The fitting is so important we will go over some tips you can take with you to the local running shoe shop.

Your feet get larger as you age so it is important that you review your foot shape and size as you get older.

Also, it is always good to measure your feet at the end of the day because that is when they are at their largest.

Keep in mind that you may have one foot that is larger than the other. If that is the case, get the size of the largest foot.

When trying on new sneakers check that they satisfy the following criteria:

  • The heel should feel snug.
  •  You should be able to wiggle your toes.
  • There should be a thumbnail width between your big toe and the tip of the shoe (this will compensate for the natural swelling that occurs when exercising.)
  • They feel comfortable

Wear them around the running shop. Make sure that there isn’t any pressure or discomfort. If you wear two socks on each foot when you run, make sure you try the sneakers on in the same manner.

Get Ready. Get Set...Wait!

There is just one other thing to consider when buying a sneaker that will slow the wear and tear of your sneaker AND your body.

The running surface.

Here are a few of the common running surfaces and things to consider when selecting your sneaker:

  • Grass - it may be the softest surface and quite possibly the toughest. Because of the unevenness of the terrain you will need strong support. You won’t need as much cushioning due to the soft texture of the grass.
  • Asphalt - This is the opposite of the grass. When running on asphalt a premium is on cushioning so that it will dissipate some of the hard striking and re-direct some of the forces of impact.
  • Sand – The type of sneaker will depend if the sand is packed or not. If packed, you can get away with a lightly cushioned sneaker and the support that you are most comfortable with. On loose sand, you are better off with a sneaker with a lot of support because of the instability of the sand.
  • Trail - follows the same advice as sand.

Our Selection of the Best Running Shoe For Lower Back Pain

After reviewing the five brands we have come to the conclusion that the Hoka One One Clifton 3 is the sneaker of choice.

The Clifton 3 comes in as a Cushion Shoe because of its maximum all round cushioning. It’s lightweight and responsiveness helps with transferring the impact of the heel/sole to ground when running. As an extra benefit it is rated very high in preventing shin splints. Its rugged character makes it ideal on any of the surfaces we mentioned above. It has a very loyal and passionate fan base.


Sources
  1. Spine Health: Running and Lower Back Pain
  2. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS): Low Back Pain Fact Sheet
  3. Runner's World: Everything You Need to Know About Lower Back Pain
  4. MedicineNet: Lower Back Pain
Patricia Nolan

Patricia is a podiatrist (foot and ankle specialist) practicing in Pennsylvania Hospital. Dr. Nolan completed her undergraduate education at Temple University, Podiatric Medicine , and went on to the New York University of Podiatric Medicine to continue her medical training. She is board-certified in Emergency and Podiatric Medicine. Her biggest expertise is foot and sport injuries. She is a big fan of running; furthermore, she’s an expert in choosing the proper footwear and shoes for running and other sports. Linkedin , Twitter

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