How to Choose Shoes for Sciatica

As we commute through our daily routines, we find ourselves in constant motion. This adds wear and tear to the items supporting these movements: our shoes. Just like our soles can burn out over time, other parts of our body must adjust for this steady movement stream. One of the high traffic areas that act as the epicenter for movement is the back. It is the instrumental piece and voice of reason when we are on our feet or sitting down. One of the leading back problems is known as sciatica. It relates directly to disk misplacement or wear and tear over time. Most forms of sciatica carry quick remedies. Below we have recommended 5 different types of shoes. These shoes will help support those who are ailing from this back pain or increase the use of preventative measures.

Sciatica Problems and Solutions in Foot Wear

There are nerves running all throughout our body. Most are connected, with one thing leading to another with these areas. With that being said, it is common to notice foot problems at first that gradually progress to back problems. The reason for this is the connectivity between these nerve areas and the functions each area houses. Below is a brief video describing footwear options that are bad for the feet and back:

This short video does a good job of describing the direct problems associated with different types of footwear but leaves out information pieces as to how this nerve pain reaches the back. Below we will take a look into injury development and describe the shoe types and features you should keep an eye out for in your search.

What is the Sciatic Nerve?

The sciatic nerve is the longest nerve in the human body it extends from your toes all the way to your spine. This creates multiple areas of nerve endings and introduces at-risk locations throughout these body portions. The pain arises when a disk branches off or pushes outward from the spine.

Source: drugs.com

This may be caused by excessive use of improper footwear and stride forms or it could develop naturally over a long period of time. The pain arises when these separated disks move into the nerve areas, pressuring them and causing a heightened sense of pain. The nerves are very touchy, so when they are affected you get the brunt of the pain.

Targeting Certain Shoe Features

We have introduced the sciatic nerve and discussed the fact that it runs from your toes to your lower back. This makes the shoe selection process extra important for the user. This nerve is housed within areas where multiple foot injuries arise, such as bunions, ankle pain, joint paint, and other similar problems. If your foot can be affected, the likelihood that the injury continues to climb this nerve and reach the back is much greater. This draws importance into selecting the correct shoe types.

The first thing you want to limit is anything that constricts movement. You want to host a wide toe box or at least a spacious one, allowing the toes to freely move and position. Pointed ends work to apply pressure at the sides of the feet and push the toes together. This notion is associated directly with the development of bunions and can lead to blistering on the side of the foot. Keep the toe box spacious, allowing for movement and breathability.

The second area to target is the support system. When dealing with the back, it is important to find an even distribution of support. You don't want too much in the front or the back, as this will add pressures to a certain area of the foot. The even distribution works to keep you stable and reduces the attention received by anyone never ending. The closer you are to the ground, the more natural you can get your foot to shape. Since the ideal feel for back pain is walking around without footwear, finding a system that mimics this feel is optimal for the user. Don't sell yourself too thin and if you need support aim for the even distribution models.

Lastly, you want to focus on the back of the shoe and how it houses the ankle. First, take note of the rise. Does it work best for low-arches? Does it suit the high-arch individuals? The rise is just as important as the elements that will surround your ankle.

This area cannot be too tight, as this will induce some of the nerve problems we described previously. However, you want a snug fit to work toward stability means and developing a better posture. Posture and back pain are two highly associated factors. Make sure you are not mixing up a snug fit with a tight fit. The snug fit will allow minimal lateral movement of the ankle while the tight fit will reduce this greatly.

A good way to test this movement is by planting the foot firmly on the ground. While holding a firm plant, attempt to twist the ankle back and forth. If you notice little amounts of slide, you have obtained the proper, snug fit. If you notice little to no movement, you might be using an option that is too tight and could compress the nerves around the ankle area. When it comes to dealing with nerves and nerve endings, it is better to be precautious as they often taken longer to heal than most major body parts.

Product Reviews

Under Armour Women's Speed Tire Ascent Low Running Shoes

Our last item comes with a unique combination of forces in construction. The Under Armour Speed Tire Ascent running shoe is comprised of materials that include textile, mesh, acetate, vinyl, and rubber. The bottom of the shoe draws rubberized materials from actual car tire production companies, which allows for the ultimate measure of grip and support on rough terrains. The acetate and rubber outer shell allows for a smooth finish that resists water and keeps your feet protected against the elements.

This shoe is a low-profile shoe, meaning it has a small rise and features little enforcement used in propping it up from the ground. An individual dealing with sciatica would prefer the low-profile design over the tall build-up. The inner portion of the shoe features a removable liner and insert, so you can utilize their memory foam technology, or replace it with the necessary rise you need to function. The footbed is also flat and evenly distributed throughout the shoe.

PROS

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    Large inclusion list of strengthened materials
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    Actual rubber technology used in car tires
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    Removeable inserts
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    Low-profile design

CONS

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    Might be troublesome for the high arch individual

Converse Chuck Taylor All Star Core Hi

While the introduction of the classic Chuck Taylor shoes might seem like an old flashback, these shoes provide more instances of functionality than one would guess. They feature a slim undercarriage that is completely even and flat for the user. While this may not benefit those with arch problems, it works to directly impact the back. It is as close as you can get to the ground on an even basis. The shoe also has some flex in the front.

The toe box is average in sizing, but the user can opt for wide sizes to make up for this discrepancy. The hi-top version prescribes the correct amount of ankle pressure, coverage, and motion. Pressure is limited to how high you lace the shoes or how tight you tie them. It keeps the ankle fully housed within the shoe and allows for the correct amount of movement. The Converse All Stars make for a great everyday fit that won't hamper the condition of your back.

PROS

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    The perfect backing for motion, security, and stability
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    Flat undercarriage, mimicking the barefoot mantra
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    Flex in the front and width in the toe box

CONS

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    No flex in the mid-rise
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    Limited middle arch support

Merrell Women's Bare Access Arc 4 Trail Running Shoe

Drawing from combination factors in the construction and comfortability space are the Merrell Bare Access Arc 4 trail runners. These shoes are constructed with the combination of mesh and TPU products. The mesh is weaved and reinforced throughout, bringing that strong construction build and look. The undercarriage of this shoe is rather thin but introduces the necessary support elements for travel over all surfaces. Small rubberized materials jut out from the bottom of the shoe, helping you grip rough terrains.

The shoe also exists in the lightweight space, which is uncommon for a trail runner. The materials are not in shortage, leaving the weight as a top selling point for this model. The inner portion features an evenly distributed foam footbed that form fits to the foot. This is important for hosting everyday use. Solid construction, lightweight, and form-fitting capability headline the features that this Merrell model holds.

PROS

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    Solid design through; front, back, bottom, and inner
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    Lightweight option in the trail running space
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    Footbed that features form-fitting foams

CONS

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    Just a slight mid-rise in the middle of the undercarriage

Skechers Atomic Piece of Cake Womens Ballet Flat Sneakers

Creating for a second addition to the slip-on sneaker space is the Sketchers Atomic Ballet Flats. These flats hold properties of a sneaker, without carrying the heavy housing elements and shoe ties. The "Piece of Cake" title relates directly to their ease of access and their provided support. The shoe is constructed from textile materials and holds an even distribution of coverage from front to back.

The back of the shoe is rather thin, allowing for this ease of access for the user. The inner footbed is constructed with patented Sketchers inserts. It feels like a memory foam but has properties of a stable orthotic. This is a unique feature for those who need even support throughout the entirety of the shoe. The shoe also contributes a unique covering on the bottom of the shoe. While the eyes may not be able to see it, the shoe features two additional support buildups in the front and back of the shoe. These two areas are high areas represent high amounts of travel, push-off, and contact means.

PROS

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    Easy access shoe
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    Invisible addition of support elements in front and back
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    Patented inserts that are evenly distributed

CONS

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    Small build-up on shoe backing; gives under pressure

NATURAL SOUL Women's Girly Ballet Flat

Natural Soul works best in shoe development for the business-minded individual or the casual dresser. Applying slender designs to practical options for going out in style, this shoe works to play the part of a comfortable dress shoe. The inner sole is lined with a thick memory foam coating. This coating is evenly distributed through the sole of the shoe, working to keep that stability and posture piece at the top of your checklist.

The toe box is wider than it seems, giving the shoe a practical look with the desired point design. The slip-on fashion allows for easy access by all different foot sizes. The backing adds a very thin layer of padding, that is mostly designed for placing on one's foot. There is a small mid-rise in the middle of the shoe, giving the front a slight flex. The undercarriage features a small rubberized base, rising slightly off the ground and keeping you closer to your walking surfaces.

PROS

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    Applying casual look with comfort measures
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    Wide toe box
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    Thick, even padding on the inner sole
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    Comes in all different widths and sizes

CONS

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    Slip-on shoe; limited ankle support

Conclusion

After diving into some of the selections in the sciatica shoe space, it is clear to see the Under Armour Speed Tire Ascents are the preferred model. These shoes combine multiple factors in the construction phase, creating a shell and outer covering that stands up to the test of time. An important feature for those looking to host daily usage out of their shoes or those who rely on them heavily. The inner portion features removable inserts, in which you can add your customs and orthotics.

The liner featured is memory foam and form fits to the foot. This is a low-profile option, keeping you close to the ground, but not selling short in support methods. It is hard to compete against the quality and craftsmanship Under Armour has prescribed in this instance.

Check out Pain Resource's excellent article about 5 Sciatica Stretches for Back Pain Relief

If these stretches don't help and you're wearing appropriate footwear you may wish to consider acupuncture.

Zoey Miller

Hey there, I'm Zoey, founder and the main editor of The Babble Out. I know nobody's life is smooth as they wish, and it’s the same with mine. I had some terrible news a few years ago and running was the way I got through these issues. This has given me enough motivation to create this blog, so that I can give you a helping hand for as many daily problems as I can. If you are curious why "babble out" is the​ name of the blog, then check the "About" page and find out more about me.