The Best Shoes for Sciatica

Occurring in as many as around 34% of people in America, sciatica is the pain of the sciatic nerve. This nerve is the thickest and longest one in the whole body and begins in the lower back, continuing down to the foot’s toes.

This can cause stabbing pain, weakness, irritation, and numbness, and, over the years, various shoes have emerged that claimed to be “perfect” for sciatica. However, most of these do little in alleviating the pain or don’t effectively prevent further foot issues.

Therefore, to help ease your search, I scoured the internet to find what I believe to be the five best shoes for sciatica. These will not only reduce the stress but also support the feet, provide comfort, and protect the feet from external elements.

As well as that, I have answered some of the most common questions regarding the topic and included the review criteria I used to shortlist the shoes.

Product Reviews

The Best Shoes for Sciatica

Moving on to the best pairs of shoes for sciatica, I have divided this list into two sections for your ease, one for men’s products while the second includes the best pain-relieving women’s shoes for sciatica.

The prices of the shoes range from a little over $24 (£17 approx.) to around £284 ($400 approx.) and I considered the factors above when shortlisting them. Also, I made sure that a myriad of features was available to decide from, including laminated gel midsole, non-skid upper, Medicare certification, removable insole, ergonomic design, leather lining, gel insoles, and MC Pod construction, etc.

MEN’s

Asics Gel-Contend 4 Men’s Shoes

To start off, these first shoes have been manufactured by Asics, which is a well-trusted brand, and rightfully so. For one, the shoes have a soft and seamless body structure that not only looks classy but provides comfort too. The shape also helps prevent falls while maintaining the natural structure of the feet and the gait.

 

Best shoes for sciatica - Asics Gel-Contend 4 Men’s Shoes

The single-layer mesh upper, on the other hand, is made up of good-quality synthetic material that provides flexibility and protection while providing air ventilation and breathability. Also, it has a traditional lacing system that provides personalization and keeps the feet secure, thereby reducing pain.

They also feature a laminated gel midsole that delivers bounce and aids in reducing discomfort walking. Also, the cushioning provides additional arch support while the removable sock liner provides support throughout the feet. Additionally, it has a well-balanced padded collar that gives extra support to the ankle and greatly helps alleviate tension.

Moreover, the non-skid rubber outsole provides additional flexibility and balance, hence preventing further injuries. Also, the outsole features great traction and excellent grip while also providing shock absorbance, thus helping ease up the stress upon the feet.

PROS

  • ✅  The single-layer mesh upper provides flexibility and protection as well as durability.
  • ✅  The laminated gel cushioned midsole for extreme comfort.
  • ✅  The non-skid rubber outsole prevents slips and falls and also provides shock absorbance.
  • ✅  The padded collar provides extra support to the ankle muscles.
  • ✅  The traditional lacing system provides personalization and keeps the feet secure.

 

CONS

  • X    Not well-suited for wide feet.

Asics Gel-Contend 4 Men’s Shoes

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Orthofeet Men’s Oxford Shoes

In case you want shoes with a spark of professionalism, I would suggest you give these boots a try. For one, these shoes feature a traditional lacing system that improves fitting. Also, they have a wide toe-box that provides adequate space and prevents toe stubbing as well, thereby adding comfort.

Moreover, the shoes have a well-cushioned orthotic insole that includes anatomic support and helps maintain a natural foot structure. Other than that, the cushioning provides additional arch support and stability and also prevents foot as well as heel pain. Also, the heavily padded insoles reduce overpronation and aid in easing pressure on the joints of the feet, thereby helping heal sciatica faster.

 

Best shoes for sciatica - Orthofeet Men’s Oxford Shoes

In addition to all that, they feature seam-free interior lining that offers comfort and protection while eliminating pressure. The rubber outsole, on the other hand, is slip-resistant and provides steadiness as well as traction, easing walking through wet and abrasive surfaces.

Additionally, they have a padded collar for extra ankle support while the non-binding construction upper is padded with foam and features no overlays across the toes, and, therefore, prevents cramping. Also, the shoes are certified by Medicare as therapeutic and fit wide feet particularly well too.

PROS

  • ✅  Made up of high-quality leather and have ergonomic soles.
  • ✅  They have a wide toe-box that ample space for foot movements while preventing toe constriction.
  • ✅  The well-cushioned orthotic insole includes anatomic support.
  • ✅  The shoes are certified by Medicare as therapeutic.
  • ✅  Suited for people with wide feet.

 

CONS

  • X    They have more of a traditional look, but other than that I couldn’t find any negatives.

Orthofeet Men’s Oxford Shoes

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Comfort Performance-X Men’s Therapeutic Diabetic Double Depth Shoe

These shoes are made up of premium quality full-grain leather with a single-layer mesh upper. This upper is meant to enhance breathability through air ventilation, keeping the feet cool, and preventing skin irritation. They are also extremely comfortable, with a flexible build, and are specifically designed to improve performance.

Moreover, they have an ergonomic design that promotes natural foot movement and provides additional foot support, helping reduce fatigue. Also, the shoes are extremely lightweight and comfortable, with a soft and seamless body, thus limiting pressure upon the feet.

 

Best shoes for sciatica - Comfort Performance-X Men’s Therapeutic Diabetic Double Depth Shoe

The midsole is also greatly cushioned and provides comfort as well as support while the gel inserts absorb shock. Other than that, the leather lining decreases friction, and the removable footbed allows you to replace it with one that better fits your needs. Additionally, the pair has a safe soft-toe that protects them from falling objects.

The non-skid rubber outsole, on the other hand, provides excellent traction and delivers balance. It also has a deep lug that provides additional grip. Also, the shoes are extremely lightweight and feature a comfortable overall construction while the padded collar supports the ankle muscles. Lastly, the traditional lacing closure enhances the fitting.

PROS

  • ✅  Premium quality full-grain leather for durability.
  • ✅  The ergonomic design promotes natural foot movement and reduces fatigue.
  • ✅  The leather lining in the midsole decreases friction.
  • ✅  The removable insole can be replaced with one that better fits your need.
  • ✅  The deep lug provides additional grip.

 

CONS

  • X    Tend to lose the slip-resistance abilities quicker than other shoes.

Comfort Performance-X Therapeutic Diabetic Double Depth Shoe

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WOMEN’s

Clarks Women’s Ashland Bubble Slip-On

If you are looking for stylish yet comfortable shoes, I would recommend this particular pair. The premium leather upper with the casual pumps flip-on style provides extreme flexibility, and, therefore, reduces tension upon the sciatic nerve. This is also very durable and protects the feet from external elements relatively well.

best shoes for sciatica - Clarks Women’s Ashland Bubble Slip-On

The midsole, on the other hand, is made up with Croslite technology that provides additional support and reduces pain to a great extent. The shoes also feature heavy cushioning that provides extreme comfort and support while the built-in soft synthetic lining along the ortholite footbed reduces damage from friction. This is also abrasion-free, and, therefore, highly durable but can be replaced with one that better fits your needs.

Furthermore, the thermoplastic rubber outsole is non-slip, extremely lightweight, and durable. The bendable construction also makes them very flexible while the soft-toe relieves stress and adds further support. Additionally, they feature great traction and add stability as well as balance.

It should also be noted that these shoes are really easy to clean, are fast-drying, and include odor-prevention technology, hence providing comfort. They are also available in various colors and, because of the amazing overall design, they can be worn at casual and formal events.

PROS

  • ✅  The shoes feature a heavy cushioning that provides extreme comfort and support.
  • ✅  The non-slip thermoplastic rubber outsole adds traction and grip.
  • ✅  The safety soft-toe protects from any falling objects.
  • ✅  The overall construction provides stability and balance.
  • ✅  They are very flexible as well as durable.

 

CONS

  • X    Not best for people with wide feet.

Clarks Women’s Ashland Bubble Slip-On

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Brooks Women’s Addiction Walker Nordic Walking Shoes

For one, the full-grain leather upper is extremely comfortable and flexible, which allows the foot to move freely. It is also very durable and abrasion-resistant and the shoes also feature a traditional lace system with Velcro closure, thus providing extra comfort and personalization.

Moreover, the padded collar provides enhanced ankle support, and the Energy-returning MoGo midsole, with the BioMoGo DNA cushioning, further enhances the comfort level while also improving protection, thereby helping with sciatica. This, additionally, provides greater support to the ankle as well as the heel, arch, and toes, hence relieving pain immensely.

 

Best shoes for sciatica - Brooks Women's Addiction Walker Nordic Walking Shoes

In addition to that, the shock-absorbing outsole prevents stress and is slip-resistant. This also provides greater traction while the safety toe provides steadiness and balance when walking or running. Other than that, the soft safety toe helps alleviate tension greatly and also protects them from falling objects.

The shoes are made by hand and can effectively combat extensor tendonitis and the lower back. Also, these shoes feature great overall fitting, particularly due to the Extended Progressive Diagonal Rollbar. This, however, goes on to support the arch as well and also encourages the natural foot structure while the forefoot MC Pod construction improves protection and durability.

PROS

  • ✅  The full-grain leather upper is extremely comfortable and flexible.
  • ✅  The padded collar provides enhanced ankle support.
  • ✅  The safety toe protects the feet well.
  • ✅  The shoes fit extremely well due to flexible materials.
  • ✅  The MC Pod construction improves protection as well as durability immensely.

 

CONS

  • X    Some may find these a little heavier than other options.

Brooks Women’s Addiction Walker Nordic Walking Shoes

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Key Features & Search Criteria

What I Look For In The Best Shoes for Sciatica

Before going through the best shoes, I think it will be beneficial to know exactly what you need to consider when selecting them. I also used the same criteria when shortlisting the products and, by keeping this in mind, you will definitely be able to find shoes that help reduce the pressure over the sciatic nerve while supporting the feet sufficiently and protecting them from environmental factors.

1. Cushioning & Padding

When getting shoes for sciatica, the most important factor is the cushioning and padding. Firstly, the cushioning in the midsole should be able to support the whole underfoot, including the toes, the arch, the heel, and the ankle because the sciatic nerve extends through all these.

In addition to that, the cushioning should be able to provide immense comfort so that the healing process can be as smooth for you as possible. You should also make sure that this prevents other foot problems like plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, and tarsal tunnel syndrome through flexibility while also promoting a controlled, natural foot movement, hence quickening the recovery.

The padding, on the flip side, needs to properly support the sciatic nerve in the ankle through a supportive collar. It should also be well-placed to sufficiently support the toe, heel, and arch without stressing the feet through added weight. Lastly, it should have a stiff structure for limited foot movement and be shock-absorbing so that further damage is effectively restricted.

2. Fitting & Weight

Another important factor is fitting and weight and this can help in various ways. For one, there should be ample width and vertical length for even wide feet so that the damage to the nerve through stress is reduced.

Furthermore, you should make sure that the upper is flexible enough to reduce tension and improve comfort while a wide toe box will also prevent further damage. Also, the heel area should be wide and deep and an outrigger will tremendously benefit wide-footed people. The shoes should also have some grip to control the foot movement, hence reducing pain and inflammation.

Also, remember, the more the weight, the higher the tension over the feet, including the sciatic nerve. Therefore, I would recommend buying lightweight shoes and, particularly make sure that, if the shoes have additional features like spikes, they don’t add much weight.

3. Outsole

Moving on, the outsole constitutes a major part of the shoes, and, therefore, can’t be overlooked. Firstly, it needs to grip onto the feet to control foot movement and prevent further damage. However, make sure that it doesn’t constrict the feet too much as well.

Other than that, the outsole should provide immense traction to prevent further slips and injuries through a deep lug or spikes. Notable durability will also be a plus and things like abrasion resistance and oil resistance will make them well-suited for a range of environmental conditions and terrains.

Moreover, the outsole can include cushioning and padding for shock absorption to prevent further damage to the nerve while a high heel will help support the ankle and heel muscles better. Lastly, the outsole should provide ample protection and be lightweight too.

4. Upper

The upper, as mentioned before, should be flexible so that it does not put much pressure on the feet. This may, additionally, be waterproof so that damage from the external elements can be prevented. Waterproofing will, however, reduce the breathable and you need to make sure that waterproof shoes can at least efficiently expel moisture.

Moreover, the upper needs to be highly durable as well as abrasion-resistant so that you can focus more on the recovery methods. Lightweight materials will also help improve your speed during sports and prevent the stressing up of the nerves and muscles while also reducing fatigue.

Other than that, they should be versatile and, considering all that, I would highly suggest knit upper as these aren’t only breathable but also durable, lightweight, and flexible.

Other Considerations

While the factors above will be adequate, to further enhance your performance or quicken the healing process, you will need to look for some additional features. For one, the pair should include something to better support the heel and ankle, like heel-cup technology or a raised outsole heel.

In case you work in rugged terrains with stones, a deep and wide outsole lug pattern will help prevent slips while amazing flexibility will prevent cracks. The shoes may also feature an advanced closure system, like BOA, for a tight but flexible fitting.

Furthermore, they can feature a particularly durable construction or a safety toe to protect the feet from falling objects. They can also include an additional lining for better insulation or simply be available in a range of color combinations.

Frequently Asked Questions

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1. What is sciatica?

The sciatic nerve is the longest and thickest nerve in the human body and originates in the buttocks, going just below the knees before dividing further into nerve branches. “Sciatica” is actually an injury to this nerve but, nowadays, this term is often used to describe any pain that originates in the lower back and continues down the leg.

Sciatica also includes irritation, pitching, compression, and inflammation of the sciatic nerve. Other than the excruciating pain that is often described as “electric” or “stabbing”, this can also cause muscle weakness, numbness, and a hurtful tingling pins-and-needles sensation.

Sciatica can occur in anyone’s leg and foot but the risk is further increased by aging and an inactive lifestyle. Smokers, diabetic, and overweight people also get sciatica more often and this can also be a result of improper weight lifting, an active physical job, and lack of a strong core.

Also, even though this usually affects only one leg, it can occur in both as well and while sciatica caused by disk herniation causes sudden pain, arthritis develops slowly and takes a long time to heal. Lastly, even though sciatica seems terrifying, you should not worry much because over 34% of people in the US experience it during their life.

2. What is the best treatment for sciatica?

Because of how rapidly it can grow, I would highly suggest that you treat sciatica as soon as you see the symptoms. Start with nonsurgical treatments and work through these for at least 4 weeks. One of these would be physical therapy which includes exercises focused on stretching, aerobic conditions, and strengthening and will help improve core strength while also improving flexibility and reducing tension.

You can also try medications like NSAIDs, oral steroids, anticonvulsant medications, tricyclic antidepressants, and opioid analgesics, but should consult a doctor for proper prescription. Chiropractic therapy is another effective method and helps fight underlying conditions like spinal stenosis or herniated discs, thereby helping relieve pain.

Massage therapy can also help improve blood circulation, release endorphins, and relax muscles while lumbar therapeutic injections can efficiently reduce inflammation and provide sustained pain relief.

In case none of this effectively solves sciatica or you have problems like cauda equina syndrome, tumor, bilateral sciatica, or infection, you can give surgery a try. Some surgery examples include microdiscectomy, or lumbar decompression surgeries like laminectomy, foraminotomy, or facetectomy, all of which have proven to be quite effective. For these, however, you will have to consult a doctor.

3. Does losing weight help with sciatica?

Because sciatica is often caused by excessive pressure on the pelvis, losing extra weight is extremely beneficial when trying to fight it. The efficiency can be judged by the fact that losing a pound of body weight reduces around four pounds of weight and pressure on the joints. Also, if you’re obese, sciatica will take a longer time to heal and you will not be up to exercising as actively too.

By losing weight, you will not only be able to reduce overall stress but also diminish inflammation. It can also tremendously help strengthen your muscles, promote long-term pain management, and even avoid reinjury. In addition to that, exercising immensely teaches you proper body mechanics, improves body flexibility, boosts blood circulation, enhances healing, and improves balance as well as coordination.

However, you will have to form an effective weight loss plan so that you don’t overdo it and cause other problems like sore feet.

4. Does wearing compression socks help with sciatic nerve pain?

Yes, compression socks are a great way to gradually reduce sciatic pain without putting in much effort. For one, they put extra pressure on the joints, hence helping stabilize the ankle and preventing further injuries. Additionally, compression socks can constrict the foot and calf areas, preventing fluid and blood from pooling into the feet and keeping them from swelling further.

Furthermore, compression socks help support the foot muscles and also add balance while also preventing errant foot movement. Lastly, compression socks can be worn at all times and also support the veins pretty well.

You will, however, need to choose ones that fit your particular needs properly. In case you aren’t sure, I would recommend the CelerSport 20-30 mmHg Running Support socks as these are available in various colors, don’t cost much, are durable, and provide just the right amount of constriction.

 

Summary & Conclusion

Best Shoes for Sciatica

Hopefully, you’ll have understood everything you need to get the best shoes for sciatica by now.

I would, however, like to mention that the Orthofeet Men’s Oxford Shoes appealed most to me. Not only do these look good but are also made up of high-quality leather that enhances durability while the wide toe-box prevents toe constriction. Also, the orthotic insole includes anatomic support and the pair is also certified by Medicare. They are also well-suited for wide-footed people and don’t have any negatives.

For women, I would recommend the Brooks Women’s Addiction Walker Nordic Walking Shoes. For one, the full-grain upper is comfortable and flexible, while the padded collar enhances ankle support. Additionally, the safety toe protects the feet from further damage and the MC Pod construction improves the durability. Besides, the only con is the slightly heavy build.

I would also suggest that, rather than depending on others’ recommendations, you either consult a doctor or evaluate your particular situation to find the best shoes. Lastly, rather than just focusing on the feet, adequately support the legs and buttocks too.

Written by Mark

Having researched and advised on hundreds of footwear products, I'm confident you'll find my articles insightful to the most common questions that's currently being asked online.

June 20, 2021

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