Lower back pain can strike without warning, significantly affecting your health, safety, and well-being. Almost everyone will experience back pain at some point in their lives. And It’s one of the most common causes of missed work in the United States, leading to about $67 billion in lost income and productivity yearly.
The Role of the Insole
Worldwide, over 577 million people live with lower back pain, and the numbers are rising. In 2016, 70.8 million (28.4%) adult Americans had low back pain. By 2019, almost 100 million (39%) were affected. Today, these numbers are probably higher.
Insoles—also called foot beds, foot orthotics, and inner soles—are soft pads you can place in shoes for extra comfort, support, and warmth. Insoles can help treat and prevent lower back pain and other conditions. They support your feet and lower back by redistributing body weight, supporting your foot arches, and protecting your feet from hard surfaces.
“It is possible that insoles can help lower back pain,” says Rick Olderman, sports and orthopedic physical therapist. “But that depends on what’s causing your lower back pain,” he adds.
Here’s more about how insoles can help with lower back pain and how to choose insoles that will give you the best results.
Understanding Lower Back Pain
Lower back pain—also called lumbago—is a symptom of an underlying problem. It’s an indication of injury, pressure, or disease within your lower back--the area just above your buttocks. Your lower back is home to several tissues, including bones, muscles, ligaments, fascia, and skin. If any of those tissues are injured or diseased, you will experience low back pain.
There are two main types of lower back pain: acute and chronic. Acute low back pain often resolves independently in less than three months, and chronic low back pain lasts three months or more.
You have a higher risk of developing lower back pain if you are overweight, sedentary or lift heavy items at work.
Causes of Lower Back Pain
Possible causes of lower back pain may include disease conditions such as :
Or it may be linked to increased pressure in your lower back from factors such as:
Regardless of the possible cause, it's a good idea to seek medical attention if you have been experiencing lower back pain for more than a week. Also, seeing your healthcare provider promptly is important if your low back pain is
How Insoles Help Your Lower Back Pain
Many people with lower back pain experienced relief after using insoles. Especially if the lower back pain was caused by increased pressure to their lower back and not an underlying disease. Here are some of the ways insoles help relieve lower back pain.
Walking barefoot or in poorly cushioned footwear transmits a huge force through your legs. Wearing supportive footwear with insoles helps protect you from that force. A study of lower back pain among soldiers showed that insoles improved their walking and running experience. The soldiers were more comfortable, and their feet were under less pressure.
Very high heels are associated with instability, which can negatively affect the lower back. However, some people with lower back pain experience less pain using insoles that slightly elevate their heels over their toes.
While high heels cause the hamstring, calves, and spine to misalign, slightly elevated heels—between 1 and 2 inches—are the best for your lower back. They provide better balance and reduced pressure on your heels, with less strain on your lower back
People with flat feet or other conditions altering the foot arches can get relief from using insoles. Flat feet are totally flat on the floor without the normal upward arch in the middle of the foot. Insoles help to support your feet and raise your foot arches, redistributing pressure so your lower back is relieved.
Insoles also have other benefits for your feet, which include
Different Types of Insoles for Lower Back Pain Relief
There are different types of insoles you can use to help relieve lower back pain. However, you may need more than one type, depending on your lifestyle and the different shoes you wear.
Where possible, it's a good idea to see “a board-certified podiatrist and get fitted for prescription orthotics—these are contoured and made specifically for your feet,” says Dr. Bradley Schaeffer, a board-certified podiatrist and foot surgeon. But he also says you can consider getting “over-the-counter variation” insoles too.
Here are some insole types to consider:
These insoles are great for keeping your feet warm during winter and cool during summer. They are made from wool and use their wicking properties to keep you comfortable.
If you engage in exercises like running or walking, your feet hit the ground forcefully and repeatedly. You need balance, support, and shock absorption in your shoes. Therefore, an athletic insole may be great for you. There are different types of athletic insoles. Some have padding to cushion the effect of your feet hitting the ground; others are hard, for instance, those for cyclists. In some athletic insoles, only the heels are padded.
This type of insole is suitable for those who stand for long hours. They are made of heavy-duty materials that provide support and comfort to your feet. These insoles are soft enough to protect your feet and hard enough to withstand intense pressure on them.
Magnetic insoles are designed to support your feet and help you manage foot pain. Although they are often marketed as having special effects, this hasn’t been proven.
These insoles reduce the shock that travels through your legs to your lower back. They are made of soft, supportive materials capable of absorbing the shock you generate with every step you take.
High arch insoles
Your feet have a peculiar way of distributing weight. If you have flat feet, you may experience pain relief if you wear high arch insoles. A high arch insole can redistribute your body weight, relieving pressure in your feet and lower.
Your insoles may conform to the shape of your feet after a while. However, you can get an insole that fits your feet's shape from the first try. It requires that you heat them before you place them in your shoes and wear them. Once they fit around your feet, they stay that way.
Choosing the Right Insoles
Generally, you'll relieve lower back pain caused by increased pressure on your lower back by elevating, supporting, and cushioning your feet.
Therefore, the right insoles for lower back pain should possess the following qualities:
The Bottom Line
Insoles can help lower back pain, especially when your lower back pain is linked to excessive pressure.
Common causes of excessive pressure are muscle strains, poor posture, standing or sitting too long, and flat feet.
Choosing the correct insole can help support your feet, take pressure off your lower back, and provide other benefits.
There are several kinds of insoles, so you may need expert advice to get the right pair.
Insoles are helpful, but if your symptoms persist, you should seek medical attention when in pain to get a more accurate picture of your diagnosis and treatment options.
Dr Nsisong Asanga is a physician, field epidemiologist and freelance writing consultant. Her work has been published by WebMD, VeryWell, Healthline, Parents, SELF, Health, Insider, The Independent and other platforms.