Can Running Shoes Cause Sciatica?

Written By Ahson Zahir

There are two things in life that I'm passionate about, shoes and writing. Combining both of my passions with my designing degree, I write forShoePeeps to help readers pick the best work boots, have fun.

If you’re like me, you probably never gave much thought to the shoes you wore when you ran. I just assumed that they would be fine as long as they were running sneakers. Well, it turns out that your shoes could be causing your sciatica.

Read on to learn more about how running shoes can cause severe sciatic pain.

So, Can shoes cause sciatica? My Opinion:

Yes, running in poorly designed and worn-out running shoes can cause sciatica. Like many people, you also want every mile in your running shoes to be more effective. However, when it comes to severe sciatica pain and running, the worst thing that can happen to you is to get sidelined for a few months or even longer.   

Anyone who has ever suffered from sciatica knows that it is no joke. The pain can be annoying, making even the simplest tasks seem impossible. Unfortunately, running is often cited as a common cause of sciatica.

While it is true that poorly designed and worn-out running shoes can contribute to the condition, the real problem lies in our bodies themselves. The human skeleton is not designed to run long distances, and the repetitive impact can strain the lower back and legs. This can lead to damage and inflammation of your sciatic nerve and result in pain that radiates down the leg.

In severe cases, this pain can be so severe that it prevents runners from being able to train or compete. However, while sciatica can be a major setback for runners, it is important to remember that it is possible to recover from the condition and return to running.

However, with proper treatment and rehabilitation, most runners can resume their training and continue competing at a high level.

What Causes Sciatica?

According to medical experts, sciatica is often caused by a swollen disc, bone spur, or reduction of the spinal canal.

However, when it comes to runners, sciatica is mostly caused due to a tight muscle known as the pisiforms muscle.

Moreover, many other reasons and elements can cause sciatica pain. Below are some common ones for your perusal:

Common Reasons For Sciatica:

Some common things that provoke sciatica are given below:

Non-supportive shoes

When it comes to footwear, style isn’t the only thing that matters. The shoe’s type also has a significant impact on your overall health. For example, high-heeled shoes are a common cause of sciatic nerve compression.

This is because they shift your body weight forwards, causing you to flex at the hips. This, in turn, puts additional stress on the muscles and vertebrae in your lower back, which can compress the nerve. Wearing flats or low-heeled shoes can help to prevent this problem.

In addition, you need to wear shoes that offer adequate foot support and ankle support. This also reduces additional strain on your back and avoids further compression of the sciatic nerve.

Keeping your essentials in your back pocket

Let’s face it: we’ve all been there. You’re sitting in a movie theater or restaurant and suddenly feel a sharp pain in your lower back. Keeping your wallet and belongings in your back pocket can irritate and disturb your sciatic nerve.

Similarly, it will have the same effect if you like to keep your phone in your back pocket. Hence we advise you to keep your wallet and phone in your front pockets to avoid sciatica pain. Your friends will thank you for being more considerate, and your back will thank you for taking the pressure off your sciatic nerve.

Manage Stress adequately

If you often remain under a lot of pressure and stress, you will come across a lot of unrelated and severe pain. Stress is dangerous for your overall health and causes various issues. It can disturb your sleep regime, increase lower back pain, and exaggerate your sciatica.


While many health problems can come from being overweight, you may not realize one of them is sciatica. When your weight is above than normal, it puts additional strain and pressure on your back, which can damage or affect the discs.

In addition, the excess weight can also result in sciatic nerve inflammation and further increase the pain. If you are struggling with your body weight, discussing the matter with your doctor is vital. Not only will it improve your overall health, but it may also help to reduce your risk of developing sciatica.

Improper exercise Routine

While we agree that our body needs some exercise, but not many understand that following the same exercise routine can increase sciatica risk. According to doctors, walking causes first-time sciatica more than jogging or running. On the other hand, jogging and running can cause continuous sciatic nerve issues. Here the point is to mix and follow different workout routines.

How To Tell Whether Running Shoes Are Causing Sciatica or Not?

If you’ve been feeling a pain in your butt after your runs lately, it might not just be the extra miles you’ve been putting in. There are a few telling signs that your running shoes may be to blame for your sciatica. If you experience any of the following after running, it’s worth investigating whether your shoes are the culprit:

  • Usually, sciatica pain starts in your legs and gradually goes to your hips and lower back.
  • You often feel the coldness and tingling in your ankles and legs.
  • Difficulty while jogging or walking.
  • Swelling in legs.
  • Balancing problems.
  • A significant change in your running style.

If you experience any of the above-mentioned signs and symptoms, we recommend you consult the matter with your physician to rule out other similar issues.

Tips for Running with Sciatica

If you’re a runner, the last thing you want is to deal with sciatica. The good news is that there are some things you can do to minimize your risk of injury:

Shorten your stride: If you’ve ever experienced the pain of sciatica, you know that it can be a real pain in the…well, lower back. The condition is caused by the sciatic nerve becoming compressed, making even simple activities like walking or running quite uncomfortable.

However, there is some evidence that suggests that running with shorter strides can help to reduce the pain of sciatica. By keeping the sciatic nerve from fully extending with each stride, you may lessen the impact on your lower back and reduce the pain.

Of course, this is just one method that may work for some people; if you’re experiencing sciatica pain, consult a medical professional to find the best treatment plan for you.

Change Running TerrainIf you walk or run on hard surfaces such as asphalt, change the terrain. Instead of hard surfaces, run on the softer ground such as grass. This is because running on hard surfaces induces compressions and causes severe sciatic pain. Furthermore, while jogging, ensure to change your directions and running style as it will balance you and your running.

Stretch Your HamstringsYour hamstring can protect the injured sciatic nerves and reduce the pain. You must follow simple stretches such as knee lifts, and lunges will regulate your hamstrings before you run. Furthermore, stiff and tight hamstrings add additional pressure and strain on your back and worsen sciatica pain.

Change Your Running Shoes: When it comes to shoes, one size does not fit all. This is especially true if you suffer from sciatica, which can cause pain in the lower back and legs. While some advocate running barefoot or wearing minimalist footwear, these may not be the best option for everyone. 

Instead, it’s important to choose a shoe that fits well and provides support for your feet. Any shoe that is too wide, big, tight, or small can imbalance your gait, causing pain in the back. So take the time to find a shoe that feels comfortable and provides the right amount of support. Your feet will thank you for it.

What Type Of Shoes Are Good for Sciatica Patients?

For anyone suffering from sciatica, the thought of shoes may not be at the forefront of their mind. However, the type of shoes you wear can contribute to activating or reducing that annoying sciatica pain. So if you’re wondering what type of shoes are best for sciatica patients, read on.

High-quality and Supportive Running Shoes

High-quality and supportive running shoes are saviors for people suffering from sciatica. When buying the shoes, ensure they are lightweight and have multiple pressure zones. Because of these properties, your shoes will evenly distribute the pressure of your steps on your feet and reduce the strain and stress from your back.


In our opinion, Birkenstock is the next choice for people dealing with sciatica as these shoes come with a soft and supportive footbed and high arch support. Besides, Birkenstock is a bit roomier and comes with a deep heel cup that distributes even weight on your entire foot.

Rocker-Bottom Soles

If you’re looking for footwear to help you with your sciatica issues, a rocker-bottom sole may be a good option. By reducing pressure on the foot joints and allowing for better positioning of the feet, this type of sole can help to take some of the pressure off of the feet and back, which can help relieve sciatica pain.

Plus, it’s much more fun to say “I’m wearing my rocker-bottom soles” than to say “I’m wearing orthopedic shoes.” So there’s that.

Ergonomic Shoes

If you’re one of the millions of Americans suffering from sciatica, you may be desperate for relief. While there’s no surefire cure for sciatica, ergonomic shoes may provide some relief. Ergonomic shoes are designed to reduce foot pain and pressure and may help rescue you from your sciatica misery.

Furthermore, most ergonomic shoes have a low heel system that takes the pressure off your feet, and they’re often equipped with special cushioning and support features.

So if you’re looking for a way to ease your sciatica pain, consider investing in a pair of ergonomic shoes. They might be the relief you’ve been searching for.

Sandals With High Arch Support

Sciatica pain can be unbearable, from relentless shooting pain down your leg to pins and needles in your feet; sciatica can make it difficult to get out of bed in the morning. And while there’s no surefire cure for sciatica, there are certain treatments that can help to reduce the pain.

One such treatment is orthopedic-style sandals. These sandals offer the appropriate amount of arch support, which is essential for relieving sciatica pain. In addition, orthopedic-style sandals are often equipped with heel cushions and other comfort features that can help make walking and standing easier for those with sciatica.

3 Common Mistakes That Provoke Sciatica Symptoms More Than Anything

To help you determine the changes you need to make, we identified 2 common mistakes that may be provoking your sciatica symptoms:

Wearing high heels: High heels may make you look fabulous, but they can also cause sciatica. That’s because wearing heels changes how your spine is aligned and can pressure the sciatic nerve. If you can’t bear to part with your high heels, try to limit how often you wear them, and always take them off as soon as possible when you get home.

However, if wearing high heels is necessary, here are some ways to minimize your sciatic pain:

• Wear a supportive and comfortable pair of work shoes first, and then wear the high heels once you reach your destination.

• Try to wear heels with a height of fewer than 2 inches.

• Wear high heels that fit properly. Your heels should not be too tight, and your feet should not slide forward while walking.

Slouching: For many of us, slouching is a harmless way to relax, but do you know it triggers sciatica? Slouching puts additional pressure on your sciatic nerve, resulting in herniated discs. So next time you’re tempted to slouch, remember that it may worsen your sciatica. Instead, try to sit up straight and maintain good posture.

Following the same workout routine: If you’re like me, you love a good routine. Wake up at the same time every day, eat the same breakfast, and go to bed at the same time each night. But when it comes to working out, sometimes change is good, especially if you’ve been dealing with sciatica pain.

See, following the same workout routine before the onset of your sciatica symptoms can provoke your sciatica. For example, you may have been a well-known jogger for your whole life, but remember jogging jars your spine and alleviate sciatic nerve root.

Let’s face it: change is never easy. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be beneficial, especially regarding your health. If you’re suffering from sciatica, switch to flats and modify your workout routine. You may be surprised at how much difference it makes.


We hope by now you know how running shoes can cause sciatica. If not, feel free to reach out, and we’d be happy to chat more about it. In the meantime, keep your feet happy and healthy by switching to a cushioned shoe or using orthotics. And whatever you do, don’t forget to stretch.

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