The Functional Back

Back pain self-treatment featuring the Hubble Method

Rocker Soles: the Answer to Your Back Pain?

RockerSolesYou have probably seen them: Strange-looking shoes with curved soles, so the wearer is basically balancing on a half-ball. Do they work for back pain?

The theory is that these shoes help back pain by activating your back muscles and improving your posture and balance. But a new study doesn’t bear that out. In fact, if you have back pain that worsens with standing or walking, the researchers found that compared to your usual pair of Nikes or Adidas, these shoes help your back less over time.

After six months, the study participants wearing rocker shoes improved their back mobility by 31%, compared to the 53% improvement in those wearing normal athletic shoes. That’s not a big surprise. Destabilization is great for improving posture and balance when used for short-duration training. It is the basis for gym tools like the Bosu ball or the Core Disc. But when used for hours at a time, destabilization over-stresses your core, including your low back muscles. In response, they spasm.

Granted, this was a small, questionnaire-based study of only 115 people. But the results make sense. To calm your back pain, focus on more stabilization, not less. Walk barefoot around your house. Wear flat-soled shoes. And skip the rocker soles.

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