Best Work Boots for Back Pain | Conquer Aches: 5 Unrivalled Safety Shoes

Back pain, most of which occurs in the lower back, makes almost any situation difficult. If your back hurts, it’s hard even to sit, stand, or walk comfortably. Severe back pain makes it virtually impossible to perform strenuous labor like logging, welding or heavy lifting. If you’re dealing with any type of back pain, you need a work boot that will help ease the symptoms, not increase them with every step you take. Here are my choices for the 5 best work boots for back pain.

Updated April 2020 by Maya

best work boots for back pain

All of these are comfortable low- to mid-rise boots chosen with the needs of back-pain sufferers in mind. They all provide lots of arch support and shock-absorbency. Most of them feature a safety toe and have breathable uppers. We’re confident that at least one of these would be a good choice for you.  

In a Hurry? The Top Pick:

Timberland PRO Work Boot, Read on to find out why.


Comparison Chart

Waterproof
Safety ToeFeatures
Danner Vicious Work Boot
YesCompositeoil-, slip-resistant
View
Caterpillar Second Shift
ResistantSteelSteel shank
oil- resistant
View
Timberland PRO Resistor
YesCompositeInsulatedView
Skechers Holdredge RebemNoSteelEH-hazard protectionView
Carhartt CMF Work BootResistantSoftEH-hazard protection
oil-, chemical -resistant
View

Key Features of Boots Suitable for Back Pain

Shock-absorbency

Work boots for lower back pain must feature shock-absorbency.

If you deal with sciatica, lower back pain, or upper back problems, you know that during a flare-up, you can feel every step, even on a smooth surface.

The best work boots for lower back pain to alleviate the distress by incorporating a shock-absorption system into the midsole. This allows you to walk with less pain and makes your feet less tired over the course of a long work day.

Popular types of shock-absorbent material include EVA (Ethylene-vinyl acetate), rubber, and foam. All are designed to transfer the pressure felt by your foot—particularly your heel.

If you wear a work boot without shock-absorbent material, your heel itself must absorb up to 8 times your body weight each time you take a step. Shock-absorbency is especially helpful if you walk or stand on concrete, since it offers very little give to your foot.

Arch Support

Good arch supports distribute body pressure and lessen pain to the middle of your foot.

Arch supports do for the midsection of your foot what shock-absorbers do for your heels. They distribute pressure and help you keep your body aligned properly. This helps you keep your balance better, especially on uneven surfaces, and promotes greater stability.

Arch supports are commonly made from EVA, memory foam, gel or a company-specific proprietary combination of two or more of these.

It’s relatively easy to bolster your work boot’s arch support system if you find it to be less than adequate. Many boots are made with removable soles. You can remove the deficient insole, measure it against a replacement insole, and cut the replacement insole to fit your boot. Then you just slip the new insole inside your boot.

Manufacturers recommend that you replace your boots’ insoles every few months, anyway, so that you always have good arch support.

Ultimate comfort

Back-pain sufferers really need a work boot that fits comfortably.

Your work boot may have a good arch support and lots of shock absorbency, but if it rubs your ankles, chafes the top of your foot along the tongue, or scrapes your toes, it isn’t going to help you feel better.

It may make your back issues worse, since you will probably change your gait in order to relieve the pain caused by the boot. Changing your natural walking pattern almost always puts undo pressure on knees, ankles or toes, and often results in additional sore spots.

Personalised Review Details

Before you purchase, scour the reviews, noting what purchasers with your particular foot features say about the boots you’re considering. Are these boots available in multiple widths? Are they comfortable in all available widths?

Do these boots provide arch support for people with flat feet? Is the arch support adequate for someone with a high arch? Customers who really love (or don’t love) a pair of boots are willing to tell precisely why. They provide really helpful information.

Job Specific Reviews

You will also want to consider what people in your line of work—or a similar profession—have to say about any work boots you are considering. Purchasers who provide feedback quite often tell you that they work on a construction site, an ironworker, a logger, or an electrician.

They will say that they work 10-12 hours a day standing on a concrete floor, or that they have chronic lower back pain and walk 6 miles a day as a factory supervisor. And, they will point out strengths or weaknesses they find in their boots, which is exactly what you need. 

The 5 Best Work Boots For Back Pain

The 5 best work shoes for back pain offer some variety in features. One is insulated for winter weather. Four of them have safety toes. They vary a bit in height. Most come in several colors including black.  

Generally, though, they are quite similar in basic styling.  All of them are lace up shoes with some leather in the upper to make them breathable. (Slip on boots just didn’t rate as well for the traits that matter most if your back is hurting.) None of these boots qualifies as a particularly lightweight boot. None has a met guard to make the boot puncture resistant and protect the metatarsal bones. There are no wedge soles, no moc toes, or no cowboy boots with square toes

There is, however, one honorable mention. The KEEN Utility Men’s Pittsburgh Steel Toe Work Boot gets good reviews for comfort, cushioning and support. If KEEN boots work well for you, then this boot is probably an excellent choice. 

Danner Men’s Vicious 4.5 Inch Non Metallic Toe Work Boot 

Danner’s Vicious 4.5 Inch Non Metallic Toe Work Boot is a short, rugged boot with a composite safety toe. It’s stylish, good-looking and abrasion-resistant.

PROS

  • Safety toe
  • Slip-proof Vibram sole 
  • Abrasion resistant

CONS

  • Expensive
  • Imported
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot

The Caterpillar Men’s Second Shift Steel Toe Work Boot is a rugged safety boot that looks good and features a steel shank and a moisture-wicking insole. 

PROS

  • Oil resistant 
  • Slip resistant

CONS

  • Not waterproof
  • Imported
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Timberland PRO Composite Insulated Boot

Timberland PRO Composite Work Boot provides protection against cold and wet weather. The boot is stylish and offers anti-fatigue shock-absorption.

PROS:

  • Steel toe
  • Shock-absorbing
  • Waterproof
  • Insulated

CONS:

  • Expensive
  • Imported 
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Skechers Men’s Holdredge Rebem Work Boot

In their men’s Holdredge Rebem Work Boot, Skechers combines leather with synthetic materials in a steel toe boot that is protective, comfortable, and breathable. 

PROS

  • EH rated 
  • Non slip sole

CONS

  • Not waterproof 
  • Imported 
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Carhartt Men’s CMF 6066 6-inch Soft Toe Boot

The Carhart Men’s CMF 6066 6-inch Soft Toe Boot is a rugged, yet comfortable boot with an EH rating and an ortholite insole.

PROS

  • Chemical resistant 
  • Ortholite insole 

CONS

  • Not waterproof 
  • Imported
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Customer Impression

COMFORT is the key feature that customers praise about all of these boots.

All of these boots rate at least 4 stars on Amazon; obviously most people like them. 

However, what people like most–hands down–is the comfort of these boots. The combination of comfortable uppers, shock-absorption, and support makes all of them particularly comfortable to wear–even for long days. This was true for people in HVAC, construction, roofing and machining. Generally they compared favorably to boots people had owned previously. 

The Danner boot rated the very best for comfort, with several people giving them “best-ever” accolades and saying they would never go back to their Wolverine or another brand. Ironically, this boot had a few very caustic negative reviews. 

Each boot has a particular strength and a weakness.

  • The Danner boot gets the very best rating for comfort, but some people think it is not worth the price.
  • The Caterpillar boot looks nice and is comfortable, but several repeat customers feel that the quality is slipping.
  • The Timberland PRO work shoe is tough and generally high quality, but doesn’t fit as well. It gets the lowest score for fit.
  • The Skecher boot fits VERY well and is lightweight, but gets lower marks for durability.
  • The Carhartt boot gets praise for is ruggedness and its relatively cheap price for the quality, but some have real concerns that the boot isn’t non-slip or flexible enough for outdoor work in cold weather.

Conclusion

These work boots offer much in the way of cushioning and support to relieve the ache and discomfort of back pain. They don’t provide any options for people who need a pull on boot that’s easy to get into.

And, if you are a diehard fan of Irish Setter, Ariat, Carolina, Red Wing or Thorogood boots, you will be disappointed not to see your brand among the best. Of course these brands have other strengths.

Despite their higher prices, the Danner Men’s Vicious 4.5 Inch Non Metallic Toe Work Boot and the Timberland PRO Men’s 6″ Resistor Composite Toe Waterproof Insulated Work Boot are my overall best picks as the best work boots for back pain.

I give a nod to the Carhartt Men’s CMF 6066 6-Inch Soft Toe Boot as a rugged value for the price. 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

What are your picks for the best 5 running shoes for back pain?

Running shoes for bad back pain all have 1 thing in common. They treat your feet to lots and lots of cushioning. With so many running shoe options, it’s hard to choose 5 as the very best. I chose 1 shoe from 5 of the best-known athletic shoe manufacturers.

All 5 get great customer reviews. One is a trail runner. The others are street shoes. They vary in construction materials, but they all provide lots of cushioning comfort as well as support for your feet and are ideal running shoes for back pain.

What features should I look for in comfortable athletic shoes for lower back pain?

If you are suffering from lower back pain, but you hate to derail your exercise routine, take heart. You’re wise to continue to exercise–but with caution. Wearing a good pair of athletic shoes that matches your level of activity will be essential to prevent you from aggravating your condition, necessitating treatment, and prolonging the healing process. 

Here are 3 critical features in Athletic shoes for lower back pain:

  1. Cushioning – any kind of athletic situation puts additional stress on your feet, legs and back. In order to ease the stress, a good athletic shoe has layers of cushioning for your heels, arches, ankles and toes.
  2. Comfortable fit – Great athletic shoes just feel good on your feet. You may not be able to explain what makes them so comfortable, but you know that your feet really like the way these shoes feel.
  3. Support – By their very nature, sporting events mean that your feet may be turning, shifting, dashing, darting or jumping suddenly or repeatedly. Some strenuous activities may be impossible for you if you deal with chronic lower back pain. Even if your pain is annoying rather than debilitating, you’ll benefit from athletic shoes that support your feet while your move and prevent them from twisting when they shouldn’t or sliding where they shouldn’t. 


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