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Monday, October 14, 2013

Curved soles 'no better' than trainers for back pain



Shoes with curved unstable soles are no better than traditional trainers for reducing lower back pain, suggests a study from King's College London. The study also said normal trainers may be more beneficial for back pain brought on by standing or walking. Physiotherapist Dr Sian MacRae, was interested to find out if ‘rocker style’ footwear could improve back pain and disability. Shoes with an unstable curved sole are often sold as being able to help increase muscle activity, reduce lower back pain and improve posture and balance. In the study, 115 people with chronic lower back pain were asked to wear rocker sole shoes or normal trainers for at least two hours a day while standing and walking. They also attended an exercise and education programme once a week for four weeks and wore their shoes during these sessions. After six weeks, six months and then one year, the participants were assessed using a disability questionnaire. At the end of the study, researchers calculated that people in the trainer-wearing group experienced a larger reduction in disability than those in the rocker sole group. After six months, 53% of the trainer group showed a small improvement in their back mobility compared to 31% of the rocker sole group. Overall those in the trainers group experienced a greater reduction in disability after one year than those in the rocker sole group. On the basis of the findings of this randomised clinical trial, the authors conclude clinicians should be confident in advising patients with chronic lower back pain that wearing either rocker sole shoes or trainers may offer similar outcomes in disability and pain. However, if a patient reports lower back pain when standing or walking, it may be more beneficial to wear trainers than rocker sole shoes.

Further Reading

MacRae C., Lewis J., Shortland A., Morrissey M., Critchley D 2013 Effectiveness of Rocker Sole Shoes in the Management of Chronic Low Back Pain: A Randomized Clinical Trial Spine: 15 October 2013 - Volume 38 - Issue 22 - p 1905–1912

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