Experiencing pain of any kind is no fun, especially if it has to do with the sciatic nerve. "Sciatica nerve pain is pain that radiates from the sciatic nerve at the level of the lower spine down the buttocks and back of the leg," says Dan Michaels, DPM. When picking shoes for sciatica, look for a shoe with a heel height no higher than one inch. "A heel height above one inch causes the torso to tilt forward over the pelvis, which can worsen sciatica pain," explains Dr. Michaels.
To reduce strain on your sciatic nerve, you'll want a shoe that's supportive and rigid, particularly in the midsole and heel counter. To determine whether your heel counter is firm, "make sure you cannot pinch this part of the shoe," Dr. Michaels says. You'll also want to check for a rigid midsole because "support from a shoe that is not too flexible has midsole rigidity," she adds. To test, try to bend your shoe's toe box and heel in half. Rigid midsoles shouldn't fully fold in half.