Rocker bottom shoes, which feature curved soles, could help reduce back pain, according to researchers.

Since they don’t have a smooth bottom, these types of shoes creating instability that forces the back muscles to work harder in order to maintain balance and stability.

This extra work strengthens the back muscles, improving the spine’s curvature and thus reducing low back pain, suggests researchers of the Sports Physiotherapy master’s degree at Valencia’s CEU Cardenal Herrera university, in a media release from Asociación RUVID.

“Patients with chronic low back pain are usually advised to perform exercises to strengthen the muscles in their back, which improve stability of the spine in the lower back area, although it is always hard to make sure they comply with this type of exercises,” says study co-author Pablo Salvador, in the release.

“What this new study shows is that the use of unstable shoes for several hours during a patient’s day-to-day life, without any other specific exercises, effectively contributes to the muscular strengthening of their back and improves the degree of curvature of the spine in the lumbar area, thus helping to reduce chronic pain.”

The study, published recently in Clinical Rehabilitation, included 40 participants—half of whom wore rocker bottom shoes, and the other half wore their normal shoes.

In the study, the researchers evaluated the degree of activation of the back muscles that stabilize the lumbar area with electromyography—specifically, the rectus abdominis, external oblique and internal oblique of the abdomen, as well as the erector spinae.

The team also evaluated the curvature degree of the lower spine while wearing rocker bottom shoes, compared to ones with flat soles. These physical results were then contrasted with the degree of pain and disability expressed by the patients, using the Roland-Morris Disability questionnaire, the release explains.

According to the researchers, in the release, the study results “have allowed us to confirm that everyday use of rocker bottom shoes for several hours a day reduces the disability suffered by patients with chronic low back pain.”

The next step, they add, is to increase the number of participants and confirm these effects over a longer period of time in future studies within this same line of research.

[Source(s): Asociación RUVID, Science Daily]