Shoe Insoles Relieve Back Pain… Not!

skepticClaims that shoe insoles relieve back pain are unsupported

Cushioned shoe inserts may give a break to tired feet, but they aren’t likely to relieve back pain, experts say.

By Chris Woolston, Special to The Los Angeles Times
June 30, 2008

The claims: In a current TV ad for Dr. Scholl’s Back Pain Relief insoles, a grimacing man hobbles into his bathroom and reaches for pills in his medicine cabinet. The voice-over says, “Back pain? You don’t just have to rely on pain relievers. Now you can take two of these.” On cue, a pair of insoles pop out of his medicine bottle. The ad goes on to say the insoles are “clinically proven” and will “absorb jarring shocks with every step you take.”

Charlie Lundy, associate director of product development for Dr. Scholl’s, says that the insoles are especially helpful for people who are on their feet all day.

He also says that an unpublished company study of 57 people with back pain found that all three types of insoles provided significant relief after two weeks of use. “Some people got a lot, and some people got a little bit,” he says.

The bottom line: Cushioned insoles may give a break to tired feet, but the back is another matter entirely, says Dr. Nick Shamie, assistant clinical professor of orthopedic surgery and neurosurgery with the UCLA Comprehensive Spine Center. “If a patient asked me about insoles, I would say, ‘It won’t hurt. Go ahead and try it,’ ” he says. “But there’s no evidence to support the claims.” More…