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Curved Soles no better than flats for Back Pain

27 January 2014  |  Admin


“Shoes with curved unstable soles are no better than traditional trainers for reducing low back pain,” BBC News reports, after a small but well-designed study found no significant benefit in people wearing “rocker sole” shoes. The study involved 115 adults with chronic lower back pain who were randomised into two groups: rocker sole trainers or normal trainers. They were asked to wear these trainers for at least two hours a day over the course of a year. They were also asked to exercise once a week for four weeks and wear their trainers to these sessions.

For a number of measures the rockers actually fared worse than their flat sole counterparts, including satisfaction with the trainers and a clinically important reduction in self-reported disability Larger studies assessing pain and disability over a longer period of time would be able to confirm or refute these findings, but initially and in light of the strengths mentioned above - they appear reliable. Market Harborough Chiropractor Dr David Casey agrees with these findings. He says that the majority of back pain is the result of many years of accumulated damage, not just muscular dysfunction. Years and years worth off overstressing the spine causes ligament damage resulting in joint stiffness. Just trying to stimulate spinal muscles with “wobbly trainers” simply misses the point. Where did the story come from? The study was carried out by researchers from UK-based hospitals and universities in collaboration with international partners. It was funded by Masai GB Ltd, a footwear manufacturer specialising in rocker sole ranges.

Because of the largely neutral findings of the study, it is clear the funders had no influence on the study design or reporting. The study was published in the medical journal, Spine. Also the BBC provided coverage of the study that was balanced and factually accurate. Rocker sole shoes seem to be no more beneficial than flat sole shoes in affecting disability and pain outcomes in people with chronic lower back pain. If a person’s chronic lower back pain is predominately aggravated by standing or walking, it may be more beneficial to wear flat sole shoes than rocker sole shoes. A greater proportion of participants who wore the flat sole shoes reported a clinically important change in self-reported disability at six months. At both six and 12 months, participants in the flat sole shoe group were more satisfied with the shoe they received than the participants in the rocker sole shoe group. This study indicates that rocker sole-style footwear is no more beneficial than flat sole trainers in reducing disability and pain outcomes in adult chronic lower back pain sufferers. For a number of measures, such as satisfaction with the trainers and a clinically important reduction in self-reported disability, the rockers fared worse than their flat sole counterparts. However, chronic back pain sufferers are the group most likely to try the shoes, so this was a realistic approach to take.

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Market Harborough & Melton Mowbray