Effects of unstable shoes on chronic low back pain in health professionals: a randomized controlled trial

Joint Bone Spine. 2014 Dec;81(6):527-32. doi: 10.1016/j.jbspin.2014.05.006. Epub 2014 Jun 28.


Objective: The aim of this study was to evaluate the effectiveness of unstable shoes in reducing low back pain in health professionals.

Methods: Of a volunteer sample of 144 participants, 40 with nonspecific chronic low back pain were eligible and enrolled in this study. Participants were randomized to an intervention group, who wore unstable shoes (model MBT Fora), or a control group, who wore conventional sports shoes (model Adidas Bigroar). The participants had to wear the study shoes during their work hours, and at least 6 hours per workday, over a period of 6 weeks. The primary outcome was low back pain assessed on a Visual Analog Scale. The secondary outcomes were patient satisfaction, disability evaluated using Roland-Morris questionnaire and quality of life evaluated using EQ-VAS.

Results: The intervention group showed a significant decrease in pain scores compared to the control group. The rate of satisfaction was higher in the intervention group (79%) compared to the control group (25%). There was no significant difference for the Roland-Morris disability questionnaire score and the EQ-VAS scale.

Conclusions: The results of this clinical trial suggest that wearing unstable shoes for 6 weeks significantly decreases low back pain in patients suffering from chronic low back pain but had no significant effect on quality of life and disability scores.

Keywords: Low back pain; Randomized controlled trial; Shoes; Walking.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Pain
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Female
  • Health Personnel*
  • Humans
  • Low Back Pain / therapy*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pain Measurement
  • Patient Satisfaction
  • Quality of Life
  • Shoes*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome