Sandals to wear for a bad back...

aka granny sandals. SOB. I cannot believe I'm writing this post but I did think it might come in helpful and also because, do you know what? It's not all bad. There are some stylish options out there - not many, but some.

So the background was that my physio recommended I change my footwear when my back started to play up in June.....and it wasn't about heels - apparently very flat sandals are just as bad for your back and joints. And even Birkenstocks can cause issues for certain people as your heel sits below the ball of your foot. The advice was to rest my Birks to see if they had been part of my problem as I've worn them so much over the past couple of months, and to buy a granny sandal.

OK - not those words exactly - I was told to get a sandal with an ankle strap, a spongy sole to absorb impact and a slight incline to bring the heel above the ball of the foot a little. The search began...and was frustrating to say the least. I didn't want to spend ££'s on a sensible sandal - even if it was for the good of my back! I went to a local 'comfy shoe' store and looked at what was on offer and I have to say - no offence to people who enjoy wearing these kinds of sandals - a little bit of me died inside as I tried some of them on. I just couldn't do it....
I ended up finally getting these ones in Clarks in Portsmouth because by then (10 days after the photos above), I was desperate and told myself how stupid I was being about 'style' whenever I could hardly walk! They're not that bad I know but actually this is a really good photo of real life they are not as nice. In fairness to them however, they have been a helpful pair of sandals while I've been in pain...and hands up - they are AMAZINGLY comfortable!
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But since I bought them (typical!), I've been coming across lovely ones that fit the bill so I thought I'd share the brands that I've either found myself online or that other bloggers have suggested to me. In case you're ever in the same boat or indeed if you just want some nice comfy sandals. Nothing wrong with that :)

First up, Esska...saw this brand in a local boutique and although I couldn't try on the ones I'm featuring here - I googled them as part of my search and was very impressed with the selection. Nice back story to the company too - owned by a mum of 2 who had a total career change from architect to shoe designer.
Esska India - Black & Bronze

Sue suggested some Elizabeth Stewart ones from Sarenza but I was leaving for holidays the next day so didn't have time to order online. Both of these fit the bill and they are further reduced since I looked at them at the end of June.
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Solen 421 by Elizabeth Stewart in Black

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Vidocq 421 by Elizabeth Stewart in Beige

Camper is another strong contender - they do have some great supportive sandals that are trendier than most. Not cheap though.
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Beetle Ada by Camper in Black (also available in red)

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Micro by Camper in Grey (I think)

Ecco were ok and I did try on some pairs in Chichester when we were there but the sale had mostly cleared out the store - and there is very little left online also. Oh and on an aside - what's with the 28% off? I prefer round numbers like 50% and 70%!
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Touch by Ecco in Black (and stone)

Fly London are a brand I've had sandals from before and they tend to be quite bouncy to wear & trendy too. I tried these on in Chichester as I thought they could work well but they were surprisingly rigid in the sole so didn't quite fit the remit...but not a bad price on Amazon (colour/size dependant).
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Oily T-Strap Sandal by Fly London

These were much more comfortable but they were £80 in an independent shoe shop in Chichester and by the time I tried them on, my balance was quite bad and I was worried I'd go over on my ankle in them.
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Bianca Wedges by Fly London

Finally, good old Clarks, where I did end up getting my granny sandals (albeit in the Outlet) but before I went there, I tried the Chichester store where the staff were actually really well versed in which shoes would suit different ailments. This sandal was one I'd not have considered before but it has a soft bouncy insole layer and was so comfortable. Sadly, as with the Fly London one, I had by this stage lost some power in my right leg and just didn't feel I could handle the height of the wedge sole and would end up falling over :(
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Ornate Jewel by Clarks

I also tried these Romantic Moon ones, which I've loved since the start of the summer but while supportive, they lacked the small bit of lift at the heel I needed. Still watching for these to be sign yet!

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Romantic Moon by Clarks

UPDATE: Late addition to the post as I've had so many people telling to to try FitFlops - these beauties! £££ but stunning...
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Banda Sandals - Fitflop
Do share if you've any 'granny sandal' suggestions that are stylish but suitable for someone with a back that's behaving like it's twice my age! Meanwhile, if you're well of back and fancy a bargain, the Sail sandals I have in nude are now in the sale for £22.49 in the lilac/metallic & lime/neon colour ways (not the nude & black - reduced also but not by as much).

Sail Collage

Oh and the white shirt post is coming - had to rest up today after doing too much yesterday...gah!


PS usual disclaimer....I know nothing particularly medical about bad backs and the *actual* best shoes to wear from a proper medical/physio point of view..please consult your own doctor or physio for advice about what's appropriate for you. But you knew that, right?


  1. Martina Walsh22:07

    Hi Avril, I burst a disc in my back 18 months ago which affected the s1 nerve (loss of power in my leg too), couldn't even manage a low wedge, I would just fall over! Long, slow recovery, it'll never be perfect but if can walk & wear a low heal going out etc. You won't want to hear this but Fitflops...... I live in them in the summer & also invested in boots during the winter. I cannot recommend them highly enough. Apart from the physical side of it my mental health suffered greatly so mind yourself & don't give it all up for heels. I honestly can say I've been there & I really o feel for you. Martina

  2. Guinevere greenhalgh22:09

    I feel your pain, my back went last weekend and we are in the middle of moving house and school holidays of course! I have Rusty Art sandals from Clarkes and they are comfy ( my feet so sweaty from wearing trainers) ,still looking for another pair to keep me through a hot summer ! Good luck

  3. schoolgatestyle22:20

    Hi Martina - you sound like you've had it lots worse painful. It's really interesting to hear your experience and I'm curious to know what exercise, if any, you're able to do now? That's my main concern at the moment - how do I manage this, strengthen up prevent it happening again (this is my second time in 5 years - but worse this time). And I hear you on the mental health - the pain drugs are a nightmare and don't help in this regard.
    I did try some fit flops in that shop I first went into and struggled with the toe post. Tried the mule version but they were pinching the skin on the top of my foot...strange. But I will definitely look into them for the winter - I actually quite like their pumps and boots but honestly wasn't sure if they were good for backs. Thanks for the tip. Hope you're relatively pain free at the moment and thank you so so much for your comment - great to hear from someone who's been through it all and is out the other side. Avril x

  4. Thanks for this Guinevere - so sorry to hear you're in pain too...and what awful timing - holidays are one thing but moving house too :(
    Just looked up the Rusty Art ones and I don't remember seeing them but they definitely fit the bill too - thanks for sharing. The trainers are grand but I can't bend to do my laces and I hate asking the kids or my hubby to help!
    I do hope your back eases soon and that you've got good pain relief and hopefully some physio? Thanks for taking the time to comment, Avril x

  5. Martina Walsh22:51

    I can now walk for up to an hour at a brisk pace ( I do still wear a back support strap while walking & housework), that's on the advice of my physio. I used to run, those days are gone. I had to start back walking for 5 mins in the pool & a combination of pool walking , physio & acupuncture (by my physio) got me moving. It was slow progress. I gained 20lbs & lost it again through diet alone (5:2 diet, I couldn't rely on exercise at all because it was so precarious as to whether or not I could do it or for how long etc. I also got an epidural in the early stages which def gave me more movement, haven't had one since but I do still take painkillers at times. All told I've made great progress & have accepted my weak back rather than fighting it. I use a beanbag thingie that I heat in the microwave & anytime I sit down in the evening I use it. Improving my swim front crawl is next on my list so I can get a good workout from the pool. Onwards & upwards.....

  6. So helpful Martina - thanks. Have made some hydrotherapy enquiries this evening funny enough so that's good. Great to hear your story - thanks again. Ax

  7. OMG. I was going to suggest Esska after buying them from Anthropologie recently (oh, so expensive to buy them direct from the UK). I love mine and wear them constantly (see proof here: They are so comfy. My hubby laughed at me wearing them so much, but only because he thought they would be too uncomfortable. (He was wrong and I lol-ed at him--I carried my thiry-five pound toddler on my back in my ergo for an entire afternoon in an aquarium in them--they did good, they did.)

    I am sorry you are hurting, hon. Definitely feel better and as a fan of deliciously comfortable, but stylish-esque shoes, I am watching your choices closely.

  8. Emma Sims10:22

    Another vote for fit flops! I broke my leg pretty badly last year, and have had all sorts of complications since. Fitflops are the only thing I can put on my feet and walk almost normally! My physio recommended them as they keep everything aligned. I normally struggle with toe posts, but have found these OK.
    I got silver snake ones - they still arnt the prettiest shoes, but passable! I'm definitely getting some of the boots in the winter.

  9. I had a bad back for three weeks after I had Felix so I kept mums birks & wore them as even without a bump I didn't want to bend to do up strappy sandals. Luckily now, almost 4 weeks post-birth it's stopped hurting, I can give the birks back & hopefully go for a run!

    Hope your back starts to feel better soon, the sandals you ended up with look ok!

  10. I love a good granny sandal Avril! And have you seen the ugly sandals about at the moment that the young folk are wearing? Give me a pair of Clark's sandals any day! I have the Romantic Moon Clarks sandals you've shown above and whilst I love them to death they are too flat for me to be comfortable walking any more than an hour in them. My shins hurt the next day if I've walked too much in them. It's very hard to get comfy flat shoes and what works for one person and their feet may not work for another person. If it helps, my mum has been told that Crocs are the best thing for your feet...

  11. I spotted these FitFlop sandals on holiday and loved them...but a bit pricey for me...

  12. Rachel17:54

    Have a look at BHS TLC and TLC wide range. Bit grannyish but there are a few nice styles . I have the metallic Grecian style sandal which is super flexible, bouncy, soft, very comfortable and still going strong 3 summers later. I've just checked and they still have them in stock now and reduced to just over 30 pounds. Good luck and hope you recover soon. X R

  13. Hi Avril

    Love reading your posts. I have to tell you as a bit of a Camper devotee that they are well worth the money. I have several pairs of sandals of a similar style to the Beetle Ada you featured and they are extremely comfortable. The heel height is perfect for me - not too flat but very good for walking, and quite stylish for low heeled sandals.

    Hope your recovery continues.

  14. Thank you Isa - I suspected as much as they are never that well reduced in the sales. My hubby speaks highly of them too - he has a few pairs of their shoes and they've lasted many years. I'd love to try them on rather than ordering online etc so off now to see if there's a stockist nearby. Thank you for your well wishes also - hoping the same myself. Have a lovely weekend x

  15. Thank you Rachel - would never have thought of BHS I have to say but there are two pairs that are actually quite nice. Great suggestion and thanks also for the well wishes...dying to get back to normal again! Ax

  16. Stunning - by far the nicest of the lot and given all the positive comments for Fitflop, I'd definitely consider in the black - not the orange tho. Interesting to hear about the Clarks Romantic Moon experience too - think I'd have the same issue. Thanks for both comments and for the link Ruth! Ax PS - you're not allowed to mention the word crocs on here! lol..a step too far I'm afraid!! x

  17. Good on you Lou - glad to hear your pain has eased. Hope you're keeping well and that Felix has been feeding better over the past couple of days. I'm so impressed with all the blogging you've managed to do and how great you're looking and it's only been 4 weeks!! Ax

  18. Thanks Emma - I really wouldn't have thought of them at all as I figured they were more like gimmicky fitness shoes. Great to get the feedback and also to hear that you've become more used to the toe post. Ax

  19. Thank you Dina - amazed you've heard of Esska! Didn't realise they were stocked in Anthropologie. Mind you - I could send you over a pair any time you know you can just ask...not sure if it works out cheaper but if it ever does, let me know! Ax

  20. Oh Avril, I can't imagine going through what you have. And to top it all off - the shoes! But well done you, there are some gems above - the Esska & Camper ones especially. I love that you haven't given up and prove that there's still some good ones out there. I will make sure my friend who has also had a bad back reads this xx

  21. Rachel21:59

    You're welcome Avril, came across them by chance but I have small but very wide feet and find buying anything other than boots challenging, however since finding this range it's my go to for summer they are just so comfy. The ones I have I've linked below, the pic does not do them justice they're much prettier in real life and go with absolutely everything!! Can you tell I like them? Lol x

  22. Oops - It's the Micro- style sandals I have, not the Beetle Ada - sorry looked at the wrong label. I find the sizing in these quite good (I'm an average size 5). You could looking on Javari (not always a lot of up to date stock, but good prices, free delivery & returns), just to get an idea of fit. (PS. Think Javari might now have merged with its parent company, Amazon).

  23. Rosemary06:59

    Hi Avril, so sorry to hear about your back. I've not been too good myself this year and have just started 'surfacing' again. Try some reflexology sessions. If you lived in England, I'd do them for you for free! Take care. Rosemary xx

  24. Sue Haigh07:06

    Hi Avril, glad to hear you're moving a bit more. This is a great post (not great about you're back though!) I've suffered with a bad back but I found this post useful because I have bunions and finding footwear that is comfortable is a nightmare! I suffer with foot and ankle pain and wear orthotic insoles in my work boots and trainers, but sandals have to have a footbed if I'm going to wear them for any length of time. I have found that Mephisto Helen fugly's are better than birkies as they have more padding under the foot and they aren't as flat. I've had one pair for 9 years and they're still going strong (price per wear is pennies!) hope you're back continues to improve, it's a slow process. - Sue x

  25. sarah11:01

    Fitflop do some lovely sandals, the lulu ones are lovely slides, especially in tan, or the flare one's. There are many that don't have the toe post. Fitflop have done my back wonders! Good luck x

  26. sarah11:04

    Love those ones

  27. Hi Avril - I have a pair of Fitflops which I've been wearing for three summers now. They are very comfortable but after walking 3 miles along a beach the other day, I have a pain at the side of my foot. They are flipflop style though so perhaps these with ankle straps would be better.

  28. I think you've found some great picks here! I find completely flat shoes uncomfortable - I wear flip flops around the house in summer or on hols, but otherwise my summer staple is a wedge with ankle strap, and my winter staple a pair of boots with a chunky heel.

    Am sure this is useful to lots of people, not just those with bad backs, but those like me who also can't tolerate completely flat shoes.

    I hope your back is easing up anyway x

  29. Samantha13:43

    Hi Avril, I am recovering from microdiscectomy surgery 15 weeks ago after a year of terrible back and leg problems. Its great you have done an article on shoes and bad backs. I cant seem to wear nice heels anymore but do have to say that I am getting on well with the fit flops. Which are great for the summer months. Im not too sure yet about which boots will be suitable for winter. I hope you start to feel better again soon. Samantha

  30. Another fit flops vote! I think I need to get a pair for sure...and equally, I'm not sure about their boots. Fly London could be a good option for boots - I do have one brown pair of theirs that are so bouncy and supportive so I'm sure I will wear them more this winter. I might have to do another post come autumn! Maybe do a try on of the Fit Flop ones?
    Sorry to hear you've had to have surgery - tho I hope it helps relieve all your pain..will have been worth it then. Take it easy with the recovery....hope you've got some help on board so you can rest when you need to x

  31. Thank you - I guess we all have times when we need a comfier shoe/sandal and interesting that you mention the completely flat shoe issue as you're not the first. I definitely struggle with the likes of Converse but flat sandals don't seem to bother me as much - or at least, they didn't up to recently! Thanks for your well wishes - making a concerted effort to rest this weekend and hoping that helps the recovery next week. Ax

  32. Hi Doris - lovely to hear from you. Yes...I'd say the effort you have to put into holding the shoe on the foot would be an issue with a longer walk. But still, it's great to get another vote for Fit Flops...I'm off for a further look at their site and to see who stocks them near me as I'd like to try on. Ax

  33. Thanks for the Fitflops vote - they are definitely winning here and I can't believe I never considered them before. I should have done this post before I went hunting! Thanks so much and I'm off to look at those suggestions now. Ax

  34. Thank you Sue - I'm off to google Mephisto's now. Funny enough I wore my Birks briefly yesterday and I definitely feel that lower heel after being in my granny sandals. Going to rest them up until next summer I think...and may donate to my sister ultimately. It's great to get all the feedback - we all have our reasons for needing a bit of comfort now and again! Hope you're well Sue, Ax

  35. Hi Rosemary - thanks for your message. Sorry to hear you've not been well too. Do you know, I will get some reflexology as I've found it great in the past. I didn't know you were a practitioner - and thank you for the offer..I wish I lived closer now too! I'm very lucky as my friend Kate is wonderful at reflexology and normally I get regular sessions from her but she herself has had some back issues and is now on holidays so I'm eagerly awaiting her return needless to say! So lovely to hear from you - take care yourself, Ax

  36. Thanks for the tip re Javari - had forgotten about them! Off for a look now Ax

  37. Helen12:50

    I have a metatarsal problem with my right foot and its virtually impossible to find nice shoes I can walk in. Even Birkenstocks are out. I usually go for Clarks and I've been wearing Ornate Jewel for 6 weeks with no problems. They aren't the height of fashion but being fussy is not an option! I saw a lot of girls wearing Romantic Moon when I was in London at the weekend too.

  38. I really like the Esska ones & your Clarks ones don't look bad either! So sorry you've been going through this! It must be truly terrible! Hope you're on the mend?! Ax


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