What are Z-Coil® Shoes?

Springs added to shoes act as shock absorbers.
Z Coil shoes are made in a number of different styles.
Z-Coil® shoes might help runners who experience lower back pain.
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  • Written By: Jennifer Taylor
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
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  • Last Modified Date: 21 October 2014
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Known as “pain relief footwear,” Z-Coil® shoes are designed to reduce pain related to the impact that occurs from various activities including running and walking. The idea for the design began in the 1980s, when Alvaro Z. Gallegos was searching for a solution to the pain he suffered from related to his daily running regimen. Gallegos thought that adding a “shock absorber” to his shoes would help reduce the impact and make running bearable again. He found relief from a crude design that included a spring that he inserted in the heel of his shoe.

As the style caught the eyes of family and friends, Gallegos improved the “springy” shoe design and made it available to a wider audience. Eventually, popular shoe manufacturers, including Nike® and Reebok®, partnered with Gallegos to include the Z-Coil® design in their collection of running shoes.

The design is rather unique. While there are various styles, from running shoes to sandals, all of them have the same characteristic feature — a coil or spring in the heel. Often, the spring is left visible to show off its unique design. The primary purpose of the coil, however, is to reduce impact and various types of foot, leg, and back pain.


The Z-Coil® Company and a Sandia National Laboratories study claims that the footwear provides 50% more cushioning than regular shoes. Additionally, the shoes are said to prevent the ball of the foot from jarring, which can cause injury from the repetitive motion in running and walking. These shoes may be helpful for people suffering from a variety of pain, including joint ailments, arthritis, lower back problems, sciatica, and heel problems. A medical professional should be consulted to determine whether this design will help any specific individual's problems.


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Discuss this Article

Post 13

I totally disagree with anon307077. You do have to be careful with lateral movement because you are a half inch higher overall in the shoe, but I play both racquetball and basketball in them.

Once you get used to them, they are no different than any other shoe in that regard. Also,I have been wearing Z-Coils for over 10 years. I had and still do have strong healthy feet, so wherever you got that information, it is incorrect.

Yes, there are some things you need to be aware of with a coil on your shoes, but the form you sign is really saying that you are aware of these things and it is a common sense precaution form, not a waiver.

Post 12

The z-coil is not very good at lateral movement or if you pivot on your heel. Also, on uneven ground you can roll your foot and sprain your ankle easily. If you have healthy, strong feet, then wearing the shoe can weaken your feet. That is why they have you sign a waiver.

Post 10

I call it vanity versus sanity or vain versus pain. Personally, I do not care what people say. If I can be pain free, then it makes my life better.

I run in mine regularly. The rebound from the coil makes it feel much lighter on your feet than many other running shoes. You can get an enclosed coil on many of the styles for an additional cost, but personally, I prefer them the way they are.

All of you out there who have not tried on a pair should do so, especially if you have any pain issues or are on your feet all day. You will be amazed at the difference they can make. I love mine and wouldn't trade them for the world!

By the way, Gallegos never did any kind of deal with Nike Reebock or any other shoe manufacturer. If you cut open a Nike Shox you will see that there is no coil inside -- just air.

Post 9

I absolutely love my Z-Coil tennis shoes. No other shoe has given me the comfort or relief that these shoes have. I wear them any time I am going to be on my feet for a long time and when I am shopping and running errands.

I used to be worn out if I was standing for long periods of time, but find if I wear my Z-Coil shoes I have no more pain. I can walk and stand longer and my back no longer hurts when I get home.

Post 8

I understand how having a spring under your foot would make walking more comfortable, but I don't see how anyone could run very easy in a pair of these shoes. All the Z-Coil footware I have seen look like they are heavy and cumbersome. I have never tried a pair on, so I may not know what I am talking about. I am just basing my opinion on what I have seen on other people.

I am also somewhat surprised these shoes are still popular. I know for a time you saw them quite a bit, but it has been a long time since I have seen someone wear a pair of Z-Coil shoes.

Maybe they are making them so they are less noticeable. I think by hiding the spring they might be more appealing to wear when you are out and about. If I was in a lot of pain when walking, and other things had not worked, I would probably try a pair of Z-Coil shoes, but it would probably be as a last resort.

Post 7

@andee -- I don't think you are alone in your hesitation of wearing Z-Coil shoes because of how they look. I have a friend who wears them every day and has nothing but good things to say about them.

I also think the Z-Coil pain relief would be worth it, but I haven't seen any that would look good for me to wear to work. I have to dress up every day, and the majority of my day I am on my feet. Somehow these shoes just don't look right with my dress clothes so I have never spent the money on them.

Post 6

@anon106924 -- It is encouraging to hear that you have had such good results with the Z-Coil shoes. I have often thought about buying a pair of shoes like this because I am on my feet all day long and need to find something that is more comfortable for me. What has stopped me from buying them is how funny they look. I just need to get past the idea of what they might look like and give them a try. If they make my work day less painful, then it would be worth it.

Post 5

I have been wearing Z-Coil shoes for 10 years. I started wearing them to correct plantar fasciitis. Within one week I was walking. In two weeks the pain was gone and it's still gone. They take me everywhere: trips, hikes, backpacking, church and work. If people laugh and comment I simply say,"Yea, they look funny, but I can walk again"!

Post 4

Do they come in ladies 4E? Yes, it's true I have short fat feet, as well as a bunion. Can you help me find a retailer near me in Sandston, VA?

Post 3

I don't think Z-Coil has "partnered" with any big name manufacturer like this article suggests. Looks to me that they jumped on board to the innovative design, to a lesser quality. I had a pair of Nike Shox for $150 and they didn't help my heel pain at all! Then I bought Z-Coils for the same price and I am now pain free! 12 months later and my shoes still look new! Now I just have to decide what style from their website I want next.

Post 2

Z-CoiL's changed my life! I injured my knees, my foot and my hamstring and could barely walk. I found these shoes and was able to start running again within 4 months. They reduce the impact to your body so much that it is like walking on air! If you have any issues with pain, I highly suggest you try these shoes. You won't regret it!

Post 1

The visible coil placement in the Z-Coil shoe is NOT for showing off the unique design as so stated.

It has a purpose and a great one. Because the coil is centered directly under the skeletal system and the back of the coil is directly under the actual heel bone of the foot one's balance becomes more natural on their own body. This is one of the greatest feature of the Z-CoiL shoe and in itself assists with pain.

In addition, the Z-CoiL shoe is adjustable to assist better foot placement of the wearer. The coil itself can be adjusted as well as there are a number of coils (interchangeable) to conform with the wearer. The gait of the wearer can improve substantially and the wearer can immediately feel a stronger and more erect posture.

The coil itself does in fact absorb, not only approximately 50% of the impact, but it also stores energy which it releases as the foot goes forward. In other words the same aerobics with 1/2 the energy expended with every step.

This is the best ergonomic shoe out there and anyone can feel it for themselves as soon as they put them on. It is not only for pain but also works to prevent future problems stemming from hard surfaces while working, walking or running.

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