The 25 Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis in 2019
Plantar fasciitis can be painful and debilitating—and it can happen to anyone! All ages and lifestyles are susceptible to this condition, but thankfully, there are many shoe options available on the market today that cannot only relieve the pain but also start letting the foot heal from the inside out.
We looked at the 25 best shoes for plantar fasciitis in all different categories, from running shoes and tennis shoes to sandals and slippers. We picked the top three of all the categories—these are shoes that are well-made, well-reviewed, and popular for their support and plantar fasciitis relief. We also compiled a list of 22 other shoes in many categories so you can find the perfect pair for your lifestyle.
This is a comprehensive review of over seven thousand words length, so let's have a look at the table of contents first.
Top 3 Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
1. Orthofeet Proven Pain Relief Plantar Fasciitis Walking Shoes
Orthofeet is one of the top companies for making shoes specifically with plantar fasciitis sufferers in mind. The Avery Island Men’s Walking Shoe is a stylish leather lace-up casual dress shoe that comes in both brown and black and in a variety of sizes and widths, from medium to extra-wide.
Their rubber sole provides needed traction for many with foot and leg issues. The shoes come with an orthotic insole with arch support and heel cushion—this could also be removed and your own custom orthotic inserted in its place without causing space issues.
The shoe has a wide toe box, which is perfect for keeping the foot relaxed and flat in the shoe and is also helpful for those who may be struggling with additional foot issues like bunions or ingrown toenails.
Many said that there was no breaking-in period needed—they were comfortable from the start! Others appreciated their stylish appearance while still providing the inner support they needed. A few customers didn’t find that these shoes helped with their plantar fasciitis, but that could be due to a need for a different orthotic or insole than the one included.
Overall, these look like a great casual dress shoe option for men who are on their feet a lot and who want a shoe that will not aggravate their plantar fasciitis but work towards providing healing and comfort. These are a stylish and yet supportive option that’s definitely worth a try!
2. ASICS Men's Gel Nimbus 18 Running Shoe
The ASICS Nimbus 18 comes from a long line of Nimbus running shoes that have been popular with those with plantar fasciitis for a long time. Not just for runners, these shoes have provided daily comfort for many who need them for work or leisure.
This running shoe comes in three different widths (2E is wide and 4E is extra wide) and five different colors—most bright and colorful. The FluidRide midsole is one of the comfort features built into this shoe, and provides some cushioning and bounce to the foot when in use. The rearfoot and forefoot GEL cushioning system is one of the other main pulls in this shoe, providing comfort and shock absorption for the heel and foot, which is especially helpful for those with heel pain.
Other features include the FluidFit upper, which creates a customized glove-like fit to the user’s foot, and the heel clutching system, a supportive heel counter. Many users, both runners, and non-runners found that these shoes offered great support for their plantar fasciitis, although they seem to be more popular with those who have high arches rather than low ones. They also recommended sizing up from your normal shoe size.
Conversely, some buyers regretted the changes that ASICS had made to this model of the Nimbus, stating that the smaller toe box was causing issues, both for their feet and also in the durability of the top of the shoe. Several users had problems with the shoes not holding up to everyday use, both in the heel and the toe box area.
The built-in gel supports and supportive heel counter are all important aspects of a great sneaker for those with plantar fasciitis.
3. New Balance Men's MW411v2 Walking Shoe
Another shoe brand popular in the plantar fasciitis world, the MW411v2 is a walking shoe designed to support and cushion with a lightweight sneaker look. These shoes come in four colors, including all-black or white, making them a great choice for a uniform shoe. They also come in medium, wide, and extra-wide width.
This shoe offers a lot of the classic comfortable walking sneaker features, but also includes midsole cushioning, a removable foam insole, narrow heel width (for great heel support), high instep, deep toe box, and wide forefoot width.
Many found this to be a great work or walking shoe—it’s lightweight and the mesh upper provides great ventilation. The cushioned insole is very comfortable to walk on, including those struggling with plantar fasciitis. This model is also very affordable compared to other shoes with similar features.
Some reviewers did note that these don’t offer great arch support, which is something to consider if your plantar fasciitis is aggravated by low arches. These shoes may need to be ordered in a wider size than normal, and some found that while they were great for walking, they weren’t as comfortable when standing for long periods of time.
The MW411v2 looks like a great cross between a cushioned and heel-supportive walking shoe that also has some style and is affordable to buy. It would be a great choice for those who need a supportive walking shoe and aren’t too worried about the lack of arch support.
Best Walking Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
4. New Balance Men's MW928 Walking Shoe
Another offering from the New Balance walking shoe line, the MW928 is a leather shoe in both black and white—perfect for uniforms—that comes in widths from medium to extra-wide. The thick rubber sole offers a lot of cushions, making it easy to walk on a variety of surfaces and terrains. It has very high ankle support, midfoot cushioning, a wide toe box, and the stabilizing ROLLBAR technology, which keeps foot, ankle, and knee aligned for comfort when walking.
This shoe has a lot of fans, with many finding it supportive enough for lots of walking, even with plantar fasciitis. However, some reviewers experienced issues with the shoe, from low-quality materials and manufacturing to its heavy weight.
These shoes also look pretty bulky—these are not a shoe to get away with looking very stylish in. However, they would be a great choice for those who need a supportive, basic walking shoe when struggling with plantar fasciitis.
5. Saucony Women's ProGrid Integrity ST2 Walking Shoe
These walking shoes from Saucony are rated as some top-selling plantar fasciitis shoes on various shopping sites. They come in leather, four colors, and widths from narrow to extra-wide. They have a padded tongue and collar, and a non-marking rubber sole.
For plantar fasciitis sufferers, the Walk-Trac comfort outsole provides good heel cushion and support, and the forefoot stretch zone provides a wide toe box to keep toes from cramping. With the cushioned heel, they make great shoes for those with plantar fasciitis and high arches. If you have low arches that need help with overpronation, these shoes will need some insoles or orthotics to give more arch support.
Overall, these shoes are very popular with wearers, especially those with plantar fasciitis who need to be on their feet or walking a lot. They come in basic colors that make them a great choice for uniforms and are also low-profile enough to be worn stylishly in everyday settings. Some users complained that they squeaked or needed to be bought a size larger, but these reasons shouldn’t keep you from trying out this great and reliable walking shoe!
6. RYKA Women's Dash 3 Walking Shoe
For those who want some fun color options and a more sleek, small-profile walking shoe, the RYKA Dash 3 is for you! This walking shoe comes in four unique color options and medium to wide widths. They are very affordable compared to some other models of shoe for those with plantar fasciitis, making them a great choice to try.
They are extremely lightweight and have a breathable mesh upper with supportive leather overlays throughout. The midsole is molded EVA which provides some bounce and spring when walking. The bottoms have full rubber coverage and the instep is quite high.
Reviewers had lots of great things to say about these shoes—that the high instep was perfect for those with thicker feet or high arches. They wash easily in a washing machine to help them stay clean and new-looking. These shoes do not come in an extra-wide width, though, and some wearers found they ran a bit small and narrow.
On their own, these may not be a great choice for those with flatter arches, and may not work for all plantar fasciitis sufferers without some extra orthotic or insole help.
Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
7. Brooks Glycerin 15 Men's Running
The Glycerin 15 is the most recent in a long line of well-loved Glycerin running shoes. They come in six colors and both medium and wide widths. They are some of the most lightweight running shoes on the market, but they don’t sacrifice comfort with the lack of weight.
They feature a cushioned footbed with 25% more cushioning than the typical running shoe. They have a very high arch and a plush surrounding upper that hugs the top of the foot and ankle for a great fit.
Overall, runners had great things to say about them. Their extra cushion and high arch make them a great choice for those with plantar fasciitis. They are definitely worth a try for the serious runner who wants a well-made and lightweight shoe that can keep plantar fasciitis at bay.
8. New Balance Women's W1540V2 Running Shoe
For women who want a stylish running shoe that can help them get back on their feet and moving with comfort, the W1540V2 comes in three colors, and a shocking variety of widths—from narrow all the up to extra-extra-wide!
This is considered a “stability” shoe, and some of the features to help with that include two layers of performance foam in the midsole, ROLLBAR technology, a dual density foam collar, and a polyurethane liner. These shoes are also manufactured in the USA, providing important quality on this line of shoe.
Amongst reviewers, many seemed to prefer the original version of these shoes to the current one. Many found that the tongue sat lower on these shoes than before, so the large toe box wasn’t as helpful because of the discomfort placed on the tops of their feet.
These seem like a shoe that could work for some and not for others, but worth a try, especially if you have a hard time finding running shoes wide enough.
9. New Balance Men's Fresh Foam 1080v6 Running Shoe
The New Balance Fresh Foam 1080v6 is the sixth model of the Fresh Foam 1080 series. It comes in medium to extra-wide widths and six colors. Its plantar fasciitis-friendly features include a fresh foam midsole, Ortholite sock liner, and padded tongue and collar.
On the positive side, wearers noted that the sole of the shoe was well-cushioned thanks to the foam midsole. They also have a larger toe box than most running shoes, which is helpful to those with wider feet or toe issues. The shoes also have great ventilation due to their mesh construction.
Many users had issues with this particular model of the Fresh Foam 1080 line, stating that it fit very differently from previous models. They complained that the looser heel didn’t offer the same support as before, which would be a big problem for those with plantar fasciitis.
They are also heavy and wider than normal, so even the medium width may be too wide for those with narrow feet. They also don’t have much arch support for those wearers who need that.
Looking at all the facts, this seems like a shoe that those with plantar fasciitis could pass on. New Balance offers some other, better models for those with heel and foot issues, and there are plenty of other brands with more supportive and cushioned running shoes.
10. ASICS Women's GEL-Kayano 22 Lite Show Running Shoe
These brightly-colored shoes for women from ASICS are loaded with comfortable features. Things like rearfoot and forefoot gel cushioning, heel clutching counter support, and FluidRide midsole support all make this an extremely cushioned and supportive running shoe for those who especially have low arches or flat feet.
Overall, reviewers liked the fit of these shoes for running, and many with plantar fasciitis and flat feet found them comfortable and helpful in addressing those issues. The reflective material on the shoe is a nice touch. Conversely, these shoes are very bright, which may not be everyone’s preference, and many complained that they were extremely narrow with a shallow toe box.
This looks like a great shoe for the serious runner who needs extra heel or arch support while running, but it may not be the best fit for everyone!
Best Dress Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
11. Vionic Men's Astor Preston Loafer
These stylish and well-made dress shoes are easily the best shoes for plantar fasciitis when it comes to the workplace or dressier occasions for men. They are all-leather and come in stylish brown and black. The shoe comes in a variety of sizes, all the same medium width.
For comfort, these shoes have a rubber outsole that provides cushion but also keeps the sole a bit flexible. Orthaheel technology reduces overpronation and relieves a lot of pressure on various parts of the foot, providing relief for those with plantar fasciitis symptoms. They also have a removable, leather-covered EVA footbed which provides great arch support.
This shoe is well-reviewed and received by users, with many finding relief from plantar fasciitis symptoms and even some reversal of the symptoms after wearing these during the day. They are a great choice for those with flat feet due to their high arch support. However, since they only come in medium width, those with wide feet may not find that they provide a good fit.
This shoe is the top choice for dress shoes for men with plantar fasciitis, due to the heel cupping counter and supportive footbed.
12. ECCO Men's Helsinki Slip-On
The ECCO Helsinki is a classic in the world of comfortable men’s dress shoes, and the lack of laces make them easier to wear than ever. These shoes come in three leather colors and feature a timeless style that can be dressed up or down.
For comfort, the Helsinki features a removable insole with ECCO comfort fiber system, a foam that allows for constant airflow, absorbs moisture, and controls bacteria and odor. They also feature a shock-absorbing sole made of polyurethane. This material lasts 2-3 times longer than traditional sole materials, is flexible with almost no breaking-in required, and retains its shape or “memory” allowing for a comfortable fit each time it’s worn.
These shoes would be a great choice for someone who needs a dressy shoe that will provide the heel support needed when struggling with plantar fasciitis. The timeless design, high-quality materials, and supportive insole are all features that are well-liked by wearers. They don’t come in half-sizes or wide widths, though, so this may be a problem if you have wide or flat feet.
13. Rockport Women's Total Motion 75mm Pointy Pump
For the ladies who want comfort without sacrificing style, Rockport has the answer for you. Their Total Motion pump features a pointy toe, three-inch heel, and all the comforts you’d expect in a shoe targeted for those with the need for support.
This shoe comes in 18 colors, and both medium and wide widths. On the outside, they feature polyurethane outsole and midsole plate, which is more durable than any other sole material and provides great support with flexibility. The inside of the shoe is covered in retention foam and foam-backed lining, which not only provides the cushion, but also allows the heels to be worn without hose or stockings, and will not cause blisters or rubbing.
Many women found these to be some of the most comfortable heels they’ve ever worn, and cause no problems even when standing and walking all day. Some found the toe box to be a bit narrow, but ordering these in a wide width seemed to help with that. These seem like a great choice for women who want a dressy work heel that won’t aggravate their plantar fasciitis symptoms!
14. OLUKAI Men's 10128-SK33 – Moloa
OluKai’s Moloa (meaning “lazy”) is the perfect shoe that can pass off as a leather office shoe during the week and comfortable loafer on the weekend. The drop-in heel design allows it to be used as a shoe or a slide. The shoe comes in five different leather materials and many different sizes with medium widths.
The gel and microfiber insole is one of the main pulls of this shoe for those who suffer from foot and heel issues like plantar fasciitis. It’s incredibly supportive, and it’s also removable and washable. The elastic gore side panels contour to the foot for a secure fit, and the dri-lex microfiber lining wicks away moisture.
The reviews for these shoes are almost all positive—many appreciated the cushioned and supportive insole and the one-year warranty offered by OluKai. One of the main complaints was that the shoe ran big, so keep this in mind when ordering to try, and order a full size smaller than you would normally wear.
These look like an amazing pick for men who want a leather loafer look that can also easily convert into a casual slide and need the support of a great insole. The Moloa definitely ranks at the top as one of the best work shoes for plantar fasciitis out there.
Best Tennis Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
15. ASICS Men's Gel-Solution Speed 3 Tennis Shoe
Tennis shoes need different features than running shoes, and the ASICS Men’s Gel-Solution Speed 3 meets the needs of those playing court-sports who also struggle with plantar fasciitis. They come in seven colors and in regular width.
These tennis shoes feature rearfoot and forefoot GEL technology for the important supportive cushion that those with plantar fasciitis need. They also feature a form-fitting Flexion Fit upper which hugs the sides of the foot for the best support. The EVA Solyte midsole is both cushioned and durable, and the two layers of memory foam that line the collar and heel provide a supportive but soft heel cage for constant movement and change in directions.
Many reviewers had great success using these shoes for their sports. There was room for some to use custom orthotics and inserts which worked with the shoes to provide the cushion needed to comfortably play a variety of sports. Others found that because the shoes aren’t offered in wide sizes, the toe cage tended to be too narrow for them, causing some pain and discomfort.
16. K-Swiss Women's Hypercourt Express Tennis Shoe
For the ladies, the K-Swiss Hypercourt Express is a fun, stylish shoe that comes in nine interesting color choices and regular width. The shoe is constructed with Seamfree technology, which uses a process that produces a breathable mesh shoe that offers flexible support without stitching.
It is also equipped with a well-padded ankle color, an EVA precisely molded sock liner and a high-density rubber outsole with herringbone tread. Sounds great, right?
Reviewers thought so too. Not just for athletes (although these are loved by them), these shoes worked well for anyone who needed to be on their feet a lot and needed a supportive, lightweight, comfy tennis shoe to wear. The wide toe cage is especially popular with wearers, providing a lot of comfort without sacrificing support. Some reviewers had issues with the soles wearing out quickly, while others noted that the shoes seemed to run a bit bigger than they expected.
17. Prince Women's T22 Tennis Shoe
Prince is a well-known name in the tennis community, and the T22 is one of their most well-loved and classic tennis shoes for women. It’s an improvement on the past model in the area of ventilation, specifically in the improved mesh upper.
This shoe boasts an ultra-durable outsole that comes with a 6-month durability guarantee. The midsole is EVA with a ShockEraser heel insert to absorb shock and a polyurethane forefoot insert. The shoe comes in a stylish white color and medium width sizes.
Reviewers loved this shoe for its durable outsole and its wide toe cage. The shoe doesn’t necessarily offer a lot of arch support, so an insert or orthotic may be needed if you have flatter feet. The place of manufacturing has changed in recent years, and some reviewers found that it has affected the fit of their favorite tennis shoe.
In the end, this is a well-known and well-loved brand of shoe to try for those who suffer from plantar fasciitis, with its wide toe box and orthotic-friendly design.
Best Sandals for Plantar Fasciitis
18. Birkenstock Arizona Unisex Leather Sandal
No list of shoes for plantar fasciitis would be complete without the classic Arizona sandal from Birkenstock. In both men’s and women’s sizes, this sandal is the perfect choice for someone looking for comfort and quality in a sandal—added bonus, they are actually in style right now, too!
Let’s start from the bottom—the EVA sole is durable and provides enough cushion, even on uneven surfaces, to prevent pain when walking. The anatomically shaped cork-latex footbed provides arch support, a raised toe bar, and a deep heel cup, all while being a naturally insulating and cushioning material. This is lined in soft suede to be comfortable on the skin. They also have individually adjustable straps for a perfect fit.
These high-quality sandals are made in Germany, but be careful of counterfeits being sold online. These sandals are popular with wearers of many types. They noted that the quality of the shoes is unmatched, and the arch support provided by the shoes really help when using them every day.
A few notes—reviewers shared that these shoes have a long breaking-in period, and your foot may need some time to get used to the aggressive arch support provided in these shoes. While they are great for low arches and flat feet, people with these conditions may find that these sandals hurt more than help those first few weeks—these are not the best shoes for people with sensitive feet.
Reviewers also shared that the shoes tended to run a bit wide, but Birkenstock offers both narrow and medium widths to offset that, and the medium width usually works for those with wider feet. For plantar fasciitis sufferers, these shoes have cushioned and firm heel support and a wide toe box that will keep the foot comfy in lieu of orthotics that don’t work with sandals.
19. Vionic Men's Tide Toe Post Sandal
For those who are looking for more of a sophisticated flip-flop, the Vionic Tide Toe Post sandal is both stylish and extremely supportive. It comes in four colors with a nice leather trim, and in a medium width. These shoes have been proven to effectively alleviate heel pain in users and are a great choice for plantar fasciitis.
These sandals feature an Orthaheel deep heel cup for alignment and support, an EVA midsole that offers cushion, a soft, woven toe post, a foam-lined strap, and aggressive arch support.
Reviewers found these to be some of the best sandals for men with foot issues. Those with flat feet or low arches found the arch support to be superior to any other sandal they had tried, although Vionic does recommend letting your feet slowly get used to the sandals over a period of a few weeks.
20. Aravon Women's Clarissa Fisherman Sandal
A beautiful closed-toe sandal style, the Clarissa is a slightly heeled leather sandal that comes in four colors and a large variety of sizes, with narrow to extra wide widths. It features a 1.5” heel for a little bit of height without making them difficult to walk in.
On the inside, this shoe has a polyurethane outsole which is going to be extremely durable, have some memory features for your foot, and provide a bit of cushion and shock absorption when walking. The cushioned cork footbed has an EVA and memory foam and can be removed for washing or to be replaced by your own insoles. The footbed cover is breathable microfiber, extremely soft and comfortable.
This shoe is one of the best-reviewed shoes out there, especially for those struggling with plantar fasciitis. The supportive heel, the wide toe box, and memory foam and cork insole all make it popular with reviewers. There really weren’t any bad reviews of these shoes—just a lot of very happy customers who loved the feel of these and the fact that they were much more stylish than most orthopedic recommendations.
21. Finn Comfort Women's Sylt 82509 Sandal
Last in the sandal category is the German-made Finn Sylt women’s sandal. These sandals aren’t necessarily the most stylish, but if you’re struggling with severe, debilitating foot issues like plantar fasciitis, these well-made sandals might just be the answer you’ve been looking for.
These sandals come in five leather colors, with a slight one-inch heel for some height. They feature three hook and loop straps across the top of the foot that can be adjusted independently. The back strap has a buckle and is also adjustable for a perfect fit. These handmade sandals offer a lot of arch support, heel support, and will last for a very long time.
Reviewers raved about these life-changing sandals—they loved that the straps made the sandal adjustable for width without needing to order narrow or extra wide sizes. Many noted the craftsmanship that’s apparent in these sandals and the fact that, while a bit pricey, they will last a long time! Again, these are not for the ultra-stylish, but for those suffering from debilitating foot and heel pain that is ready to try a shoe that has successfully changed many wearers’ lives.
Best Slippers for Plantar Fasciitis
22. Orthofeet Plantar Fasciitis Flat Feet Support Slippers
When you have plantar fasciitis, even the floors at home can be painful to walk on barefoot. Thankfully, there are many slipper options for those who want a house shoe that can provide the support needed while relaxing. These Orthofeet Charlotte slippers comes in both medium and wide widths, in a neutral tan leather.
The slipper has an adjustable strap across the top for the right amount of tightening. The premium orthotic insoles contain arch support and multiple cushioning layers that can be removed for other orthotics. The interior is soft and includes extra foam padding for comfort.
A lot of reviews had good things to say about these slippers and the comfort they provide. Many people’s slippers held up to lots of wear, and even machine washing. However, for plantar fasciitis sufferers, these slippers may not be the best choice as they seem to lack a lot of heel support. They are also a bit wide for those with narrow feet, and the arch may not be high enough for those with high arches.
23. Spenco Men's Siesta Canvas Slide Sandal
The Spenco Men’s Siesta slide is a fun casual shoe that can double as a house shoe or slipper, but also a shoe that can be worn around town. It comes in five colors, three of which are canvas and one is leather. They come in medium width and whole sizes.
The footbed is compression molded EVA and cork, with deep heel cupping and a cushioned forefoot. The cork is treated to prevent odors and bacterial growth. They offer extensive arch support and can be cushioned even more with the addition of socks.
Reviewers had a lot of good things to say about these shoes. Many with plantar fasciitis shared that these were extremely comfortable, especially compared to other shoes they’ve tried. Some had trouble with the shoes being too wide for their narrow feet, and many recommended ordering a size down, as these tend to run a bit big.
Overall, these look like a great option to try for a house shoe that can also be taken out of the house and provide the support needed in the heel and cushioning throughout the entire foot for those with plantar fasciitis.
24. Haflinger Unisex-Adult GZ Classic Grizzly Clog
Another German-made product, these slippers are constructed of high-quality wool and come with all the benefits that wool brings. Wool is soft, breathable, and a natural insulator that keeps your feet cool in the summer and warm in the winter. It is naturally antimicrobial and great at absorbing moisture and odors.
These slippers are also suitable for outdoor use, but will really shine in the home. They come in seven beautiful wool colors, and both men’s and women’s European sizes, which means no half sizes. It’s suggested that you size down if you’re a half size.
Some of the best features of the Classic Grizzly Clog are the contoured heel seat, one of the main pulls for those with plantar fasciitis, the roomy toe box, and the cork and latex footbed with great arch support.
Reviewers had only good things to say about these slippers and the comfort they bring. Some had problems with the sizing, which can be solved by consulting Haflinger’s sizing chart or trying the shoes on in person. Those with narrow feet may find these too wide without the help of socks. Overall, these look like one of the best choices for both men and women who want a slipper to help with plantar fasciitis.
25. Vionic Adilyn Women Round Toe Canvas Slipper
From the experts at Vionic comes a soft but supportive slipper for ladies who need a foot-friendly shoe with all the comforts associated with the home. It comes in four colors and has a terrycloth-covered footbed, upper, and lining. The top of the slipper has an adjustable hook and loop closure to get the perfect fit.
On the inside, it has a deep heel cup that keeps the foot and legs aligned with the back, even when relaxing at home. It has an EVA midsole that provides cushion and great arch support.
This slipper is very popular with women, including those struggling with plantar fasciitis. Some noted to order a size down from your normal size, and those with narrow feet found it didn’t quite fit them right, but besides that, it only receives great reviews!
Understanding Plantar Fasciitis
In plantar fasciitis sufferers, the tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes has become inflamed. It’s one of the most common causes of foot pain in both men and women. For many people, their arches can be causing or aggravating the overworking and overcompensating of other muscles.
Strong arch support is vital for sufferers of plantar fasciitis. Whether the arches are high and the sole of the shoe is not supporting it, or the arches are low and pain is being caused by the overpronating (more on this later) of the foot, both of these will put stress on the tendon that causes plantar fasciitis pain.
Sole cushioning is more important and intricate than one may first think. We know that, in general, a firmer sole will provide more support to feet than a soft, fabric-like sole. Those who suffer from a condition like plantar fasciitis, though, may find that hard soles are as painful on their foot as the floor they are trying to avoid walking on.
Plantar fasciitis shoes will involve footbeds that are made of cushioning properties that have just enough flexibility to mold to the foot, but enough stability to support it and relieve some of that pressure being placed on the tendons. Cork, polyurethane, and EVA are all popular cushioning materials for the soles of your feet.
Going back to the arch and all that are involved in walking, pronation refers to the normal side-to-side motion that your foot makes when walking. Someone with a high or low arch will have affected pronation, often referred to as under- or overpronating. Both of these motions will cause stress and strain on the tendons attaching the heel bone to the toes, so proper pronation support will start with arch support, but actually more involved than that, too.
Good pronation support will also include what’s going on on the outside and bottom of the shoe, and how your foot lands on the ground when walking. A good shoe for plantar fasciitis will work to keep your foot pronating in the direction it needs to go through arch support, cushioning, and the gait mechanics of the shoe.
Know Your Anatomy
The toe box of the shoe is the area that covers and encloses your toes. The toe box has several different aspects, the first of which is the height. Generally, the height isn’t too much of a concern unless you plan on putting custom insoles and orthotics into your shoes—then your toes may be raised enough that the toe box isn’t tall enough anymore.
The toe box can also be too narrow for many people—a more common issue for shoe shoppers. A cramped, narrow toe box will force the toes together in an unnatural position, which does not only cause issues like blisters and bunions but can also keep the foot from lying in the flat position needed to relieve pressure off the heel and tendons.
The ideal toe box will be wide enough for the toes to lay flat, but without feeling too loose and causing the foot to shift within the shoe.
The vamp is the upper part of the front of the shoe, the continuation of the toe box. A low vamp means that the shoe finishes near the top of your toes, while a high vamp shoe may be closed in until the top of the foot or it may have straps that cross the top of the foot.
Ideal plantar fasciitis shoes will be those that have a high, closed-in vamp, which allows the ultimate in support and keeps the foot in one place, supported by the arches and heel counter that are so important in these cases.
The upper refers to all the parts of the shoe that cover the toes, the top of the foot, the sides of the foot, and the back of the heel.
Along with the important aspects discussed in the toe box and vamp descriptions, in general, the uppers of shoes for plantar fasciitis shoppers will need to provide extra cushion, closely enclose the foot for a secure fit, and keep the foot firmly planted on the insole of the shoe.
The counter of a shoe is a stiff piece of material at the heel that helps maintain the shape of the shoe during use. The counter works to protect and support the heel of the wearers. A flexible, loose heel counter will cause a lot of discomfort to someone struggling with plantar fasciitis. The best shoes for plantar fasciitis will feature a supportive, deep, enclosed heel counter that keeps the foot aligned from the bottom of the heel up through the leg.
The heel of the shoe lifts the heel of the foot up above the rest of the foot. This is especially helpful, to a degree, for those struggling with plantar fasciitis, as it takes a lot of the pressure off the heel and distributes it more evenly across the entire foot.
However, without the other factors of good arch support and a comfy toe cage, heels can do more damage than good. For plantar fasciitis, it’s best to look for shoes that have a slight heel in a stiff and supportive heel cage to take some pressure off and help relieve some pain.
The waist of a shoe is its narrowest part, based on the outsole. For plantar fasciitis shoppers, this really depends on the width of your foot and how flat they are when standing. Someone may find they need a narrow waist to keep their foot from moving within the shoe, while others will need a much larger waist.
Thankfully, many shoe companies offer differing widths in their shoes to accommodate a diverse group of customers.
The sole of the shoe is the part that is underneath your foot. There are several different aspects of the sole. The insole is the part of the sole that is in direct contact with your foot. These often contain much of the arch support, are sometimes removable, and can be specially treated with antibacterial and odor-controlling substances.
The midsole provides a lot of the cushioning and support, as it is not in contact with either the foot or the ground. A lot of midsoles comprise things like foam, gel, or cork, which provide a bit of bounce and spring in each step, along with important support and sturdiness.
The outsole is the area in contact with the ground. This is often designed with durability and stability in mind. Many outsoles are made of rubber, although polyurethane is also a popular substance and shown to be quite a bit more durable than traditional rubber. The outsole will often feature treads and pronation-assisting designs.
5 Things to Look for When Buying Shoes
Many shoes for plantar fasciitis sufferers are expensive due to their supportive design and nature, so quality is a huge consideration when spending your hard-earned money on these shoes. The outsoles should be of durable rubber or polyurethane, the latter of which has been shown to be more durable and provide some supportive aspects.
The body of the shoe needs to be able to stand up to daily use and the pronation issues that may be occurring due to plantar fasciitis pain. The top of the toe boxes must also be sturdy—many athletic shoes have issues with people’s toes rubbing through the mesh and poking holes in the tops of their shoes.
Arch support is critical, as discussed above, so shoes that offer built-in, removable orthotics are usually a good place to start. Many of these orthotic insoles are designed with plantar fasciitis wearers in mind, and even if that particular insole doesn’t work for you, you can easily remove it and insert your own and there will be built-in space for it.
Shoes for those with plantar fasciitis need to have a bit of flexibility while still maintaining the important support and structure needed. Many test the flexibility of a shoe by bending the toe and the heel together and seeing how easy it gives.
For those with plantar fasciitis, you want a shoe that bends some, but not very easily or far. A lack of complete flexibility shows that there is an important support in the insole, midsole, and outsole of the shoe that is needed to take pressure off the heel and connecting tendons and disperse the weight on the foot evenly.
For those who struggle with plantar fasciitis, look for shoes with a distinct heel counter that is deep enough to keep the foot aligned correctly, but also has a bit of a lift to relieve some pressure off the heel and spread it across the foot.
Stability is important to those with plantar fasciitis. On the outsole, look for treads and pronation-assisting designs that help your foot as it strikes the ground. The best shoes will keep your foot from turning as you lower it to the ground, and will force pressure away from the heel and towards the toes as you take each step.
On the top of the shoe, the area around the ankle is also important for stability. Many ankle shoes offer foam and mesh support around the ankle that assist in keeping the shoe molded around the foot and improving balance. You don’t want a shoe that can move around in the ankle area.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is plantar fasciitis?
A: It’s a condition that develops when the tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes becomes inflamed. It causes stabbing pain in your foot, towards the bottom and near the heel.
Q: What is the cause of plantar fasciitis?
A: Normally, your plantar fascia acts as a shock-absorbing spring that supports the arch of your foot, but various factors can cause tiny tears in the fascia that will then become inflamed and painful. Contributing factors can include age, the design of your foot, the types of exercise you’re doing, how much body weight is being placed on the feet, the type of job you’ve been doing your whole life, and other conditions such as arthritis.
Q: What shoes work best for plantar fasciitis?
A: The best types of shoes for plantar fasciitis will be those that let the foot lay flat without cramping areas of the foot. The shoes should also offer enough arch and heel support and overall cushion to allow the foot to spread out the weight of the body amongst all areas of the foot, instead of concentrating most of the weight on the heel or arch.
Q: What shoes do doctors recommend for plantar fasciitis?
A: There are many types of shoes and brands recommended by doctors for plantar fasciitis. In many cases, doctors will also help design a custom orthotic insole that can be used in a variety of shoes.
Q: What brands of shoes are good for plantar fasciitis?
A: Vionic, Orthofeet, New Balance, ASICS, Birkenstock, and ECCO are just a few brands that are widely recognized as good for those with plantar fasciitis.
Q: Will arch supports help plantar fasciitis?
A: Arch support can definitely help relieve some of the pressure being placed on the tendons running from the heel to the toes. Depending on the height of your arches, different types of support will work best. For high arches, you’ll want arch support that comes up high enough to meet the foot, but low arches and flat feet may not need that same amount of height. In fact, high-arched shoes may cause more pain in those with low or flat arches.
Q: What if I have a high arch?
A: A high arch will require a shoe with stiff and high arch support, which may also be achieved with the help of a custom insole insert. However, sometimes the height of the overall shoe needs to be taken into consideration for those with high arches, especially if an extra insert will be used.
Q: What if I have a low arch?
A: Those with low arches will be struggling with overpronation and the over-compensating that their arch and foot is doing to absorb shock with each step taken. Those with low arches will definitely want a shoe that provides the much-needed arch, but one that includes some cushion so as not to cause too much arch pain.
Q: Can surgery fix my plantar fasciitis?
A: Surgery is not helpful for those with plantar fasciitis. The best ways to help relieve the pain are to wear supportive shoes, stretch, foot massage, and in some cases, physical therapy.
Q: Should I wear shoes at home?
A: Many people find that the floors of their home and walking barefoot on them can severely aggravate their plantar fasciitis. It’s recommended that those with foot issues wear supportive shoes, even in the home, as many homes’ floors are hard on the feet, especially when many people spend so much time walking on them.
Plantar fasciitis is common, but knowing that others are suffering doesn’t do anything to take your pain away. Thankfully, there are many shoe options that have been specially formulated with your pain issues in mind, and many wearers have found long-term help and relief from finding the right shoes for their feet.
Everyone’s needs and feet are different, which is why we provided the most extensive plantar fasciitis shopping guide out there. We know that the perfect pair of shoes is out there for you—ones that will get you out of pain and back into your active life!