If you’ve ever experienced a persistent stabbing pain on your heel — especially when you get out of bed in the morning — then you know all about plantar fasciitis.
This common orthopedic complaint can cause nagging discomfort that makes walking almost unbearable. While many runners battle this condition while exercising, it can also affect your daily life.
The good news? There are several ways to manage plantar fasciitis, including choosing and wearing the proper footwear for work, exercise, and leisure.
We queried several experts to get their input on the best shoes for plantar fasciitis. We’ve also chosen seven shoes you may want to consider. Read on to learn more.
Whether your pain level is a 1 or a 10, the ultimate goal is support with comfort. Experts recommend that you look for these key features:
Arch and heel support
While cushioning can be great for comfort, Dr. Mohammad Rimawi, DPM, AACFAS, says support is key.
“It’s the arch and heel support, and not the cushioning provided by the footwear, that is crucial in the prevention of plantar fasciitis,” says Rimawi.
Extra rigidity in the sole and cushioning in the midfoot
When it comes to choosing shoes, Dr. Nelya Lobkova, DPM, says someone who suffers from plantar fasciitis needs extra rigidity in the sole and cushioning in the midfoot to prevent impact on the heel, where there is pain associated with plantar fasciitis.
“A shoe that has a thick midsole or rocker bottom is an ideal shoe for someone with this condition,” she says.
Firm heel counter
Lobkova also recommends a firm heel counter, the back part of the heel surrounding the Achilles insertion.
“A firm heel counter minimizes abnormal stretching of the plantar fascia and diminishes pain and inflammation in the heel and arch of the foot, which are both associated with plantar fasciitis,” she says.
Soft impact with the ground
Moreover, Dr. Ricardo Cook, an orthopedic surgeon at The Centers for Advanced Orthopaedics, says in addition to comfort, patients with plantar fasciitis should look for a shoe that provides the least impact when the foot strikes a hard surface.
From there, he says the characteristics really depend on the specific person’s foot and what they are trying to control.
For example, if you have a higher arch, the joint is at an angle that restricts the range of motion, so Cook says rigid arch support would cause further restriction. On the other hand, he explains that people with flat feet and plantar fasciitis should look for shoes with adequate arch support.
As far as what you should avoid, Lobkova says the most important shoe to avoid is a minimalist shoe, such as the Vibram FiveFingers.
“There is minimal stability in the sole, no cushioning under the heel, and maximum stress on the heel bone,” she says. All of these factors could exacerbate preexisting plantar fasciitis.
Many experts, such as podiatrists and physical therapists, are hesitant to recommend a specific shoe for plantar fasciitis since each person needs to be evaluated to figure out what’s best for their particular feet.
“Oftentimes, people will go to a shoe store and be ‘fit’ for a certain shoe based on criteria which the sales associate determines to be important without factoring in the most crucial characteristic: comfort,” says Cody Meashaw, PT, DPT.
Unfortunately, shoes that are not comfortable either due to over or under cushioning, size, or construction may result in an altered gait pattern and thus may lead to further discomfort.
However, experts do say some brands have a better selection if you’re dealing with plantar fasciitis. Below are recommendations for running, walking, and hiking shoes, along with suggestions for sandals.
- $: <100
- $$: 100 to 150
- $$$: >150
|Category||Brand and shoe name||Price point|
|Running shoes:||Asics Gel Nimbus 20 and 22||$$|
|New Balance 1080v10||$$|
|Walking shoes:||Hoka One One Bondi x Opening Ceremony||$$$|
|Saucony Grid Omni Walking||$|
|Hiking shoes:||Keen Targhee||$$|
|Sandals:||Hoka One One Ora Recovery Slide||$|
Learn more about each of these shoes below.
When it comes to hitting the road for a run, Rimawi recommends Asics Gel Nimbus 20 and 22. Known for its stiff outer design, the Gel Nimbus specifically targets heel stability.
Another favorite of Rimawi, the New Balance 1080v10 has a wide toe box, excellent cushioning, and optimum shock absorption.
- Pros: Made of leather, which is nice for a daily walking shoe, but still lightweight.
- Cons: Expensive.
- Price: $$$
For walking shoes, the Hoka Bondi x Opening Ceremony is a favorite of Lobkova. This shoe features support, stability, and a wide footbed.
The Saucony Grid Omni Walking shoe is a more affordable option for anyone looking for support and relief from plantar fasciitis.
For hiking shoes, Lobkova recommends Keen Targhee, which come in a variety of styles including the Targhee III and Targhee VENT. Waterproof, breathable, and durable, these hiking boots are also supportive enough for people with plantar fasciitis.
- Pros: Comfort and support.
- Cons: Some people may find them bulky.
- Price: $
Hoka Ora Recovery Slides are a favorite of Lobkova, especially for walking around the backyard and dog runs.
- Pros: Comes in multiple colors, stylish, dressy, comfortable, and supportive.
- Cons: Expensive.
- Price: $$
For longer walks and stylish outfits, Lobkova likes Krista by NAOT. The sandal is dressy enough to wear to work, yet comfortable and supportive enough to take on vacation.
Orthotics are shoe inserts you put in your shoes to help manage specific conditions, such as:
- heel pain
- general foot discomfort
- arch pain
- plantar fasciitis
Depending on the severity of your pain, you can buy custom orthotics that are made specifically for your issue. But they tend to be costly. Off-the-shelf brands are a more affordable option, but they’re not custom-made for your feet.
According to Lobkova, custom orthotics are made to keep the foot in an optimal position while walking to eliminate the mechanical forces that cause plantar fasciitis. Over-the-counter orthotics typically provide temporary relief for plantar fascia in the form of cushioning under the heel.
Orthotics are of great use when it comes to decreasing the tension and stress on the plantar fascia, says Rimawi. Plus, they can reaffirm any arch support that your shoe may lack. They also have a deep heel cup, which Rimawi says can help absorb shock with each step.
When it comes to choosing a shoe for plantar fasciitis, your best bet is to talk with a specialist — either a podiatrist or physical therapist — and try on a lot of different styles.
While every shoe discussed in this article is designed to provide support and comfort, your goal is to find which one feels best on your feet.