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Spring and summer are the seasons to take advantage of the outdoors, whether by going on vacation, embarking on a local adventure or simply dining al fresco. Stow away the sweaters and boots and break out the sleeveless shirts and sandals.
Nothing in your wardrobe should dampen that mood, especially not your footwear. But for anyone who suffers from foot pain, a less-than-supportive sandal can easily turn a sunny day dismal.
Those who suffer from plantar fasciitis, a common overuse ailment, will know the conundrum of wanting to dress for the weather but knowing their flip-flops will lead to foot pain. Thankfully there are comfortable sandal options that can prevent or alleviate pain, including some stylish orthopedic sandals.
What is plantar fasciitis?
In layman’s terms, “plantar fasciitis is the inflammation of a ligament in the bottom of the foot that stretches from your heel to the ball of the foot,” explains pedorthist Michael Fishkin of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. “The injury is like little microtears that happen within that soft tissue causing the inflammation, which creates all the pain and discomfort.”
How to find the best sandals for plantar fasciitis
The reason people with plantar fasciitis may have had poor experiences wearing sandals is because so many pairs lack underfoot support. Fishkin says there are several key sandal elements that will promote proper foot alignment, similar to those found in good walking shoes for plantar fasciitis or running shoes for plantar fasciitis.
- Heel strap. “Wearing flip-flops or slides causes you to grip your toes, tightening the fascia — or ligament — in the bottom of the foot and tightening your calf muscle, which all contribute to plantar fasciitis,” Fishkin explains. Look for styles with straps to keep feet secure.
- Cushioning. Cushioning presents a Goldilocks scenario. Padding is essential to protect feet from undue pressure, but too much can lead to instability. Fishkin says to look for cushioning that provides a happy medium by being “not too firm and not too soft.”
- Heel cup. In addition to, or in lieu of, a heel strap, a deep heel cup is another tool that keeps the foot in place, causing your toes to grip less. Lots of orthotic flip-flops and slides make the most of a heel cup so that you can still rock your favorite thong sandals poolside without pain.
- Arch support. Look for sandals with ergonomic arch support in the insole. “Arch support helps take pressure off the heel and forefoot, supporting the midfoot and reducing the work for the fascia tissue,” Fishkin notes.
In addition to these features, make sure to replace sandals as they incur regular wear and tear. The idea is to switch out your sandal before it experiences structural breakdown, thereby no longer supporting your foot adequately.
Fishkin says to change sandals every nine months to one year as a rule of thumb. Those who live in seasonal climates might need to replace sandals that incur lots of wear each summer, but anyone who wears sandals year-will likely need to replace them more often. Cute sandals that aren’t daily go-to pairs can be replaced less frequently, think every few summers.
Birkenstock Arizona Slide Sandals
The Birkenstock Arizona slide sandal is a classic, in part because of its excellent arch support that promotes healthy foot alignment and eases plantar fasciitis. It has a contoured footbed and EVA sole. Wear these with leggings and a t-shirt for a casual, comfortable weekend ensemble.
Skechers Reggae-Mad Woven Sandals
Who said orthotic sandals for plantar fasciitis must be boring? These Skechers Reggae-Mad woven sandals liven up a neutral base with a colorful array of woven accents on the straps. And they don’t skimp on support, either, featuring a cushioned, contoured footbed and shock-absorbing midsole. Style them with summer skirts and shorts.
Vionic Tide II Toe Post Sandals
This thong-style silhouette from Vionic is the perfect sandal for plantar fasciitis and bunions. It won’t rub or place pressure on the sides of feet, plus features a podiatrist-designed footbed for promoting healthy alignment from heel to toe. Arch support, cushioning and a deep heel cup will also keep feet happy for hours.
Clarks Amanda Ease Sandals
A little sporty and a little nautical-inspired, these cute sandals for plantar fasciitis are also super comfy. Clarks’ Amanda Ease sandals have an Ortholite footbed for the utmost comfort. A breathable mesh construction prevents moisture buildup and foot odor and a hook-and-loop closure is adjustable to help you achieve the right fit.
Spenco Yumi Plus Sandals
Spenco’s Yumi Plus is the perfect sandal for ladies with plantar fasciitis and heel spurs or any woman who thought she’d never be comfortable in a pair of thongs. These causal flip-flops offers enough structure to keep feet secure, with a deep heel cup and metatarsal dome, plus an EVA footbed that contours to the shape of the foot for ultimate support. They come in two widths as well.
Naturalizer Rowena Platform Slide Sandals
Once you wear a platform wedge, you’ll never go back to a stiletto heel. Naturalizer’s Rowena platform slide sandal has a contoured footbed that provides all-day comfort and wide toe bed that lets your digits splay naturally. Pair these with denim for your perfect warm-weather uniform.
Crocs Capri Flip-Flops
Crocs has a lot more to offer than just its Classic Clogs. The brand’s Capri flip-flops have a dual comfort footbed, deep heel cradle and plush foam outsole to keep feet cushioned and in proper position as you walk.
LifeStride Kascade Wedge Sandals
Dressing up doesn’t have to be uncomfortable with LifeStrides’ Kascade wedge sandals. A nearly two-inch heel will give you a confidence boost without the pain that comes from wearing sky-high heels. Plus, the shock-absorbing insole helps evenly distribute weight across the entire foot. Choose between medium and wide-width options for the perfect fit.
Chaco Lowdown Slide Sandals
Chaco’s Lowdown slide sandals will keep you comfortable on beach walks or while trekking city streets. The style boasts a bouncy EVA midsole, antimicrobial materials to keep the shoes smelling fresh and a ladder lock buckle for a custom fit.
FitFlop Sarna Wedge Sandals
Whether worn for lunch or drinks with friends, the FitFlop Sarna wedge sandal offers the perfect pop of metallic for your summer wardrobe. The molded wedge sandal gives a bit of lift without skimping on comfort, complete with a shock-absorbing footbed that diffuses underfoot pressure.
Keen Rose Sandals
We all love to enjoy outdoor activities when the weather heats up, but heavy hiking boots can weigh you down. This Keen hiking sandal is a great alternative and specifically geared for women’s feet. Its grippy outsole ensures traction rain or shine and its closed toe design protects feet from rocks and debris.
Merrell Terran Convertible II Sandals
Plantar fasciitis and heel pain often go hand in hand, but these highly-reviewed Merrell sandals have lots of cushioning at the heel for more comfort. The foam footbed, which is crafted in an ergonomic shape for healthy alignment, cradles the entire foot. For long days of standing, these are a great choice.
Oofos Oolala Sandals
Amazon reviewers love the Oofos Oolala sandal, calling it “heaven-sent” and praising its “amazing arch support.” Perfect for lounging around the house or by the pool on vacation, the style has a special foam formulation that absorbs impact with every step and a patented footbed that cradles arches. Like all Oofos shoes, these have earned the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance for promoting good foot health. Try them in a range of colors.
LLSoars Women’s Yoga Sling Sandals
LLSoars’ Yoga Sling sandal is all about preventing and alleviating foot pain. Complete with biomechanical orthotic technology and wide, stretchy straps at the heel and midfoot, the thong-style silhouette offers excellent arch and all-around foot support. Reviewers note these are lightweight and super comfortable.
SAS Women’s Sorrento Sandals
These SAS Sorrento sandals have an average five-star rating Zappos.com, with one shopper lauding them as the “most comfortable, supportive sandals around.” They’re equipped with a multi-layered insole that cushions three separate pressure points and a wide base for shock absorption and enhanced stability, making them excellent sandals for plantar fasciitis and heel spurs. “I don’t want to take them off,” said another reviewer.
Easy Street Royalty Wedge Sandals
Instantly upgrade jeans and a camisole with these gold metallic wedges. Available in a medium or wide fit, the Easy Street Royalty wedge sandal has a padded footbed for lasting comfort. The Easy Flex sole allows for responsive movement.
Megnya Hiking Sandals for Women
Another great hiking sandal, this style from Megnya has a stable rubber outsole and EVA midsole to keep arches happy. These shoes are also super lightweight, so you can easily pack them in a carry-on for your next adventure, and simple to slip off for when it’s time for a dip in the lake.
Utenag Orthotic Adjustable Flip-Flops
Utenag’s orthotic flip-flops for women come in six neutral shades. Not your average flip-flop, these cute sandals for plantar fasciitis have a back strap and fantastic built-in arch support. Foam cushioning gives your feet a comfortable place to land. This essential pair is perfect for a day of brunch and strolling.
Hoka One One Ora Recovery Slides
Hoka One One’s Ora recovery slide is an ideal orthotic sandal for relieving plantar fasciitis pain when you’re in the mood to lounge. A dual-layer construction features cushioned, oversized midsoles, with a soft EVA top layer that’s comfortable and durable. The strategic groove placement on the outsole provides traction. Don these for a soft ride post-run.
Bella Vita Holden Sandals
How to treat plantar fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis is commonly an overuse injury, caused by changes to one’s routine. Did you just start a job in which you’re on your feet for long periods after being sedentary? Did you recently increase your running mileage? These are prime instances in which people experience plantar fasciitis.
Experts advise resting the injury as much as possible, as well as icing or taking over-the-counter medications to reduce inflammation. Fishkin also recommends stretching the area and attending physical therapy if needed. “The goal of these treatments is to reduce added stress and pressure on the foot so it does not need to work as hard,” Fishkin says.
Additionally, custom-molded orthotics from a pedorthist or podiatrist will also help redistribute weight and pressure on the foot for healthier alignment.
To prevent plantar fasciitis in the future or alleviate minor occurrences, aim to wear shoes and sandals with proper arch support, cushioning and stability, like the ones on our list.