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Anyone who has felt a stabbing, tender pain on the bottom of one or both feet knows that plantar fasciitis is no joke. It’s a common overuse injury, but one that can greatly interfere with daily life, says Mike Rushton, DPM, co-founder and medical director of Forward Motion Orthotics in St. George, Utah.
“When the plantar fascia gets sore, it hurts badly because it’s always under pressure,” he explains. “If you have a tennis elbow it’s easy to say, ‘Don’t play tennis,’ but with plantar fasciitis you can’t take a break from standing and walking.”
The plantar fascia is a ligament that originates at the heel bone and spreads throughout the bottom of the foot, attaching to the toe bones.
Plantar fasciitis occurs when the area becomes inflamed from overuse. Too much pressure leads to tiny microtears in the fascia, causing inflammation, says New York City-based podiatrist and head of Universal Footcare Neha Pathak.
Anyone from athletes to more sedentary people can experience plantar fasciitis, which is usually most painful close to the heel.
“People who are really active are likely to get [plantar fasciitis], but so are people who are overweight, who lose weight quickly or have flat feet or high arches” says Rushton. “Even one day standing at a shopping small can lead to a flare-up.”
The exact cause of plantar fasciitis can differ depending on each person’s anatomy. A foot that’s overly flexible, Rushton explains, has likely suffered from a lack of stabilization, causing too much strain in the plantar fascia. Conversely, someone with a stiff foot might not have enough cushioning in their shoes, which means the bottom of the foot may not be able to stretch sufficiently.
Pathak agrees. “Abnormal foot biomechanics, increased activity or weight gain or incorrect shoe gear choices can all be contributing factors to the condition.”
With rest, the majority of plantar fasciitis cases should resolve on their own within four to six weeks. Ice and anti-inflammatory medication can help the process along. Rushton notes that even if runners don’t want to take time off, they should at least avoid increasing their mileage until they are pain-free.
For many people, staying off one’s feet for a great length of time is unrealistic. Finding the proper footwear can allow people to prevent or alleviate plantar fasciitis.
Rushton says it’s all about “achieving a balance between cushion and stability.”
Most people will benefit from a neutral supportive shoe. If you have tight, stiff feet, look for pairs with excellent cushioning, but not that are “so soft you’re not finding the ground,” Rushton says. Rather, seek out pairs with structure to keep the foot in its ideal position during each step.
And for those with flexible feet, great stability is especially important. “No matter what, you want arch support,” Rushton emphasizes. This will help increase the arch for those with flat feet and encourage high arches to drop to a more neutral position.
“I always make sure to remind my patients, as a rule of thumb, that if they can bend the shoe in half, it’s likely unsupportive,” says Pathak. She explains that you also want to look for styles with more rigid heel counters, so that if you are a pronator, the shoe can keep your heel in a neutral position. “This will take undue pressure off of your inflamed plantar fascia,” she says.
The ultimate goal is positioning the foot optimally so that body weight is distributed as evenly as possible, thereby avoiding overtaxing the plantar fascia.
To help narrow down your search, we’ve gathered the best shoes for plantar fasciitis and other foot pain — according to our experts and glowing customer reviews. There are styles for running, walking, working and even sleek everyday pairs for times when you can’t get away with wearing athletic sneakers. Bottom line: There are plenty of cute and comfortable shoes and sneakers for every occasion to help relieve pain from plantar fasciitis, bunions and hammertoes. And it’s worth checking out some of the best insoles for plantar fasciitis, too, in case you need extra support.
Best Tennis Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Investing in the best tennis shoes now will keep you in the game for years to come. Focus on your serve and not on foot pain with New Balance’s FuelCell 996v4.5 tennis shoes. The supportive midsole provides great energy return, while outer traction keeps you quick and light on your feet. They come in a regular, wide and an extra-wide fit.
Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
The Hoka One One Bondi X sneaker has earned the praise of podiatrists like Dr. Rushton. “These Hokas have a really thick sole and good, stable base, making them a pretty darn good shoe for plantar fasciitis right now,” he explains. The sneaker also earns rave reviews for its maximal, marshmallow-like cushioning and carbon fiber plate that offers a smooth transition through the entire gait cycle.
Best Walking Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Nike’s Free Run 5.0 sneakers are highly rated by customers. A convenient walking shoe, the sock-style sneaker is easy to slip on and super breathable thanks to its knit upper. The overall design is structured, with light cushioning that will give you a “barefoot feeling.” This shoe is one of the best walking shoes for men, period, and also a great option for women, too.
Best House Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Lounging at home in a pair of slippers or slides that don’t offer proper foot support can take all the fun out of chilling out. The best men’s slippers and women’s slippers should help de-stress your feet. The ideal pick for any lady, these women’s-only Oofos Ooahh Luxe recovery sandals are the perfect pair to easily slip on indoors. Unlike most house shoes, they offer arch support and foam padding. They’re lightweight and easy to get around in, perfect for supporting sore knees or lower back.
Best Hiking Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Some of the best hiking boots for men to wear on any adventure and a great option for women as well, the Merrell Moab Speed Hiking Shoes cut down the bulk of typical hiking boots — meaning less foot fatigue miles into a long hike. Breathable outer material fights sweat and foot fungus, while a toe cap protects the feet in tough terrain. The foam insole supports proper anatomical alignment.
Best Workout Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
In addition to being great workout shoes, these are so comfortable and supportive, we’ve even named them some of the best shoes for nurses who are on their feet all day. Asics’ Gel-Venture 7 has rearfoot gel cushioning to support your heel and create a smooth weight transition with every step. The outsole offers excellent durability whether you like to train at the gym or outdoors. And, there’s a removable insole for extra comfort.
Best Athletic Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Brooks Revel 5 is an excellent all-around athletic shoe for preventing and combatting plantar fasciitis. At only $100, the shoes pack a lot of bang for their buck, with lightweight cushioning crafted for proper foot positioning. The responsive outsole offers a spring-y feel, making these a great shoe to wear all day and avoid foot fatigue. The mesh outer is light and molds to your foot while remaining breathable.
Best Dress Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Just as with the best dress shoes for men, Dr. Scholl’s Sheena sandals will expertly upgrade office garb or transition looks from day to night. With these wedges, you still get the height you crave, but they distribute weight far more evenly than a stiletto and include an anatomically contoured footbed for superb arch support. Plus, the open-toed design gives your digits plenty of space. These shoes come in a variety of neutral colors to suit any ensemble.
Best Work Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
You’d never know Clarks Atticus LT Mid Boot was crafted with ergonomic foot support in mind. Paired with khakis and a blazer, or even a suit, they’re an on-trend option to get you through the work week. An OrthoLite footbed offers plenty of underfoot cushioning to lessen foot stress, thereby alleviating or preventing plantar fasciitis. This is an excellent option for those occasions when sneakers just aren’t appropriate.
Most Stylish Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Vionic is known for crafting stylish shoes that work hard to protect and support your feet. In fact, the label is considered one of the best orthopedic shoes brands today. An excellent style for plantar fasciitis and one of the best women’s slip-on sneakers you can buy, Vionic’s Zinah is versatile, chic and oh-so comfortable. Its mix of leather, nubuck, and faux exotic trim makes it a sophisticated pick that can easily take you from work to the weekend, while its stable heel, arch support and cushioning promise to keep feet happy for hours.
Best Cross-Training Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
One of the best cross-training shoes for women and overall best shoes for Crossfit, Nike’s Metcon 7 sneakers have lots of excellent upgrades from their predecessors that make them excellent for dealing with plantar fasciitis. For one, the latest model features Nike’s new “React foam,” a responsive and soft cushioning. While the midsole is forgiving, the shoe also has a sturdy heel to provide much-needed support for activities like weight training. And, a rubber tread means you can be sure of your footing.
Best Trail Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
“I like this shoe because it lets your heel sit lower,” says Dr. Rushton. “It’s favored by runners on the Ultra scene, and great for trail running. It’s similar to a barefoot-style shoe, but has cushioning and a wide toe box.” Altra sneakers are designed to encourage proper foot alignment and provide a soft landing with every step. The only downside of this pair? You may need to break it in, notes Dr. Rushton.
Best Orthopedic Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Available in extended widths fit all foot sizes, Orthofeet’s Orthopedic sneakers boast all the hallmarks of the best orthopedic shoes for women. Premium orthotic insoles offer anatomical arch support, as multiple layers of cushioning give each step a pillow-like feel. The roomy toe box allows for plenty of space for bunions and hammer toes as well.
Best Non-Slip Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Sorel’s Emilie chelsea boots have a rubber outsole for superior traction in wet weather and a leather-wrapped heel to enhance stability. Even the outer is weatherproof and built to last for years. Those suffering from plantar fasciitis will take comfort in the removable die-cut memory EVA footbed that creates ideal foot alignment and equally distributes pressure. Reviewers call them some of the best shoes for standing all day.
Best Shoes for Bunions and Plantar Fasciitis
What’s more cumbersome than one foot ailment? Multiple, painful issues. Luckily, if you’re suffering from bunions and plantar fasciitis, there are shoes that will support you in more than one way, like Orthofeet’s Quincy Slip-Ons. Dubbed one of the best shoes for bunions by a podiatrist, these boast a flexible outer and come in multiple widths to accommodate the bony protrusions. Additionally, they offer anatomical arch and heel support to relieve tension on the plantar fascia.
Best Golf Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
You’re sure to find the right fit with FootJoy’s 2020 Pro/SL Golf Shoes, which come in a narrow, regular, wide and extra-wide width sizes. The style features a sleek, waterproof upper, lightweight cushioned footbed for heel support and shock absorption and a spike-less outsole that still offers excellent traction and durability in all sorts of conditions.
Best Loafer for Plantar Fasciitis
When trying shoe styles other than sturdy sneakers, look for pairs with stability features, Dr. Pathak says. One of the most important components is a more rigid heel counter to control pronation and take excess pressure off the plantar fascia. OrthoComfoot’s canvas loafers fit the bill, with top ratings on Amazon. Super convenient to slip on when you’re ready to head out the door, these include an orthotic insole with superior arch support and a gel material that provides support at the heel.