Nothing can dampen a day of running errands, working on your feet, or strolling around town like realizing—only after heading out the door—that your shoes simply don’t feel great. If you have plantar fasciitis, this can be even more of an issue, since that uncomfortable feeling can quickly escalate to aching, stinging, or even pain. That’s why playing the preventive game is so important: The best shoes for plantar fasciitis can help relieve the tension in your feet (especially your heels) and hopefully help you avoid these most annoying of days.
What is plantar fasciitis?
Before we get into the causes of plantar fasciitis, it’s helpful to think about the anatomy of the foot region first. The plantar fascia is a fascial band or ligament that runs from the bottom of the calcaneus, or heel bone, to the base of the toes, Susan Eby, PT, MS, owner of Eby Physical Therapy in New York City, tells SELF. It helps support the long arch of the foot and provides shock absorption while you walk and run.
Repeated stress on the plantar fascia can cause damage or small tears that can lead to inflammation. Plantar fasciitis often feels like a stabbing or aching pain in the sole of your foot, usually near your heel, which tends to be more intense in the mornings or after you’ve been off your feet for a while. Some factors that can make plantar fasciitis worse include tight calf muscles, repetitive high-impact activities like running, a rapid increase in weight-bearing activity, prolonged standing or walking, and flat feet or very high arches. Your choice of footwear can also be an aggravating factor, whether you’re running, walking, or standing for long stretches of time.
How to choose the best shoes for plantar fasciitis
By choosing better (read: more supportive and well-cushioned) shoes, you can take a solid step (heh) toward reducing this annoying foot pain in the future. In general, the best shoes for plantar fasciitis will fit correctly (i.e., not too small and wide enough to fit your foot comfortably) and have the right amount of support. “You’ll want a shoe with a deep heel counter and plenty of mid-foot arch support,” Carla Gamez, DPM, a podiatrist at Illinois Bone & Joint Institute (IBJI), tells SELF.
You can consider pairing your shoes with orthotics or insoles that have substantial heel cups to help with cushioning and shock absorption to avoid heel pain, Eby says. They’ll also provide additional arch support, which can offer further relief from plantar fasciitis pain, Yolanda Ragland, DPM, a podiatrist and founder of Fix Your Feet in New York City, tells SELF.
What to avoid when buying shoes for plantar fasciitis
Avoid flat, non-supportive shoes or sandals, Dr. Gamez says. Those cute flip-flops that sell for $1? Probably not the best plantar fasciitis shoes. The same generally goes for sneakers without arch support, like Converse or Vans (unless you add orthotics, heel cups, or insoles), and flats. If you need flats for dress shoes or work, however, look for those with a slight heel (around a half inch) to minimize stretching on the plantar fascia, as well as a shoe that stays on your foot without toe gripping (i.e., one that has elastic or other straps to secure the shoe to your foot).
The best shoes for plantar fasciitis
Below, we asked physical therapists and podiatrists what they consider the best shoes for plantar fasciitis (including sneakers and workout shoes, dress shoes, sandals, and slippers), along with their recommendations for removable insoles to make any shoe more plantar fasciitis friendly. You’ll find stylish options from brands such as Teva, Hoka One One, Clarks, Oofos, New Balance, and Superfeet from retailers like Amazon, Nordstrom, REI, and more.