Best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis – insights for 2021
It can be challenging to pick the best shoes for plantar fasciitis, because shoes are ever changing.
We do know from studies that some shoes can improve the symptoms of Plantar Fasciitis, but what footwear do you choose with all the options?
On this page:
- What is Plantar Fasciitis
- What to look for when buying the best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
- The best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Although options are numerous, there is research that can help guide your decision around what shoes will help the most. Not all shoes are created equal and some can improve symptoms more than others.
Keep in mind throughout this guide, that every person is unique. Even if evidence supports one shoe, this does not mean it will work for everyone. It may take a few pairs before you find the shoe that works for you.
Now let us start with the basics before diving into the best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The Plantar Fascia is a band of connective tissue spanning the arch or your foot which helps to stabilise the arch. This connective band can get irritated around the attachment site as it inserts into the heel. This will cause pain at the base of the heel.
Heel pain, especially in the morning, is the most common symptom of Plantar Fasciitis. The heel pain will usually improve as the tissue is warmed up through the day but can be aggravated by too much activity.
Other symptoms may include a burning or stabbing pain around the base of the heel. People will also experience pain in the arch of the foot or into the calf muscle.
Plantar Fasciitis is extremely common, and it will affect at least one in ten people over the course of a lifetime. It may be more common in runners or other active groups of people that are regularly on their feet.
Plantar Fasciitis can regularly be managed without surgery but if symptoms persist for more than one year a surgical opinion should be sought after.
Non-surgical management should include choosing a good pair of shoes as evidence has shown that some shoes can decrease Plantar Fasciitis pain compared to others.
Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis
These are a common finding among patients with Plantar Fasciitis. Having a heel spur does not mean it will need to be cut out. Commonly heel spurs will be a result of the tension, not a cause of the heel pain.
These heel spurs can be positioned on the bottom of the heel, or at the back of the heel, called Haglund’s Deformity.
Heel spurs will not go away on their own, but as they are usually not the cause of pain they should not be targeted with treatment. As the Plantar Fascia is loaded correctly, pain should reduce with or without heel spurs.
What does evidence say about the best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis?
There have been multiple studies over the years looking at whether different shoes can decrease Plantar Fasciitis pain. The consensus is that different shoes can have a positive effect on heel pain.
For example, rocker bottom shoes have been shown to reduce the strain on the Plantar Fascia. Rocker bottom shoes have a curved bottom that allows the foot to rock forward during walking. These shoes when combined with orthotics are even more effective at reducing heel pain caused by Plantar Fasciitis.
Another study looked at whether ultraflexible running shoes were better than conventional running shoes for relieving symptoms. They found equal amounts of pain relief between the two shoes, indicating there was not much difference between the two.
Lastly it has been found that sandals with arch support can reduce heel pain compared to flat sandals for people suffering Plantar Fasciitis. These contoured sandals were as effective as shoes with orthotics for relieving heel pain.
What to look for when buying a shoe for Plantar Fasciitis?
There are different features which are very important when deciding your footwear. The best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis will have these things in common.
They should offer heel support, so your heel stops rolling into too much pronation during walking. Pronation is where the foot rolls inward, causing a flattening of the arch. This places more stress on the Plantar Fascia.
Adequate heel support will help to maintain the foot in a more neutral position. Keep in mind, some movement is normal and good for absorbing forces during walking or running.
Heel support can be achieved with a firm heel cup, or adequate cushioning in the sole of the shoe.
Arch support has been shown to help reduce strain on the Plantar Fascia. These can be provided by the shoe itself; however arch support can also be added to a shoe after purchase with the help of insoles.
If you didn’t want to use insoles the idea is that there should be support for the arch of the foot to help it sustain load through your walking.
Not all shoes will have a rocker-bottom, and not every person will be able to walk comfortably in a rocker-bottom shoe. However, these are commonly recommended because they can relieve strain on the Plantar Fascia. When combined with an orthotic they have an even better effect.
Other tips for buying the best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
As we looked over the research there are some tips that can be offered when buying shoes for Plantar Fasciitis. These will hopefully help guide your purchase decisions.
Buy two pairs and rotate them
For people who work long hours and stand on their feet all day, this is a good option. One study found that rotating between shoes during the week helped to reduce heel pain.
The idea is two different shoes will load the heel in slightly different ways. The cushioning in different shoes will put pressure on different areas of the heel. This then will help to offload the heel, instead of having the pressure on the same areas.
Sandals can work with contours
If you really hate wearing shoes, then get a pair of contoured sandals. These have been shown to be effective as well and are great for around the home where shoes might be too much of a hassle.
Ideally shoes would still be used for longer distances or going out, but if contoured sandals help to get you out of bare feet around the home it is worth the purchase.
Extra flex at the forefoot may not make a difference – insoles will
Some shoes are advertised as being extra flexible. Whilst this may suit some people, it should not be one of the main criteria you use to buy shoes. On the other hand, insoles have been proven to help with heel pain.
Remember the important criteria including arch support and controlling the heel during walking or running. These will be present in most joggers, although not all joggers will include rocker-bottoms as mentioned above.
There is evidence that orthoses help to relieve pain – and they don’t need to be custom moulded! Off-the-shelf orthotics are just as effective as custom orthotics as long as they are comfortable.
What are the best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis?
As mentioned, this guide will give advice on some of the best brands, however it is not all encompassing. We have given advice based on evidence however you still need to decide which shoe will be the right fit.
In saying that, here are some of our recommendations for the best running and walking shoes for Plantar Fasciitis.
Feel free to skip to whatever category suits you the best:
#1 Rocker Bottom Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Rocker bottom shoes have the benefit of relieving stress on the Plantar Fascia by rocking the foot through stepping. This helps to change the forces and is thought to decrease the pressure on the heel.
These shoes prescribed with insoles have even more potential to relieve stress and relieve plantar fasciitis symptoms. Below are some recommendations of the top rocker bottom shoes for plantar fasciitis.
MBT hosts a wide variety of rocker bottom shoes that are bound to appeal to most. They have a unique design for their curved sole which helps promote gentle rolling of the foot.
They come complete with arch and heel support, or if you require you can switch your on insole into most of the designs.
These shoes have been specifically designed to cater to the rolling motion through gait. Here are some of MBT’s footwear solutions:
Women’s MBT Shoes
Men’s MBT Shoes
Hoka oneone make incredibly comfy shoes. Most people will absolutely love the shoes and they also come with many rocker bottom designs.
Although these shoes are reasonably expensive, they are justifiably so. They have excellent heel support, offering maximum support. They also have an incredible amount of cushioning which is great for taking the load off the Plantar Fascia.
The cushioning also changes between the heel and the forefoot, offering maximum support at the heel, and still an amount of rigidness for toe-off.
Here are some Hoka shoes below:
Women’s Hoka Shoes
Men’s Hoka Shoes
#2 Open Shoes / Sandals for Plantar Fasciitis
Open shoes or sandals are not recommended over closed in shoes with cushioning for Plantar Fasciitis. In saying this, if you need something around the home there are some that will be better than others.
You really need to look for contoured thongs or sandals that offer arch support as evidence would suggest these are better for reducing heel pain.
We have offered some suggestions below:
Crocs are a great open shoe that are reasonably inexpensive. These shoes are versatile and usually extremely comfortable.
The design will not suit every person, but people who wear these will swear by them. They also offer reasonable arch support for an open shoe.
Here are some designs below:
Women’s Crocs flipflop
Men’s Crocs flipflop
This company is branded around recovery due to their unique foam soles. This foam is said to absorb more shock than a more traditional foam sole.
We like the brand due to there large number of open shoes with good arch support and their rocker bottom design. They also offer a good amount of stability to the hind foot keeping the heel cushioned at all times.
Here are some designs below:
Women’s Oofos Shoe
Men’s Oofos Shoe
#3 Joggers for Plantar Fasciitis
There are many jogging shoes on the market. Many of these will offer good cushioning of the heel. We have given some options of what works well.
What is recommended is even with a good pair of joggers, get an insole – it doesn’t have to be custom moulded. Try the insole in the shoe as well and this should help as long as it feels comfortable. (you may have to take the existing insole out first)
Here are some suggestions of brands to try:
Nike are an excellent choice for joggers. They have been in the game for a long time and design good quality shoes that offer heel support and stability.
Some of their shoes will also offer rocker bottoms as well as very decent arch support.
Here are some designs below:
Women’s Nike Shoes
Men’s Nike Shoes
Skechers have a very solid reputation and its because they build a solid product. They offer a variety of shoes, but their runners are excellent quality and the models we would recommend also sport rocker bottom technology.
Keep in mind the models are reasonably pricy, but if this is not a problem for you then they are recommended.
Check out some of their designs below:
Women’s Skechers Shoes
Men’s Skechers Shoes
#4 Work Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
We spend many hours a week at our workplaces. Because of this it’s essential we think about the best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis when working.
It was mentioned earlier that you could even have two pairs of shoes that you rotate through the working week. This will change the load on your Plantar Fascia.
There are many options for work shoes, but here are some brands to consider when picking your ideal shoe:
Dr comfort make great professional looking shoes specifically for foot conditions like Plantar Fasciitis. Unsurprisingly they are comfortable shoes that offer a combination of padding and arch support.
Dr Comfort will also add certain modifications like rocker bottoms or increased arch fill if you needed that extra support.
Here are some examples of Dr Comfort shoes:
Women’s Dr Comfort Shoes
Men’s Dr Comfort Shoes
#5 Other Crowd Favourites for Plantar Fasciitis
There are many more shoes than this article could possibly cover. Our hope is to give the reader a good starting point to test the best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis.
Other shoes that have particularly helped people get through Plantar Fasciitis are mentioned below as more alternatives for you to explore:
Brooks shoes are an incredible choice for anyone struggling with Plantar Fasciitis. They have a very loyal following and people that get them, usually rave about them.
They are primarily a running shoe with a great design that offer lots of heel cushioning. Heel support is increased through their guide rail technology which aims to help keep the heel secure during stride.
Here are some different Brooks designs:
Women’s Brooks Shoes
Men’s Brooks Shoes
New balance joggers are another popular choice for people struggling with plantar fasciitis. This shoe is comfortable and versatile in design whilst still offering large amounts of support for runners and walkers alike.
New balance has wide versions for most of their shoes, making it a go-to for people with naturally larger feet. Many people who struggle finding that shoe that fits really well because of foot size may just find a shoe with New Balance.
Here are some different New Balance designs:
Men’s New Balance Shoes:
Women’s New Balance Shoes:
#6 Boots for Plantar Fasciitis
Boots can often be overlooked, however they are needed by a variety of different manual professions. On top of this they may be used for bush-walking, however this is not advisable for sufferer’s of Plantar Fasciitis unless you have been training.
The principles for finding the best boots for Plantar Fasciitis remain the same. They need excellent cushioning in the heel as well as adequate arch support.
Boots have the added benefit of providing some passive stability to the ankle. This can help prevent excessive pronation or inward rolling which is often associated with increased risk of Plantar Fasciitis.
Here are some of our recommendations for boots if you struggle with Plantar Fasciitis:
Oboz are a great brand if you need hiking shoes. They are not specifically made for Plantar Fasciitis, but offer great support and flexibility.
It is advisable that off the shelf orthotics are added into these boots or any other boots, for a bit of extra arch support. But as far as boots go, these have it all including: Dual density mid-soles, heel support, nylon shanks and waterproof leather uppers.
Here are some different Oboz designs:
Women’s Oboz Shoes
Men’s Oboz Shoes
The best shoes for Plantar Fasciitis will vary between individuals. The above will help to guide your selection of shoe. Remember if you work as a nurse standing all day or in other similar professions, rotate between multiple pairs of shoe.
Frequently Asked Questions
What shoes work best for Plantar Fasciitis?
The evidence has shown the best results when you combine rocker bottom shoes with any insoles- either custom or pre-fabricated (off-the-shelf)
What do doctors recommend for Plantar Fasciitis?
Doctors would recommend similar treatment to this article. Starting with at least a year of treatment that doesn't involve surgery. These could be shoes, night splints, exercise therapy, insoles, taping and more!
What's the best women's shoes for Plantar Fasciitis?
There will never be one perfect shoe. But it would be recommended that they have a rocker bottom, good arch support and good cushioning around the heel at a minimum.
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