Plantar fasciitis occurs when excess pressure damages or tears the plantar fascia tissue, which runs across the bottom of the foot. When it becomes inflamed, it causes tenderness and stabbing pain when the heel is placed flat on the ground. It is most noticeable when you take your first steps in the morning or after a long period of rest.
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The good news? There are multiple ways to manage plantar fasciitis, including choosing the proper footwear for work, exercise, and leisure. The proper footwear can greatly affect your pain level as well as your speed of recovery.
While there aren’t plantar fasciitis-specific shoes, there are some smart features to look for when shopping.
Important features to consider
What works for one person may not necessarily fit the needs of others. Getting the best shoes for plantar fasciitis may be tricky. Still, there are some features to consider when getting one:
Because plantar fasciitis is heel pain, you must look for a shoe with adequate heel support. A deep heel cup can protect the heel bone and help control pronation (inward roll) and supination (outward roll) of the foot.
You should also look for an orthotic shoe with a heel that is higher than the toe. This moves the weight from your heel and redistributes it throughout your entire foot.
Arch support is the raised structure on the inner side of the footbed. This hump allows the foot to rest because it prevents the ligament from stretching too much.
A supportive shoe arch can reduce overpronation, thereby easingtension on the plantar fascia. Some shoes provide more supportfor people with high arches, whereas others are better for people with low arches or flat feet.
Roomy toe box
The shoes we buy are often too small or too tight for our feet. For plantar fasciitis, you want to make sure that the toe box is on the wider side. A wide toe box design ensures your toes are not cramped that can exacerbate foot pain.
Good cushioning and contoured footbed
Look for a shoe with adequate cushioning and a contoured footbed. Not only is this most comfortable, but it reduces the impact when your heel hits the ground.
There’s nothing more uncomfortable than a hard and inflexible shoe. You want a shoe that bends and provides resistance.
The best plantar fasciitis shoes should bend gradually at the ball of your foot and offer some resistance. Shoes that are either too rigid or too unstructured will not protect the feet. Test the shoes by twisting and bending them.
You want shoes that fit your lifestyle. Consider when and where you’ll be wearing the orthotic shoes. Some shoes are better for runners while others for walkers. Some shoes are not suitable for athletic use but are great to wear indoors.
Top 5 Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Best Tennis Shoes: Diadora Speed Blushield 4
Tennis is quite demanding on the feet. Not only do you need to actively run all over your side of the court, but you have to perform swift turns and jumps. Some of the positions you end up in are, at times, too strenuous for your tendons and joints. And if you can’t delay your next match despite having PF, you will definitely need a pair of shoes like the Blushield 4.
Diadora is a famous brand, with years of experience and millions of products sold. Their popular Blushield 4 line offers the best tennis shoes for plantar fasciitis sufferers. So, what exactly earned them a spot on this list?
Firstly, it’s their patented Blushield technology. Each pair of Blushield shoes contains the softest midsole material, tailor-made for a tennis player. It’s light and comfortable to fit the foot properly, but strong enough not to wear out or tear off during an intense game. In addition, the soft mesh padding wicks the moisture and allows for added breathability.
Both the heel and arch support have been upgraded from previous Blushield models. The heel has been brought down a bit and received some extra reinforcement. On the other hand, the mesh is soft enough to prevent any pinching or discomfort during a game.
In short, Diadora did some minor tweaks, but as minimal as they were, they certainly improved the shoes’ on-court performance. The Blushield 4 might feel a bit wide to players with a smaller shoe size, but you will still play some of your best games with them on your feet.
Best Walking Shoes: New Balance 1080 V9
Extra-wide soles, incredibly soft cushioning, additional flex grooves along the midsole and the outsole — these are just some of the features that make New Balance 1080 V9 the best walking shoes for plantar fasciitis.
V9’s soles were tailor-made for walking. They are quite wide and have incredibly soft, thick cushioning. That makes them ill-suited for running, but if you tend to take long walks and PF is making those a painful experience, you will thank your lucky stars that you got a pair of V9s.
Of course, we can’t discuss this splendid pair of New Balance walking shoes without mentioning the French foam. This new technology is the result of data that experts at New Balance have collected from thousands of athletes. The foam itself feels bouncy against the foot, preventing it from hitting the pavement and causing further injury. What’s more, the material is perforated with laser engraving tech to remove all excess weight and give the soles increased comfort.
In addition to upgrading to French foam, New Balance also improved the rubber outsoles of the V9. They received a thread reconfiguration for better traction, as well as grooves for flexing optimization. Moreover, the designers imbued the outsoles with pressure-mapping colors. The colors in question show the user all the common impact zones on each shoe. Walkers across the globe agree that all of the features above make 1080 V9 the best New Balance shoes for plantar fasciitis.
Best Sandals: Birkenstock Arizona
Finding the best sandals for plantar fasciitis isn’t easy. A lot of models out there are simply uncomfortable, even for people whose heel and arch are both in perfect condition. However, a good pair of plantar fasciitis sandals is extremely important if you suffer from the condition. That’s especially true in the hot summer weather, when you need footwear that exposes your skin and lets it breathe.
Birkenstock does indeed have a pair of sandals suited for people who suffer from PF. Its Arizona line is a solid combination of comfort, durability, and aesthetics. It’s no wonder that so many people choose Birkenstocks as their go-to sandals, whether they have PF or not.
The Arizona sandals promote equal distribution of weight, as well as enhance proper gait. They achieve that thanks to their contoured footbed design choice. Each shoe contains a deep, curved heel cup that aligns your foot properly and allows for some relief of the plantar fascia.
Of course, there’s one particular feature that makes the Arizona sandals stand out, and it has everything to do with the choice of materials. Their footbed is made of cork and a special kind of latex. This combination allows it to actually change and adapt to the shape of your foot. The process is similar to that of an anatomical pillow.
The rubber soles of the Birkenstock Arizona are incredibly versatile. Not only will they endure all surfaces, but you will be able to walk with next to no slippage. In addition, they are quite sturdy, so it will be some time before you have to buy new plantar fasciitis sandals again.
Best Slippers: Haflinger Unisex AT
A good set of plantar fasciitis shoes is great for people who tend to go out for errands, walks, or exercise. However, PF can actually worsen if you walk around your house barefoot or in ill-fitting footwear. That’s why you’ll need a solid pair of slippers for plantar fasciitis. And few such shoes can match Haflinger Unisex AT.
As the name suggests, the AT shoes will fit both men and women. They are a snug fit, so anyone can easily put them on and take them off. Moreover, they have a neat, neutral design that matches every outfit you might wear.
In terms of materials, the Unisex AT are made of high-quality wool. In addition, they contain a latex felt insole and a lightweight rubber outsole. The rubber makes the slippers incredibly flexible, while the latex provides superior cushioning as you walk. Moreover, the wool perfectly wicks any moisture, providing you with extra comfort and superior pain relief.
Because of their design, the Haflinger Unisex AT slippers are best suited for the indoors. However, with the outsole being so durable, you can wear them outside if you want to. And since they are made from boiled wool, they can withstand some mild precipitation, like light rain. They have everything that a pair of plantar fasciitis slippers need, which is why they deserve a spot on this list.
Best Running Shoes: Asics Gel Nimbus 20 and 22
Walking with PF is one thing, and as you can see, there is no shortage of high-quality walking footwear. But running with PF is an entirely different matter. In order to alleviate pain and keep your foot in check, you’ll need the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis available.
There are plenty of running plantar fasciitis shoes out there, yet few are as good as the Nimbus 20 and the Nimbus 22. Both of these spectacular pairs of shoes come from Asics. And just like any other Asics product, they have a ton of interesting features.
First off, there’s the famous stiff outer design. The Gel Nimbuses’ primary goal is to maintain heel stability. The new models are wide enough to accommodate any wearer and provide enough room for the foot to breathe during those long runs. In addition, the rounded heel cup offers support for both the heel and the arch, i.e. the targeted areas of PF.
Asics further improved their running shoes by adding an extra layer of FlyteFoam in the midsole, expanding it all the way to the heel. This material provides you with outstanding impact protection. Furthermore, if you heel-strike during a run, the foam will ensure a smooth transition between a run and a strike. Finally, there’s the porous, soft mesh that offers comfort and breathability while you’re picking up the speed.
Finding the best plantar fasciitis shoes can be difficult if you don’t know where to look or what to look for. Hopefully, this handy list has given you some idea of what your sore heels need. Feel free to choose any of the shoes listed above — your feet will love you for it.