Choosing the Right Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (2024)

A debilitating and common condition among runners, plantar fasciitis can affect the ability to perform simple daily activities, such as standing and sleeping due to the intense ( and potentially chronic) pain it causes. This condition occurs when the plantar fascia, a tissue band running along the bottom of the feet, becomes inflamed. Such inflammation leads to harsh, sharp pain in the arch and/or heel of the foot. In some cases, people might feel a burning sensation on the bottom of their feet.

One of the key proactive actions to take in mitigating or preventing plantar fasciitis is purchasing the proper gear, especially when it comes to shoes. Knowing the precise insole type and shape of your feet (for example, having high arches) can help you effectively manage this foot condition.

What to Consider When Buying Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

In a cross-sectional study that looked at the impact of footwear on foot health, researchers found that 83 percent of people wear the wrong shoes. A whopping 82 percent of plantar fasciitis patients wear shoes with improper heel height and almost 56 percent wear shoes with non-cushioned insoles that lack built-in arch support. The researchers state that inappropriate shoes can cause severe heel pain, which inhibits a patient's normal day-to-day activities. The results of this study conclude that picking the right shoes can make a significant difference for those with plantar fasciitis.

“It's important to consider [shoe] factors such as arch support, cushioning, and insoles,” says Daniel Pledger, DPM, podiatrist and founder ofePodiatrists. He recommends consulting with a podiatrist to determine the proper course of action based on your individual needs.

When buying shoes for plantar fasciitis, Dr. Pledger states that there are four points to consider: arch support, cushioning, foot shape, and shoe heel height.

Arch Support

Archsupports areadded or built-in to your shoes to support your foot’s natural arch and their purpose is to eliminate or decrease pain. Dr. Pledger says that shoes with good arch support can help distribute your weight across the foot, which reduces strain on the plantar fascia. “Consider shoes with a built-in arch or ones that can accommodate custom orthotics," he says.

Cushioning

Shoes with good shock absorption and adequate padding are best for those with plantar fasciitis. “Cushioning in the heel and forefoot can help absorb shock and reduce the impact on the plantar fascia,” says Dr. Pledger.

Certain running stores and online retailers offer generous return policies, allowing you to test a pair of athletic shoes for up to a month with a full refund. This provides you an opportunity to try out the shock absorption and cushioning on different terrains, such as the track, sidewalk/asphalt, and trails.

Foot Shape

According to Dave Candy, PT, DPT, OCS, ATC, CMTPT, FAAOMPT, owner of More 4
Life
, flat-footed people should purchase shoes that help control their foot motion. He recommends these overpronators look for “motion control” athletic shoes.

Those with high arches tend to under pronate, he says, which means that their feet do not absorb shock well.“As a result, people with high arches should look for shoes with a lot of cushioning,” he says. “Additionally, high-arch insoles that have a high arch but are soft and cushioned(rather than firm and hard) may be helpful.”

Shoe Heel Height

Shoe heel height, whether in athletic or non-athletic shoes, can make a difference in plantar fasciitis. In a cross-sectional study conducted in an orthopedics’ outpatient department, researchers collected data from 101 patients diagnosed with plantar fasciitis. They found that appropriate shoes for this condition had a heel height between 0.5 and 4 centimeters; minimal (under 0.5 cm) or high heel (greater than 4 cm) were categorized as inappropriate.

You may need to experiment to find a shoe heel height that feels supportive and comfortable for your feet.

Which Shoes Are Best for Plantar Fasciitis?

The best type of shoe for this condition varies, as it depends on your foot shape and shoe preference—one type fits all does not apply here. It also depends on whether you are walking or running. If your condition is severe, speaking with a podiatrist can help you determine the best shoe fit.

However, Dr. Bruce Pinker, DPM, AACFAS, FAPWCA, DABPM, FACPM, offers overall advice for shoe shoppers. Sneakers can be very supportive for those with plantar fasciitis if there is a cushioned midsole for proper shock absorptionand cushioning.”

Are Birkenstocks Good for Plantar Fasciitis?

As far as having plantar fasciitis and wearing non-athletic shoes, Dr. Candy says that Birkenstocks can work for this condition. Birkenstocks is a brand “that offers decent arch support. These can be good to wear for office work or around the house, so that you always have at least some arch support,” he says.

Are Crocs Good for Plantar Fasciitis?

Dr. Pledger acknowledges that Crocs are popular for their ease of use (simply slip in and out of them) and comfort. However, he does not recommend them for those who have this condition because "they do not provide much arch support or cushioning and can exacerbate plantar fasciitis symptoms in some individuals.” There are other comparable options, such as flip flops, that may work for those with plantar fasciitis.

The 9 Best Men’s Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis, Found and Tested by Experts

Insoles for Plantar Fasciitis

Although they come with a bit of a price tag, insoles or custom orthotics could alleviate pain. Perhaps this makes the cost worth it to better your quality of life. However, if the price of custom orthotics is too steep, you could try out prefabricated insoles. In fact, research supports the use of prefabricated insoles.

In 2019, a comprehensive report was published by the Canadian Agency for Drugs and Technologies in Health on the difference between custom-made and prefabricated foot orthoses after 6 weeks, 12 weeks, and 12 months of treatment in adult patients with plantar heel pain. In the report, researchers said they found no difference in foot pain, self-reported short-term recovery, and patient satisfaction. However, the reported comfort level was mixed. If you find prefabricated options uncomfortable, you might want to seriously consider custom ones (even with their price).

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Do compression socks help plantar fasciitis?

    As for 2023, no published, peer-reviewed, scientific evidence supports the theory that compression socks help plantar fasciitis. You would need to try out these types of socks and feel a difference for yourself. You could even experience a placebo effect, but if that helps reduce pain, then the investment could be worth it.

    Learn More:The 10 Best Compression Socks

  • Can too much arch support cause plantar fasciitis?

    Evidence is limited on too much arch support causing plantar fasciitis. However, a muscle-driven finite element analysis from 2021 on various arch support heights did find that different heights can affect a foot’s internal biomechanics. Researchers discovered that high arch support decreased plantar fascia loading by 5%-15.4% in proximal regions but increased it in distal and middle regions.

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Choosing the Right Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (2024)

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