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Plantar fasciitis is a common condition that causes pain and discomfort in the heel while walking and running. For many people, finding the right shoes can be part of the solution that brings relief.

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of pain in the heel. Approximately 2 million people visit the doctor due to plantar fasciitis each year.

People with plantar fasciitis will likely require extra cushioning in their shoes to provide support and minimize foot and heel pain. Some people may also benefit from orthopedic shoes or other alternatives, such as insoles, to help manage the condition.

This article explains factors affecting shoe suitability for people with plantar fasciitis and things to avoid. It also provides a list of options for people to consider.

Medical News Today follows a strict product selection and vetting process. Learn more here.

Many manufacturers make shoes suitable for people with plantar fasciitis. Here are some options people may wish to try.

The below table provides a comparison between the products mentioned in this article.

ProductMaterialsOther featuresPrice
HOKAEVA foam• rubber sole
• breathable textile lining
• shock-absorbing design
from around $200
FitFlopleather• slip-on design
• elasticated heel
• breathable microfiber lining
around $110
Naotleather, EVA, and latex• arch support
• shock-absorbing
• lightweight design
from around $120
Orthofeetrubber sole, synthetic outer• orthotic insole
• ergonomic sole
around $45
KocotaEVA• lightweight
• supportive
• flexible
from around $36
Dr. Scholl’snatural rubber latex• shock impact reduction
• arch support
• motion control
from around$32
Sauconyrubber sole• lightweight
• stability
• overpronation support
$110
Keenleather and EVA• anti-odor design
• secure fit
• waterproof
$145
Skechersfoam and Goga Mat footbed• podiatrist certified arch support
• lightweight
around $70

Plantar fasciitis is a common condition involving irritation and pain in the connective tissue called the plantar fascia, which connects the heel bone to the toes. Research from 2023 notes that it is the most common cause of heel pain among people who do not need to stay overnight in the hospital.

The most characteristic symptom is stabbing pain under the heel. Often, this pain is worse with the first few steps in the morning. The condition generally occurs due to overuse and stress in the area, such as prolonged standing or walking. Other risk factors include:

  • repetitive impact or pressure from exercise, such as running
  • having flat feet, high arches, or tight calf muscles
  • age, as plantar fasciitis is especially common in people between the ages of 40 and 60 years
  • being pregnant or overweight, which puts more pressure on the feet
  • having certain medical conditions, such as arthritis
  • wearing high-heeled shoes regularly

Additionally, wearing a shoe unsuitable for the foot’s structure may contribute to plantar fasciitis. This is because it can put pressure on different areas of the foot or prevent it from taking its natural shape while walking. So, finding the correct shoe is important in limiting or avoiding plantar fasciitis symptoms.

Research notes that about 75% of cases go away on their own within 1 year. However, many people must take long-term measures to avoid stress in the plantar fascia and prevent the pain from returning.

Medical News Today chooses products that meet the following criteria:

  • Price: MNT chooses products available for a wide range of budgets.
  • Reputable: MNT chooses products from businesses that adhere to industry best practices.
  • Materials: MNT chooses products that use safe and durable materials and fabrics that are easy to clean.
  • Sizing: MNT chooses products available for shoe sizes.
  • Quality: MNT chooses companies that adhere to high quality manufacturing processes.
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Wearing supportive and comfortable shoes may help reduce the impact of putting weight on the feet. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) provides a guide to choosing the right footwear.

While the best type of shoe for plantar fasciitis may vary slightly from person to person, it is generally important to find one that:

  • supports the foot while allowing it to move naturally, minimizing pressure on sensitive areas like the plantar fascia
  • provides varying levels of shock absorption, reducing the impact of walking on very hard surfaces
  • provides good heel cushioning and support, arch support, and a flexible insole, helping the foot to move naturally

There are also some things to avoid when seeking a suitable shoe for plantar fasciitis. These include shoes that:

  • are too restrictive or tight and prevent the foot from moving naturally, as this may increase pressure unnaturally throughout the foot
  • raise the foot significantly, particularly those that lift the heel high above the toes, such as very high heels or wedges
  • mimic the feel of walking barefoot, as they may not offer enough support

For some people, completely switching shoes may not always be possible. Certain alternatives may provide other options to manage plantar fasciitis.

Custom insoles

Insoles are a popular option, as they allow many people to add the extra support they need to almost any pair of shoes. Custom insoles require a trip to the podiatrist or another specialist, which can be costly.

However, a specialist will custom-fit orthotics specifically to each foot. This personalized approach may give a person the exact type of support they need in their footwear.

Over-the-counter (OTC) insoles

OTC insoles may help support and cushion where a person needs them most. Many companies offer various options to support different foot types. These insoles are not custom fitted to each person, but they may provide general support and stability that are useful for many people with plantar fasciitis.

Physical therapy

Physical therapy sessions may be helpful in many cases. A physical therapist may recommend stretching and strength training exercises to help ease symptoms in the feet.

Splints

Some doctors may advise wearing splints at night to help ease pain. A 2019 systematic review of mechanical treatment options for plantar fasciitis found that night splints can sometimes reduce pain, but splints were not significantly more effective than insoles.

Some people may find Hokas help to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain due to the cushioning in the shoes.

However, they may not suit everyone with plantar fasciitis, so it is best to try them and other options to see if they are the right choice for a person’s individual needs.

The AAOS recommends wearing shoes with thick soles and extra cushioning to help with plantar fasciitis, but finding the best brand of shoe for plantar fasciitis will depend largely on preference and budget.

However, a person should prioritize shoes that offer arch support, cushioning, and shock absorption. They should also keep the feet in a natural position.

Before buying, a person should read what other customers think about their chosen brand and buy shoes from companies that offer returns or trial periods.

The United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) provides some tips that may help people ease plantar fasciitis pain, which include:

  • applying an ice pack on the painful area
  • engaging in gentle stretching exercises
  • using insoles
  • keeping the foot elevated

Physiotherapists may also suggest the type of exercises a person may perform.

A person should choose shoes with arch support and thick cushioning around the heel.

The NHS recommends that people with plantar fasciitis avoid:

  • standing for long periods
  • wearing backless slippers
  • walking barefoot
  • wearing high heels

This will vary among individuals. Some may find one material more supportive and comfortable than another.

A person should consider their budget when looking to purchase a sneaker for plantar fasciitis. They should ensure the sneaker provides good arch support and appropriate cushioning around the heel.

Shoes containing appropriate heel cushioning and arch support may be beneficial for plantar fasciitis.

Plantar fasciitis is a common issue that causes stabbing pain in the heel. Opting for shoes that provide more cushioning and support may help some people manage or avoid symptoms.

Anyone managing plantar fasciitis should consult a podiatrist or physical therapist for advice on devices, exercises, and other techniques to help alleviate symptoms.