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How To Pick the Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

Footwear that offers cushioning plus heel and arch support can help you relieve and manage symptoms

Person putting on athletic shoes

You might have heard about the importance of investing in good shoes. It’s sound advice, given how much of our lives we spend on our feet.


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And if you’re among the millions with a foot condition like plantar fasciitis, you know that good footwear goes beyond just aesthetics. Your feet need a little extra care and support.

So, what shoes should be in your closet if you have plantar fasciitis? Let’s find out from podiatrist Gina Hild, DPM.

What to look for if you have plantar fasciitis

Plantar fasciitis affects a band of tissue known as your plantar fascia, which runs from your heel to the ball of your feet. The condition flares up when your foot is stressed or overused.

The best thing you can do for your feet if you have plantar fasciitis is to ensure they have ample arch support. But what does this mean exactly?

For starters, high heels, flat sandals and flip-flops should be avoided as much as possible — especially if you’re walking for long distances or extended periods (more on that in a moment).

Instead, look for footwear offering cushioning and heel and arch support to help relieve and manage plantar fasciitis, recommends Dr. Hild. This may look slightly different depending on the shoe. Here’s what to look for by shoe type.

Walking/running shoes

A well-made sneaker will give you the best all-around support when it comes to footwear for plantar fasciitis. And there’s a range of options if you’re looking for good walking shoes.

Not all shoes are created equal, though — and typically, you get what you pay for, notes Dr. Hild.

When shopping around, look for walking or running shoes that have:

  • Plenty of toe room.
  • Good arch and heel support.
  • Shock absorption.
  • A comfortable, cushioned insole.
  • A thicker heel (which also can reduce strain on the plantar fascia).

Walking or running shoes with these factors can help distribute your weight more evenly, reduce strain and create a more comfortable, supportive and softer feel for your feet during long walks.

Try brands like New Balance®, HOKA®, Brooks®, On (Cloud)® and Altra®.

Hiking shoes

Shoes for trudging up a hill are doing different work for you than shoes for walking on a flat surface. When shopping for hiking shoes, you’ll want to check off the same boxes as for walking shoes: good arch support and cushion.

Look for durable and grippy outsoles that provide good traction on different types of terrain, too. This can help prevent slips and falls, which can — unsurprisingly — make your plantar fasciitis symptoms even worse.


In addition, try to find hiking shoes with good ankle support to prevent injury.

Try brands like HOKA, Kuru®, Merrell® and Keen®.

Dress shoes

Whether you’re looking for a fancy sandal or closed-toe dress shoe, certain features can help your plantar fasciitis.

If you need to wear dress shoes for work or special occasions, look for shoes with a supportive footbed and good arch support. Avoid high heels and shoes with a narrow toe box, as these can exacerbate your symptoms.

Brands like Aetrex®, Alegria®, Drew®, Dr. Comfort®, Aravon® and Lifestride® are known for offering comfortable, durable dress shoes that will give you style and support.


Flat shoes can be damaging for plantar fasciitis, but that doesn’t mean you need to give up on wearing summer sandals.

Look for sandals with a contoured footbed that supports your arch and keeps your foot from rolling inward. Oh, and a comfortable, supportive strap is a must.

Birkenstock®, HOKA, OOFOS® and Vionic® are a few brands that often fit the bill.

What to avoid if you have plantar fasciitis

Here are some shoes you should steer clear of if you live with plantar fasciitis:

  • High heels and stiletto heels. These shoes may pump up the drama, but they can also pump up your plantar fasciitis. Heels can put your foot into an unnatural arch, placing immense pressure on your plantar fascia. “For height with better support, try wedges,” suggests Dr. Hild.
  • Flats. Because flats are often so … well, flat, they provide little to no support to your plantar fascia because the weight on your foot isn’t distributed properly. That can make your plantar fasciitis worse. Look for a shoe with a small heel that has good arch support or enough room for insoles, especially if your arches are high or low.
  • Flip-flops. This classic beach shoe is now common in daily life. Unfortunately, most flip-flops have little to no arch support. Dr. Hild recommends that flip-flops be limited to the beach or pool. (Pro tip: Recovery slide sandals are a great substitute for flip flops, but still shouldn’t be used for extensive walking.)


More tips for living with plantar fasciitis

If you’re living with plantar fasciitis, there are ways to relieve pain and discomfort while keeping your feet strong and supported. Try these six tips to give your feet some TLC.

  • Use insoles or orthotics. Over-the-counter insoles can bring cushioning and support to shoes you already own. For a more custom fit, talk to a healthcare provider about getting prescribed orthotics for your shoes.
  • Don’t wear old shoes. Over time, shoes wear down and cushioning soles grow thinner. Don’t push old shoes to the limit. Shoes typically only last about six months or so depending on the activity level of the individual.
  • Break in new shoes properly. When buying new shoes, give your foot time to get used to them. Wear them around the house for a few days before committing to them so they can be returned if they’re uncomfortable. After that, break them in with short walks before going on a trip or long hike.
  • Stretch! Daily foot stretches can do wonders for plantar fasciitis. Try doing these stretches every morning and evening to help relieve pain and discomfort.
  • Be picky. When shopping around, listen to your feet. If any shoes feel tight around your toes, that’s a red flag that they’re not the right ones for you.
  • Get your feet measured. Consult an expert to make sure you’re wearing the right shoe size with the cushioning and support you need. Good shoe stores will be able to do this for you.

Final thoughts

If you live with plantar fasciitis or a similar foot condition, the good news is that there are lots of varieties in shoe styles and brands. The tricky part is doing your research and making sure you’re getting what’s best for your feet and lifestyle.

It’s also a good idea to do your shoe shopping in person, if possible, so you can try different options, see how they feel and make sure they check off all of your boxes.

If you notice that a shoe you’re wearing is causing increased pain and making your plantar fasciitis worse, talk to your healthcare provider before shopping for another pair.


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