Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis, According to Physical Therapists

Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis, According to Physical Therapists

Struggling with plantar fasciitis pain? Rawlogy is in the business of massage balls that treat plantar fasciitis symptoms; however, many of our customers have found relief in footwear designed with specific features like cushioning and support to alleviate this condition. The right shoes can make all the difference!

In this guide, we share our insights from physical therapists we work with, spotlighting the best shoes for plantar fasciitis. We'll be focusing on key features like arch support and cushioning that will help ease your pain and improve foot health. For massage and stretching tips, refer to our article on Top Techniques for How to Massage Plantar Fasciitis for Pain Relief.

Key takeaways

  • Understanding Plantar Fasciitis: Plantar fasciitis is a prevalent cause of heel pain, arising from inflammation or tears in the plantar fascia, a thick tissue band stretching from the heel to the toes. This condition often results in stabbing pain, especially noticeable during the first steps in the morning or after extended periods of inactivity

  • Identifying Symptoms and Causes: Symptoms of plantar fasciitis include heel pain, tenderness along the foot arch, and increased discomfort after long periods of standing or intense activities. Key causes highlighted by physical therapists include wearing inappropriate footwear, faulty foot mechanics, tight calf muscles, overuse from high-impact activities, and obesity​

  • Essential Footwear Features for Relief: Choosing the right shoes is crucial for managing plantar fasciitis. Important features to look for include good arch support to distribute foot pressure, adequate cushioning to absorb impact, stability to maintain proper foot position, a comfortable fit to accommodate swelling, appropriate bendability, a stiff heel counter for support, and sufficient toe space to prevent crowding and discomfort​

    What is plantar fasciitis?

    Plantar fasciitis is a common cause of heel pain that results from inflammation or tears in the plantar fascia, a thick band of tissue running across the bottom of your foot, connecting your heel bone to your toes.

    "This condition is characterized by stabbing pain, particularly with the first steps in the morning, after long periods of standing or sitting, or following intense activity​" says the Drayer Physical Therapy Institute, a leading operator of outpatient physical therapy clinics in the United States

    Symptoms of plantar fasciitis

    Symptoms usually develop gradually and include:

    • Heel pain, especially with the first steps in the morning.

    • Tenderness along the arch of the foot.

    • Increased pain after prolonged standing or intense physical activity.

    • Difficulty climbing stairs and walking barefoot or in shoes with poor support

      Causes of plantar fasciitis

      Physical therapists like those from OneRehab, a Texas-based multi-specialty therapy center with specialists in physical therapy, neuro-rehabilitation, and sports medicine, highlight inappropriate footwear as a top contributing factor, in addition to four other key factors:

      • Inappropriate Footwear: Wearing shoes with inadequate support or high heels can lead to plantar fasciitis by providing insufficient arch support and cushioning.

      • Faulty Foot Mechanics: Abnormal walking patterns, often due to poor foot, knee, or hip mechanics, can increase strain on the plantar fascia.

      • Tight Calf Muscles: Tightness in the Achilles tendon or calf muscles limits heel movement, adding strain to the plantar fascia.

      • Overuse and High Impact Activities: Athletes, especially those involved in running and jumping, are at higher risk due to repeated stress on the feet.

      • Obesity and Rapid Weight Gain: Increased weight adds pressure on the feet, contributing to the development of plantar fasciitis​

        What to consider when buying the best shoes for plantar fasciitis

        Several key factors should be considered when searching for the ideal shoes to combat plantar fasciitis. These factors include:

        • Arch support: Good arch support is crucial for plantar fasciitis as it helps distribute pressure across your foot, reducing strain on the plantar fascia. Proper arch support can also improve alignment and prevent the overpronation that often leads to plantar fasciitis​

        • Cushioning: Adequate cushioning in shoes absorbs the impact of each step, which can significantly reduce heel pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Cushioning helps to provide comfort and protect the plantar fascia from further irritation. Athletic shoes like the Hoka Bondi 8 are highly recommended for their reliable cushioning and support, designed with recycled materials.

        • Stability: Stable shoes are essential as they help maintain the correct foot position and prevent excessive movement that can exacerbate plantar fasciitis. Stability features, such as a firm midsole and heel counter, support the foot and minimize strain on the plantar fascia

        • Comfortable fit that can accommodate foot swelling: A comfortable fit is critical, especially since feet can swell throughout the day. Shoes with adjustable features, like laces or straps, can provide a customized fit that accommodates changes in foot size and reduces discomfort​

        • Bendability of the shoe: While some flexibility in the shoe is necessary, excessive bendability can increase strain on the plantar fascia. A good shoe should bend at the toes but remain relatively stiff in the midfoot to support the arch properly

        • Stiffness of the heel counter: A stiff heel counter provides added support and helps control the motion of the heel. This feature is essential in preventing overpronation and reducing stress on the plantar fascia, promoting better alignment and stability

        • Space for toes: Adequate toe space prevents squeezing and crowding, which can contribute to discomfort and exacerbate plantar fasciitis symptoms. A roomy toe box allows natural foot movement and reduces pressure on the forefoot​

        It is also important to consider bringing along any orthotics you use to guarantee a proper fit.

        Our top picks for the best shoes for plantar fasciitis

         While numerous shoes claim to offer relief for sore soles, a select few truly stand out as exceptional solutions for those dealing with plantar fasciitis. The following are top picks from physical therapists we work with:

        • Best for Professionals on their Feet All Day: Hoka Bondi SR

        • Best for Runners: Brooks Ghost Running Shoes

        • Best for Everyday Wear: Dansko Slip-ons

        • Best for Casual Style: Birkenstocks Sandals

        Best for Professionals on their Feet All Day: Hoka Bondi SR

        Bondi SR

        The Hoka Bondi SR (Men's | Women's), a top choice among shoes for plantar fasciitis sufferers, offers plush cushioning that serves as a haven for feet, protecting them against the jolting forces of everyday life. Its sturdy build and expansive midsole lay the foundation for stability, particularly beneficial for seniors seeking both solace and support. Yet, for some, the shoe’s fashion statement may not resonate, and the robust arch support could take some getting used to.

        Check price & availability: Men's Hoka Bondi SR | Women's Hoka Bondi SR


        • Heavy cushioning

        • Stiff construction

        • Wide midsole design

        • Leather upper

        • Early Stage Meta-Rocker design

        • APMA Seal of Acceptance


        • Impact protection, including the heel bone

        • Enhanced stability

        • Suitable for varying climates

        • Smooth heel-to-toe transitions


        • Limited style and color range

        • Initial discomfort due to arch support


        • Comfort: 9/10

        • Style: 7/10

        • Support: 10/10

        • Durability: 8/10

        Best for Runners: Brooks Ghost Running Shoes

        The Brooks Ghost 15 (Men's | Women's) is a top physical therapist recommended shoe for plantar fasciitis. The Ghost offers a 12mm drop from heel to toe which helps to put your weight more in the forefoot and away from the plantar in your heel. The Ghost offers a slightly wider toe box by design to help get you a little more wiggle room in the fit, and it has great cushioning to help make for soft and smooth transitions.

        If you feel you are still getting a lot of agitation in your plantar, try the Ghost Max (Men's | Women's) model. The Ghost Max works to keep your gait neutral but with some added width for stability. The Ghost Max has a soft cushion, GlideRoll Rocker, and low drop which reduces energy absorption in foot soft tissues so they don't work as hard and can help to cut back on stress to your plantar.

        Check price & availability: Men's Brooks Ghost 15 | Women's Brooks Ghost 15


        • 12mm heel-to-toe drop

        • Wider toe box

        • DNA LOFT v2 cushioning

        • GlideRoll Rocker technology


        • Lessens heel pressure

        • Roomy comfort for toes

        • Ideal for aggravated plantar fascia


        • May require a break-in period

        • Increased width may not suit everyone


        • Comfort: 8/10

        • Performance: 9/10

        • Support: 9/10

        • Fit: 7/10

        Best for Everyday Wear: Dansko Slip-ons

        Dansko shoes (Men's | Women's) have become a popular option among professionals in healthcare, culinary arts, and the service industry, as well as individuals who struggle with plantar fasciitis pain. Known for their roomy toe box, cushioned footbed, and superior arch support, Dansko footwear is designed to reduce foot pain and prevent injuries. Made from high-quality materials and featuring robust construction, these shoes are built to withstand years of frequent use. Although primarily intended for work settings, many Dansko styles are versatile enough to be worn casually or for more formal occasions.

        Check price & availability: Men's Slip-on Danskos | Women's Slip-on Danskos


        • Dual-density polyurethane heel cushioning

        • Natural arch technology

        • Lightweight EVA midsole

        • Gel-cushioning and memory foam layer


        • All-day comfort

        • Cooling technology lining

        • Microbe shield for odor control


        • May not appeal to all aesthetic tastes

        • Limited color options


        • Comfort: 10/10

        • Style: 6/10

        • Support: 9/10

        • Versatility: 7/10

        Best for Casual Style: Birkenstocks Sandals

        Birkenstocks stand as the epitome of casual chic, their cork beds sculpted to cradle the foot’s natural contours and provide indispensable support. The ability to tweak the fit via adjustable straps is a boon for those with plantar fasciitis, who can fine-tune their sandals for optimal alignment. Yet, the initial stiffness may deter some, and the cost could stretch thinner wallets a touch too far.

        Check price & availability: Men's & Women's Birkenstocks


        • Anatomically shaped cork-bed

        • Adjustable straps


        • Customizable fit

        • Effective arch support


        • Uncomfortable break-in period

        • Higher price point


        • Comfort: 8/10

        • Style: 9/10

        • Support: 8/10

        • Value: 7/10

        Essential features for plantar fasciitis footwear

        The search for the perfect shoe can seem overwhelming for those dealing with the challenges of plantar fasciitis. However, certain features can act as beacons, leading you to footwear that provides genuine relief. Heel and arch support, a firm heel counter, and cushioning are the pillars on which effective plantar fasciitis shoes stand.

        Start your search for the perfect walking shoes by looking for shoes that resist bending in half, as this stiffness is a telltale sign of the support needed to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain, especially for those with flat feet who need to wear shoes with proper support.

        Finding your perfect fit

        The path to finding the perfect shoe fit is unique and personal, as individual as the feet that will wear them. Measuring both feet each time you shop is a cornerstone practice, as is focusing on feel over size labels, which can vary by manufacturer.

        It’s vital to find a snug fit that can adjust to daily foot swelling, while also providing space for custom orthotics, if necessary.

        When to replace your plantar fasciitis shoes

        Even the most supportive shoes have a lifespan, and it’s important to identify when the heel padding starts to lose its durability or when the support structures begin to deteriorate. Replacing your plantar fasciitis shoes at the right time ensures continuous support and pain relief, maintaining the integrity of your stride and the health of your feet.


        To wrap up, navigating the world of plantar fasciitis shoes can be akin to finding a needle in a haystack. However, armed with the knowledge of what to look for and an understanding of when to replace worn-out shoes, you can step confidently towards a future where heel pain doesn’t dictate your day. Remember, the best shoe is the one that fits you perfectly and supports your unique foot shape, making your journey with plantar fasciitis a more comfortable one.

        Frequently Asked Questions

        What are the signs that I need to replace my plantar fasciitis shoes?

        If you notice worn-down support structures like heel and arch support, or compromised sole integrity, it's time to replace your plantar fasciitis shoes.

        How often should I measure my feet when buying new shoes?

        It's best to measure both feet each time you shop for shoes, as sizes can change over time and feet may differ in size.

        Can I use custom orthotics with plantar fasciitis shoes?

        Yes, you can use custom orthotics with plantar fasciitis shoes that have removable footbeds for enhanced support.

        What type of cushioning is best for plantar fasciitis shoes?

        The best type of cushioning for plantar fasciitis shoes is ample and even cushioning, which helps reduce force transmitted to the plantar fascia, providing comfort and assisting in managing foot pain.

        Are flip flops a good option for plantar fasciitis?

        Fitflop Flip Flops are a suitable option for plantar fasciitis due to their good arch support and cushioning, providing budget-friendly relief.

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