Finding The Right PF Relief Footwear For The Right Occasion
Plantar fasciitis (PF), also known as “joggers heel” and “plantar fasciosis,” is a painful condition that occurs when the plantar fascia (wide band of tissue running along the bottom of each foot from toes to heel bone) becomes inflamed. It is one of the most common causes of heel pain and affects about 10% of all people at some point during their lifetimes. Of the 4-7% of people with heel pain, about 80% suffer from plantar fasciitis.
Victims feel pain in the heel and along the bottom of the foot. Pain is usually most severe first thing in the morning and can be exacerbated by bending the toes and foot upwards towards the shin. Tight Achilles tendons often worsen the pain brought on by PF.
PF is an enthesitis (inflamed condition that involves the attachment of a ligament or a tendon to a bone) characterized by the breakdown of collagen, micro tears, and scarring. While the causes of PF are not fully understood, risk factors include frequent exercise, long periods of standing, and obesity. PF is also associated with pronation of the foot (inward rolling motion while walking/running). While many PF victims develop heel spurs, it is unclear whether or not the spurs play a role in the development of the condition.
Most cases of PF can be cured within 6 months with rest and treatment. Surgery should be viewed as a last result and is considered only when conservative treatment fails.
Shoes are a vital part of reducing PF pain and recovering from the disorder. This article reviews the best shoes for plantar fasciitis in several categories. Keep reading to learn more about shoes that are developed specifically to minimize heel pain and provide the comfort and support you need.
There are 3 things you need to look for when buying any type of shoe:
- Arch support (with firm ankle)
- Good cushioning
- Heel support (with good shock absorption)
If you’re an active individual with PF, don’t worry – there is a shoe out there for you. From women’s dress shoes with built-in orthotics and shock absorbing capabilities to running shoes that encourage a “correct” stride, nearly every type of shoe out there comes in a variety designed for individuals with PF.
While you can also reduce PF pain by placing orthotic insoles into most supportive shoes, shoe inserts are typically less effective than specialty shoes and can cause damage if they aren’t the perfect size.
Here are a few benefits the shoes below offer that “normal” shoes do not:
- Support for fascia ligament
- Specially designed mid and insoles for shock absorption
- Podiatrist and Medicare recommended
- Motion control to correct supination or over-pronation
RUNNING SHOES FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS
Anyone with plantar fasciitis knows it’s impossible to ignore unremitting foot pain. The situation gets even worse for people who enjoy running. The best weapon runners have against PF symptoms is the perfect shoe.
Some runners with PF like to use orthotic inserts to deal with their heel pain. I would caution against this, as insoles can slip around while you’re moving. If insoles don’t fit properly, they can cause more pain and permanent damage.
The main features that PF running shoes have compared to “normal” running shoes are:
- Cushioned heel that protects your foot from increased damage
- Shock absorption to dissipate the force of your foot striking the ground
- Firm midsole, flexible toe box, and solid heel counter
Note: For maximum safety, your shoes should allow your toes to bend from the front half only. The rear half should remain rigid.
- Individuals with supination and high arches should look for shoes that focus on motion control and arch support
- Runners with flat feet who over-pronate should look for shoes with arch support, a stiff inner sole, and a soft heel
- Heavy individuals with over-worked feet should look for shoes that offer good support and cushioning
- Round toe
- Lace-up vamp
- Leather and mesh construction
- Print detail throughout
- GEL cushioning system for comfort
- Grip sole
- Padded collar and tongue
- “FluidRide” cushioned midsole
- Supportive heel-clutching system
This vibrant, lightweight shoe provides stability and is made for individuals with neutral pronation and over-pronation. ASICS FluidFit technology combines stretch reinforcements with multi-directional stretch materials that adapt to a runner’s foot, fitting it like a custom glove. ASICS DuoMax support system makes the shoe lightweight, stable, and supportive all at the same time.
Find pain relief with ASICS heel-clutching system. The outer heel counter gives runners more support and an ideal environment for the heel. Perfect for running, walking, and sports, this shoe also features ASICS “guidance trusstic system,” which utilizes guidance line construction for better gait efficiency and mid-foot support.
The GEL cushioning system provides shock absorption while the FluidRide technology gives runners a soft, bounce back feel while running. ASICS shoes have helped thousands of runners deal with foot pain. This particular shoe is often recommended by podiatrists for individuals who tend to over-pronate and has amazing reviews.
Customers loved the bright color options and found these shoes appropriate for individuals with high arches.
“I’ve always wondered why people shell out so much money for athletic shoes…now I know why,” writes a 5-star reviewer with nerve damage. She purchased the shoes in “wide” and wears them to work.
Runners with IT band problems found this shoe comfortable and effective in regards to gait control. Individuals with PF and tight Achilles tendons found them surprisingly supportive, comfortable, and less clunky than most shoes designed for people with flat feet.
- Solid arch support (perfect for PF pain)
- Mesh body
- Rubber sole
- Extended caterpillar crash pad (improves heel-to-toe transition when foot contacts ground)
- Adjustable saddle allows for targeted support
- Breathable lining keeps feet cool and dry
- HPR Plus technology for durability
- Omega Flex Grooves boost fluidity and support a natural foot movement
- Snug lacing system
The Adrenaline GTS 14 was featured last year as the “Editor’s Choice Shoe” for Runner’s World Magazine. The fantastic support combined with the excellent cushioning makes this shoe perfect for runners with foot conditions. The GTS 14 was designed for individuals who over-pronate. The Adrenaline is pricey, but well worth it.
The GTS 14 is perfect for walking, working out at the gym, and running. Users noted that the shoe is great for hot weather because the material keeps your feet from overheating.
According to reviews, the GTS 14 model is great for:
- Runners with wide toe boxes but narrow heels
- Marathon runners
- Long periods of standing on hard floors
- Cushion and support
- Arch support
- Calf pain
- Low arches
Customers noted that the GTS 14 runs a half-size small. When compared with the GEL-Kayano, the Adrenaline is less cushioned and heavier. Individuals with neuropathy as a result of diabetes may not find the Brooks shoes soft enough.
- Rubber sole
- FluidRide technology for midsole support
- Dynamic DuoMax Support System
- Guidance Line flex grooves
- IGS support system
- GEL-cushioning for rear-foot and forefoot
- Flexibility and support to promote an invigorating experience
The GT 2000 2 is a new and improved version of the GT-2170, an ASCIS shoe that has been praised for years for its abilities to help people with foot problems. The GT 2000 2 combines that trusted functionality with a lighter design. This shoe offers remarkable stability, especially in the heel and midsole.
ASICS IGS (impact guidance system) utilizes specific components to enhance your foot’s natural motion from heal strike to toe-launch. The FluidRide technology provides runners with a durable, stable midsole and a comfortable bounce back feel.
The GT 2000 2 is similar to the Gel-Kayano 20 in that it utilizes many of ASICS’s trademarked technologies. The thing that makes this shoe stand out from the other two shoes in this category is that it was designed for runners with neutral gaits (will not correct over-pronation). It will, however, work wonders for over-worked plantar fascia and is appropriate for heavy individuals.
Customers use these shoes for the following activities:
- Yard work and other outdoor activities
- High mileage training
The GT 2000 2 is perfect for people with wide feet and high arches and, as I mentioned above, is great for heavy individuals. Users found these shoes durable and comfortable, but warned that they run a half-size small. The biggest complaint about this shoe was inadequate shock absorption.
WALKING SHOES/ SNEAKERS
While the PF-specific running shoes described above can be used for walking and other activities, it is not recommended that any type of walking shoe be used for running.
Running shoes excel in all forms of support and are almost always better than casual, walking, or formal shoes. Remember that support and minimizing pain are your priorities – not looks! That being said, if you must opt for something other than a running shoe, check out these good walking shoes:
The Orthaheel brand is known as podiatrist-designed, so you can rest assured that these shoes will provide you with the support and comfort you need to get you through the day. Whether you have a job that keeps you on your feet or you simply need shoes to walk the dog, Orthaheel won’t let you down.
The Action Walker offers arch support, a deep heel, and a comfortable fit. Available in several color options, this leather and mesh shoe has a shock absorbing EVA midsole and a flexible rubber outer sole.
Orthaheel is water-resistant and designed to help align your stride. The shoe features removable, bio-mechanical orthotic inserts with anti-bacterial treatment and a motion-controlling food bed.
Note: For best fit, we recommend ordering a size smaller for half sizes.
The Action Walker has excellent ratings. “My feet used to hurt so much at night and in the morning…after buying these shoes, for the first time in 4 years, my feet feel great at the end of the day! My quality of life has improved,” writes a nurse who used to come home from long shifts in incredible pain. Click here to check out a variety of foot massagers, which may also help PF and other conditions.
“The Orthaheels have strong arch support and solid, stiff soles,” writes a flat-footed reviewer. “I recently switched from New Balance to these shoes. The Orthaheels have a supportive ankle collar that keeps my feet in place when I walk.”
The biggest complaints were in regards to lack of breathability and stiffness of footbed. Many woman consider the shoe bulky and ugly, but wear it anyway because it works so well!
Casual and comfortable, the Brooks Addiction Walker doesn’t stand out visually as a shoe for heel pain. Available in black, brown, and white, this supple leather shoe offers wonderful shock absorption and cushioning.
- Award-winning MOGO midsole
- Trademark PDRB triple-density post on medial side of shoes for excellent stability
- Energy-efficient, durable midsole compound for insole (S-257 Cushsole)
- Feels like a running shoe, but acts like a walking shoe
- Slip-resistant outer sole for stability in wet conditions
The Addiction is a casual, everyday walking shoe that may not be appropriate for office or formal attire.
Note: Reviewers advise new buyers to buy a half size larger and one size wider.
“It’s the best shoe I’ve ever found,” writes a 5-star reviewer who describes himself as a “heavy guy.” He uses the Addiction as an “everyday” shoe and is on his third pair. “I would recommend these over Rockport’s ProWalkers,” he adds.
A construction worker with plantar fasciitis also gave these shoes a 5-star rating, writing that Brooks Addictions are a “godsend.” Other reviewers add that these shoes are great in slippery conditions and for use during long shifts. The biggest complaint about this shoe is the steep price.
Similar to the above product, the New Balance walker comes in a variety of subtle colors and features E-NERGY and ROLLBAR technology. The all-leather shoe provides great motion control and fantastic stability. The MW928 provides cushioning for over-pronators and has been approved by Medicare for diabetics.
- Rubber sole
- ABZORB mid-foot cushioning
- “Walking Strike Path” outsole
- ROLLBAR technology for stability
- Seamless Phantom Liner resists odors
- Available in extra wide sizes
Customers love the cushiony soles and wide toe box. As mentioned above, this shoe works well for individuals with neuropathy as a result of diabetes. The biggest difference between the New Balance and the Brooks shoes are that the NB can be worn in more formal situations and are especially good for wide feet.
“I wore these shoes on a recent trip to Finland and Russia,” writes a 5-star reviewer. “Even though they get top marks from me in the comfort department, they were also stylish enough for more formal situations like the ‘captain’s dinner’ on the river cruise that I was on. I love them because I can wear them almost everywhere!”
The biggest complaint here was in regards to longevity.
Since plantar fasciitis results from over-use, athletes have a significantly higher risk of developing the condition. Numerous professional and casual athletes across a variety of sports continue to play while enduring heel pain. As I mentioned above, the best thing you can do to fight and minimize PF pain is to purchase athletic shoes for plantar fasciitis.
Tennis players are at risk because their favorite sport involves lots of quick movements with running and jumping that can aggravate the bottom of the foot. Whether you play tennis every morning or are looking for a good tennis shoe for other exercises that involve quick movements, the following three shoes should be able to provide comfort and relief from PF pain.
Not only will a good pair of tennis shoes reduce pain from a present condition, but some are also able to prevent PF from ever occurring. Look for a tennis shoe that hugs and compresses the foot to prevent repeated movements from causing damage.
The 1005 offers excellent cushioning and shock absorption and features the trademarked ISS Internal Support System with S-Curve technology for ultimate stability. The herringbone outsole is great for traction and quick pivoting. The upper part of the shoe features breathable mesh for comfort.
In regards to PF, 1005 offers lateral support and lessens strain on the heels. Tennis player can pivot, turn, and stop with ease without sliding or skidding. A padded collar offers extra ankle support and comfort.
The men’s version is pictured above, with color options in white, black, and grey. Reviews are mostly good, with a few complaints that this model isn’t quite as good as the previous model. Customers reported that the 1005 is appropriate for individuals with wide feet and provides excellent cushioning and support.
“So far I have played about 10 games in these shoes and they are very comfortable. Not thrilled with the color choices, but I like how they feel,” writes a 4-star reviewer.
Another tennis player, who has been true to New Balance for over 10 years, says he likes the 1005 because the tread covers the entire area around the big toe. The single biggest advantage to these shoes is that they work well for individuals with wide feet.
While the previous shoe is probably best for preventing plantar fasciitis from developing, the Prince T22 is for those who will not give up tennis despite foot pain. If you are determined to keep playing, the Prince can help minimize pain and reduce damage to your feet.
The Prince T22 offers a cushioned midsole with a trademark ShockEraser heel insert and SoftSpring forefoot insert. Forefoot straps provide excellent support. Breathable mesh on the upper portion of the shoe prevents overheating. The T22 is available in both women’s and men’s versions (men’s is pictured above left).
The Prince T22 provides fantastic traction to lessen the strain on your muscles. This model stands out from its predecessors with increased durability and ventilation. A toecap protects against toe injuries. Men can choose from black, white, and yellow while women have the choice of black, pink, white, red, and cream.
Reviewers agree that the Prince is perfect for toe-draggers. The durable design protects the toes and keeps the shoe from tearing. Customers recommend purchasing a half size bigger than your normal size.
These shoes are on the heavy side. Some players didn’t like it; others found the weight helped keep their center of gravity low. Some found the Prince T22 a little too narrow.
“I wear this shoe for paddle and tennis on all types of surfaces. They are durable and provide great support. I love the wide toe area and they have done a great job preventing blisters on my toes,” writes a 5-star reviewer.
The Prince T22 is the best selling tennis shoe in the United States, and for good reason. Users love the comfort, durability, and traction these shoes provide as well as the support they need to keep playing in spite of PF symptoms.
A soft rubber sole paired with synthetic material on the upper portion provides optimum comfort. ASICS shoes are well known for durability. The Gel Resolution 5 features fantastic support and luxurious comfort – perfect for PF.
Gel cushioning (hence the name) in both the front and back of the shoes absorbs impact to lessen damage to the feet. A light midsole provides both flexibility and support. These lightweight shoes will give you the agility you need for optimum performance. Double layers of memory foam allow the shoe to fit the shape of your foot and provide maximum support for heel and ankle.
The picture above shoes one of the women’s color options, but the ASICS Gel Resolution 5 also comes in a men’s model.
Tennis players love the Gel Resolution 5 and gave it a high rating of 4.5 out of 5 stars. “Expensive, but Amazon has a better price,” notes one 5-star reviewer. “I loved that I didn’t have to break them in. They were ready to go as soon as I bought them,” she continued, noting that her 2-hours tennis match was comfortable.
Compared to the other shoes in this category, the ASICS model stands out for its lightness. “Lateral movement was excellent; they felt like feathers on my feet,” writes another happy tennis player.
Great for high impact and short bursts of running, the ASICS Gel Resolution 5 is unique in that it can benefit all stride types – neutral, pronate, and supinate. Some customers recommended buying a half size larger.
A big and chunky walking shoe might be perfect for managing PF pain, but what do you wear to formal events? Dress shoes for PF may not be quite as effective as the shoes mentioned above, but they will get you through that church service, formal dinner, or wedding reception with minimal pain. Look for these qualities when shopping for dress shoes:
- Closed heels
- Firm heel counters
- Strong arch support
- Firm insole that doesn’t let the foot move around
- Secure closure system
If you thought you had to give up cute ballet flats forever, think again! The Bindi by Earthies looks like a flat, but offers enough heel support for women with PF. The Earthies Bindi features a solid, 1 ¼” heel hidden in this cute, stylish shoe that hints at Indian inspiration. Available in several colors, the Bindi is appropriate for office wear, a day at the beach, and fancier occasions. Find it on Nordstrom’s website for just under $90.
The Bindi features a cushioned footbed, arch support, cupped heel, rubber sole, cradled toe, and anatomical arch. According to reviews, this ultra-lightweight shoe runs half a size small and is ideal for both casual and classy events. Customers found Bindi supportive and comfortable. A few complained about a stitch line near the ball of the foot that caused uncomfortable friction (the problem was solved with a slim insole). There are also reports about the decorative outer layer wearing off easily.
“I always end up with PF in the fall after a summer spent wearing sandals and flats. I hope this shoe will eliminate that,” writes one reviewer. Women loved the soft arch support (compared to the hardness of other “problem” shoes).
“I work on my feet all day. These shoes are supportive and comfortable, but don’t look like your average comfort shoe. They are fashionable and cute, perfect for women who want to look hip but stay comfortable,” writes another satisfied reviewer.
I am always impressed by this company’s ability to produce funky, beautiful, and – most importantly – comfortable boots and shoes. Naot offers over 500 styles, but in regards to a dressy shoe that offers relief from PF pain, I would recommend the Future, a wedge sandal that’s perfect for formal events and will give you the lift of a heel without the pain.
Future is one of Naot’s dressier styles and is perfect for summer outings as well as indoor and outdoor formal events. Its comfy footbed alleviates pain caused by:
- Morton’s neuroma
The Future features a 2” heel and an adjustable velcro strap and is best suited for women with narrow or medium feet. The buckle serves only as decoration. The front strap is padded to provide extra support. The anatomic latex and cork footbed is covered by comfortable leather. A microfiber center prevents slipping and allows the shoe to contour to the shape of your foot.
Customers gave the Future a 4.5 out of 5 stars. Heralded as a “girl shoe for a senior foot,” the Naot provides the perfect amount of heel without looking clunky. Reviewers noted that this shoe runs true to size but will not fit women with wide feet.
“The most comfortable dress shoes I’ve ever purchased,” writes a 5-star reviewer who wore these shoes at her daughter’s wedding.
Men, you’ve got it so much easier than women when it comes to shoes! The Klogs Bistro is a simple, slip-on shoe available in brown or black for just under $60 that is appropriate for most casual and formal events. The Bistro is part of Klogs’Polyurethane Collection, meaning it was designed for comfort and durability. The Bistro is incredibly slip resistant and shock absorbent. It also includes an anti-microbial, full-length, removable insole that is easy to clean. The footbed’s anatomical design provides a deep heel cup and arch support to promote good posture, stability, and body alignment.
Both the footbed and outsole are crafted from molded polyurethane. This provides exceptional energy return and superior shock absorption. Additional benefits:
- Lightweight and flexible
- Contour toe grip (for stability)
- Latex-free insoles
- Wide toe box promotes a barefoot feel
- Can accommodate orthotic inserts
- Easily washable
“I’m on my feet more than 10 hours a day. These shoes were a little bigger than expected, but I added insoles so it wasn’t a problem. They appear to be good quality and I hope they last a long time,” writes a 5-star reviewer.
Other consumers agreed the shoe runs about half a size too big. The Bistro is reported to last about 2 years with daily use. The only consistent complaint was that after breaking in the shoe, some men found the opening to be a little too big.
FLIP-FLOPS & SLIPPERS
So you’ve found the perfect shoe to wear at work and the perfect shoe to wear at the gym – what do you wear at home?
While wearing cheap, traditional flip-flops or slippers is one of the worst things you can do for you feet, choosing a supportive variety can provide comfort, convenience, and pain relief. Flip-flops are also perfect for beachwear or when it’s just too hot for socks!
Flip-flops and slippers obviously won’t provide ankle support, but they can do the following:
- Provide arch support when you wouldn’t normally wear shoes (inside, at the pool, etc.)
- Save wear and tear on your normal shoes
- Offer an easy-on, easy-off option
- Breathability for hot weather
When shopping for flip-flops, look for the following features:
- Deep heel cup
- Arch support
- Snug foot strap
To relieve heel pain, you need to take care of your feet all day. That means no barefoot walking. Whether it’s a trip to the mailbox or a trip to the mall, the following three models will get you there:
Vionic is a leading brand in the foot health industry. Its shoes are pricey, but worth every penny. Vionic shoes are known for motion control. The Bryce Toe is arguably the company’s best flip-flop. It features triple density EVA for stability and cushioning, plus a Vibram outsole that provides excellent traction on almost any surface.
The deep heel cup, webbing toe post, and padded jersey fabric lining offer unmatched comfort, while the bio-mechanical orthotic offers stable arch support. With quality construction and positive feedback from the plantar fasciitis community, the only downside I see is price (one pair costs about $100).
Bryce Toe is available in full sizes only. If you usually wear a half size, we recommend ordering one size larger (i.e. if you wear size 9.5, order a size 10).
“Boy am I happy!” writes a 5-star reviewer. “After studying up on multiple brands, I decided on the Vionic Bryce Toe Post. They fit like a glove and look pretty cool, too. I love the Vibram soles.” After two years of consistent use, he reported no damage to the shoe.
“These shoes lessened the foot pain so much that I wondered if I even had plantar fasciitis!” writes a 4-star reviewer who describes himself as “skeptical.” He notes the high arches in these shoes take some getting used to. One customer compared his first time wearing them as feeling like “walking on a pool ball.” But after two or three weeks, his PF pain was completely gone.
Available for about $65 in nearly 40 different colors, the Ohana is popular for its effectiveness and attractive design. As I’ve mentioned before, shoes for “problem feet” have a habit of being ugly. But not this model!
The OluKai sandal provides fantastic arch support and features a soft footbed and a compression-molded EVA midsole. This sandal is perfect for individuals with high arches and is easy to clean. The Ohana provides pain relief for individuals with plantar fasciitis, but may not fit women with very wide feet. More features include:
- Synthetic nubuck leather (vegan)
- Water resistant
- Quick-drying, soft jersey knit lining
- Nylon toe post
- Anatomically designed ICEVA “drop in” footbed
If you haven’t guessed, this shoe is made in Hawaii. According to reviews, it runs true to size. “The secret to a great flip-flop seems to be a combination of a between-the-toe thing that doesn’t give you blisters and a supportive footbed. I walked in these all day with minimal pain. The straps keep the shoes on your feet, but aren’t too tight,” writes a 4-star reviewer. “They don’t soak up water or stretch out. The most comfortable sandal I’ve ever owned!”
Another happy reviewer writes that her plantar fasciitis pain completely disappeared after wearing Ohana sandals for one month: “My feet feel better than they have in years. You know that first step in the morning is a test – and now I pass it every day! I still place my feet gingerly out of habit, but my pain is completely gone. They don’t look supportive, but man, they sure do make a difference.”
When it comes to slippers, many people chose to wear them in conjunction with orthotic inserts (discussed below). We recommend the Spenco Supreme Slide Slipper, which combines soft, airy comfort and functionality.
When looking for a good slipper, consider the following:
- Orthotic footbed with proper heel and arch support
- Shock absorbing midsole
Men’s slippers are harder to find than women’s, which is why we have chosen to feature the Spenco Supreme. This model features some of the same qualities found in a good shoe: orthotic-grade arch support and a deep heal cup. The slipper is lightweight, cushioned, and boasts a non-mark outsole and slip-resistant bottom.
Spenco is warm, comfortable, and can be worn both inside and outside. Available in black, “chocolate,” and “warm brown,” this cozy shoe features a suede upper with fleece and a faux shearling lining. The footbed is compression-molded EVA.
Spenco’s trademarked TOTAL SUPPORT contour has customers raving. “These are a must if you have flat feet!” writes one 5-star reviewer. “Fantastic arch support plus anti-pronation capability,” adds another happy customer.
Unlike competing brands, Spenco offers good cushioning plus arch support. Reviewers mentioned the shoes are warmer and lighter than they appear
INSERTS FOR ARCH SUPPORT & HEEL PAIN
Orthotic inserts have similar designs to the flip-flops mentioned above: they offer arch support and correct over-pronation, but provide no ankle support. There are several reasons one might chose to buy arch support inserts instead of specialty shoes, including the fact that they are relatively inexpensive. So how do they work?
Orthotic inserts are typically worn in un-supportive shoes. Their function is not unlike that of an orthopedic shoe. Properly fitting insoles will provide support as well as pain relief for plantar fasciitis sufferers. They will also correct gait issues like over-pronation.
The best part about insoles is that they allow you to continue wearing your favorite shoes. When shopping for orthotics, look for the following features:
- Supportive footbed
- Firm yet flexible midsole
- Deep heel cup for stability
There are several types of inserts available depending on the brand. Vionic, which I mentioned above, offers the following types of inserts:
- Active orthotics, designed to be worn inside running shoes.
- Slim orthotics, designed to fit inside heels and other dress shoes.
- Gel heel orthotics provide a simple heel cup for stability; they are best used for walking and other light activities.
- Shock absorbing/comfort orthotics, which can prevent PF altogether, are best for sports and cross-training.
- Relief orthotics, designed for everyday use; they add support to most causal and work shoes.
How to choose the perfect insole:
There are two basic types of insoles: comfort and support. Look for a “comfort” or “shock absorbing” insole if you suffer from achy, tired feet after long periods of walking or standing. This type of insole can be shaped or flat and generally features foam or gel. If the comfort insert doesn’t work, try a “support” style insole.
“Support” or “sport” insoles are harder than the comfort variety and are designed for stability and structural support. In this case, comfort is a result of proper support, not cushioning. Supportive inserts are best for individuals who suffer from the following:
- Plantar fasciitis
- Structural misalignment
- Overpronation or supination
Insoles are also divided by low and high volume. The latter variety is best for high-volume shoes such as running shoes or hiking boots. Low-volume insoles, on the other hand, are best to use with low-volume shoes like cycling shoes, casual shoes, and in-line skates.
Considering the variety of shoes and the variety of insoles designed to fit those shoes, it’s hard to pick the best insoles for plantar fasciitis. However, the three models below are a good start:
Orthaheel features tri-planar motion control to help plantar fasciitis sufferers. Invented by leading podiatrists, this insert’s main function is to realign your feet and minimize over-pronation.Orthaheel inserts are appropriate for running and walking shoes. They offer fantastic control, stability, and support during fast-paced activities and are effective in decreasing PF pain. Features include:
- Four degree rear foot wedge
- Contoured arch and heel
- Shock absorbing heel cushion
- EVA orthotic footbed
- Anti-microbial top cover
- TPU shell
Because the material is able to be trimmed, these insoles fit virtually any shoe. For just $40, this insert can effectively reduce pain from PF. “I hardly ever find a product that actually does what it claims to do. This one is different. Get it and you won’t regret it! Your feet will thank you,” writes a tennis player with PF.
A few customers mentioned these insoles are not as flexible as other brands, but it was hard to find any other complaints considering the 4.5 out of 5 star rating. “These inserts are ultra firm, which is exactly what my podiatrist recommended,” writes a hiker struggling with PF. “It does not prevent symptoms, but it does significantly decrease pain after hikes. Orthaheel Active has proven to be the best choice for my hiking excursions. They worked immediately without a break-in period.”
According to reviews, the Orthaheel orthotics can also relieve ankle, leg, and back pain caused by misaligned gait.
These bright green orthotics have helped PF patients since the 1970’s. They are recommended only for individuals with high arches. Superfeet offers several varieties for different types of feet. The company’s Black model is recommended for individuals with flat or low arches, while the Blue is best for low to medium arches. The Blue model is one of the most popular inserts on the market and is considered “less invasive” than the Green model. If you struggle with PF pain, we recommend the Blue model.
Green fits best in high- and medium-volume shoes with removable inserts that range from causal to running. Superfeet’s distinct shape acts as a bridge between your shoes and your foot while offering stability and comfort. More features:
- Manmade sole
- Anti-bacterial coating
- Fits most roomy shoes with built-in insoles
- High-arched for support
- Fights arch pain, foot pain, PF, and heel pain
The Green model was designed for high arches only. “During a run, a person’s high arches actually collapse. The Green model helps hold the arch despite the collapse. Do not buy this if you have low arches – opt for the Blue model instead,” writes a podiatrist who gave these inserts a 5 star rating. “This insole could potentially cause PF for a person with low arches,” he adds.
All Superfeet inserts have a hard plastic bottom that works as a shock absorber. Superfeet orthotics work well for running, working, and walking – just make sure you buy the correct variety. The biggest complaints here were in regards to price and adaptation time.
One of the best over-the-counter orthotic brands, Powerstep offers orthotics with plush cushioning and firm support geared for enhanced comfort and maximum stability. This insert is ideal for alleviating PF pain and fits into almost any type of shoe.
- Medical-grade support balanced with flexibility
- Double layered cushion for shock absorption and comfort
- Anti-microbial material
Available for about $33, the Pinnacle has rave reviews and is known for reducing pain caused by PF. “I developed plantar fasciitis working as an ICU nurse. When faced with the choice between shelling out $200 to see a podiatrist or buying something off the shelf, I decided to try these insoles,” writes a 5-star reviewer. “It took me a few days to get used to them, but after that walking was much better! My pain disappeared when I wore the insoles. After about 3 months, my PF was cured and has not returned!”
Of the three insoles reviewed above, I would recommend Pinnacle as the best overall option.
Caring for your insoles
With daily use, orthotics typically last about 1 year. Make sure to remove the inserts regularly to air them out and prevent odor. If needed, wash them by hand using a mild detergent and allow to air dry. Periodically inspect the inserts for signs of deterioration and replace when needed.
While orthotic inserts are able to provide great support and pain relief, they aren’t quite as good as a specialty shoe. Remember that an ill-fitting insert can cause permanent damage and talk to a podiatrist about your foot pain for the best recommendation. Click here if you want to learn more about pain in the foot arch unrelated to plantar fasciitis