Suffering plantar fasciitis is enough to have most people grabbing that extra vat of coffee in the morning to see them through until the wake-up pain eases and the ligaments start to relax a little more. If your job or lifestyle requires you to be up and running before hobbling even feels like a possibility, then top of your list of priorities has to be a comfortable, supportive pair of shoes.
If you’re a plantar fasciitis sufferer, then you’re in good company. According to the Mayo Clinic, it is the most common ailment that will ever strike your feet. In fact, 1 in 10 people suffer this at some point in their lifetimes.
Thankfully, the big shoe manufacturers are rapidly becoming wise to the extent to which people suffer this condition and a great deal more biomechanical research is being put into the development of inner shoe design.
However, with greater choice can come greater confusion.
We’ve checked out the experts’ and sufferers’ personal recommendations and narrowed down a list of six shoes (for men and women) which are comfortable casuals. We’ve included running shoes in that list for those of you who don’t want to give up your favorite me-time activity.
Following that, we’ve provided a little buyer’s guide with a dedicated section of ‘Honorable Mentions’ for makes to look out for with different kinds of shoes (such as sandals, slippers and office smarts). We’ll finish off with a three-point guide of what to look for in the ideal shoe.
In a hurry? Here’s our top six.
Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
OUR TOP PICK
This is a good lounging shoe for easing your way around the house or for running errands. The slip-on (with concealed gored insets) comes in ten designs and a generous array of sizes from 6.5 to 16 with wide and extra wide options. The 100% canvas upper and lightly padded heel collar make an important contribution to that relaxed fit interior which Skechers pride themselves on.
Beneath your foot lie three layers. The footbed is a molded, perforated Dual-Lite layer for good breathability. The second layer is gel-infused foam for cooling comfort. It has a high rebound quality to add spring beneath your heels and the ball of your foot. Immediately next to your foot sits a moisture-wicking insole.
These shoes have been directly recommended by podiatrists for the under-sole softness and arch support. There is plenty of room in the toe box for the foot to spread out so that you avoid all the tension of keeping your toes tense and together, which can raise your arch involuntarily and aggravate your plantar fascia. The wider fit also makes for a gentler experience in tugging the shoes on and slipping them off without grazing the underside of the heel.
All in all, this is a hugely popular and good-looking shoe and suitable for men who are easing themselves into this condition or slowly recovering from it.
The majority of the size and style combinations come in at under $60
A day-long springy feel and comfort
Positive customer feedback in large volumes
Good breathability and coolness
Canvas shoes and rain do not combine well (though they do dry fast)
The guys over at Runner’s World would write ballads about this shoe, given half the chance. It’s good to know that the running enthusiasts who test these shoes personally, mile after mile, are still giving the Ghost line the thumbs up after so many iterations.
Brooks do two things really well. Firstly, they are diligent about ensuring consistency of fit and wear between iterations of shoes within the same line. Thus, if you’ve tried and loved Ghosts 9-11, then you’ll likely have a great experience with this shoe, too. Their second point of excellence is that they take a holistic approach to shoe design, looking at the musculoskeletal system of the whole runner. They want to support good posture and comfort through the whole body from the feet up, which is great news for people who are tentatively getting back into running after a vicious bout of plantar fasciitis.
The heels are fitted out with Brooks own DNA Loft Crash Pads, which are designed to mitigate the shock to the knees with each heel strike. They’ll soften your ride by absorbing impact through the rear of the foot. This shoe has evolved with further cushioning beneath the forefoot, which gives you comfortable spring and propulsion without you having to push off hard from the toes, which can aggravate the pain of microtears beneath the heel. Though not too bendy across the toe box, it’s still a relatively flexible shoe that gives you the opportunity to summon more speed as your recovery progresses.
The feel inside the shoe is soft and springy, courtesy of Brooks’ own BioMoGo DNA adaptive cushioning. This molds to your foot and cradles it inside the shoe. It’s the closest thing you're going to get to the experience of an off-the-shelf orthotic.
Shoes built to provide that all-important cushioning can look clumsy, but the Ghost 12 has been designed with a 3D print fit upper which wraps almost weightlessly across the top of your foot. It’s not as breathable as previous shoes in the same line, but the ventilation is still of a high standard.
Exceptional traction in the sole
A very soft ride for those endurance events
A flexible upper which moves with your foot and doesn’t chafe along the base of the toe box
The upper isn’t quite as breathable as it has been previously
Though good value for money, it’s an expensive shoe
- THIS SHOE IS FOR: Neutral runners looking for a lightweight shoe and a smooth ride without sacrificing cushioning. Whether you’re a Ghost loyalist or are lacing one up for the first time, you’ll...
- SUPPORT AND CUSHION: The neutral support type provides high energizing cushioning. Ideal for road running, cross training, the gym or wherever you might want to take them! Predecessor: Ghost 11
- BALANCED, SOFT CUSHIONING: BioMoGo DNA and DNA LOFT cushioning work together to provide a just-right softness underfoot without losing responsiveness and durability - yet it feels lighter than ever.
Keen is kind to the guys whose feet are hurting but who still have a hard, physical job to do. Landscaping, construction, factory or transportation work can put your feet under serious stress for many hours on end, so you need a shoe that is protective as well as comfortable.
These Flint mid ankle-cut utility boots are made for supporting guys who are on their feet all day. They provide much-needed support for landscaping, which requires strong balance on uneven surfaces. They’re tough underfoot for construction, provide solid midsole support for hours on the factory floor, and they’re also good for truckers, who need constant and even pressure on that right-hand pedal until their tachograph tells them to stop.
Keen have provided a boot which combines protection and comfort. It comes with a steel toe, and the uppers are water-resistant. The body of the upper is made of leather with mesh inlays to supply that all-important breathability so that your feet don’t expand painfully as the day goes on.
The interior of the boot features a dual-density EVA foam midsole and a stability shank to keep your foot cushioned and steady inside the shoe. No sliding around, no painful friction along the arch or the underside of the heel.
The base features a deep tread which provides fantastic traction. As a great domestic-use selling point, the sole is made of a non-marking rubber. This means you can dive in and out of the garage and the house all weekend without having to worry about taking your boots off or about the state of the floor.
These boots come in three designs which run from 7.5-15 through half sizes with wide options.
Very short/non-existent break-in period widely reported
Tough shoe and durable
Great cushioning in the heel
Great ankle support
Could do with just a little more arch support to match heel comfort, but you can change insoles.
Alongside the Brooks Ghost 12 women’s version, Asics’ Gel-Contend 5 comes in as a top-notch running shoe for plantar fasciitis sufferers. It’s a neutral shoe, veering towards preferable to those with moderate or higher arches. The sole features a 10mm heel-to-toe drop (the heel is 21mm and the toes 11mm) which is a good sloping angle to protect your foot from overstrain on the fascia.
The interior cushioning is the real selling point here. There’s a laminate midfoot cage which provides structural support, over which lies an Amplifoam midsole support, and then the Ortholite sockliner for underfoot spring and softness, comfort, and moisture management. The Ortholite sockliner itself is removable for airing or swapping out in favor of your own insoles.
The shoe feels lightweight and springy. It’s not just the gentle-touch, stabilizing interior which wicks away the pain of running, but the gel-insert base which softens the heel strikes and which helps you to make the most of your natural stamina.
The lightness is helped by the synthetic upper with its breathable mesh. Ventilation is a strong point with this shoe, a factor made all the more important by the underlying layers of cushion, which could otherwise generate too much heat around the heel and arches.
This shoe comes in 9 designs stepping up in half sizes from 5-12.
Durable comfort throughout the day for those who need to stay on their feet
Adaptable to your own insole
Exceptionally soft and comfortable
Not great for wet weather
The fit evidently runs a little narrow: you might want to look at going up a half-size
Tempting as it is to live in comfortable sneakers, it’s important to change up your shoe routine and alternate footwear so that you don’t transfer stress to your knee and hip joints from having your feet in the same angle of confinement for too long.
We’ve returned to Keen for this second recommendation for women’s shoes. This is a sports-inspired Oxford, its aesthetic suitable to a huge range of activities and just about every pant style bar palazzos or work slacks. It’s also mercifully waterproof.
The inner lining is breathable leather to prevent overheat from Keen’s own dual-density EVA Metatomical footbed. The design supplies good arch support by molding itself to the contours of your foot, but it is a removable benefit if you happen to have been prescribed orthotics of your own.
The cushioning is springy, taking pressure off tender heels and arches. There’s also strong toe protection for those whose errands start with the yard and finish with fixing the car. Keen Protect, as the toe guard is called, wraps up and over from the strong rubber outsole to give you one extra drop-proof layer across the whole of the toe bed. The comparative rigidity of this area (while generous in terms of space) makes this shoe a great option for people prone to involuntary dorsiflexion (over-raising the toes while standing).
Finally, like the Keen utility boot mentioned for the guys, this shoe will give you great traction while not leaving marks across your floor. It comes in four designs in sizes 5 through to 12.
Great for walking and for tough outside work
Great value for money but nonetheless a high cost
- Supportive, adventurous lace-up with cushioned footbed and collar. Supportive sole. Grippy tread. Cleansport NXT for natural odor control
- Care Instructions-Gently brush the shoe with a soft bristle brush or hand towel to remove loose dirt and debris. Stains can be treated by lightly rubbing a gum eraser in a circular motion over the...
- Tough stains can be treated with a mixture of water and a little vinegar on a damp cloth. This process may cause slight discoloration to the area
Our third and highly rated shoe is Skecher’s jauntily named Go Walk Joy. With its grippy rubber outsole and breathable textile upper, it’s a close feminine cousin to the men’s slip-on Avillo shoe.
It’s the cushioning which really sells this shoe. Not only does it have a springy, protective base with a substantial sole, but it also boasts responsive 5Gen cushioning in the heel and midsole. Skechers’ own Goga Max high rebound insole makes for a softer footfall which spreads pressure across the base of your foot. This reduces localized impact from your overstrained plantar fascia and makes it far more manageable to stay on your feet all day. Some buyers have referred to cloud walking. Others have said that being able to wear these has encouraged them to go to social and sporting events to which they might have given a hard if they’d still felt ruled by the pain in their feet.
As with the Avillo, we have a generously cushioned footbed and heel collar. The rubber outsole is robust and grippy, helping you to avoid painful torsion motions.
The range of color combinations in this range is huge. The most popular ranges come in at a budget price, so you may be able to get two pairs to extend durability and combine with more of your wardrobe.
Sizes run in halves from 5 to 13 with wide options.
Premium comfort at an off-the-shelf price
Easy to clean and quick to dry
Size doesn’t seem very consistent with previous shoe in the same line
Best Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis - Buying Guide
Further options: some Honorable Mentions
Because the field of shoes is so broad, we’ve had a look at types beyond casual wear and sports to find the brands which are recommended repeatedly by podiatrists and healthy footwear sites.
Folks with circulation or tissue damage to the feet (caused by diabetes or gout) have a lot in common with plantar fasciitis sufferers in terms of their need for soft cushioning. Both Dr. Comfort (which makes dress shoes for diabetics) and Naot (suppliers of classy pumps) make smarter shoes which will blend in with more formal dress.
Look for sandals by Vionic. They have a huge range of styles from delicate to Roman, but what all their designs have in common is that soft, supportive surface to protect you from a hard insole slapping your foot where it’s most tender.
It used to be that flip flops and ballet shoes were a complete no-no for people with plantar fasciitis because of the intense and unforgiving connection with the ground. Vionic’s padded shoe wear with its gently sloping sole extends to flip flops for both men and women. You will no longer be stuck lacing sneakers or strapping up sandals while everyone else is running from the beach back to the car, or vice versa.
Around the house
Initially you might think that slippers are comfortable for everyone because they’re soft and warm. Those whose ligaments take a long time to relax will be painfully aware that this is not always the case, and that sometimes there is so little underfoot padding in a slipper that you might as well be wearing woolly ballet flats. Orthofeet have made slippers which make the morning so much less painful—even before coffee—and you might also want to check out this machine-washable and largely unisex slipper from Haflinger. We say “largely” unisex because five of the six designs aren’t a shade of eye-challenging pink.
What to Look for When Buying Shoes which are Plantar-Friendly
You need plenty of ventilation in the shoe to prevent overheat and, worse, any kind of dampness.
Space in the toe box yet firmness across the outsole
A great deal of the pain from plantar fasciitis comes when the fascia is trying to relax again having contracted overnight (hence the morning hobble) or after the foot has been in a position of rest for an extended period of time—in other words, not weight-bearing. Pulling the toes up towards the shins is called dorsiflexing and it creates strain on the plantar fascia. Some people instinctively flex in this way if their toes feel cramped, and runners who land on their forefoot will do this with each footstrike. To buy a shoe which supports your foot properly as well as one that feels comfortable, you need to find something that is roomy yet which will not bend easily along the crease of the toes.
The importance of heel-to-toe drop
If your condition is recently acquired then your initial priority should be comfort rather than rehabilitation. You’ll find that most of the more heavily cushioned shoes have a moderate (8mm) to high (12mm) offset, which is the height difference between the ball of your foot and your heel. This can be helpful because the flatter your sole is, the more pressure on your fascia. If you are recovering from plantar fasciitis (or you’ve recovered and you’re eager not to suffer it again!) then you might benefit from working your way through shoes with a moderate to upper-minimal drop (4mm) to encourage a healthily stretched fascia in the longer term.