Best Walking Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis In 2021 (Reviewed and Buying Guide)
When you have a painful condition like plantar fasciitis, you might ask yourself just what are the best walking shoes for your condition? Having irritated muscles in your feet affects all aspects of your life, so it is important to ensure you have the proper support.
By looking at multiple factors like material, durability, and the style of insole incorporated into the shoes, I have identified the best walking shoes for sufferers of plantar fasciitis.
Below are my top ten picks, as well as my ultimate buying guide to choosing the right shoe for you and a detailed FAQ. Read on for more details.
Top Product Reviews
The following products have been categorized as either men’s or women’s shoes but could work for individuals of either biological sex. If something stands out to you but is only available in the opposite gender’s size, there are some handy charts that let you know which size will work best for you.
Skechers tends to produce some of the best men’s shoes for plantar fasciitis because the manufacturer emphasizes the important of having a quality insole.
This particular model features an Air Cooled Goga Mat insole designed to reduce the amount of pressure and strain on a foot’s muscles.
The most unique thing about this insole is that it remains cool while you walk, which I discovered helps with irritation and inflammation.
Likewise, this shoe has some extra cushioning which is great for plantar fasciitis sufferers with flat feet. Most of this cushioning is in the center of the arch, but there is also padding around the ball of the foot as well as the heel.
The upper material is a durable mesh which allows more fresh air to reach the feet. Again, I liked this feature because it means my feet aren’t hot and sweaty while walking, which often reduces irritation.
The Skechers Men’s Go Walk sneakers are advertised with twin gore panels designed to make a more secure fit. In general, these actually work and help reduce unwanted muscle weakness and movement.
Besides these features, these shoes are simple and comfortable. I would consider them among the best men’s option available because they are easy to wear and don’t cause further irritation.
Plus, I like the fact that they are machine washable, so I don’t have a ton of built up sweat and bacteria in the insole at the end of the day.
What we like It
The perfect shoes for someone who actually wants to spend time walking and enjoying the fresh air without experiencing discomfort.
These shoes are great for a variety of environments and feature comfortable insoles that aren’t affect by washing.
I was interested in the Orthofeet Men’s Walking Shoes because they advertise themselves as being the best option for diabetics as well as being great for plantar fasciitis. These were some grandiose claims that needed testing.
The basic Orthofeet men’s walking shoe comes in numerous sizes, including wide and extra wide. Since sufferers of plantar fasciitis with flat feet tend to have wide feet as well, I thought this was a great addition and quite size inclusive. The toe box in particular was super roomy and accommodated my feet well.
The shoes themselves are made of a knitted synthetic fabric with extra stretch to wrap around the foot. The interior has soft foam padding to disperse pressure.
The insoles are made out of gel, which once again reduces the strain placed on the muscles in the foot. While the support is not great for people with high arches, it is excellent if you have flat feet.
The sole is called the Ergonomic Stride and appears to be a combination of plastic and durable foam. It helped reduce the pressure placed on my heel and the center of my foot and was great in a variety of environments.
What we like It
These slip-on shoes are ideal for someone who needs an all-purpose walking shoe that can be worn outside, at work, or just during a regular day.
The shoe itself is ultra-comfortable with multiple spacers, a gel insole, and extra foam padding along the sides and back of the interior. Overall, a great pair of shoes.
3. Gravity Defyer Pain Relieving Walking Shoes
The Gravity Defyer men’s walking shoes are another option that comes in regular, wide, and extra wide sizes to better accommodate individuals with plantar fasciitis.
Unlike some of the other options I have encountered, these are styled more like running or regular sports shoes rather than basic walking ones. The sole is extra thick and padded and the interior is packed with foam for better support and comfort.
The main material of the Gravity Defyer men’s walking shoe is a stretchable mesh to improve air flow to the feet.
The air flow was not the most impressive I have encountered but was enough to keep my feet cool even on a humid day. The insole is made of gel and synthetic fabric and offers a moderate amount of arch support.
I was surprised at how few extra features these shoes had, but they actually don’t need them. The shoe stands out on its own and is even slip-resistant so you can walk in hazardous environments like grocery stores or on concrete.
There are even multiple colors so you can make your pair more individualistic. This was an enjoyable benefit since most dedicated shoes for plantar fasciitis are only black or white.
What we like It
The Gravity Defyer men’s shoes are a durable option meant for someone who wants to be active despite their plantar fasciitis.
The non-slip sole is a highlight of this pair and means wearers can enjoy more activities without worrying about slipping and straining their muscles further.
The Reebok Men’s Work N Cushion 3.0 Walking Shoe has a long name but also a long reputation. These high-quality shoes were meant to last for years and feature a full leather insole combined with foam and a 100% fabric build up top.
The shoes feature a low-cut design to reduce strain around the ankle and help support individuals who need to wear braces in addition to insoles and specialized shoes.
When it came to sizing, I was slightly disappointed. These shoes are available in numerous sizes and even have extra wide options, but did not include a basic wide choice.
However, the fit was snug without being uncomfortable and incorporated plenty of room in the toe box. There is the right amount of interior padding to improve comfort without restricting movement.
At the bottom, the Reebok Men’s Work N Cushion has a beveled heel and a rubber outsole to prevent slipping inside and outdoors. While the heel looks like it will be too high and cause strain, I discovered it fits comfortable.
Plus, I loved these shoes in terms of appearance. They are only available in black, white, and gray but were classy enough for work and can be tightened with discrete laces. The material does not stain easily and is also easy to wipe clean.
What we like It
The Reebok Men’s Work N Cushion 3.0 Walking Shoe looks like an unusual choice at first but is an excellent option for someone who needs to be on their feet for most of the day.
While the insole cannot be removed the leather makes it easy to clean and the exterior can be wiped down every day to maintain a professional appearance.
5. OOFOS Comfort Clogs
The OOFOS Comfort Clogs were an unusual development in my quest for the most comfortable walking shoes for plantar fasciitis. These are obviously a clog-type of shoe that is easy to slip on and off.
The primary material used in construction is soft OOfoam, while the outsole is made of rubber to reduce slipping and increase grip.
At first glance I thought the clogs would not provide enough support. I was proven wrong when I slipped them on and discovered there is moderate arch support and a comfortable, built-in foam insole.
While there is no padding along the sides, the fit is tight enough to keep the muscles restrained and supported while walking.
These OOFOS claimed to possess recovery technology that would reduce the amount of pressure placed on the foot’s muscles when walking.
When I tried them out, I discovered these shoes were more comfortable than traditional foam clogs and improved air flow to my irritated feet.
Since these are a unisex option, they are only sold in whole sizes and muted colors to accommodate men and women. Plus, these shoes are machine washable, so I never had to worry about sweat and foul odors building up around my feet while on the go.
What we like It
The OOFOS Comfort Clogs are the best clog-style shoes for plantar fasciitis because of the durable foam combined with average arch support and a roomy design.
The Orthofeet Tacoma Men’s Sneakers are another option by Orthofeet designed to help individuals struggling with plantar fasciitis, diabetes, and similar conditions.
At first glance the Tacomas look like an average pair of sneakers. It is on the inside where these shoes manage to distinguish themselves from the competition.
These Tacomas have anatomical high arch support made from a combination of foam and gel to better cradle the foot.
The interior is padded along the sides with foam and has a roomy toe box and heel to accommodate larger feet. Plus, the shoe itself is available in regular, wide, and extra wide sizes.
The Orthofeet Tacomas are one of the only models I encountered which are certified by Medicare and qualified therapeutic shoes under code A5500 of the Diabetic Shoe Bill.
In practice, this meant the shoes conform to the natural shape of my foot and don’t try to force the arch into an uncomfortable position.
The upper material is a combination of synthetic and natural fibers woven to have some stretch. The sole is made of rubber, and the lining is designed to not irritate sensitive feet.
The laces are elastic and there are multiple spacers providing additional support along the bottom.
What we like It
Overall, this is a comfortable shoe meant to be worn by plantar fasciitis sufferers with wide feet.
It is comfortable and would work well for someone who has multiple orthopedic conditions and few options for relief.
One of the best offerings for a 100% leather walking shoe with a rubber outsole to reduce slipping and sticking while indoors or out. This model is both stylish and durable and incorporates the appearance of a basic sports shoe with an orthopedic interior.
The internal insoles are thin and suitable for someone with minor muscle irritation or an acute case of plantar fasciitis. The bonus is there is enough room to insert your own insoles and add extra padding if needed.
One notable characteristic of the Brooks Men’s Addiction walking shoes is the lack of extra features. These are a basic, low-fitting shoe designed to accommodate orthotics and insoles and be comfortable in a myriad of environments.
They are available in standard and wide sizes, and come in white, black, or brown. Overall, I found them to be durable, sturdy, and stable without frills.
What we like It
These shoes are perfect for the man who wants something simple with ample room for custom inserts.
They can withstand regular use and are durable enough to be worn outdoors on a daily basis. The only potential downside is the thin interior.
8. DierCosy Women’s Walking and Work Shoes
These walking and work shoes are comfortable, fashionable, and feature extra padding to improve overall arch and muscle support. The upper is constructed of a durable knit that is soft and breathable while still fitting snugly around the foot.
The collar is made of elastic and has a casual shape while still sitting against the ankle for improved support.
These shoes are simple to slip on and have high, reinforced, chunky heels that are sturdy and durable. Despite my initial impression of the exterior, the interior is quite flat with moderate arch support and a reasonable amount of side and rear padding.
This pair also has a classic air cushion design which adds extra spring to your step and reduces the pressure placed on the heel.
Finally, the wrap design facilitates the movement of air around the foot, helping reduce irritation and inflammation while on the go.
The upper mesh fits like a sock and is comfortable without being tight. There are multiple colors available and a structured heel.
What we like It
These walking shoes are the best plantar fasciitis shoes for women. They are cozy yet relaxed and reduce the pressure placed on the bottom of the foot.
They are lightweight yet padded and easy to slip on and off, making them perfect for professionals who are always on their feet – i.e. nurses, etc.
9. Gravity Defyer Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis
These Gravity Defyer shoes for women are like the model made for men. They are composed of a combination of natural and synthetic fabric fibers and have a mesh upper which wraps around the foot without becoming snug or uncomfortable.
The laces are elastic and flexible as well, and the interior features only mild padding to increase how much room is inside the shoe.
These women’s shoes have a seamless interior for sensitive feet and diabetic neuropathy to prevent irritation and inflammation. The patented spring system reduces the strain and pressure on the muscles and is protected by a reinforced rubber outsole that reduces slipping and sliding.
The toe box is extra roomy, and I discovered the front rocker sole, which supports the middle of the foot to prevent and relieve plantar fasciitis.
The insoles can even be removed to make room for custom orthotics! Plus, there are multiple colors and styles to choose from, so I wasn’t stuck with the traditional black and white of supportive footwear.
What we like It
These shoes are flexible, solidly constructed, and would work well indoors or out.
They provide adequate support while still leaving enough room for braces, and the option to remove the insoles for custom orthotics make these Gravity Defyers among the most versatile of shoes I have seen for plantar fasciitis.
These shoes have an unusual name but a great fit and unique style. The heel is chunky and features air support and springs to reduce pressure and alleviate muscle tension and pain for women with feet of all sizes.
The toe box is lightweight, roomy, and flexible and the interior has a moderate amount of padding and arch support to be suitable for a wide audience.
The rubber outsole is non-slip and water-resistant while the upper is made of flexible mesh and fits like a sock. There is excellent air flow to the interior to reduce irritation and moisture buildup around the foot. The arch itself is perforated so it remains cool even on the go.
Again, I enjoyed how these shoes have numerous color options and have enough room to support braces or narrow custom orthotics.
What we like It
While these shoes do not have tons of extra features, they are a simple and comfortable model that can be worn by women with moderate plantar fasciitis.
The toe box has enough room for the digits to splay out, and the shoes themselves are great for work or casual wear.
Shoes seem like straightforward objects, but they have many features which can affect how much plantar fasciitis support you get. Before purchasing any pair of walking shoes, take a look at the orthotic insoles, durability, comfort and fit, and materials used in construction.
The orthotic insoles are the key component of the best walking shoes for plantar fasciitis. Insoles are dedicated bits of material inserted into a shoe. They affect how supported an arch is and are often used to evenly distribute pressure when walking.
Not all orthotic insoles are the same. If you have plantar fasciitis because you possess high arches, then you need more rounded insoles to provide better support for your feet. On the other hand, if you have flat feet, then you need lower arches meant to better accommodate your muscles.
Another element of orthotic insoles you need to look for is shock absorption. This refers to how much pressure is absorbed by the insole when you walk. When any creature moves, it is exerting force and pressure.
Normally this force is absorbed by the muscles of the legs and feet, but it can become too much when a person is injured. The right insole will be able to take most of the pressure away from your muscles and distribute it evenly.
A major problem in finding good walking shoes is the durability. Most modern shoes are not meant to last for more than a year of regular use.
When you have plantar fasciitis and need to wear specialized shoes on a daily basis, low durability can affect your personal comfort and your wallet.
As a result, I have chosen shoes for this list which are meant to last a long time and feature materials like leather and strong synthetics.
At their greatest, the right walking shoe for plantar fasciitis can survive for 1-2 years without needing repairs or replacement.
Fit and Comfort
It should go without saying that you will not wear a shoe you find uncomfortable. This is why it is important to check how well a pair of shoes fits before purchasing them.
The shoes on this list have a variety of fits with some being more snug and others being looser around the ankle. In general, the best pairs for plantar fasciitis should be snug so the injured muscle has less room to move.
You should also take a look at how comfortable the shoes will be. Features like moisture-wicking material, improved aeration, and being water resistant can improve your comfort while protecting your feet. If any of these options matter to you, look for a shoe that has them.
The main material of a shoe affects many other features, including durability and fit. However, this list takes a look at the material used in the primary sole of the shoe. The main sole is the bottom part of any pair of footwear that directly touches the ground.
When you have plantar fasciitis, you need a shoe that has a more durable sole material like high quality synthetics, rubber, or even treated leather.
These materials absorb some of the pressure created by walking and can reduce your chances of irritating the already sore muscles in your feet.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What kind of arch support is ideal for plantar fasciitis?
Unfortunately, there is no single style of arch support best suited for people with plantar fasciitis. The Washington University Physicians have found data supporting the idea that there are an equal number of sufferers who have high arches and flat feet.
This is why this list features shoes with multiple types of support to best accommodate all types of plantar fasciitis sufferers.
Do shoes help acute plantar fasciitis?
What some people don’t realize is that plantar fasciitis can be long term and chronic or short term and acute. When someone has the chronic version, they have consistent deterioration of the flat muscle in their feet.
An acute version is typically caused by an injury and is when the muscle has become irritated.
Shoes can help both types of plantar fasciitis and can reduce your chances of developing a more severe form of the injury. If you don’t want to buy a new pair of shoes, it is possible to get inserts for your current ones. However, the inserts are not as effective as well-built shoes.
How many people have plantar fasciitis?
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), about 2 million people in the United States have some type of injury to the flat muscle in the foot. The condition is common in middle aged individuals and those who are on their feet all the time for work.
Do any materials work better for specialized shoes?
A common question people ask is whether or not their walking shoes need to be made of a specific material to be effective. In general, high quality synthetics or leather shoes tend to be the most durable and comfortable on stretched muscles and plantar fasciitis.
The interior should have a foam or gel insert to spread out the pressure of the foot as you walk.
Do I need inserts with these shoes?
The majority of specialized plantar fasciitis shoes come with insoles designed to alleviate pain and reduce strain. You can always buy additional insoles if the ones inside of the shoes start to wear down or do not hit the right spots on your feet.
How long should my walking shoes last?
Modern shoes tend to have a short lifespan. When made of high quality materials, a pair of plantar fasciitis walking shoes can last up to 1-2 years with regular, everyday use. Cheaper shoes might only last 6 months before the material becomes worn and unsupportive.
Should my foot braces fit in my shoes?
Many of these walking shoes eliminate the need to wear braces while you are wearing them. If you have medically prescribed braces though or would just like the extra comfort, your braces should fit well in any of these shoes.
It is important to not combine braces with shoes AND inserts as these will affect your foot’s arch too much. All of the padding could also make walking difficult.
Do dedicated work shoes have support for plantar fasciitis?
The modern work shoe is a staple of the contemporary footwear market. Unfortunately, not all dedicated work shoes have the right type of arch support to help individuals with plantar fasciitis.
I have identified the pairs that work best on this list. If you work retail and need the support for your muscles, check out these options.