What Are The Best Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis?
4 Criteria For Healthy Footwear
Ill-fitting footwear is the #1 cause of most foot and heel conditions including plantar fasciitis, bunions, hammer toes, and Achilles tendinopathy.
When discussing foot health, the design of your footwear should include critical criteria. The following design features to be foot-health-positive:
A wide toe box to encourage natural toe splay and spreading of the toes
A flexible sole to encourage enhanced foot strength
A completely flat support platform from heel to toe to encourage natural arch support
A thin sole that is not heavily cushioned
Our feet are inherently strong and do not need extra arch support or extra cushion. It seems that the less “technology” a shoe has, the better it is for the foot. The more a shoe externally “supports” the feet, the less internal strength the the feet develop.
The feet actually become dependent on "supportive" shoes with extra stabilizing features because they’ve become so weakened and deformed by the shape and technology built into the footwear.
Avoid Elevation Of The Heel
Elevation of the heel in footwear is one of the most damaging characteristics. Sadly, it's not just high heels and women's shoes. It is present in casual shoes, men's shoes, and even running shoes.
The foot is placed in a downward angle and places perpetual tension and stress on the forefoot. Heel elevation also causes a chronic shortening of the heel cord (achilles, gastroc and soleus, calf)
Raising the heel above the ball of the foot can lead to hammer toes, neuromas, and ankle instability. A completely flat heel distributes body weight evenly across the foot.
Avoid A Tapered or Narrow Toe Box
Are you cramming your feet into shoes that taper at the toe? Sadly, most footwear narrows at the toe creating tremendous stress on our feet. Our feet have memory and will conform to conventional shoes.
A tapered toe box squeezes the toes together, lengthening and weakening the muscles while simultaneously shortening and tightening the muscles in the middle of the foot.
To function optimally, the foot should splay wide at the forefoot to distribute the load of our body. If this action is interrupted, our feet begin to conform and deform leading to conditions such as bunions and plantar fasciitis.
Avoid Heavily Cushioned Shoes
The more cushion there is below ones foot, the more proprioception is hindered leading to abnormal biomechanics.
Proprioception refers to the ability of the foot to sense what it comes in contact with, and then signal the brain which fires the nerves to contract the appropriate muscles to position the foot and leg during locomotion.
When this pathway is disrupted, we see a disruption of shock absorption capacity which leads to an increased rate of injury.
Avoid Rigid, Inflexible Footwear
Our feet are designed to function and move freely as we walk and run. Our footwear should allow this motion to occur.
How To Transition To Natural Footwear
The transition from normal footwear to minimalist should be gradual to avoid injury. You wouldn’t run a marathon without increasing your mileage slowly, right?
A smooth transition is important to avoid soreness. Listen to your body and consider slowly moving to functional footwear.
Wear your new barefoot shoes for short periods of time and then gradually increase wear-time as your foot adapts.
The minimalist shoes that I recommend are Vivobarefoot shoes and Altra Running shoes. Both of these brands check all the foot healthy boxes. I am not an affiliate for these brands. These are actually the brand I love for comfort, style, and foot health.
Can I Treat Plantar Fasciitis At Home?
As a chiropractor and foot specialist, I often see patients with plantar fasciitis after they’ve tried everything. Cortisone shots, night splints, ineffective stretching, and rolling on a frozen water bottle are a few of their failed remedies.
If you’re wondering how to treat plantar fasciitis at home, I want to share a few insights that have worked for my patients. The solution for most of my patients is through addressing multiple factors.
Improving limited ankle mobility and dorsiflexion
Strengthening weak intrinsic foot muscles
Strengthening weak calf, soleus, and peroneal muscles
Switching to natural, functional footwear
Wearing toe separators
Rarely is there a quick fix for PF. Identifying areas of weakness in the foot and ankle and restoring proper foot function is the most important piece of the puzzle.
I have created a step-by-step comprehensive guide on how to resolve Plantar Fasciitis at Home. Take a look at my FREE GUIDE here.
Dealing with the pain of plantar fasciitis can be life changing--but it doesn’t have to be a life sentence. By arming yourself with knowledge and taking charge of your healing, you can get back to the activities you love and feel like yourself again.
If you have additional questions about heel pain and plantar fasciitis, don’t hesitate to reach out. I'm here to help get you back on your feet--literally.
One of the most IMPORTANT things you can do to fix your feet is to learn as much as you can about the condition and how to prevent recurrence. Follow Dr. Angela's social media pages for daily tips on footwear, exercises, and prevention on Facebook & Instagram!
Best of Health,
🦶 Dr. Angela
I have also written extensively on the topic of Plantar Fasciitis. Take a look at these other related blog posts: