7 Best Walking Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis in 2024 (2024)

How we test walking shoes

Foot issues are something that we, at RunRepeat, take seriously. Walking might be an effortless form of motion, but with plantar fasciitis, a lot could go wrong even just for a few hours of walking in the wrong pair of shoes. That is why we scrutinised walking shoes in a well-thought-out manner.

Before anything else, we get our hands on these walking shoes using our own money. We like to give strong emphasis on this because we like our reviews done with complete fairness. After acquiring the shoes, we wear them right away. We bring them on our morning walks, trips to work, and daily runs of errands. We also tested them on concrete, cobblestones, and other surfaces.

We assess our experiences and observations from the wear test. And we correlate them to the next and final step, which is lab testing. We conduct tests on the shoes and we measure and score different properties such as breathability, durability, platform width, and midsole hardness. We also split the shoes in half for a more extensive view of each.

Do you need shoes for plantar fasciitis?

Yes, if you have plantar fasciitis.

It is well known for the pain that happens in the heel area and might even spread to the midfoot area. The pain is present because the fascia that connects your heel to your toes becomes inflamed, usually because of overuse.

The best thing to do is to see a specialist about it - better than trying to self-diagnose. There are numerous possible causes of heel pain.

Symptoms of plantar fasciitis

In this review of the most current scientific literature on plantar fasciitis, the symptoms are listed as follows:

  • A severe heel pain in the morning or after a rest period
  • The heel pain that gets worse with weight bearing
  • Pain might spread from heel to the midfoot
  • Soreness when palpating plantar fascia
  • Discomfort when you bend your big toe by hand (passively)

How to find the best walking shoes for plantar fasciitis

If you’re experiencing plantar heel pain you might experience difficulty with footwear comfort, fit, and choice, as this research has shown.

Don’t be discouraged, here’s the list of shoe features to help with the pain.

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These are the things you should look for in a shoe in case you have plantar fasciitis. The idea behind these features is to find a shoe that minimises impacts when your foot hits a hard surface.

First and foremost, comfort. The shoe should be comfortable overall! Aside from that, a shoe appropriate for plantar fasciitis should have the following features:

Features of a plantar fasciitis walking shoe

Wide and stable sole

Provides the needed stability and sure-footedness.

Sufficient and moderately soft cushioning

Decreases the impact forces while walking. The heel area should have additional cushioning to take the strain off the plantar fascia ligament.

Firm and supportive heel counter

Keeping the heel steady minimises additional stretching of the plantar fascia.

Spacious toebox

So that your toes don’t feel squeezed or pressured.

Arch support (optional)

If you also have flat feet and overpronation.

Removable insoles (optional)

You might need this option in case you go for special insoles for plantar fasciitis.

Not all these features are a must. Comfort comes first. Everything else is there to eliminate/lessen the pain and make your walking a comfortable experience.

You should avoid minimalist or barefoot shoes because they lack most of the abovementioned features.

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Here is an overview of walking shoes that meet the criteria listed above and can be recommended for plantar fasciitis. Each criterion is elaborated in detail in the sections below.

Wide and stable sole: a must for plantar fasciitis

When you suffer from foot pain, the last thing you want is shaky and wobbly footwear. You will only feel at ease when stepping on a stable platform that keeps you surefooted.

That’s why we put each walking shoe through a series of stability tests before we can recommend it for plantar fasciitis.

The most supportive shoes will have the following characteristics:

  • high torsional rigidity (it is hard to twist the shoe sideways)
  • very wide platform (in the heel, midfoot, and forefoot)

We perform a manual test to check the torsional stiffness of each shoe. We then rate it on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the stiffest. A shoe must have a score of at least 3 to be considered suitable for plantar fasciitis.

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Using a calliper, we also measure the width of the shoe’s midsole. For consistent results, we always measure it in the widest areas of both the forefoot and the heel.

Putting together our lab findings, here is an overview of walking shoes that we consider suitable for plantar fasciitis:

To broaden your options, we also include running shoes with the same parameters that can be comfortably used for walking.

You can find even more options here.

Arch support in walking shoes for plantar fasciitis

It is possible that in addition to plantar fasciitis, you also have flat feet and/or overpronation. You should consider a more supportive walking shoe if:

  • your feet have no arches when you sit or stand
  • your feet and ankles tend to roll inwards a lot
  • your shoes wear out faster on the inner side

When in doubt, we highly recommend consulting your doctor.

But if you recognise yourself in all three cases listed above, there is a high chance that you need a stability shoe.

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Choosing the right cushioning in walking shoes for plantar fasciitis

To be recommended for plantar fasciitis, a shoe must have enough cushioning to provide impact protection and take the pressure off the heel.

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A study with 101 participants revealed that 83.2% of people with plantar fasciitis were wearing inappropriate shoes for their condition. These were shoes with a minimal heel height or hard, non-cushioned insoles without built-in arch support.

On a positive note, another study showed that 95% of patients who wore max-cushioned shoes reported that the footwear helped in their recovery process.

Heel stack and drop

But what is considered good cushioning for plantar fasciitis?

While there is no specific guideline, we believe it is safe to recommend at least:

  • 30 mm of heel stack height
  • 8 mm of heel-to-toe drop*

*The drop indicates the elevation of the heel above the toes. It is the difference in height between the heel stack and the forefoot stack.

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Example of a shoe with a 36.5 mm heel stack and an 11 mm drop.

To make your life easier, we measure every walking shoe’s stack height in our lab. We use a calliper and follow the rules set by the World Athletics as to where the stack height should be measured. The thickness of the insole and the outsole is included as well.

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Depending on personal preference, you can opt for a slightly higher or lower heel stack and drop. You might as well stick to shoes with average measurements to be on the safe side.

You can also find more options among running shoes that are suitable for walking and meet the criteria for plantar fasciitis.

Midsole softness

On one hand, you need a touch of softness to dampen the impact upon landings. On the other hand, an overly plush shoe may aggravate the plantar fascia.

The common ground is to choose moderately soft or even a bit firm cushioning.

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In the lab, we cut all tested shoes in half and measure their foam softness with an HA durometer to find out which walking shoes could be suitable for plantar fasciitis.

We recommend choosing from shoes with an HA reading between 20 and 30:

The lower the HA number, the softer the cushioning. You can choose plusher or firmer based on your preference.

Do check the heel counter too

The lack of proper support at the rearfoot may lead to excessive shifting of the heel and ankle. This, in turn, is likely to exasperate the heel pain.

We perform a manual squeeze-and-push test to check how structured is the heel counter on each walking shoe. The stiffness is rated on a 1-5 scale, where 5 is the stiffest.

A heel counter must score at least 3 in this test to be considered as appropriate for plantar fasciitis.

Make sure there is enough space in the toebox

Even when you find a shoe with the most ideal support and cushioning, the experience can be ruined by a tight-fitting upper.

That’s why it is critically important to get the right shoe size in your day-to-day walking shoes.

In addition to getting the size (length) right, you should also check if the toebox has enough room for your toes.

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Equipped with a calliper, we check the toebox width of each walking shoe in our lab. We measure both the widest part and the big toe area to make sure that the upper doesn’t taper towards the toes.

As our lab data shows, the width and shape of the toebox varies, even when all tested shoes are of the same men’s US size 9.

Some shoes have very spacious toeboxes even in medium width. In other shoes, you will need to order wide or extra wide to accommodate your toes.

Are rocker shoes good for plantar fasciitis?

They are. In fact, podiatrists often prescribe shoes with a stiff rocker profile to help alleviate the pain associated with plantar fasciitis.

The curved shape of such shoes acts like a rocking chair for the foot. It makes heel-to-toe transitions much smoother and easier, distributing the pressure evenly across the foot.

They also make the ride feel more propulsive as the rocker encourages the foot to roll forward.

However, there are a couple of caveats.

A rocker-bottom walking shoe may not be a panacea for plantar fasciitis. Even though such shoes can be used as part of the treatment, they only help to ease the pain. Do consult with your doctor first.

Another downside is that rocker shoes can take some getting used to, especially if the curve is aggressive. Standing in some shoes can feel tricky at first.

We have tested a number of rockered walking shoes to find out which ones meet our criteria for plantar fasciitis.

Treatment of plantar fasciitis

It’s important to consult your specialist about possible treatments for your condition. The treatments that should likely be attempted first are those that are low-cost and low-risk such as stretching of the plantar fascia and/or Achilles tendon, education about the condition, and prefabricated orthotics (as explained here).

This, however, is a general overview of how the treatment algorithm looks like:

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If you’re dealing with chronic plantar fasciitis, this research offers an in-depth comparison between different inserts and insoles.

Don’ts for people with plantar fasciitis

1. What happens if you ignore plantar fasciitis?

It will go from acute to chronic pain. It might even lead to pain in other body parts, because you’ll start walking differently in order to lessen the pain by changing the impact in the feet. This way, compensation will happen and other body parts will light up. In order to avoid new discomfort and pain, it’s important to treat plantar fasciitis while it’s in the acute phase.

2. Can I walk on the treadmill if I have plantar fasciitis?

Walking on a treadmill might make your plantar fasciitis worse. Basically, you’re doing more steps in a shorter period of time. The best suggestion for plantar fasciitis is to stop repetitive motion with impact forces in the heel.

Some even advise activities such as elliptical machine or stationary cycling until the symptoms resolve, as shown in this study.

3. Can I wear running shoes for walking if I have plantar fasciitis?

Depends on the purpose. If you’re doing quick power walks, running shoes might do. Pay attention to how your feet feel. However, if you’re looking for shoes for casual walks, you should look for models made especially for walking. To read more on the differences between running and walking shoes, read our in-depth guide on walking shoes.

4. Can I walk barefoot if I have plantar fasciitis?

You should not walk barefoot. Plantar fasciitis means your plantar tendon is under too much pressure and you need stability features that shoes offer to help decrease both pain and pressure.

5. What causes plantar fasciitis?

The main cause hasn’t been discovered scientifically. However, there are numerous risk factors:

Intrinsic risk factors:

  • Obesity
  • Pes planus (flat feet)
  • Pes cavus (high-arched feet)
  • Shortened Achilles tendon
  • Overpronation (inward roll)
  • Limited ankle dorsiflexion
  • Weak intrinsic muscles of the foot
  • Weak plantar flexor muscles

Extrinsic risk factors:

  • Poor biomechanics or alignment
  • Deconditioning
  • Hard surface
  • Walking barefoot
  • Prolonged weight bearing
  • Inadequate stretching
  • Poor footwear
7 Best Walking Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis in 2024 (2024)
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