Walking may be one of the simplest ways to maintain good health. But choosing the right shoes for the activity can be challenging—especially when you have plantar fasciitis, one of the most typical culprits behind heel pain. "Plantar fasciitis is the inflammation and microscopic tearing of the plantar, the ligament that connects the heel to the front of your foot," explains Adam Kaplan, DPM, podiatrist, and CEO of Arcus Custom Orthotics. "The condition is caused by repetitive micro-trauma to the area due to new activity or shoes that don't fit properly or offer the right support. The damage to the tissue can also build up slowly over time due to the foot's architecture."
Dr. Kaplan says walking while suffering from plantar fasciitis is often very painful—especially after being sedentary for an extended period of time. There's a bright spot, though: Investing in the right shoes—and in more serious cases, the right orthotic—can help ease the pain. When shopping for your next pair of plantar fasciitis-friendly walking shoes, look for the following features:
- Good arch support
- A removable insole (to insert custom orthotics, if needed)
- Deep heel cup (for extra support and cushioning)
- A comfortably wide toe box
- Flexibility near the ball of the foot and toes
It's also vital to make sure the fit is spot on. "I refer to this as the Goldilocks rule: not too big, not too small, just right," Dr. Kaplan says.
With so many shoes on the market, it can feel overwhelming to narrow your choices. That's why we have Dr. Kaplan's top recommendations for plantar fasciitis walking shoes. Check them out below, and next, be sure to read The 6 Best Exercises for Strong and Toned Arms in 2022, Trainer Says.
Skechers GOwalk 6
Dr. Kaplan is a major fan of Sketchers' entire GOwalk line and says any of the pairs would be appropriate for those with plantar fasciitis. "I always recommend this brand and style for my patients and receive positive feedback," Dr. Kaplan says.
He notes that the GOwalk 6 slip-on sneaker has a mesh upper for breathability and cushioned removable foam insoles for arch support and versatility. These go-with-anything shoes are also fairly lightweight, making them extra comfy for longer strolls. As an added bonus, these sneakers are machine washable, which is ideal if your treks take you through muddy paths or puddles.
Brooks Ghost 14
Although the Brooks Ghost sneakers are designed for running, they're great walking shoes for those with plantar fasciitis, Dr. Kaplan tells us. "The design redistributes your weight away from the plantar and more into the forefoot, which helps ward off pain. It also has a slightly wider toe box and offers plenty of cushioning."
These shoes come in countless color combos, which means you can get various pairs to go with all your outfits—whether you're squeezing in steps between meetings or hitting a walking trail in your athletic wear.
Vionic Walker Classic
Available in both medium (B) and wide (D) widths, these retro-meets-sporty shoes by Vionic were designed with foot pain in mind, Dr. Kaplan explains. "The classic Walker shoe is lightweight, has a firm heel counter for increased stability and support, and even includes a built-in orthotic!" The orthotic is lined with anti-bacterial fabric to fight funky foot odor, and the water-resistant leather uppers help keep feet warm and dry during drizzly and snowy walks. Bottom line: If you want to keep logging steps no matter the weather, this is your pair of shoes.
For more mind and body news, check out 5 Easy Ways To Burn Fat Without "Exercising," Trainer Says and 5 Best Exercises To Get Rid Of A Stomach Donut For Good, Trainer Says.