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Anyone who has suffered from chronic foot pain knows how much it can hinder daily activities, including walking. The causes of foot pain range from overuse, to ill-fitting footwear, to inherited conditions, to injury.
Of course, your first step should be consulting your local podiatrist to get an expert opinion on your foot pain. While wearing proper shoes can’t solve the problem entirely, choosing the best footwear for chronic foot pain can provide a world of relief for those who are on-the-go every day. Fortunately, there are a wide array of doctor-recommended shoes that can help keep you on your feet, and out of pain.
Jump To: Best For Walking and Standing All Day | Best ‘Natural’ Sneakers For Men and Women | Best Men’s and Women’s Sneakers For Running and Walking | Best Women’s Arch Support Sneakers For Walking | Best Men’s Dress Shoes For Commuting Comfortably | Best Men’s and Women’s Inserts For Active Lifestyles | Best Sneakers For Women With Flat or Wide Feet | Best Women’s Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis
What To Look For
Prioritize Proper Fit
Wearing sneakers or other shoes with good arch support, cushioning and supportive soles can make a huge difference when you’re on your feet for long periods of time. When shoe shopping, prioritize proper-fitting shoes that don’t pinch your feet and that provide stability.
“To me, it all starts with fit. If something is comfortable but doesn’t fit, it’s only a matter of time before the shoe itself causes problems somewhere, even if not in the foot immediately,” says Dr. Neil Feldman, Director of Central Massachusetts Podiatry
Find the Right Style For Your Lifestyle
Doctors recommend trying on multiple pairs until you find the most comfortable pair for you, as everyone’s feet are different. Before shopping, consider what type of shoes you’d get the most use out of for your lifestyle. Then seek out supportive features in your preferred style. Paying a bit more upfront for high-quality materials will make your shoes last longer. Alternatively, adding inserts to your existing shoes can provide an even more cost-effective option, as you’ll be able to switch them between pairs of shoes that you already own.
Additional Factors to Consider
Honing in on the specific location of your foot pain will help you identify the right shoe features that can help course correct. Heel pain is often caused by plantar fasciitis, achilles tendonitis or heel spurs. Arch pain can also be caused by plantar fasciitis or flat feet. Toe pain can signal bunions or hammertoe, two conditions that can be caused by wearing shoes that pinch the toe box, like high heels. Many shoes on the market are designed with features to alleviate specific areas of foot pain.
Our Recommendations for Best Shoes For Foot Pain
1. Best For Walking and Standing All Day — New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080 V12
Fit: Superior cushioning | Lifestyle: Running, walking, standing all day
Cushy soles that provide shock absorption are crucial for people who stand on their feet all day. Combined with a wide, roomy toe box, the Fresh Foam 1080s are a top pick for comfort, with a soft midsole and extra cushioning in areas where your foot naturally flexes. New Balance is a consistently top-recommended brand by podiatrists.
- Pros: Multiple colorways available, Thousands of 5-star ratings
- Cons: A small handful of reviewers cited quality issues
2. Best ‘Natural’ Sneakers For Men and Women — Xero Shoes Prio Original Barefoot Cross Trainer
Fit: Mimics natural foot shape | Lifestyle: Walking, cross-training
“I like shoes that tend to be foot shaped, such as Xero. They can sometimes be a radical change to what many people are used to, but when someone has chronic foot pain, sometimes radical change is what is needed,” says Dr. Feldman.
Xero shoes have a zero drop in heel height, meaning they are designed to let your feet function as they would barefoot, with far less heel cushioning than most running shoes on the market. This lower heel height can help to avoid shortening of the achilles tendon and calf, conditions which can spur plantar fasciitis over time.
- Pros: Include a 5,000 mile sole warranty, Optional 2mm insole to customize just how barefoot you want to feel, Many styles available under $100
- Cons: It may take an adjustment period to adapt to the minimalist feel of these shoes
3. Best Men’s and Women’s Sneakers For Running and Walking — Hoka Clifton 9 Running Shoe
Fit: Wide toe box helps toes spread out, thick cushioning prevents fatigue | Lifestyle: Running, walking
Earning a Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), Hokas have been reviewed by APMA podiatrists and deemed beneficial to foot health.
- Pros: Super cushioned sole creates a smooth rocking motion to your stride, Very lightweight, Wide widths available
- Cons: Pricey
4. Best Women’s Arch Support Sneakers For Walking — Aetrex Cozy Blake Comfort Sneaker
Fit: Cushioned insole and arch support | Lifestyle: Walking, everyday use
“Shoes with good arch support will help alleviate pain associated with conditions like plantar fasciitis,” says Dr. Janine Ferrigno-Taddeo, DPM at Millburn Podiatry Group and consultant at Aetrex. When shopping, look for “features like molded insoles, arch support inserts and firm midsoles.”
- Pros: Stylish sneakers that work for business casual workplaces, Positive reviews rave about the sleek design and relief-providing arch support
- Cons: Some reviewers mentioned the shoe being too narrow, however wide widths are available
5. Best Men’s Dress Shoes For Commuting Comfortably— Rockport Dressports To Go Plain Toe Oxford
Fit: Roomy toe fit, Ortholite footbeds with EVA heel-cups | Lifestyle: Walking on pavement
These men’s Rockport oxfords are a great choice for commuting or exploring a new city. Strobel construction helps to ensure forefoot flexibility, while EVA outsole provides flexible impact absorption. In other words, these are not your grandfather’s stiff, inflexible Oxfords.
- Pros: Streamlined design makes these appropriate for most work attire (or paired with jeans), Affordable for the style
- Cons: Some reviewers mention sizing inconsistency, so you may want to try them on in-store
6. Best Men’s and Women’s Inserts For Active Lifestyles — Sole Active Medium
Fit: Shape designed to relieve plantar fasciitis pain and evenly distribute weight | Lifestyle:Walking, everyday use
Sole’s bestselling insert features a durable EVA base with Softec cushioning. They are suitable for sneakers and boots, and are clinically proven to reduce the plantar fascia strain by 34%, according to a study done by the Journal of Foot and Ankle Research.
- Pros: At $59 a pair, Soles are an effective over the counter alternative to pricier custom orthotics, Heat-moldable to ensure a fit customized to the exact shape of your foot, Risk-free 90 day trial
- Cons: Some reviewers cite the thickness of these insoles, so be sure to choose between thin, medium, and thick options based on what shoes you’ll be inserting these into.
7. Best Best Sneakers For Women With Flat or Wide Feet — Brooks Addiction GTS 15
Fit: Roomy toe box | Lifestyle: Walking, everyday use
Brooks is a frequently cited brand by podiatrists. The Addiction GTS 15s are praised for a wider toe box, which Dr. Feldman says is a main factor to consider when shoe shopping.
- “It starts with the fit of the shoe around the toes and giving the toes a chance to spread and work more for the benefit of the foot,” said Dr. Feldmen.
- These are also a great choice for anyone with flat feet or who wants to add orthotics to their sneakers.
- Pros: Hundreds of 5 star reviews, Backed by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance
- Cons: Limited colorways
8. Best Women’s Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis — ABEO MXV Shift Metatarsal
Fit: Arch support designed to relieve plantar fasciitis pain | Lifestyle: Walking, everyday use
The ABEO MXV Shift Metatarsals provide great arch support to relieve pressure. Deep heel cup helps stabilize feet, and a wider toe box provides a roomier fit for wide or swollen feet.
- Pros: Sleek design that doesn’t scream “workout shoe”, Can help with relieving forefront pain
- Cons: Limited colorways