A running shoe for plantar fasciitis helps alleviate the pain and discomfort caused by this painful condition.
Plantar fasciitis may be caused by overpronation, poor running form, flat feet, obesity, Achilles tendonitis, and more. But no matter the specific cause, and no matter your age or gender, the right running shoes are an integral part of the recovery process.
The ‘right’ running shoes, in this case, will have above-average amounts of cushioning in the soles to absorb shocks and a high level of arch support. The drop between heel and toe will also typically be less than on most standard running shoes. And the shoes will hold your feet firmly from end to end.
Below we’ve brought together our choices for the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis of 2021.
1. Saucony Men’s Kinvara 5 Running Shoe
The Kinvara 5 Running Shoe from Saucony touches all the bases when it comes to plantar fasciitis relief. It corrects issues with your gait, provides lots of cushioning, and grabs hold of your foot and doesn’t let go. Considering the price, they’re one of the great values on the market.
What we like: The Pro-Lock lacing system pulls the shoe in around your foot for a rock-solid hold. The designers do a good job disguising the extra padding in the sole. But it’s there, and it does an excellent job cushioning your heel. The shoe also does a good job providing lateral stability and countering overpronation and supination.
Flaws: They tend to run a bit small. They’re also not the best pair of shoes for running on wet surfaces.
2. Mizuno Women’s Wave Creation 19 Running Shoe
The designers of the Wave Rider have taken an innovative approach to cushioning by creating a kind of hinged sole. The overall effect is pretty stunning. But beyond that, the shoe is consistently comfortable and built to last. And the price puts them squarely in the ‘great value’ category.
What we like: Mizuno takes the responsibility of providing extra cushioning seriously. We like that. Their ‘Wave Plate’ does an excellent job absorbing shocks all day long without feeling springy or too thick. The shoe provides a nice, snug fit, holds your heel firmly in place, and has an anatomical sock liner for added arch support.
Flaws: You’ll need to run in them a few times to break them in. And they’re not really made to address overpronation.
3. ASICS Men’s Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe
The design of the Men’s Gel-Venture 6 is unspectacular. Nonetheless, it effectively compensates for supination and overpronation. And how effectively they soak up shocks at the heel. They guide your foot through the entire step process to help you avoid mistakes in form that can put undue stress on your arches.
What we like: The Gel-Venture soaks up shocks like a sponge. It’s a shoe built for off-road running. But it will stand up to miles of pavement while arch support is reliable, if not exceptional. That said, the shoe does a good job neutralizing supination.
Flaws: They do a great job on uneven trails and such but don’t feel as great on hard flat surfaces. Plus, they feature the typical Asics less than spectacular design.
4. ASICS Women’s GEL-Nimbus 20 Running Shoe
We’re not big fans of the look of most Asics designs. But every once in a while, they manage to hit one out of the park. And that’s the case with the Women’s Gel-Nimbus 20. On top of the compelling look, these shoes soak up shocks, correct for poor running form, and hold your feet tight from stem to stern.
What we like: We appreciate the support through the arch and the overall level of shock absorption. The shoes are also very light and breathable, and the sole takes a firm hold on any surface. We also have to mention the no-nonsense way the shoe takes hold of your heel and prevents lateral motion. Impressive.
Flaws: The toe box is pretty narrow. They’re also fairly expensive. And it seems they reduced the amount of cushioning a bit from previous iterations.
5. New Balance Men’s MW411v2 Walking Shoe
Older folks get plantar fasciitis too, and not all of them are into running. The New Balance Men’s MW411v2 Walking Shoe is the perfect shoe for them. The tasteful restraint of the design combined with the generous cushioning and the natural materials in the upper make these a keeper.
What we like: We like the clean lines and no-nonsense effectiveness of this shoe. It cushions shocks and holds your arch in place without breaking a sweat. And there are no bells and whistles to interfere with a nice smooth gait. The look is delightfully restrained, and the build quality is first-rate from sole to collar.
Flaws: There isn’t a lot of room inside if you want to install your own orthotics or cushioned insoles.
6. Brooks Womens Glycerin 17 Running Shoe
Rather than trying to hide from the bulkiness inherent in this type of running shoe Brooks has decided to embrace it with their Glycerin 17. The result is a shoe with a kinetic-style design that is simultaneously sleek and sturdy. It’s quite a trick. And thankfully, the rest of the shoe lives up to the promise the profile makes.
What we like: We find ourselves strangely attracted to the quirky design. Beyond that though, the shoe provides lots of comfy cushioning and a snug fit that doesn’t let go no matter how many miles you log. The mesh upper is also very breathable.
Flaws: The heel area is a bit roomy. Nothing terrible. Just doesn’t grab your heel the way some other shoes do.
7. New Balance Men’s 990v4
New Balance shoes are not cheap. But they get away with their higher price because the materials and engineering are first rate. The 990v4 effectively addresses most of the root causes of plantar fasciitis and makes an equally great shoe for walking or running.
What we like: Once again New Balance takes home the design prize with their Men’s 990v4. But the shoe is more than just a pretty face. It seals your feet inside and guides them through every step. At the same time, it corrects mechanical issues like overpronation and supination, while the blown rubber outsole drinks up the energy from shocks.
Flaws: The leather and fabric in the upper looks and feels great, but has a negative effect on breathability.
8. Hoka Womens Bondi 6 Running Shoe
If you’re going to go bulky, you might as well go all-in. And that’s exactly what the designers at Hoka decided to do. Rather than looking for ways to disguise their oversized outsoles, they took pains to accentuate their almost comic book-like dimensions. Somehow, they pulled it off.
What we like: We can’t get enough of that thick shock-absorbing outsole. You also get the very real sensation that you’re foot is being guided through the running motion from heel to toe. And despite having a somewhat comical look about them, they’re actually well-made and should stand the test of time.
Flaws: These are some of the most cushioned shoes you’ll ever see. They’re also heavy. So don’t expect to tear up the track.
9. Brooks Men’s Adrenalin Gts 17
For reasons we can’t quite put our finger on these might be the most comfortable pair of shoes on our list. There’s nothing about their appearance that suggests they’d be anything special in the comfort department. But it just goes to show you can’t judge a book by its cover.
What we like: We like how these shoes feel from the minute you slip your feet into them. We like the way they promote good form through the entire step. And we appreciate having the option to remove the molded foam insole. (Although we found the shoes more comfortable with it in.)
Flaws: They tend to be a bit tight. And they can be a chore to clean.
10. Salomon Women’s XR Mission Running Shoe
Not every runner is a sidewalk aficionado. Some prefer heading off the beaten track. The problem is, there aren’t a lot of trail running shoes for plantar fasciitis out there. But the Salomon Women’s XR Mission is the best of them. They’ll help free you from heel pain at the same time they enable your favorite pastime.
What we like: We like how stable these shoes are regardless of the running surface. We appreciate that the sole doesn’t back down from slippery surfaces and that the shoes breathe like nobody’s business. Oh yeah, they’re also available in a hyper-colorized version for those who like to walk on the primary color side of life.
Flaws: While comfort and arch support is good, padding in the heel seems a bit thin. Also, you either love the quick lacing system or you hate it.
Who Needs Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis?
Plantar fasciitis (1) is a condition that affects young and old, male and female. But there is no doubt that A) it affects a larger percentage of older folks than younger and B) that it is more common among women than men, although the percentages aren’t that far apart. It’s believed that up to a million Americans suffer from this condition to one degree or another. All of them would likely benefit from using running shoes designed to provide relief from this condition. But this type of shoe is not something that should only be reached for once the damage is done. If you do not and have not exhibited any symptoms of plantar fasciitis, there is nothing wrong with making sure things stay that way by using this type of shoe. It certainly won’t hurt.
How We Ranked
The problem of plantar fasciitis has many possible causes. But footwear solutions all tend to focus on the same essential things: arch support, ample cushioning, and providing a firm hold of your foot from heel to toe. Therefore, assessing which running shoes are effective in providing relief from plantar fasciitis pain and which aren’t isn’t all that complicated.
Unyielding arch support is the first thing we looked for in determining which shoes made our list. Arch support is crucial for several reasons. First, pain is caused, at least in part, by a failure of the arch to hold up under duress. So shoes that provide extra arch support address this issue head-on. In addition, flat feet are thought to be a major contributing factor to plantar fasciitis (2). Additional arch support provides people with flat feet a way to compensate for the structural shortcomings of their feet.
Plentiful cushioning addresses another factor that typically plays a considerable role in the development of plantar fasciitis: the forces brought to bear on the heel as a person goes through their stride. A running shoe that hopes to alleviate pain from plantar fasciitis should then provide more than the usual amount of cushioning in the sole. That allows them to absorb the forces generated when the heel strikes the pavement or path.
It’s also important that any shoe that hopes to provide relief from this painful condition holds your foot firmly in place from heel to toe. Any excess space inside the shoe could encourage the foot to slide hither and yon, undermining the effectiveness of the arch support.
And of course, even if a particular pair of shoes provides copious amounts of cushioning, outstanding support through the arch and a nice firm hold, it won’t be much good if it falls apart in a couple of weeks or months. So build quality had to play an important role in our selection process.
Running shoes for plantar fasciitis provide robust arch support. As we just touched on above, any running shoe for plantar fasciitis worthy of the name will supply unwavering arch support. There are several well-known triggers for this condition, with flat-footedness and overpronation being two of the most common. While those two conditions are often thought to be the same they are in fact fundamentally different (3). Flat feet is a structural problem, while overpronation is a mechanical problem. Nonetheless, they can both be effectively addressed by shoes with plenty of arch support.
Running shoes for plantar fasciitis provide welcome pain relief. During the early stages of this condition, the pain may wax and wane. It may well rear its head briefly in the morning and then subside. This can go on for some time and create the impression that the morning pain is just ‘one of those things’. But you ignore heel pain at your own peril. By not addressing the issue, the pain associated with this condition can and will increase over time. Until it becomes a near-constant, and very unwelcome, companion. If you are a runner or just someone who spends a lot of time on their feet, the right response to heel pain is to find a pair of shoes that will address the causes of the pain. All of the shoes on the above list are designed to do precisely that.
Running shoes for plantar fasciitis provide stability. We’ve looked at arch support and cushioning, and those are components of any running shoe for plantar fasciitis. But there is another, often overlooked, aspect of shoe design that can play a role in reducing plantar fasciitis pain: stability. The shoe you choose should grab hold of your foot and encourage a smooth, physically correct motion from heel strike through push off. And this is true even if you experience overpronation or supination (4). Shoes that provide outstanding stability throughout the entire step motion can help counteract both of these conditions.
Running shoes for plantar fasciitis can help you stay in shape. When pain from plantar fasciitis becomes too great many people simply give up running. As a result, their overall physical condition begins to deteriorate. And as they move into middle and old age this lack of physical fitness exacts a heavy toll (5). If you are experiencing heel pain from plantar fasciitis, even if you are already middle-aged or older, don’t give up. The right running shoe can address the issue and enable you to resume running in a pain-free manner. This, in turn, will allow you to maintain good health and enjoy your later years.
Running shoes for plantar fasciitis can help correct poor running form. Sometimes plantar fasciitis is not a matter of overpronation or obesity or even just getting old. It’s the result of poor mechanics. We’re not talking about auto mechanics that don’t have any money. We’re talking about the way you run. If your running form is fundamentally flawed, then the more you run, the greater will be your chances of developing plantar fasciitis (6). Shoes designed to deal with plantar fasciitis encourage proper form from the second your heel hits the ground to the moment you push off with your toes. That eliminates the source of the problem and allows you to enjoy greater benefits from your run because each stride will be more effective.
Running shoes for plantar fasciitis absorb shocks. There is a reason cars haven’t been able to transcend the need for shock absorbers. The ground is an unforgiving taskmaster, and any contact with it needs to be properly mitigated, or it will shake your car to pieces. The same holds true for your body. Every time your foot makes contact with the ground, it absorbs enormous forces that radiate all the way to your head. The arch of the foot is the body’s primary shock absorber. But even it has its limits. And if a person suffers from fallen arches, the ability of the foot to absorb shocks is significantly undermined. Running shoes for plantar fasciitis can restore and augment the natural shock-absorbing properties of the feet.
Running shoes for plantar fasciitis are great for walking as well. Plantar fasciitis is not the exclusive tormentor of the runner. It can affect virtually anyone who spends significant time on their feet. When it comes to older folks, the time spent on their feet doesn’t have to be all that significant. Lots of older folks enjoy long, vigorous walks as a way to stay in shape. And indeed going for regular walks can pay handsome dividends (7). But even this seemingly benign activity can cause inflammation of the plantar fascia. A good way to prevent your walks in the park from ending in foot pain is to use a running shoe designed to address the causes of plantar fasciitis.
Running shoes for plantar fasciitis help you stay engaged with life. Isolation is a major problem with older folks (8). If a person feels they are no longer able to get out and run or walk due to pain in their feet, it could start a downward spiral into isolation that can be difficult to reverse. The right running shoes, however, can help ensure that downward spiral never takes hold. They allow elderly individuals to obtain relief from the pain of this odious condition and stay actively engaged in all aspects of their life.
Q: What is plantar fasciitis?
A: Plantar fasciitis (9) is a condition that affects the plantar fascia (10) which runs from the heel through the arch of the foot to the toes. When certain conditions are present, this large, vitally important connective tissue can become inflamed. When this happens, we call it ‘plantar fasciitis’. Conditions that can cause the plantar fascia to become inflamed include running in poor quality footwear, running too much, driving your heel into the ground when running, obesity, flat-footedness, failing to stretch properly before running and more.
Q: If the plantar fascia is in my arch why does my heel hurt?
A: While the plantar fascia is the physical component that becomes inflamed, pain often seems to manifest itself in the heel (11). But in fact, it’s not the heel bone itself that hurts. It’s the connective tissue that holds the plantar fascia to the heel bone. Many folks who experience heel pain assume it’s caused by heels spurs (12) or their Achilles tendon. If your heel hurts, don’t discount the possibility it may be plantar fasciitis.
Q: How do I know if I have plantar fasciitis?
A: Often times the first indication that you have an inflamed plantar fascia is pain in the heel first thing in the morning. During the early stages of the condition, this pain may subside as you go about your day. But it’s likely to return late in the day once you get off your feet. If left untreated, the pain is likely to get worse and not subside so easily. It may become a chronic condition and even lead to disability (13). But it doesn’t have to get that far.
Q: What should I do if I have heel pain in the morning?
A: If you experience heel pain in the morning or a burning sensation in the bottom of your foot or you notice redness or swelling, don’t wait. If you’re a runner, stop running. Drink lots of water, ice down the inflammation and take NSAIDs for the pain and discomfort. Before you get back into running, make sure you change to a pair of running shoes that provide adequate arch support and cushioning for the heel. And take it slow when you start running again.
Q: Can you run if you have plantar fasciitis?
A: Yes, you can run if you have plantar fasciitis. But a better question is: ‘Should you run if you have plantar fasciitis?’ And the answer to that depends on the severity of your symptoms. If you just began to notice heel pain in the morning, then you can likely continue to run if you are willing to make a quick shift to better shoes, scale back the amount you run for a while and take other precautions like taping your feet.
Q: What happens if I run despite the pain?
A: If the pain is severe, then running with this condition is mostly a matter of whether you’re willing to endure the pain and accept the consequences. Those consequences include a worsening of the condition and a gradual but very real increase in the amount of pain you feel. But let’s be real, if your plantar fasciitis has been ongoing for some time and produces significant pain you should stop running and seek treatment. Period.
Q: Can running shoes cure plantar fasciitis?
A: If you have ignored the pain for some time, it is unlikely that a running shoe alone will cure plantar fasciitis. That said, a full recovery is still possible (14). If you are a runner, you may have to stop running for a couple of weeks until the pain subsides. Before you begin to run again, you should switch to a shoe that provides more cushioning in the sole and more support in the arch.
Q: Can being overweight cause plantar fasciitis?
A: Yes. In some instances, the cause of this condition can be traced back to a person being overweight. Studies have shown that excess weight can lead to a change in the mechanical structure of the plantar fascia (15) that can set plantar fasciitis in motion. One of the best ways to prevent plantar fasciitis or prevent it from returning is to drop some weight and relieve the pressure on the bottom of your feet.
Q: Is ice an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis?
A: While ice itself won’t ‘cure’ your plantar fasciitis, it can be useful in helping to relieve some of the pain and reduce the associated inflammation. One particularly effective method of icing involves freezing a small water bottle and then rolling the bottom of your foot back and forth over the bottle of frozen water. Just make sure to wrap the bottle in a sock, or to wear a sock when you do this to protect your skin from the cold.
Q: Will stretching help plantar fasciitis?
A: Stretching can help keep the plantar fascia loose and mitigate discomfort. The important thing to remember is to go easy. Don’t try and stretch too far too fast or for too long. Also, don’t try and stretch the plantar fascia right after you’ve iced it down. That can, and probably will, lead to significant pain. Wait until it warms up again before stretching.
Q: Should I tape my foot if I have plantar fasciitis?
A: If you are certain the cause of your foot pain is plantar fasciitis you may want to consider taping your foot to help relieve that pain (16). Taping reinforces the structure of the tendon, which can sometimes produce a significant reduction in pain. Just keep in mind that taping is not a substitute for using the right shoes, drinking plenty of water, stretching properly, and other aspects of treatment.
Q: Where can I learn how to tape my feet?
A: Taping can be an effective component of your overall treatment strategy. There are any number of useful tutorials on the internet that will take you through the taping process step by step. Just make sure you follow one produced by a reputable source.
Q: Should I use orthotics for plantar fasciitis?
A: Orthotics (17) are custom made shoe inserts that are designed to provide some additional support for the arch of your foot. It’s perhaps not surprising that makers of expensive orthotics tend to promote them as the most effective way to deal with plantar fasciitis. However, studies have shown that pricey custom orthotics are no better at alleviating the pain of plantar fasciitis than inserts bought over the counter at the local drug store for a fraction of the price (18).
Q: Can I run after having plantar fasciitis surgery?
A: The risks of operating on such a crucial part of the foot are considerable. Including the possibility that surgery may not alleviate the pain and that it may cause nerve damage or other unintended consequences (19). That said, it is possible you could return to running after having plantar fasciitis surgery. But there is no hard and fast rule to cite regarding how long it will take before you can hit the road again. The exact time will differ from person to person.
Q: Are older people more susceptible to plantar fasciitis?
A: Unfortunately, yes. Older people are more susceptible to developing plantar fasciitis (20)(21). The condition, in fact, is most prevalent in people between the ages of 40 and 70. There are a number of reasons for this, including the tendency of the arches to flatten out as we age. In addition, the natural padding under the heel tends to thin out as we get older. That results in greater amounts of stress and strain being brought to bear on the heel as we walk or run.
Q: How can I tell if my plantar fasciitis is getting better?
A: You will be able to tell if your plantar fasciitis is getting better if the pain in your heel gradually subsides. It’s as simple as that. Just don’t make the mistake of expecting the pain to go away completely the day after you first lace up your new shoes. It took time to create the problem, and it’s going to take time for it to go away. In fact, if the problem was long-standing and severe you will likely need to avoid running or taking long walks for some time and may need to wear a night splint (22).
Plantar fasciitis is a vexing condition that is not uncommon among older individuals. The good news, however, is that it does not have to become a permanent part of your everyday experience. The right shoes, like those profiled above, combined with rest, proper hydration, inserts, and more can eliminate this condition and give you back pain-free mobility.
All of the running shoes on our list have demonstrated their ability to play an important role in recovery from plantar fasciitis. Through a combination of generous padding and enhanced arch support, they counteract the dynamic that leads to inflammation of the plantar fascia and enable you to resume the business of pursuing optimal health.
For cpoe.org’s #1 recommended running shoes for plantar fasciitis, click here.