Foot pain can keep you from moving through your daily routine, let alone doing the extra things you love. Luckily, your life doesn't need to be dictated by your feet. And one of the easiest ways to keep foot pain from getting in your way is to rethink the shoes you're wearing and what you put in them.
The Basics ---
- There are lots of causes for foot pain, but choosing the right footwear can help your day-to-day comfort. Avoid high heels and narrow shoes. Instead, look for shoes with thick soles and cushioning.
- When picking out shoes, wear the socks you intend to wear with the shoes, make sure there is space between the end of your longest toe and the front of the shoe, and try to walk on various surfaces to see how your feet feel in the shoes.
- Shoes are made with little to no arch support so they are comfortable for people with even the lowest arches. Adding arch support insoles will increase the support of the shoe, which will also increase your comfort.
- We recommend Tread Labs Pace insoles for an extra firm fit that comes in four arch heights to match the contours of your feet.
What You Need To Know ---
We spend about 235 days of our lives on our feet, so it’s no surprise that 80% of us have experienced foot pain. While the cause of your foot pain may be unique to you, there are some very common foot issues that could be an explanation.
Why Do My Feet Hurt?
- Bunions - A bunion is a bony bump that forms on the joint at the base of your big toe. It's a result of some of the bones in the front of your foot moving out of place.
- Hammertoes - When your toe has an abnormal bend in the middle joint. Typically caused by shoes with high heels or narrow toe boxes.
- Corns and Calluses - Thick, hardened layers of skin on your feet usually caused by poorly fitting shoes that cause friction and pressure on an area of your foot.
- Morton’s Neuroma - A thickening of tissue around a nerve leading to the toes. Often the result of pressure or injury.
If you have persistent foot pain, of course you should consult with your doctor. But while you're waiting for your appointment to roll around, there are two other things to do that will help.
Start with your shoes. Find footwear that is designed for comfort and support. Then add firm arch support insoles that match the contours of your feet.
How To Shop For Foot Pain Relief Shoes
When you're on the hunt for shoes, sometimes you can tell if a pair of shoes will be comfortable just by looking at them. You can judge them by how they're constructed, what materials they're made of, if they're narrow, and how thick the soles are. Shoes that don’t give your feet enough room, support or cushioning won't feel good.
Shopping for shoes when you have foot pain ups the stakes. You want to make sure you're spending your money on comfortable footwear that makes your feet feel better, not worse.
Before you buy a pair of shoes that promises to “cure back and foot pain,” do some research to make sure you’re getting the greatest comfort for your feet and lifestyle.
It’s always better to try on shoes before you buy them, especially if it’s a brand you’ve never worn before. Spending some time walking around in a pair of shoes to see how your feet feel gives you an idea of how well they'll work for you long-term.
Harvard Medical School offers some helpful advice for shoe shopping:
- Shop for shoes at the end of the day, after your feet have naturally expanded during the day.
- Wear the same socks you intend on wearing with the shoes.
- Measure your feet and if one foot is bigger than the other, purchase a size that fits the larger foot. Also remember, size varies among manufacturers so you may need to try sizing up or down from your regular size to get the right fit.
- When standing, your feet should have room. There should be at least a quarter- to a half-inch of room between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe.
- Try walking around in the shoes, on various surfaces if possible. Pay attention to how your feet feel – are they comfortable or do the shoes feel snug. Do the shoes slip at all when you walk?
Most shoes don't have built-in arch support. When you're trying on shoes, if it feels roomy under your arch, there's not enough support. You can also tell how much support the shoe offers by pulling out the factory insert, reaching in and feeling along the arch. Does it feel flat? Probably.
The best way to make shoes more comfortable is to make them more supportive by adding firm insoles. When you're shopping for an insole, consider:
- Arch Height. The arch of your insole should match the contours of your feet, supporting your arch fully the entire length. If it feels like there’s a golf ball in your shoe, the arch is too high. If it feels too roomy, the arch probably isn’t high enough.
- Firm Support. Insoles that are too flexible or foamy won't properly support your feet, correct biomechanical issues or relieve foot pain. Insoles that are too cushioned feel great at first, but aren't great for your feet in the long run.
- Value. When the top covers wear out on your Superfeet Green insoles or other insoles without replaceable top covers, you have to replace the entire insole. For lots of people, that’s every six months. That gets expensive. Find insoles that allow you to replace just the top covers. It’s better on your wallet and better for the planet.
- Versatility. Different shoes require different styles of insoles. Dress shoes call for a short insole, soccer cleats need a thin one. Look for an insole that lets you swap top covers so you only need one insole for all your footwear.
What Are The Best Dress Shoes for Foot Pain?
If you have plantar fasciitis or bunions, shoes that are comfortable and stretch to conform to your feet are important. Sonoma offers half sizes as well as a choice between wide, narrow, and even extra wide fits.
Most of Softwalk’s shoes have removable inserts so you can add your own orthotic insoles for added support. Some shoes even add stabilizing features to ensure your walk is as soft as possible and doesn’t add strain to the rest of your body.
Some of the most popular men’s dress shoes that get a thumbs-up for comfort are Rockport’s DresSports collection. They’re so comfortable that Rockport once sent a team of marathoners to run 26.2 miles in them.
Rockport ensures comfort in this series with a padded collar and tongue to help prevent blisters and lace bruising, a polyurethane outsole that reduces foot and leg fatigue through shock absorption, and shock-absorbing heel cushioning.
What Are The Best Running Shoes for Foot Pain?
New Balance Fresh Foam 1080V9
New Balance shoes are often cited as great for people suffering from foot pain. The Fresh Foam 1080V9 Running Shoes for men and women are stylish and comfortable with their mesh uppers. They have a wide toe box that helps to stabilize your feet and their ample cushioning helps with shock absorption.
Brooks Running Adrenaline GTS
Brooks generally get good reviews for being a good option for people with foot pain. The Adrenaline GTS has a 12mm drop from heel to toe which helps direct your weight to your forefoot rather than your heel.
Hoka One One Clifton
Hoka One One running shoes may be shaped a bit different from what you're used to, but that's why people find them good for foot pain. They use a maximal design which creates a rocker motion in your stride, along with a wide toe box and soft sole.
What Are The Best Casual Shoes For Foot Pain?
Allbirds Tree Runners
Called the “world’s most comfortable shoe” by TIME magazine, Allbirds are beloved not only for feeling great on your feet, but also for their attention to using materials that are eco-friendly. With a focus on renewable and recyclable materials, Allbirds has styles for both men and women.
While you’ll probably need to add arch support insoles to your Allbirds, the flexibility of the fabric will be a relief for anyone suffering from bunions or hammertoes.
What Are The Best Sandals For Foot Pain?
It can be so tempting to throw on a pair of flip-flops when the weather is warm, but if you already have foot pain, they’re not going to help. Having used almost the same sole design for almost 250 years, Birkenstock (and the millions of people who wear them) swear by the simple science behind their shoes.
These sandals are designed with an arch support that molds to your foot over time, providing a natural and comfortable walk that prevents foot pain.
The Bottom Line
No matter the footwear you end up with, the most important thing your shoes can do is keep your feet comfortable and pain-free. You'll probably need to add arch support insoles to get them perfect for your feet but once you figure out what works best for you, you'll be amazed at how far you can go when your feet feel great.
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