orthotic sandals: what to know before buying featured image

Orthopedic Sandals: What You Need to Know Before Buying

by Mark Paigen 10 minute read

Orthopedic sandals are an excellent option if you want to improve the alignment of your feet and reduce pain in your lower body.

These sandals are designed to help your feet maintain a proper position, which offers relief from the pain associated with poor posture and foot position.

Orthopedic footwear has been around for centuries. People used to wear wooden sandals and shoes with hardened midsoles to aid in support and foot stability, though the technology and materials used have evolved over the years.

Nowadays, orthopedic sandals are made with modern materials that are lightweight, durable, and have more advanced shock-absorbing properties.

Due to the numerous benefits that orthopedic sandals offer, an increasing number of people have begun to use them to improve their foot health and overall comfort.

The Basics - - -

  • Orthotic-friendly sandals are special sandals designed to provide support, comfort and alleviate foot pain.
  • Features to look for include arch support, a contoured footbed, adjustable straps, anti-slip outsole, and breathable material.
  • Different colors and designs such as slip-ons and back strapped sandals are available to suit your personal preference.
  • Tread Labs orthopedic sandals combine arch support, shock absorbency, breathability, and an aesthetically-pleasing design to give you an all-in-one package.
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In the following sections, we’ll delve into the advantages, different types, and what you should look for when shopping for orthopedic sandals.

Table of Contents

Understanding Orthotic-Friendly Sandals

Orthopedic sandals are a type of footwear designed to support your feet and alleviate pain. Unlike regular sandals, they come with a built-in orthopedic footbed that provides arch support and cushioning to improve your feet’s alignment.

Orthopedic sandals aren't just for people with foot conditions. They’re also a great choice for anyone looking for supportive sandals to wear all day long, making them comfortable sandals for standing.

Let's review the features to look for in orthopedic sandals:

1 - Built-in Arch Support to Lift Your Arches

man wearing Tread Labs Men’s Covelo Sandals

An arch support provides stability to the arch of the foot by distributing your body weight evenly across the heel, arch, and ball of the foot. This distribution helps reduce pressure and strain on your feet, legs, and lower back.

Easing the pressure is crucial to preventing foot problems such as plantar fasciitis and flat feet. With their built in arch support, they’re also the ideal sandals for high arches, which is a painful condition for some people.

Without proper arch support, your arches may collapse or become misaligned, causing discomfort and pain in the feet, legs, and lower back. Arch support helps to correct any imbalance and provides stability to your feet.

Tread Labs sandals have a perfectly proportioned arch support that’s not rivaled by sandals with flatter footbeds. Our arch support improves alignment, helps with foot ailments, and comforts the feet.

By reducing pressure on your feet, the pain will be alleviated and you’ll have an overall comfortable experience.

Here is a quick video showing the incredible arch support and tread of Tread Labs Albion Sandal.

2 - Soft and Breathable Cushioning to Reduce Pressure

soft, breathable cushioning in Women’s Albion Sandal

Soft cushioning provides a plush surface for your feet to rest, which reduces the occurrence of pressure points that cause painful conditions such as metatarsalgia.

One of the reasons for this painful condition is hard cushioning, especially at the ball of the foot. The hard cushioning builds pressure on the metatarsal bones and causes the pain.

The soft cushioning in orthopedic sandals is what deals with this situation. Some of the cushioning materials used include microfiber suede, memory foam, and cork.

We use microfiber suede to make our sandals’ footbeds due to the following reasons:

  • Microfiber suede provides a smooth and comfortable surface for your feet. The material is soft to the touch and has a suede-like texture that’s cool and soothing against the skin.
  • It’s a highly breathable material that absorbs moisture, allowing air to circulate freely around your feet and preventing them from getting too hot or sweaty.
  • It’s easy to clean and maintain. You simply wipe the sandals with a damp cloth or sponge to remove dirt. Better yet, you can toss your Tread Labs sandals in the washing machine for a thorough clean. They’ll dry fast even after fully immersing them in water.

To keep your feet fresh, we’ve treated our sandals with microbial treatment to prevent growth of bacteria and other microbes that cause odor. Your feet will thank you later.

3 - Adjustable Straps for a Better Fit

adjustable straps in Men’s Covelo Sandals

Adjustable straps are a key feature in orthopedic sandals due to the need to accommodate your feet during different situations, like when they’re swollen.

Even if your feet aren’t swollen, adjusting the straps ensures that they’re securely held in place to prevent slipping and rubbing that causes blisters and discomfort.

Tread Labs sandals have adjustable straps made of 100% recycled polyester yarns. We obtain the straps through a sustainable process called 3D KNIT, where everything is knit without cutting. There are no scraps, hence zero waste.

The process not only provides a sustainable solution for the environment but it also produces a very durable material that we use for our sandals.

Next time you’re shopping, look for sandals with adjustable straps that you can alter to accommodate your feet in case they swell.

“Extremely comfortable on the insole. The weave and slight stretch in the straps make them more than you expect and better than any sandal I’ve ever worn.”
Herbert, Verified Buyer, USA

4 - Shock-Absorbing Midsole That Neutralizes Impact

shock absorbing midsole in Women’s Covelo Sandal

A shock absorbing midsole is necessary for your foot support sandals to neutralize the impact felt during movement. If not neutralized, the shock exacerbates conditions such as flat feet and heel spurs.

A shock-absorbing midsole also makes these sandals the perfect plantar fasciitis sandals since they alleviate pain felt along the plantar fascia.

Polyurethane, Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (EVA), memory foam, and gel are some materials used for the insole technology used to make orthopedic sandals. At Tread Labs, we combine polyurethane and EVA to make our midsoles.

Polyurethane is a durable and dense foam material that provides shock absorption, and is also popular for its durability.

EVA is a lightweight foam material that’s stretchy and therefore provides soft cushioning. It also absorbs shock like polyurethane.

When combined, these two materials result in a sandal that’s lightweight, comfortably cushioned, shock absorbent, and durable.

“I love these sandals. I have plantar fasciitis and need good foot support. Last summer I wore tennis shoes all summer in the heat and hated it, so I was determined to find a better option this year. I have tried a few different pairs of sandals from other brands and still experienced discomfort with them. I have worn these sandals for extensive periods of time without any discomfort, I'm very pleased with them and look forward to using them all summer long.”
Lexi, Verified Buyer, USA

5 - Premium Rubber Outsole to Prevent Slipping

rubber outsole for Tread Labs orthotic sandal

A non-slip outsole is your defense against slips and falls that result from a wet floor or slippery terrain outdoors.

Materials such as rubber, thermoplastic polyurethane, and EVA are used, but we make our outsoles with the most durable of all—rubber.

Rubber is highly-favored due to its excellent traction (grip) on slippery surfaces, and also for its durability.

If you want arch support footwear with the best outsole quality, check the product specification to verify that the material used is rubber.

Note: Our sandals can be resoled with original rubber soles. Dave Page Cobbler, an industry leader in the repair of fine footwear, will make it happen. Just fill this form before shipping your sandals and you’ll receive them with the soles looking as good as new.

Types of Orthopedic Sandals

When it comes to buying orthopedic sandals, there are two types available: custom-made and over-the-counter.

1 - Custom-Made Orthopedic Sandals

Custom-made orthopedic sandals are designed using information obtained from a comprehensive analysis of the wearer’s foot shape, size and biomechanics (how the foot moves during different activities).

These orthotic-friendly sandals, or sandals with removable insoles accommodate custom orthopedic inserts specially designed for your feet.

They’re prescribed by a podiatrist depending on the complexity of foot problems you’re experiencing and are mostly recommended for severe overpronation and supination, diabetic neuropathy, and other complex conditions that over-the-counter orthotics don’t correct.

If your podiatrist recommends custom-made orthopedic sandals, then go for them because they’ll be the most suitable to target your specific problem areas.

However, there are some drawbacks to consider before investing in custom-made orthopedic sandals:

  • Cost: Custom-made orthopedic sandals are more expensive than over-the-counter options. The fact that they aren't always covered by insurance makes them less accessible for some people.
  • Lengthy process: The process of getting custom-made orthopedic sandals is time-consuming as it involves multiple podiatrist appointments to do assessments, fittings, and waiting for the sandals to be produced
  • Less versatile: Custom orthotics have limited style options which may be unappealing to people with specific fashion preferences.

While custom-made orthopedic sandals are highly effective for addressing complex foot conditions, they’re not necessary for people experiencing mild foot problems.

Learn More: Are Custom Orthopedic Insoles Worth It?

2 - Over-The-Counter Orthopedic Sandals

Over-the-counter orthopedic sandals are excellent for people with mild to moderate foot conditions such as:

They’re also great for people looking for the comfort orthopedic sandals offer, even if they have no existing foot conditions.

One advantage of over-the-counter orthopedic sandals is their affordability and accessibility. These sandals are available online, making it easy to find a pair that fits your budget and style.

Over-the-counter orthopedic sandals also come in a range of styles that allow you to choose a pair that suits your personal preference. There are options for every occasion, such as dressy, sporty, or beachy.

However, there are a few cons attached to over-the-counter orthopedic sandals that you should know about:

  • Limited customization: They don’t provide the same level of customization as custom-made options and therefore aren’t suitable for people with severe foot conditions.
  • Their quality varies: Not all over-the-counter orthopedic sandals are equal. Some don’t have enough support or cushioning and may exacerbate foot pain rather than relieve it.
  • Shorter lifespan: Some over-the-counter orthopedic sandals aren’t as durable as custom-made options and need to be replaced more frequently, making them less cost-effective in the long term.

Where quality and lifespan are concerned, it’s important to do your research well. Find all you can about a certain brand, read reviews online, and ask people who have actually used them about their quality.

Overall, over-the-counter orthopedic sandals are an excellent choice for people who want the benefits of orthopedic support without the expense and hassle of custom-made options. They are convenient with a wide variety of options to suit every need and lifestyle.

The following table provides a quick comparison of custom-made and over-the-counter orthopedic sandals.

Custom-Made Orthopedic Sandals Over-The-Counter Orthopedic Sandals
Cost Expensive Affordable
Process Lengthy and involves multiple podiatrist appointments Quick and simple; available online
Versatility Limited style options Wide range of styles
Suitable for Complex foot conditions Mild to moderate foot conditions
Accessibility May not be covered by insurance Easily accessible and may be covered by insurance
Customization Custom-made based on individual foot assessment Pre-designed based on general foot conditions

At Tread Labs, we specialize in over-the-counter orthopedic sandals. Our ridiculously comfortable sandals are lightweight, cushioned, versatile, and machine-washable.

The good thing is that you don’t have to buy different pairs. You can wear a single pair to a dressier occasion, to a hiking activity, or at the beach. We’ve designed them in such a way that they can be dressed up and down for different situations.

They come in a variety of colors which include black, deep, rock, yolk, and leaf for men’s sandals. For women, the sandals are available in black, deep, leaf, zebra, rock, lagoon, fire, and ruby.

Our Men’s Covelo and Women’s Covelo sandals have a slip-on design that’s easy to kick on and off at your front door, yet sturdy enough to take you to France and back.

The Men’s Albion and Women’s Albion sandals feature a backstrap for those who love their sandals more strappy. The backstrap also offers extra grip when doing activities like light climbing, where slip-ons may fall over.

The table below shows Tread Labs orthopedic sandals.

Women’s Covelo Sandals


Men’s Covelo Sandals


Women’s Albion Sandals


Men’s Albion Sandals


If you don’t have complex foot issues that require podiatrist recommended sandals, Tread Labs’ over-the-counter orthopedic sandals will take care of any mild to moderate foot pain and discomfort.

Bonus Tip: Our sandals run small so we recommend that you buy them slightly bigger than you normally do. Check our sandals sizing chart for how much you need to size up.

In case you want to return a pair, do so within 90 days but they must be in new condition. Sandals marked Final Sale are not eligible for returns.

Orthopedic Sandals: All-In-One Footwear for Arch Support, Shock Absorption, and Breezy Comfort

Women’s Albion Sandals

Arch support sandals are an all-in-one package that lifts your arches, cushions your heels, and absorbs shock to promote the overall health of your feet.

When you choose the right brand for your orthopedic sandals, that one pair will alleviate pain caused by overpronation, supination, and other foot conditions.

If your foot condition is severe, custom foot pain relief sandals are ideal because they’re designed with biomechanics in mind to target your specific foot condition.

But, if your foot condition is mild to moderate, or you just want a comfortable pair of sandals, over-the-counter sandals will do.

Tread Labs orthopedic sandals offer you all-day arch support, buttery soft cushioning, and breathable material to make long days on your feet much more comfortable.

“These sandals are great! I bought to take on my 2.5-week vacation to Bali. I wore them all the time—day and night, up and down lots of stairs, to the beach, and out at night with dresses. They were perfect. Have Hallux Limitus and had no pain.”
Jeanne Jarrell, Verified Buyer, USA

Once you select a pair of Tread Labs sandals, we’ll ship for free in 4–5 business days if you’re in the USA. For Canada and International shipping, please check the rates here.

Want to try out our sandals and feel their quality before buying? This store locator will help you find a store near you that you can visit.

Frequently Asked Questions

Orthopedic sandals are not a common type of footwear, and as such, people have questions about them. Here are some of the frequently asked questions about orthopedic sandals:

Are orthopedic sandals comfortable?

Orthopedic sandals are recommended for all-day comfort. The built-in arch support, shock-absorbing technology, soft cushioning, adjustable straps, and anti-slip sole work together to reduce pain and fatigue. Meaning you can wear them comfortably for extended periods.

Can orthopedic sandals be worn by people with flat feet?

Orthopedic sandals are the ideal sandals for flat feet. In fact podiatrists recommend them because the arch support in the sandal lifts fallen arches, helping to reduce the inward rolling of feet (overpronation) common with flat feet.

Can orthopedic sandals be worn for sports?

Orthopedic sandals provide ample support and cushioning for low to moderate impact sports such as walking, hiking, and golfing. However, they’re not suitable for high-impact activities such as soccer and basketball which require greater stability and shock absorption to prevent injuries.

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