Plantar Fasciitis Shoes and Treatments 2013
Are you suffering from foot and/or heel pain and looking for some answers on what is causing it and how to alleviate it? There are many solutions to help minimize your pain so that you can continue to live an active life. One condition that could be causing the pain is plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common causes of heel pain. It is a condition where the plantar fascia, a ligament that runs from the heel to the toes, is irritated and inflamed causing the pain. It is important to have it checked, if left untreated it can turn into a chronic condition. Plantar Fasciitis is a painful irritation of the heel that usually occurs in the early morning hours and slowly subsides as the day goes on.
If you want to skip to the chase and find the best shoes for this condition, we tentatively recommend you go with New Balance shoes, a shoe company that specializes in high arch support shoes especially if you are a woman. These shoes have a very good reputation with many people (and websites) online and can help cure plantar fasciitis or at least reduce it. We give a few more brands of plantar fasciitis show later on in the article and we also discuss some of the other plantar fasciitis treatment options you can pursue.
Note that the best recommended shoe we used to have, New Balance 1123 for men have been replaced with a newer model M1540. Reports are that it doesn’t offer the same stability as the older shoe. As such, we’ve replaced our recommendation with Asics we have glowing recommendations by some who suffer from Plantar Fasciitis.
2013 Best Plantar Shoe Recommendations
If you have HIGH ARCHESAsics Gel Nimbus 15
If you have FLAT FEET
Do I have Plantar Fasciitis?
So how do you know if you have plantar fasciitis? Well, one indication is the spiking pain you experience, especially when you do any sort of activity like walking, running, sports, etc. Most suffers say the pain is more intense as they begin walking but notices it decrease the more they walk. The pain may gradually increase over a period of months if no action is taken to alleviate it.
Heel Spurs vs. Plantar Fasciitis
Keep in mind that there is a difference between Heel Spurs and Plantar Fasciitis, so you could be suffering from Heel Spurs not Plantar Fasciitis. PF is the inflammation of the plantar fasciitis, a fancy word for theconnective tissue that forms the foot arch. Heel spurs, on the other hand, are a little piece of bone that can, over time, form on the heel bone where the foot’s plantar fasciitis attaches to the (heel) bone.
If you have Plantar Fasciitis, it might be likely that you can have a Heel Spur too. But it’s possible to have Heel Spurs (buildup on the bone of the heel) without having Plantar Fasciitis. And to make the issue even more muddled, you can have Heel Spurs without any of the pain symptoms. Of course, Heel Spurs can hurt too, but it’s not the actual spur that causes the pain, but the inflammation around the area.
And back to Plantar Fasciitis…
Plantar fasciitis is most common in individuals with high or low arches and can be treated simply by changing the type of shoes that are worn on a regular basis. Walking is one way to decrease pain associated with plantar fasciitis as it stretches the fascia and provides relief. Though walking is beneficial without the proper shoe the problem will persist.
Obesity, excessive walking for long stretches of time, foot injuries and sitting too long are all causes of the disorder. The good news is that comfortable footwear with arch support can help ease the discomfort. Shoes that have supportive cushions will offer added support to the heel as well. Some of the most comfortable shoes are sneakers or boots that give support to the entire foot. Though it is not always possible to wear sneakers or boots there are other alternatives such as dress shoes or sandals with a cushioned insole and slightly raised heel. Corrective insoles can be placed into any shoe making each step much more comfortable and alleviating pressure placed on the soles of the feet during moderate to heavy activity.
Appropriate footwear should distribute weight evenly across the heel while absorbing most of the shock from walking on hard surfaces. It is especially important for anyone whose job requires him or her to stand for most of the day to wear comfortable shoes. Plantar Fasciitis can occur when strain on the fascia is continuous. People who are experiencing the discomfort of the disorder may find relief by correcting their shoe of choice but if the problem persist a podiatrist may be able to diagnose a special medical shoe designed to offer the best support for the foot while giving the plantar fascia time to heel and recovery.
Plantar fasciitis is more common in women than men. Also it is common in runners, or someone who is active and on their feet a lot, and/or pregnant women or overweight people. It may also be caused by over-activity of the feet or wearing shoes that don’t offer enough support.So to break down the causes of plantar fasciitis.
Keep in mind that PF can be caused by a number of different issues and maybe not just one. Hence you sometimes need a blanket treatment of many different things to treat PF effectively.
- Pregnancy (the extra unbalanced weight on the body) may cause it in women
- If you’ve had any recent significant weight gain — pregnancy or rapid weight gain
- If you are active on your feet often (running, basketball, sports, etc) you may contract the condition
- Extended standing or walking on hard surfaces for long periods of time
- Bad shoes: If you don’t wear proper footwear that distributes your footweight properly, you may develop plantar fasciitis over a long period of time
- Some combination of the above
This article will specifically cover #6, but we will talk about some of the other issue
What are some of the symptoms of plantar fasciitis?
- Inflation around the heel
- Pain in the arch and heel of your foot when you walk
One prominent symptom is pain when you first get out of bed in the morning and put weight on your feet. The pain will continue throughout the day, especially after sitting for long periods or standing. The area of your foot that is most affected is in the heel.
Now invariably, people want to find some sort of treatment for this condition. And the good news is that you don’t have to live in pain — there are plantar fasciitis treatments that can and do help cure the problem. I will warn you though — there is no INSTANT cure. It’s usually a process. Expect to spend months treating the condition before you see remarkable improvements. I can tell you RIGHT NOW, if you don’t take the appropriate steps to treat the condition (shoes for plantar fasciitis, for example or some other support device), the condition won’t likely improve and will likely get even worse and more painful. So make sure you treat it, not ignore it.
Plantar Fasciitis Myths
There is a number of myths and outright WRONG information about Plantar Fasciitis. I’ve compliled a list of some of this misinformation to help
Myth 1. Plantar Fasciitis is caused by Flat Feet.
While people who have flat feet might have Plantar Fasciis, it’s not always the case. Flat Feet does not always mean you have a higher likelyhood to contract PF.
Myth 2. Pronating causes Plantar Fasciitis
This is a term that sounds more complicated than it really is. Essentially, pronating is when the foot rolls inward as you step. Pronating and flat feet often go together like two peas in the pod, with the pronating causing the arch of the foot to collapse over time. Hence, if you have flat feet, you are likely but not always, to have a pronating step and by conventional medical wisdom more likely to contract PF or if you have PF you are more likely to have Flat feet and a pronating step. This makes sense right? Well it’s not always the case. There is in fact medical research calling for the definition of pronating to be thrown away as it is hard to gauge what level of pronation is actually normal. So you might haveover pronating feet. But wait, at what amount of pronating qualifies as overpronating? With such a vast different range, it’s hard to tell.
Myth 3. People with High Arches Don’t Get PF
What’s less talked about is the fact that high arches might also cause PF in some cases. PF is mostly associated with flat feet, not high arches. But you could likely contract PF from high arches and a suplinating step, which is when the foot rolls outwards (the opposite of pronating). Because the blame is almost always pinned on having flat feet and having overpronating step, there is little to no research about a suplinating step with high arches causing PF.
But having high arches and a suplinating step might aggravate your Plantar Fascia and cause PF. An arch that’s too high could feasibly cause irriration to the plantar fascia and cause PF.
Myth 4. Tight Calves Cause PF
You’ll often see this banded about like the gospel when it comes to defining some of the causes of PF. “Tight Calves” refers to when people have a slightly leaned over posture from the calf muscles being shortened (or contracted). Often ladies who wear high heels might suffer from this. It’s a real condition, but it’s very hard to actually define what level of “tightness” can be defined as “tight calves” as a medical condition. So while tight calves might be a contributing factor, it’s iffy as to whether a person actually has this condition in the first place!
I’m not a medical expert, just a writer who has suffered through this condition myself. But just be aware that PF can be caused my multiple factors and some of the main PF scapegoats might not necessarly be the cause. If you assume they are, you could be treating something that does not in fact exist as a real cause in the first place.
Myth 5: Minimal Running Shoes Prevent/Treat PF
Wrong. Minimal Running Shoes (i.e. Vibram 5 fingers and the like) actually cause the condition to get worse. Minimal Running Shoes force you to put more weight on the ball of your foot rather than the heel of the foot when you run. Common wisdom would have it that putting the weight on the front of your foot would mean your heel area is not as stressed right? But in fact putting weight on the front foot actually places more strain on the plantar fascia area with the muscles and tendons having to work overtime trying to maintain your balance. If you read around on various forums, most will tell you that minimal running styles do NOT help PF but aggravate it. You are better off with the common heal striking running shoes.
Treatments for Plantar Fasciitis
I’ve put together a comprehensive list of the most effective plantar fasciitis treatments. These WILL help you with your condition, provided you try them. Another option is to buy this Step By Step How to Cure Plantar Fasciitis Guide which will really help get you started on curing the condition.
1. Special Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
One treatment of plantar fasciitis is to buy proper shoes. Now, plantar fasciitis will continue to get worse IF you don’t get the right shoes. BUT SHOES ALONE MIGHT NOT SOLVE THE PROBLEM.
Let me restate this: PLANTAR FASCIITIS WILL CERTAINLY CONTINUE TO GET WORSE IF YOU DON’T HAVE PROPER SHOES BUT THE RIGHT SHOES MIGHT NOT COMPLETELY FIX THE PROBLEM. Not wearing shoes will also make the condition worse as well, so it’s absolutely vital that you buy a pair of shoes that will help relieve the stress from your plantar and provide motion control when you walk. Most shoes are flat and don’t offer any support. If you want to continue to wear your current shoes, you can buy orthotic insoles to place inside them for the extra support. Now here are some of my recommendations for the best plantar fasciitis shoes for both men and women.
So…what are the best shoes for plantar fasciitis?
Well, to answer the question “which are the best shoes for plantar fasciitis”, you need to first look at your OWN specific needs and what type of lifestyle you live. If you are quite active — i.e. you run, do sports that require a lot of foot motion, etc. — you will want to look at a pair of running shoes designed just for people with plantar fasciitis.
If you spend a lot of time on your feet every day for a job or you just like to do a lot of walking/climbing/hiking, then you will need a good pair of plantar fasciitis walking shoes. Now, these are not the only two kinds of shoes available for you, but I give these as an example because most people looking for shoes to treat this condition want either running shoes or walking shoes. Now there are quite a few plantar fasciitis shoes that you can look at.
TENTATIVELY NEW BALANCE IF YOU ARE A WOMAN (Sep 2013 UPDATE)
My personal favorite, as mentioned at the start of the article, is the New Balance footwear. I find these a great mix of comfort, style, price, and motion control. They also have stellar ratings online — which I completely agree with.However, as of 2012 (and at the time of this update, September 2013), New Balance have replaced some of the old recommended shoes with newer updates that, at least for the men’s shoe, seem to offer LESS heel support. So it’s going to be a bit of a crap shoot if the new M1524 model will help. Some people say yes, many say no.
Over the past few years, various people have made their own suggestions in the comment section. Popular recommendations seem to be Merrel shoes, Orthaheel shoes, Fit Flops sandels, and Kuru Footwear.
From the readers’ recommendations:
Orthaheel. Many many readers swear by these shoes which have been developed for people with foot conditions. They have rave reviews on Amazon and are definitely worth looking at seriously if you want some shoes with proper heel support made for people who suffer from PF. The negative side here is that these shoes are often thick and clunky looking; so if you are looking for a hot pair of sexy running shoes to go with your cute yoga pants, Orthaheel might not deliver the goods here.
Kuru Footwear, was developed by podiatrists specifically to treat plantar fasciitis conditions. These shoes have a patent-pending technology that molds to the contours of your feet using an orthotic midsole molded into the shoe. Kuru shoes are recommended by podiatrists as part of a program to reduce your pain related to plantar fasciitis. The lace up style is most recommended as it offers more support and relief. Kuru footwear also has the proper deep heel cup and style. They don’t have the outdated orthopedic look to them.
New Balance. From what I’ve seen online, New Balancestill have a good reputation and the W1524 model has a number of women with PF say they’ve helped the condition. I find they look much more attractive aesthetically than do Orthaheel, Kuru, and the like. I myself own several New Balance running shoes.
Asiscs. Reports are that these have very controlled stiff heel support. A number of people have said they don’t need any sort of inserts just by wearing Asics running shoes. I myself own a pair for running and find they do offer a lot of support, as long as you don’t go for the lightweight style.
Running Shoes + Orthotic Inserts. If you simply can’t find a shoe or you don’t want to take a risk, then the BEST strategy is to get a trusted pair of running shoes and put a pair of orthotic inserts that will provide support. By far, this seems to be one of the best methods of treating PF or at least handing the problem. SO if you can’t find an effective running shoe that does the job, then get a pair of inserts!
Here is a brief list of some shoe brands with very good arch support to specifically look for if you have plantar fasciitis:
- Croc Sandals
- New Balance
- Bite Arch Support Shoes
- Darco Gentlestep
- Finn Comfort Shoes
- Name Mephisto
- P.W. Minor
- Standing Comfort
All of these offer support for your arches and slightly raised heel. Changing your shoes is an important step to getting back to your active lifestyle and alleviating the pain. If you are doing other treatment but continue to wear footwear with poor support, you can counteract progress made. There are also numerous shoes in the following formats:
- Running shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
- Walking shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
- Dress shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
- Sandals for Plantar Fasciitis (For the best sandals for plantar fasciitis (and you may find these are actually more comfortable than shoes), my nod goes to Birkenstock Sandals. These are comfortable and offer very very good support.)
- Basketball shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
- Tennis shoes for plantar Fasciitis
- Gym shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
These are shoes that are designed for specific activities or in specific styles — you don’t have to give up activities like running or even sports if you have this condition. However, you need to RIGHT footwear.
I’ll give a few specific gender recommendations here for the impatient ones.
Women’s Running Shoes
There is no “one size fits all” women’s shoe out there. But I have quite a few friends who absolutely swear by the
New Balance Women’s WR1123 Running Shoe replaced with the W1540 which some suffers of PF say offers good heel support and can help. Based on the user feedback, we recommend this as a potential shoe solution for women. Also take a look at the Women’s Asics Gel Nimbus 15 if you have high arches. People with PF and high arches give them good ratings. If you have flat feet, try the Asics Gel Kayano’s. And if you can’t find anything, go with one of the Asics shoes and get orthotic inserts that provide extra heel / arch support; that might just do the trick.
Women’s Hiking Shoes
You can get away with using running shoes for everything, but I have found you may want a pair of walking shoes. These tend to be more comfortable than running shoes if you are standing all day or walking all day. Don’t wear them for running or sports activities though. Based on user recommendations, we recommend the Women’s Walking Shoe by Orthaheel. If you are looking for more of a fitness looking running shoe style, you might try the New Balance Women’s WW645 Walking Shoe. It’s likely the Orthaheel shoe will offer far more support for the heel though.
There are a few flip flops and sandals out there designed specifically for women. I highly recommend Orthaheel’s Tide Slide Sandal which was created specifically for women suffering from PF. FitFlops, are another orthopedic sandal that offer a lot of support. And finally, Women’s Merrell Savannah sandals. They look great, feel comfortable, and what’s most important, they are made for people with heel pain.
Best Plantar Fasciitis Running Shoes for Men
For the guys out there, New Balance Men’s MR1123 Running Shoe pretty much takes the cake. I’ve tried a shed load of different brands and this specific model of shoe win hands down. Again, not super cheap, but you get what you pay for. I LOVE running and use these shoes to run a bi-weekly 7 mile run. This was not possible until I started wearing these shoes as my plantar just killed after any sort of run. I use these to go to the gym and for my “out and about” days.
New Balance has replaced the MR 1123 with the M1524 which have a host of negative reviews. I’ve heard from few to no people who say these shoes have helped with PF. You might look at the M890 series which some people have said provide a good amount of heel support.
Asics, in terms of major running shoe brands, take the cake now though in terms of more heel / arch support. They tend to make a stiffer sort of shoe than New Balance, Nike, etc. Of particular note is the Asics Gel Nimbus (15) which is designed for people with high arches and need good support. A good deal of people with plantar fasciits and higher arches rave about these shoes. You can check out the Amazon reviews to verify this. If you have flat feet and Plantar Fasciis, then we recommend the Asics Gel Kayano, which has very positive recommendations for low arch plantar fasciis suffers.
Best Men’s Walking Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
If you are on your feet a lot, for a job say, running shoes sometimes don’t cut it. I do recommend New Balance Men’s MW977 Walking Shoe as the best walking shoes for plantar fasciitis. These shoes and my running shoes pretty much make up my “plantar fasciitis shoe” set. Between the two of them, I cover 95% of my shoe needs. Oh, I’ve found these are great for long hikes and for traveling. I took them to a recent 3 week trip through India and they were fantastic — no foot pain at all, despite the fact I was on my feet 5 to 8 hours a day.
I suggest you look at my shoes for plantar fasciitis post for some more specific shoe recommendations. I will be adding specific reviews about different models of shoe and new recommendations in future posts. Also expect a personal best plantar fasciitis shoes of 2010 post to — I want to keep you guys updated on what’s good and what’s not this year.
2. Plantar Fasciitis Stretches
Besides shoes, you can perform special stretches that can help alleviate some of the pain. These stretches are easy to perform and may (or may not) make a difference.
Plantar Fasciitis is highly treatable. Doing foot exercises designed to stretch the affected tendon are also part of a good treatment program for plantar fasciitis but these must be done every morning and evening for at least a two week period. It’s a good idea to take over-the-counter pain medications with anti-inflammatory properties in order to reduce or eliminate the pain felt during a plantar fasciitis episode. You can reduce your pain by doing proper stretching and exercises along with wearing the proper footwear. If you do this, you can return back to your active lifestyle. Check out my post about some of the plantar fasciitis stretches you can perform. There are a few devices on the market that help you “stretch”. I can recommend the ProStretch as one of the best ones around. Of course, you don’t “need” to use a stretching device, but boy are they sure convenient to use.
Of course if you want to save money with a DIY solution, you can simply roll a tennis ball under your foot arch in the morning for a few minutes. Many people swear by this.
3. Applying Ice Packs
The most immediate treatment for plantar fasciitis is resting the affected foot in order to allow the inflamed ligament to properly heal. Complete rest from physical activity, whether it is walking, running or jogging, is recommended for best results. During this period, applying ice packs to the painful area is another effective treatment method. Freeze water in a plastic bottle that is 10 to 12 inches tall, and use this as a frozen roller over which to roll the soles of the feet for 10 to 15 minutes at least several times a day.
If you are looking for a specific ice pack to use on your feet, I really suggest getting a few ColPacs. They are reusable, last between 20 to 30 minutes, will last for years (I still have my ColPac from 3 years ago!), and they freeze pretty fast. The only “cost” is that they are around 17 bucks — not your typical 5 dollar Wall-Mart packs, but better in every way. Trust me, if you have sore feet, you’ll get your money’s worth out of these 1000 times.
4. Shoe Inserts
Shoe inserts such as heel cups inserted in footwear help to not only pad but also elevate the area of the heel where the most pain is usually felt in plantar fasciitis. Wearing a night splint on the affected foot and leg while sleeping can be an effective plantar fasciitis treatment to help prevent the ligament from cramping up overnight and keeping it stretched out so that there is less pain and inflammation felt in the morning.
My specific recommendation here are HTP Heel Seats. These are heel inserts you pop into your shoe and help to stretch out the plantar and provide stabilization support to the affected area. If you don’t want to get a pair of specific motion control shoes or you own a pair and find your plantar needs extra support, GET these. I bought a pair of these and found they made a huge difference in the amount of pain I experienced when walking.
If you want the more “standard” whole shoe sole inserts, one of the best rated is the Powerstep Pinnacle. It’s only around 20 bucks or so and has MANY positive reviews. Another option if you have the cash is to go with Birkenstock orthopedic insoles. Most of the Birkenstock insoles are around 60 dollars, but they are reputed to be the most comfortable. You pay for that comfort, however. Note, if you want a more comprehensive article about various shoe insert and heel cup products you can use to treat plantar fasciitis, read out What Are the Best Orthotics for Plantar Fasciitis article.
The bottom line is that IF you can’t find a running shoe or walking shoe that helps, then BUY A SHOE INSERT. There is a lot of anecdotal stories out there on PF forums that shoe inserts make the biggest difference to treating PF, even over running shoes! And if you are one of the unfortunates that just can’t find a pair of running shoes that doesn’t hurt your feet, then this is the best method.
5. Foot Support (Braces, Tapes, and Night Splints)
Some people treat this condition through support mechanisms. These are placed around the affected areas of your foot and help to “lock” your foot into a position that does not irritate the plantar and arch. These are often called night splints because they are designed so what when sleep, your foot is braced and your feet can heal while you sleep. Some models may even allow you to walk around in your home. You can also find various nylon braces and foot tape that can provide support when you walk during the day.
I’m not a big fan of tapping the foot or using the nylon braces — I find it doesn’t immobilize your foot enough to provide true relief and healing. But you might. However, I suggest you at least pick up a good quality Plantar Fasciitis night splint. These, I have found, are the quickest way to heal your condition since you don’t put any stress on the area when you sleep and you can walk around in your home in them. Now, what’s the main purpose of night splints? Well, one of the biggest symptoms of plantar fasciitis is the excruciating pain you experience when you take the first few steps of the day. This happens because your plantar fascia actually tightens up when you sleep. When you first get out of bed and put that bodyweight pressure on your feet, it “stretches” your plantar fascia out and…PAIN.
A night splint helps to counter this because it keeps the plantar fascia stretched out all night long. Since the plantar stays stretched out all night, you don’t stretch it out suddenly when you put weight on it and even more important, you don’t damage it even more, giving it the best chance to heal.
For night splints, my usual recommendation for people on a budget is Brown Medical N’ice Stretch Tension Night Splint. This is not as bulky as some of the other brands and they have space to add an ice pack (or ColPac if you have one of those) which provide additional relief. Not too pricey either which is always good. If you want maximum in comfort but don’t mind paying another 20 bucks or so, I say get the Swede-O Deluxe Padded Plantar Fasciitis Night Splint. It’s by far the most comfortable, but as I said, you do pay a bit more for it.
6. Exercise Devices
There are a few devices on the market that aim to treat plantar fasciitis by helping you strengthen the muscles in your foot. The idea is if you “stretch” out the muscles on a regular basis and build them up stronger, the condition will gradually disappear. Now, this is not a 1-day-and-your-cured treatment, it will take weeks or even a couple months. But it’s EFFECTIVE if you make it a habit. This is a no-frills way to treat your condition. Keep in mind, it’s best combined with other treatments like shoes for plantar fasciitis. Now the Elgin Archxerciser Foot Strengthening Device is one popular foot exercising device. It does help and many people swear by it. On the plus side, it’s less than 30 bucks so it won’t break the bank. Another device that has really good reviews is the ProStretch. I’ve already mentioned this in the stretching section above, but this device also do help to build up your foot muscles in addition to the stretching and rehabilitation of the ankle, Achilles tendon, and calf muscles. It can help prevent or reduce Plantar Fasciitis if you use it every day. I’ve talked to a good number of people who really swear by this device.
7. ESWT (Extracorporeal Shock Wave Treatment)
Among the latest advances in treatment for plantar fasciitis is a technique called ESWT (extracorporeal shock wave treatment) in which the tissues in the ligament are helped to heal via energy pulsations. Once the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis has been treated, it is essential to prevent future episodes, either by continued use of orthotic devices in footwear or continued stretching exercises to keep the foot limber.
Chalk this one up under the experimental treatments. I’ve never had it so I can’t verify if it actually does anything.
In some cases, surgery may be required to fix this condition. Keep in mind that you should consult a specialist if you opt for this route. Plantar fasciitis surgery should also be your LAST option as well.