Podiatrist's Guide to Shoes for Women with Plantar Fasciitis.
If you have been unlucky enough to suffer with Plantar Fasciitis you will be familiar with the daily struggle of heel and/or arch pain whenever you try to get up and move around.
Often described as either a sharp pain on ache under the heel, plantar fasciitis can be a mild niggle, right up to a debilitating pain the stops people from being able to work.
Plantar fasciitis can be caused be a variety of different factors such as tight muscles, poor foot mechanics, inappropriate footwear or sudden changes in activity levels.
In most cases it is a combination of one or more of these factors.
One of the most helpful and important aspects of treating your plantar fasciitis is wearing supportive and cushioned footwear.
With so many different shoes available on the market, it can be difficult to determine what will be helpful and what will leave you in more pain.
The features you should look for if you suffer from Plantar Fasciitis include:
- A sole with cushioning or shock attenuating materials – this helps to reduce the impact of the force your foot needs to absorb each time it hits the ground. Not only will this make you feel more comfortable, but it will also help resolve your Plantar Fasciitis and reduce the likelihood of it returning.
- A small stable heel – most people believe that flat shoes are better for you, but there is also such a thing as too flat. A shoe with a small heel (1-4cm) will help to reduce the load on the calf, achilles tendon and also the Plantar Fascia. This will help to improve your comfort levels while you recover and reduce the risk of re-occurrence.
- A stiff heel counter - this refers to the firm material around the heel area of the shoe which helps to hold the shape of the shoe. It also aids in the function of the foot during the gait cycle and helps to hold the heel bone upright. This can help to reduce the pronation (rolling in) of the foot which also increases load on the Plantar Fascia.
Here are my top picks for women’s shoes that not only look great but will also aid in the management of your plantar fasciitis.
1. “The Boot”, Hush Puppies Delux HP
For this winter you really can’t go past the Hush Puppies Delux HP in Suede. This boot comes in 3 great colours – Black, Taupe and Olive and Hush Puppies have incorporated a brilliant waterproof suede so you know they will stay looking great all season. Being an ankle boot they are super versatile and will look just as great with a pretty floral dress and leather jacket as they will with your jeans and a cosy knit.
Why we love them:
- a low, stable heel (40mm) helps to reduce stress on the plantar fascia while still keeping you comfortable.
- A stiff heel counter and torsional stability improve foot alignment, limiting the load on the plantar fascia.
- The deep design of this boot enables it to accommodate orthotics where needed.
- Soft cushioned sole helps to reduce shock and improve comfort.
The perfect trans-seasonal ankle boot that offers all the features we Podiatrists look for without compromising on style.
2. “The Sandal”, The Birkinstock “Lola” Sandals.
If you are lucky enough to be escaping somewhere warm this winter then this is the perfect sandal to ensure you can enjoy days on your feet walking and travelling without discomfort. While all Birkinstock sandals offer excellent cushioning and support, I particularly like the “Lola” due to it’s elevated heel and ankle strap which will be particularly beneficial to those with Plantar Fasciitis. Pair them with a cute summer dress or wide leg trousers for an on trend look.
Why we love them:
- 35mm elevated heel helps to reduce strain on the calf and plantar fascia
- EVA midsole aids in cushioning which further improves comfort
- Available in a variety of colors to suit your personal style
- Ankle strap to reduce fatigue in the foot
- Built in arch support and metatarsal dome to offload the plantar fascia and enable even pressure distribution across the foot.
3. “The Sneaker”, New Balance Zante Fresh Foam
This versatile sneaker is the perfect classic look to take you from the gym to the café while feeling like you have nothing on your feet. The Zante is an exceptionally lightweight shoe giving you a feeling of weightlessness and responsiveness without compromising on cushioning and support. The Zante is a great option if you do a variety of activities and will work just as well for walking and running as it will for Pump or Spin classes. The classic black and white colour way will go with anything from your favourite vibrant gym tights to cuffed boyfriend jeans.
Why we love them:
- “no sew bootie-fit” for improved comfort and no seams to rub and blister
- Soft and cushy feel while remaining durable and stable
- 6mm heel raise to reduce strain on the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon
- Removable innersole to accommodate orthotics where required
- Classic design means you can wear this shoe casually as well as for your exercise.
4. “The Dress Flat”, Ecco Women’s Shape Pointy Ballerina Tie
This is a really cute shoe that would not look out of place at the office or dressed down with jeans on the weekends. The almond shaped toe is fashion forward while incorporating all the comfort features that will make this shoe one of your favourites. The tie straps are not only a cute fashion feature but also reduce stress on your foot muscles as they don’t have to ‘hold’ the shoes on as you walk. It also means if you have a slim line orthotic, chances are they will fit comfortably without the risk of moving around. They also come in 3 great colours.
Why we love them:
- Soft nubuck leather upper will be soft on your skin.
- Low stable heel helps to reduce pressure on the plantar fascia and calf.
- Tie up straps aid in the fitting of orthotics and also help to reduce foot fatigue.
- Contoured footbed with added cushioning and arch support to reduce stress on the foot and improve comfort.
- Also check out the ‘Ecco Shape Pointy Ballerina’ for an alternative version of this great shoe.
5. “The Dress Heel”, Vionic Women’s Lux Camden Wedge
We all need to have a pair of these classic wedges in our wardrobe! Available in 2 different width fittings, leather or kid-suede and a variety of colour ways you are bound to find one that you love. Vionic have managed to produce some great looking shoes without compromising on support and these are certainly no exception. Perfect for if you have to dress up for work or pleasure but don’t want to aggravate your plantar fasciitis. Pair them with work pants or a smart pencil skirt and you don’t need to worry about pain getting in the way of your work day.
Why we love them:
- Sturdy 60mm wedged heel keeps you stable while still feeling dressed up.
- Mechanical orthotic-grade footbed to reduce stress on the forefoot and plantar fascia while enabling even pressure distribution.
- Stiff heel counter for improved alignment.
- Soft upper materials to be friendly to skin and minimise the risk of blistering.
Final Thoughts on Dealing With Plantar Fasciitis
Dealing with Plantar Fasciitis can be frustrating and painful but as you can see it doesn’t mean you can’t look great!
More and more footwear brands and creating shoes that offer both fashion and function.
If you can only purchase one pair of shoes at this point in time I’d suggest the Hush Puppies Delux HP boots are the way to go.
They can easily be dressed up or down, with dresses or with jeans and can take you from day to night.
A few smart footwear choices can be the difference between not only resolving your Plantar Fasciitis and also stopping it from returning!
Written by Leah Waters