As an avid long-distance runner and marathoner, I’ve been lucky that I haven’t dealt with any serious injuries that have pulled me out of the game for a significant amount of time. However, in the last few years, I have become occasionally prone to mild plantar fasciitis, which has forced me to back off and take some time off in an effort to make it to a race starting line and avoid further damage.
In case you’re lucky enough to be unfamiliar with this condition, the plantar fascia is a fascial band or ligament that runs from the bottom of the calcaneus, or heel, to the base of the toes and helps support the long arch of the foot, Susan Eby, PT, MS, owner of Eby Physical Therapy in New York City, tells SELF. The plantar fascia becomes thicker with age and with increased body weight. This decreases the flexibility and shock-absorbing ability of the ligament. Plantar fasciitis is caused by repeated stress placed on the plantar fascia resulting in fibrosis or scarring of the tendon.
Risk factors include tight calf muscles, being overweight, the repetitive impact from activities such as running, a rapid increase in weight-bearing activity, prolonged standing/walking, as well as having flat feet and very high arches.
I used to assume that overtraining and pushing too hard in my long runs and workouts were what mainly contributed to my plantar fasciitis flare-ups. But as it turns out, my choice of footwear could have also been an aggravating factor, and not just on the run, but while walking around outside in my daily life lounging and working from home, too. I’ve been fortunate that rest, along with some at-home remedies, have always done the trick to help me nip this nagging pain in the bud. But by choosing better shoes for life in general, I know I can ward off this annoying foot pain in the future as I work to drive down my marathon times.
In general, the best shoes for plantar fasciitis will fit correctly (i.e. not too small, and wide enough to fit your foot comfortably) and have the right amount of support. Look for shoes or orthotic inserts that have substantial heel cups to help with cushioning and shock absorption to avoid heel pain, Eby says. Here, we asked physical therapists and podiatrists what they consider the best shoes for plantar fasciitis (from dress shoes to athletic shoes), along with their preferred removable insoles, as well.