What are the most effective walking shoes for Plantar fasciitis in 2023?
Reduce your level of discomfort via your shoe choice
Jen & Sim Benson have been testing walking gear on behalf of the Ramblers since 2019.
A buyer's guide
Plantar fasciitis is a frustrating and painful condition resulting from damage to the fibrous band that supports the arch of the foot – the plantar fascia – at its attachment point onto the heel bone. Repetitive microtrauma to this area, often caused by walking, running, or poor footwear choices, results in initial inflammation, followed by scarring, degeneration, and thickening of the plantar fascia. Anyone who has suffered from plantar fasciitis will recall the classic ‘first step’ pain felt on getting out of bed each morning.
A common condition that has few evidence-based remedies, most cases resolve on their own within 6-12 months but may be helped by taping, stretching and massage of the heel area, exercises, and manual therapy. During this period, footwear that combines a supportive heel area with a stiffened, sturdy sole and a ’rocker’ action (reducing the work your foot needs to do at each step) can provide much-needed relief. Supporting the arch of the foot is also important but beware of overly aggressive arch supports in shoes or inserts as they may cause more pain by putting pressure on the injured area.
The good news is that the design of many popular hiking shoes means they’re some of the most comfortable when it comes to alleviating plantar fascia pain. Selected to be protective and supportive, while minimising flexing of the foot, here are some of the best walking shoes for plantar fasciitis.
Keen Circadia Waterproof Shoe
Weight 1010g/pair size 40
With a slightly higher cut than a standard shoe for extra support at the ankle, a heel lock system for a snug and supportive fit at the back of the foot, a contoured footbed, and a smooth rolling action as you walk, this sturdy yet comfortable waterproof walking shoe is a good choice for easing the pain of plantar fasciitis. The fit is fairly roomy, so they’d also accommodate an insole or orthotic if required. The leather upper looks smart, while reinforced areas at the toe and heel add protection for your feet and longevity to your shoes.
Salewa Mountain Trainer 2 Gore-Tex Shoe
Weight 930g/pair size 40
The best shoes for plantar fasciitis are often also the best shoes for technical mountain terrain as both require a stiffened sole to minimise foot movement. This smart looking approach shoe is designed for mountain use, with a precise shape, grippy Vibram outsole, and waterproof Gore-Tex-lined suede upper. Away from the mountains it’s also a versatile all-round walking shoe, with cushioning and protection for long days out on easier trails. The comfortable, moulded footbed, stiff sole, and to-the-toe lacing create a supportive and foot-hugging fit that may help to ease plantar fascia pain and allow the foot to rest and recover.
Scarpa Mojito Hike GTX Mid
Weight 1018g/pair size 40
These lightweight mid-height boots are designed for day hikes on mixed terrain, with the stiffness and precision for rocky mountain paths and the looks and comfort for everyday and travel use. The water-resistant suede upper has a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, while a Vibram outsole offers great grip, protection, and durability in use. The stiffness and stability of the sole unit, combined with full-length lacing, creates a foot-hugging and supportive boot, making these a good choice for anyone prone to plantar fasciitis.
AKU Tengu Low GTX Shoe
Weight 1226g/pair size 45
This slim-fitting walking shoe has a stiff sole designed to protect your feet on rocky and mountainous terrain, and a comfortably padded upper. The stiff sole has a rocker action as you walk, this makes it a great choice for walkers suffering from plantar fasciitis as it supports the foot, reducing the amount of foot flexion that occurs with each step and therefore reducing the strain on the plantar fascia. Hardwearing and protective, with a grippy sole that includes a climbing specific toe section, and a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane, it’s a great adventure companion once you’re back on your feet too.
Merrell Moab 3 GTX Shoe
Weight 984g/pair size 46
The third generation of the Moab walking shoe is a good option for walkers suffering from plantar fasciitis, with its stiff sole, light arch support and plenty of underfoot cushioning. A decent all-round walking shoe, it’s grippy, protective and durable with a quality Vibram sole, suede leather upper and a Gore-Tex waterproof membrane. It comes up a little small, but with sizes available in half sizes up to UK15 it’s easy to find the perfect fit. If you prefer the additional protection and support of a mid-height boot, these are available from £140.
Jack Wolfskin Terraventure Texapore Mid
Weight 1078g/pair size 45.5
These mid-height boots are designed for easier trails and everyday use. They’re light and comfortable enough to be worn all day in place of your regular shoes, and they provide the support your foot needs to support a painful plantar fascia. The sole is cushioned but stiff with a rocker motion that makes it easy to walk and reduces flexion (and therefore soft tissue stress) through the foot. With a slightly larger than average volume and sizing, they would fit an insole or orthotic if required. These boots are responsibly manufactured using predominantly recycled or natural materials, while Jack Wolfskin is a member of the Fair Wear Foundation, with all products PFC-free.
* Recommended retail prices correct at the time of writing. Please refer to manufacturer or retailer websites for the very latest pricing information.
Our gear testers, Sim & Jen Benson have a wealth of outdoor and walking experience. They provide regular gear reviews and kit advice in Walk magazine, the Ramblers quarterly magazine that forms part of your Ramblers membership benefits. Join today from only £3.21 per month.
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