Shoes for plantar fasciitis
June 25, 2019 11:43 AM   Subscribe

I have plantar fasciitis. I would like to be able to look like a relatively professional adult, and also not be limping by the end of the day. I'm looking for recommendations for shoes that are sort of business-casual-androgynous-hippie-professor.

Should have a wide toebox, and absolutely not a high heel of any kind. I wear a women's size eight. I want to look like I could go for a walk and be comfortable, but not as if I forgot to change my shoes after a run or a hike.
My ideal look is probably something like this.

Fellow plantar fasciitis sufferers, any suggestions?
Thank you!
posted by Adridne to Shopping (31 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Those exact Keens work for me. After a few years, I have to replace the insole. I generally go with a Superfeet in Green after the initial one wears out. Keen has a bunch of other shoes in the big boxy and supportive category. I also get a lot of mileage out of shoes wide enough with enough room for a Superfeet insole. When trying on shoes, I see if I can fit the one in my shoes I'm wearing into the new shoe.
posted by advicepig at 11:56 AM on June 25, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: It's funny that you linked to a pair of Keens, which are generally well-known as having wider toeboxes and supportive inserts. I personally suffered from plantar fasciitis and had dealt with daily stretching exercises and expensive inserts. I switched to Keens as my day to day shoes around a decade ago, and have far fewer problems.

For shoes that are available in your size now, I'd search the Keen site for their "orthotic friendly" shoes in women's size 8. The Presidio II might be a good choice from their current styles. Or PTC Oxford?
posted by eschatfische at 12:05 PM on June 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Best answer: In my really acute PF phase I could pretty much only tolerate Danskos, but these days my feet are a bit more tolerant and I find that Clarks mostly do well. Lands End also tends to have shoes that work for my feet and can pass for business casual in academia.
posted by Stacey at 12:07 PM on June 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

The Clark's Tilden Walk shoes (mine are in black, so I don't know if that doesn't work for you) have been a life saver for my PF-suffering feet.

Also, Skechers has a million shoes that work for my feet, all of the ones with the air-cooled cushion insoles are very comfy and keep my heels from getting too painful, and I walk a lot every day.
posted by xingcat at 12:10 PM on June 25, 2019

You want neither a high heel or a flat. And you want orthotics.

Now, the world of orthotics is bit mixed up with controversies here and there. The word can be attached to some sort of stiff insert from the shoe store, moving to custom orthotics from a podiatrist. The latter could cost you $600 or so. (Is some cases, that's payable by insurance, but that's the exception rather than the rule) In my experience, the purpose of an orthotic is to reduce shock due to walking and to reduce the amount of bending in your foot. You want a fairly stiff sole and good support.
posted by SemiSalt at 12:13 PM on June 25, 2019 [3 favorites]

Best answer: One thing that helped my feet was to swap in Superfeet insoles into my existing shoes and hiking boots (Merrell and Solomon, respectively). The "carbon" (extra thin) variety is sometimes marketed for running shoes, so it should fit in pretty much anything.
posted by heatherlogan at 12:15 PM on June 25, 2019

I bought these Dansko Rainas for that reason and they've been amazing. I know they're not flats, but the (short) heel actually provides some structure that's helpful.
posted by lazuli at 12:16 PM on June 25, 2019

Superfeet in every pair of shoes I own.
posted by booooooze at 12:51 PM on June 25, 2019 [5 favorites]

Best answer: Crocs. Stop laughing & hear me out. They actually have styles you could wear in most offices & no one would know they were crocs & they were pretty much the only shoe I could wear for the first 6 months I had PF. I spent a fortune on various insoles & they only made things worse, Super feet were the least bad if that's any help.

As you might guess from the range of answers. What works for PF is as variable as the people that get it. Good luck in your hunt.
posted by wwax at 12:55 PM on June 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

+1 to orthotics. also I've found skateboarder sneakers (nice ones) + orthotics work well in many situations.
posted by evilmonk at 12:56 PM on June 25, 2019

Best answer: What helped me with PF was orange superfeet insoles in my workout shoes and Dansko clogs for every day wear. Superfeet has insoles made for dress shoes, so you could always try that inside other shoes that meet your requirements. You'll need to remove the existing insole IME.

The podiatrist suggested these brands: Alegria, Dansko, Naot, and Vionic.
Alegria Taylor
Naot Chief
I didn't see any Vionics with wide toe boxes.
posted by tuesdayschild at 12:59 PM on June 25, 2019

Zero lift shoes. Altra saved me when I had PF and was heading to Europe on a walking tour. They even had a nice pair that I wore to work.
posted by jeporter99 at 1:00 PM on June 25, 2019

On preview, what wwax said: Crocs can be very helpful. I wear mine as house slippers because I can't bear to be seen in them.
posted by tuesdayschild at 1:01 PM on June 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

Hi! I have problem feet, need a wide toe box and also have a high instep. I have to add orthotics to most every shoe I wear, but due to the aforementioned toe situation, that often makes shoes too tight. I'm assuming you'll need to use orthotics too for arch support? Here are some shoes that might work, based on my own experience.

The Dansko Paisley is very supportive and had room for my wide toes. I could wear these without orthotics.

Birkenstock makes some lace-up shoes. In my experience, Birks always have enough room for my toes and usually have a removable footbed, so you could substitute a superfeet insole if that works better for you. (Zappos usually says whether an insole is removable.)

Chacos makes shoes and boots, also often with a wider toe box and removable insoles.

These shoes fit me in a wide width: Aravon Francesca. The Aravon brand is made by New Balance. You might see some other options for you there too.

Also consider Abeo brand shoes. They have three different arch support foot beds possible! I just learned about this brand so I'm not sure about toe boxes, but they seem pretty amazing.
posted by purple_bird at 1:27 PM on June 25, 2019

I have plantar fasciitis and I wear exclisively Fit Flops. They have a lot of unattractive styles, but if you keep looking, some of them are really nice - nothing super-professional, but a good selection of clogs, boots, and sandals.
posted by tangosnail at 1:30 PM on June 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I can't speak for women's shoes, but a word of warning: I have wide feet (4E) and Keens don't really have a wide enough toebox for wide feet. If your feet are normal width, Keens would probably be fine, but if you have wide feet in addition to needing a wide toebox, be sure to try the Keens on and walk around a bit before buying them.

I have a pair of men's Keens that I like, but that I can only wear super thin running socks with, otherwise they're uncomfortably tight in the toebox.
posted by pdb at 3:15 PM on June 25, 2019

Danskos are miracle shoes for me. Especially of the stapled-clog variety. You can also try Sanitas.

So if you get the clog, even though you're taller, your whole foot is raised. Does that count as a heel? If not, I say give them a whirl. They're more hip urban mom than androgynous hippie, but maybe slightly androgynous business casual urban professor would work?
posted by bluedaisy at 3:43 PM on June 25, 2019

They aren't pretty, and they are expensive, but z-coils are the only shoes that worked for me when my PF was at its worst. (I needed a small heel; I finally figured out that flats made things get progressively worse for me.) I wore them every day for about five months. I actually got much, much better, though I don't know if it's entirely attributable to the shoes. I can wear normal shoes (with inserts) now, and I didn't think I would ever get back to that point.

Here are their women's shoes. Keep scrolling down to get to the more work-appropriate styles.
posted by sophieblue at 4:06 PM on June 25, 2019

When I had bad plantar fasciitis, the Dansko non-clogs were my go-tos for professional wear (teacher) because they are firm and supportive. The clogs have never properly fit my wide foot with the high arch. I also wore Skechers, which are almost the opposite - less structured, very comfy and padded--but they also relieved the pain.
posted by Peach at 5:36 PM on June 25, 2019

My friend swears by Rothys shoes, because she can put her custom orthotic inserts in them.
posted by Neekee at 7:07 PM on June 25, 2019

Nthing Keens and Spenco inserts. In the summer I pretty much exlusively wear Spenco flip-flops and sandals as well.
posted by TwoStride at 8:33 PM on June 25, 2019

Danskos and naot are not wide enough for me, and most keens aren’t either. I’ve had good luck with Birkenstocks (the more professional versions, and they make boots too) and Taos for sneakers if that look is okay for work. Allbirds work too but are probably not supportive enough for you.
posted by umwhat at 8:42 PM on June 25, 2019

Seconding Crocs. I currently have a torn plantar fascia in my right foot and Croc sandals are the only shoes I can wear right now. They have styles that look just like regular sandals.
posted by all the light we cannot see at 9:07 PM on June 25, 2019 [1 favorite]

I have two old pairs of Keens (Presidio and Toyah) that were great and that I wore into the ground, but as a heads up, they seem to have changed something about the Presidio. I bought new ones and compared new and old pairs sole-to-sole and the new ones are narrower in the front. I thought (hoped) maybe they were counterfeit so I returned the pair from Amazon and ordered directly from the Keen website but those had the same issue.
posted by needs more cowbell at 5:30 AM on June 26, 2019

I have very wide feet and I can't fit into Keens or Danskos, or even Birkenstock. I wear the Aravon brand from New Balance most of the time; I live in the Katy sandals all summer. You can even remove the insoles in the sandals for orthotics, but they show, since it's a sandal.
posted by ceejaytee at 7:01 AM on June 26, 2019

When I had plantar fasciitis, the only shoes that really helped were crocs. When I couldn't wear crocs I wore plantar fasciitis compression socks. Not quite a good as the crocs, but they let me wear any type of shoe. A supportive shoe insert also helped.
posted by fimbulvetr at 8:14 AM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

Sadly, I have to give a counter-point to the recs for Crocs. The ones I had gave me PF. It turns out the only version of Crocs I can wear is the men's "roomy" fit, and those are available only in the "ugliest" styles. Everything else is too narrow for my foot.
posted by Weftage at 8:17 AM on June 26, 2019

Keens and Dansko clogs aren’t bad for my pf, but the Fit Flops referenced above have basically ended my PF pain. Now I have to work on stretching those hamstrings...
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 8:42 AM on June 26, 2019 [1 favorite]

My plantar fasciitis basically went away (so far, for good) as soon as I started wearing these: Vionic Womens Treat Powell Low Wedge
Naturally, it seems that they no longer make them (although some sizes can still be found), but it might be worth looking for other Vionic orthaheel shoes.
posted by Dolukhanova at 1:42 PM on June 26, 2019

Response by poster: Thank you all! I have so many options to look at now!
I have normal width feet, I just don't like having my toes crowded, and I like the wide toebox look.
Unfortunately I can't wear shoes without socks or Bad Things happen to the skin on my toes, so sandals or flip flops are a no go.
posted by Adridne at 5:27 PM on June 26, 2019

Learning to live barefoot and wear minimal shoes cured me of my PF. I explain it a bit more here. I wear shoes from VivoBarefoot, Sole Rebels, and The Drifter Leather. All zero drop with no arch support.
posted by dobbs at 5:09 PM on October 23, 2019

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