Shoes. Ugh.
May 24, 2023 4:42 PM   Subscribe

My feet hate shoes. My Achilles tendons are displeased with life in general right now and need some rest. Please help me find shoes that my feet will tolerate but will give my Achilles some respite.

My shoe preference is of the minimalist/barefoot/natural foot variety. I love and wear a lot of Vivo Barefoot and Xero shoes. Also Birkenstocks which, while not minimalist, are foot shaped. I work in a medical office so must have closed toes. I walk to and from public transport so need something that won't fall off my feet when walking at a good clip (so, things like mules/backless shoes, or stiff-soled clogs, don't really work for me). My current most-worn shoe is Klogs Mission in black, to give you a sense of the style I'm going for.

This was all fine until I developed Achilles tendonitis some months ago. I have seen ortho and am working with PT and both have advised heel lifts, which I'm using, but they really don't give quite enough lift in any of my shoes. What works best is when I wear a shoe with a slight heel (~1.5 inch). This allows me to go about my day mostly symptom free.

So I'm in the market for a boring black shoe with a bit of heel. However, in my experience, most shoes with this level, or god forbid higher, heel have narrower toe boxes and cause chafing and blistering on my toes, as my feet slide forward in the shoe while walking or standing.

I don't THINK I have wide feet per se (although maybe I do?). I always think of it as needing a wide toe box or a "natural foot shaped" shoe. But many of these tend to be minimalist or athletic, with no heel elevation.

I have searched Zappos and DSW for a shoe that meets the specifications of a low hell (oops, Freudian slip, HEEL) plus wider toe box plus office-appropriate, but have not found anything that suits.

Can you give me your brands or shoeseller web sites where I might find what I'm looking for?
posted by tentacle to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (15 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Danskos often have wider toe boxes than average -- for instance, check out this pair of basic black shoes.

Clarks also tend to have a wider toe box in my experience. Here's one that is fairly clog-like.
posted by ourobouros at 4:56 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

If you're open to short boots... I normally go for shoes shaped like the ones you describe and have had good luck with ankle boots from Blondo sized up a half a size. The ones I have are similar to these.
posted by kbuxton at 5:31 PM on May 24

You might try skechers. Is this too much of a heel? It’s unclear whether you want a wedge heel or if those are generally too high. Here’s one they call a “low wedge” but also qualifies as a flat imo.

Boots often have heels, even very masculine designs. Good boots also give a ton of ankle support and might be a good investment for you, if you find yourself needing really supportive footwear in the future during inclement weather. I recommend Ariat as a great brand, check these out.
posted by Mizu at 5:53 PM on May 24

Arcopedico is a brand with a very good reputation for comfort and these shoes look like they should meet your requirements. If you'd like to go a little more fashion-y but still have a good chance of comfort, Aerosoles, Naturalizer, Dr. Scholl's, and Cole Haan are all at least nominally comfort brands. And I'll second Mizu's idea that you might consider some boots.
posted by snaw at 5:59 PM on May 24

The Barking Dog Shoes site might have some suggestions (e.g.)
posted by oceano at 7:02 PM on May 24

Have you considered doing exercises to strengthen your achilles and foot overall? This would be a better solution than catering to your pain.

I would recommend this book and some of these exercises.

I also wear a lot of Vivos and Revivos. (The heel and arch support in those Klogs look like hell to me.) My other favorite brands are Feel Grounds (best winter boots I've ever had, haven't fallen once in 3 years in Canadian winters) and MukiShoes.

Note that these are flat, zero drop shoes with wide toe boxes. Also, I know you said Birkenstocks aren't minimalist, but they're also not foot shaped, despite their wide toe box, as they have a heel (are not zero drop).
posted by dobbs at 8:32 PM on May 24 [1 favorite]

When I had the same problem I discovered SAS Freetime shoes. They are the only ones that did not grip my Achilles tendons and the toe box is comfortably wide. Lightweight and comfortable. I have worn mine every day for the last three weeks walking on all kinds of surfaces. One time we were on our way to France and I thought my shoes looked a little shabby so we stopped off and I bought a new pair, put them on, and wore them the rest of the trip.
posted by sevenstars at 12:05 AM on May 25

There's a good reason so many teachers wear Blundstones. They're comfy out of the box and lightweight, and keep our feet, ankles, shins, knees, backs and hips pain free all day. Totally worth a try, return them if they're not magical.
posted by yes I said yes I will Yes at 3:28 AM on May 25 [2 favorites]

So I'm in the market for a boring black shoe with a bit of heel.

Nthing Clarks, specifically the Un Loop and Cora Harbour styles. There are a couple of styles with higher heels than those but they may have narrower toe boxes (although Clarks overall are pretty good.)
posted by warriorqueen at 6:29 AM on May 25

Mod note: Couple comments removed, let's avoid arguing about whether exercise will or won't work for the OP, as that's not their question.
posted by Brandon Blatcher (staff) at 7:56 AM on May 25

Response by poster: To be totally clear, as I mentioned in the question, I am well engaged with PT (physical therapy) and am doing the flexibility and strengthening regimen prescribed by my physical therapist at our ongoing sessions, so please assume that that aspect is being addressed.

Thank you everyone for your shoe recommendations! The more the merrier!
posted by tentacle at 9:35 AM on May 25

Take a look at Allegrias - They definitely have a wider toe box and have adequate arch support for my picky feet. Not sure if they meet your achilles requirement, as I, thankfully, have not had that ailment. Worn by a lot of nurses.
posted by sarajane at 10:06 AM on May 25

I go barefoot a lot and the front of my foot, which is all ligaments and small bones, has widened. (Pregnancy causes ligaments to relax and now I really wear a Wide.) I also have inflammatory arthritis, esp. in my feet. I can't break in stiff shoes; they have to be flexible to start.

I am able to wear Keens all summer, Merrills all winter. I have small feet and can wear Big Kids sizes; kids' shoes have a wider toe box. ig Kids shoes usually go up to a Big Kids 5, sometimes as high as Big Kids 7, use a shoe sizing chart.

Other brands I can wear - Josef Siebel, Blowfish, some Clarks,
Zappos carries a lot of brands; you can specify comfort, width, heel height.
posted by theora55 at 12:07 PM on May 25

Try Alegria brand, model “Keli.”
I too need a wide toe box (bunions, sigh) and this is one of the few shoes that works for me.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:55 PM on May 25 [1 favorite]

« Older What to do about excessive upstairs noise in NYC...   |   Alleviating Heat Sensitivity Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments