Why Flexible Shoes Are Best for Foot Pain
Overpronation is also commonly referred to as flat feet, and according to pros, there are certain elements that people with this issue should be looking for in their running shoes. Namely, flexible toe boxes, firm midsoles, and rigid heel counters. These factors allow for space and flexibility in the toe area so that your foot can move and bend naturally. They also provide cushioned support in the midsole to prevent the plantar fascia from caving in and rigid support in the heel to absorb the shock from your steps.
In addition, New York City Podiatrist Dr. Nelya Lobkova, DPM at Step Up Footcare, explains the best way to test for a rigid midsole is to hold the hold the front of the shoe with one hand and the back of the shoe with the other. When you try to twist the shoe side to side, there should be minimal to no twisting motion. She also recommends a sneaker with a midfoot rocker, which ensures less pressure or impact on the heel by increasing the shock absorption of the midfoot. The rocker allows for a more efficient transfer of weight from the heel to the ball of the foot during the standing part of the gait cycle, which reduces the overstretching of the plantar fascia band during activity. If you have heel pain. Dr. Lobkova advises against lightweight (less than 9 oz) sneakers, as they are more flexible and less stable for the feet.
There are three brands in particular that TikTok famous podiatrist Nadia Martineau constantly recommends for people dealing with foot pain. In a recent video, she named Asics, New Balance, and Saucony as the makers of the most superior plantar fasciitis-fighting footwear money can buy. Keep scrolling to shop the best sneakers for foot pain for yourself.
Best Sneakers for Foot Pain
We write about a lot of shoes on this website, but none come as highly recommended as these ultra-supportive runners. “Runners will find this sneaker to have superior comfort that enhances the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe-off,” Miguel Cunha, a board-certified podiatrist, previously told Well+Good.
“This shoe is designed with rearfoot and forefoot gel technology that provides superior cushioning and shock absorption. This shoe incorporates exceptional durability and lightweight materials with a medial extension from the midsole to the heel for increased motion control. Last but not least, these sneakers include an additional three millimeters of midsole height to decrease tension placed on the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon,” adds Dr. Cunha.
These Asics running shoes are also great for people with flat feet (aka overpronators, who are the most at risk for plantar fasciitis) because of the arch stability they offer.
Arch support aside, wearing shoes that are too small can cause foot pain that sticks around long after you untie your laces. And even if the size is technically right, if your sneaks are too snug from side to side, you’ll likely be left with problems.
New Balance’s shoes are designed with flexible fabric and wide toe boxes, which make for “comfortable lateral movement,” says Dr. Cunha. This style is made with ultra-supportive foam that’s great for stabilizing high arches and comes in regular and wide sizing so that there’s a perfect fit for every foot.
Dr. Martineau is a big fan of Saucony’s shoes, and this pair, in particular, has landed a superb rating from over 1,000 people for the support it offers to flat feet. It’s made with lightweight cushioning that forms to your foot (the brand describes it as “a bucket seat for your foot”), making the fit as close to custom as you can possibly get.
HOKA is known for super cushioned shoes, and these are no exception. In addition to plush cushioning, they have a memory foam collar to fit snug around your feet, a 6mm drop, and water-resistant leather and slip-resistant outsole to keep up with you all year long. If you experience sore feet, these shoes have great cushioning for the concrete streets and distance walking, says Dr. Lobkova.
Dr. Lobkova says this pair of Brooks is cushioned and supportive and has additional stability due to the firm plastic surrounding the midsole. They’re a good weight, around 10 oz, and are designed to absorb energy when your foot hits the ground and send it back to you, giving you more spring in your step.
With retro style but modern technology, these New Balance sneakers will look and feel great on your feet. They have a firm midsole and mesh upper for breathability to keep you cool whether you’re running or walking. Dr. Lobkova says they offer good cushioning and an Ortholite insole for mild arch support, too.
The ON Cloutstratus have maximum cushioning for comfort whenever you move, a wide forefoot, and an 8mm drop. They’re wide, supportive sneakers for everyday walking, says Dr. Lobkova. Not only are ON’s some of the best shoes for foot pain, but they’re also some of the most eco-friendly with about 75 percent recycled materials.
To ditch that foot pain once and for all, follow along with the stretches in the video below:
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