Sneaker Trends

Best Sneakers for Foot Pain: How To Ease Achy Feet, Toe Pain, & Other Problems

Photo: Getty images/Brooke Pifer
When you're dealing with foot pain, it can almost always be traced back to the shoes or sneakers (or in some cases, a lack thereof) you've been wearing. Lack of support and poor fit can lead to plantar fasciitis, a condition that occurs when the fascia—aka connective tissue—within the base of your foot becomes inflamed and uncomfortable. Usually, this comes about because your feet are overpronatingaka rolling inwards—as you move, which means you need a shoe with superior arch support to combat the pain.

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.

What to look for in shoes when you have foot pain, according to expert

Dr. Lobkova 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

ASICS Women's Gel-Kayano 28 Running Shoe — $160.00

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.

Pros

  • Mesh upper for breathability
  • Heel counter to keep foot stable
  • Maximum cushion

Cons

  • Some reviewers say they run small/narrow
New Balance Women's Fresh Foam X 880v12
New Balance Women's Fresh Foam X 880v12 — $135.00

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.

Pros

  • Mesh upper for breathability
  • Dual-layer midsole
  • Strategic zones for support

Cons

  • Some reviewers say the laces are short
Saucony Triumph 19 — $56.00

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.

Pros

  • Plush and responsive cushion
  • Hugs the foot
  • Neutral support

Cons

  • Some reviewers say they run small
HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7/SR
HOKA ONE Bondi 7/SR — $175.00

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.

Pros

  • Early stage meta-rocker
  • Plush cushion
  • Neutral support

Cons

  • Clunky looking
  • More expensive
Brooks Levitate GTS
Brooks Levitate GTS — $100.00

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.

Pros

  • Springy and supportive
  • Knit upper for breathability and flexibility
  • Guiderail support

Cons

  • Some reviewers say they run narrow
New Balance Made in USA 990v5
New Balance Made in USA 990v5 — $185.00

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.

Pros

  • Midsole cushioning and support
  • Foam collar for comfort
  • Suede and mesh upper

Cons

  • Bulky
ON Cloudstratus
ON Cloudstratus — $170.00

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.

Pros

  • Vertical and horizontal cushioning
  • Wide-fitting forefoot
  • Supportive midsole
  • Maximum cushion

Cons

  • More expensive

To ditch that foot pain once and for all, follow along with the stretches in the video below:

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