Best Footwear For Foot Pain

Dealing with foot pain is a challenging and uncomfortable experience for most. Whether you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, arthritis, a foot or ankle injury, or any other foot condition, take it from the pros: wearing the right footwear can make a significant difference in alleviating your discomfort, reducing your recovery time, and promoting proper foot health to see you through a lifetime. But what should you look for in good shoes? 


Sports Shoes With Good Support

Athletic shoes that are engineered for specific activities, such as running or walking, can provide excellent support, stability and offloading (via good cushioning) for those with foot pain. Look for shoes that have a supportive midsole, ample arch support, and a cushioned insole. These features help absorb shock, reduce strain on the feet, and promote a stable gait. Additionally, sports shoes often come in a variety of widths, ensuring a good fit for individuals with different foot shapes and sizes, including a spacious toe box.


Low-Heeled Shoes

When your foot pain is primarily present at the forefoot, it’s best to avoid high heels and opt for low-heeled shoes instead. Higher heels place excessive pressure on the forefoot and can exacerbate conditions like metatarsalgia and pains around the ball of the foot. Low-heeled shoes with a heel height of approximately 2cm provide better stability, reducing strain on the feet and promoting a more natural gait. Again, look for low-heeled shoes with cushioned insoles for shock absorption,good arch support, stability around the ankle, and a spacious toe box.


Sandals with Arch Support

During warmer months or casual occasions, if you need to wear sandals, we recommend selecting sandals with built-in arch support to help offer comfort and support for foot pain relief. Look for sandals with contoured footbeds that provide adequate arch support – or better yet, sandals with removable footbeds so you can slot your own custom foot orthotics in. Having adjustable straps helps to ensure a secure fit and allows for individual customisation. Avoid flat sandals with minimal cushioning, as they provide little to no support and can exacerbate foot pain.


Orthopaedic Shoes

While traditionally orthopaedic shoes had a bad wrap due to their ‘unfashionable’ or bulky appearance, today orthopaedic shoes have actually come a long way and there’s a much wider option range that many of our patients are loving. The benefits of orthopaedic shoes are their very specific designs that are made to provide support, stability and cushioning for a range of foot conditions. They often also come with additional arch support, extra padding, wider toe boxes and several other features that help them stand out from standard shoes when you’re experiencing notable pain or discomfort. The arch support helps distribute weight evenly, reducing pressure on specific areas of the foot. The added cushioning offers shock absorption, minimising impact on joints. Orthopaedic shoes also provide ample room for the toes, preventing constriction and allowing natural movement.


What About Custom Foot Orthotics?

Custom foot orthotics are specially designed shoe inserts that are moulded to match the unique contours of your feet. These inserts can provide targeted support and stability, relieving foot pain caused by most podiatric conditions – from flat feet or high arches to plantar fasciitis or shin splints. Custom orthotics help improve foot alignment, redistribute pressure, and reduce strain on specific areas of the foot. They can be used in various types of shoes, including athletic shoes, casual footwear, and even dress shoes.


Footwear To Avoid

Just like choosing good, supportive footwear, it is also crucial to be mindful of footwear choices that can worsen your foot pain and leave you feeling worse for longer. Avoid shoes with unsupportive soles, thin insoles, or minimal cushioning, as they offer little shock absorption and can exacerbate your discomfort. Additionally, narrow or pointy-toed shoes can compress the toes, worsening conditions like metatarsalgia, bunions or corns. Shoes that do not provide proper arch support can contribute to improper foot alignment and increase strain on certain areas.


Frequently Asked Questions

Can I wear my regular flats and office shoes if I’m experiencing foot pain?

It’s best to avoid unsupportive shoes if you’re experiencing foot pain, including your work shoes. If you must wear your work shoes at work, consider consulting with a podiatrist about whether orthotics could be a suitable option for your work shoes. Invest in footwear specifically designed to provide support, cushioning, and stability for your feet.

Are there specific brands known for foot-friendly shoes?

Several brands specialise in creating footwear for foot pain relief, such as Dr Comfort, Brooks, New Balance, Birkenstock, and Vionic. However, it’s essential to find shoes that suit your individual needs and foot condition. Your podiatrist can provide you with advice on particular styles that may work best for you.

Can I use orthotics in any type of shoe?

Custom orthotics can be used in a wide range of shoe types, as long as they have removable insoles. However, it’s advisable to choose shoes with ample space to accommodate the orthotics comfortably. Never try to cram orthotics in if your shoes aren’t designed to accommodate orthotics.

How often should I replace my shoes when I have foot pain?

When you’re experiencing foot pain, you don’t necessarily need to replace your shoes more often than normal, but you do need to make sure you’re following the guidelines for replacing your shoes. For shoes that you wear on a daily basis or get decent mileage on, this means replacing them every 800-1000kms, or every six months. If they have significant signs of wear or break down they may need to be changed sooner.

Can I wear high heels occasionally if I have foot pain?

As health professionals, we recommend avoiding high heels, even on an occasional basis, as they can significantly strain the feet and worsen your existing foot pain. If you must wear them, do so for as little time as possible – which may look like wearing good comfortable shoes in the car and stepping out in your heels for as little time as possible.