I’ve been a runner for most of my life, so I thought I was pretty well informed when it came to taking care of my feet. Until the morning I woke up with such excruciating, debilitating heel pain I could barely walk. After learning I had plantar fasciitis, one of the first things I did was get the best pair of plantar fasciitis shoes for me:
Personal Favorite: Asics Gel Kayano
Running shoes are a great option for sufferers of heel pain because they offer a lot more cushion than traditional sneakers – something you need when your heel is tender. And the right running shoe will also give you the right arch support and motion control to help alleviate the pain of plantar fasciitis and get you back to your normal routine.
I’ve always been a fan of Asics and they’ve been a mainstay in my running rotation – so it was natural for me to gravitate toward a shoe maker I was comfortable with. You may have different preferences, a different foot type, so I recommend you check out my list of the best rated sneakers to find the one that work best for you. My recommendation and hundreds or positive reviews are great, but in the end it’s going to come down to the shoes that work best for you.
When it comes to heel pain and plantar fasciitis here are the best:
As I mentioned before, I did not know much about plantar fasciitis before I succumbed to it. Information and education are your best allies to eliminate the pain — and keep it from coming back. And if you are lucky enough not to currently be suffering from PF, following this guide can help you steer clear of this common foot disorder.
The Official Her Happy Feet Guide To Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can be very difficult to eliminate completely. When the pain in my heel — which felt like I had stepped on a hot nail — started I didn’t need much prodding to go to the doctor. I went straight to my podiatrist assuming it was just a bruised heel or maybe a bone spur? I had no idea. An x-ray and exam later and I got the prognosis: Plantar Fasciitis.
The news that followed confirmed my worst fears: No more running, months of therapy, and an uncomfortable brace to wear every night. And if that didn’t work … surgery.
I was terrified and depressed. What I started to learn, once I got home and got online, was that just because I had plantar fasciitis didn’t mean I had to give up my first love (running) or accept a life of pain and discomfort.
- What Does Plantar Fasciitis Feel Like?
- What Is Plantar Fasciitis?
- What to Do for Plantar Fasciitis
What does Plantar Fasciitis Feel Like?
For me, the worst part of my day was getting out of bed. Those first few steps – “few” ha! That’s a joke. More like the first few hundred of the day were the worst. By the time I would head out the door to face the day, my hobbled gait would return to near normal. Still hurt, but not as bad. Like the difference between a steak knife versus a butter knife being pressed into my heel. That was the worst part of the day. Second worst would be getting up after sitting for a long time. And, of course, if I ended up doing too much walking throughout the day. Forget about the old expression of “my dogs barking” by the end of a day with a lot of up and down steps and long strolls, my dogs were downright howling and baying.
Sound familiar? If so, then keep reading because you probably suffer from plantar fasciitis too. But don’t worry – help is on the way.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
On the bottom of your foot, running from your heel bone all the way to your toes is a ligament called your plantar fascia. It’s responsible for helping support the arch of your foot. When you strain that ligament, it weakens and swells leading to irritation and pain along the heel or bottom of your foot. It’s not uncommon for people reaching their middle years to suffer from plantar fasciitis. (Friendly reminder: getting old may stink, but it beats the alternative.)
So, other than getting older what can help bring about plantar fasciitis? You’re most likely to end up with it if you’re prone to or have any of the following:
- Gait: Excessive pronation (This is when your feet roll inward too much when you walk)
- Arches: High or fallen – either malady can bring strain to your plantar fascia
- Weight: Being overweight puts additional stress on your feet
- Shoes: Poor fit or worn down, neither is good for maintaining happy feet
- Flexibility: If the Achilles tendon or calves are too tight they can put undue stress on the bottom of your feet.
And, of course, people who put a lot of miles on the hooves can end up with plantar fasciitis (like me, with all my running).
What to do for Plantar Fasciitis
First and foremost, seek a professional’s assessment. I delayed going to see the doctor and ended up suffering for much longer than necessary. So if you take just one bit of advice from my experience, let it be this: Go. To. The. Doctor.
I’ll give you a little bit of a spoiler before your visit:
First, forget about any exercise that puts stress on your feet – especially running. That’s out of the question – and so is race walking, elliptical machines, stair masters and the like. If you’re like me and need your cardio, rekindle your friendship with your bicycle.
Ideally, you should stay off your foot as much as possible. There is no way for the ligament to heel without rest. So take it easy every chance you get. Maybe find someone else to walk the dog for the next few weeks.
The more time you spend keeping off your feet, the faster the swelling in your plantar fascia will go down and the pain with it. Unfortunately, spending the next two months on the couch or in bed probably isn’t a viable option for you. So, you’re going to need to stock up on some essential items to give your feet all the help they can get.
Ready to end your heel pain from plantar fasciitis? Of course you are. There are several things you can
Plantar Fasciitis Shoes
Even though I’ve been running for the better part of twenty five years, I was woefully unprotective of my feet. Sure, I wore good running shoes when I hit the road, but when I wasn’t running? Well, that was when I was more concerned with making sure I looked good moreso than feeling good. It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with plantar fasciitis that I started to take a more critical look at my daily footwear. In fact, I went through my entire collection and removed any shoes that either had significant wear in the heel, offered little to no arch support (and couldn’t fit my orthodic insole) or did not help my foot position. It’s time for you to do the same because your old standbys? Well, they may be making your problems worse by the day.
The Basics of Good Shoes for Happy Feet
You want your shoes to fit your foot properly and also provide a good deal of support for your arch. Otherwise, if your shoes don’t fit properly or offer enough support, you may end up over-pronating when you step. Over time, this can lead to your medial arch collapsing.
If the soles of your shoes are too soft, that can also lead to more pain. Avoid sandals, flip flops and the like unless their specifically designed for plantar fasciitis. And forget about any shoe promising a barefoot like fit and feeling. You need support.
You want to look for shoes based on your feet and the activities you – and they – intend to participate in.
First you want to look for a shoe that offers motion control. Depending on how severely you over pronate, you’re going to need a shoe that helps bring your foot back into a neutral position.
Believe it or not, shoes are designed to best help support and protect our feet during the designated activity. That’s why tennis shoes look like tennis shoes and running shoes look like running shoes. You wouldn’t run a marathon in bowling shoes would you? Of course not. So make the investment in the right shoe.
What to Look for in Your Plantar Fasciitis Shoe
When you’re considering shoes, one of the first things you should look at is the back portion of the shoe which wraps around your heel bone. It’s called the heel counter and it’s responsible for controlling pronation. You don’t want a heel counter that’s soft and unsupportive. Look for one that’s firm when you squeeze it.
After that, you’ll want to look at the shoes flexibility. Again, you’re going to want to look for firm and supportive not flexible. The idea is to find a shoe that will help support and control your foot’s movement and keep everything properly aligned.
You also want a shoe with an elevated heel and that rocks your foot forward to reduce the pressure and weight you deliver to your heel when you step.
To recap, you want to look for shoes that have:
- Firm heel counter
- Strong arch support
- Elevated Heel
- Rocker sole
When I first learned that I would need to wear orthopedic shoes, the fashionista in me was brought to tears. I envisioned horribly blocky, black shoes with thick soles – something closer to what Frankenstein’s monster would wear as he terrorized villagers. Definitely not what I, as a modern, fashion-forward, bright and smiling middle aged woman would wear. Certainly not.
And so began my search for a perfect pair of shoes for my formerly happy feet. I was happily surprised to find more than a few attractive, fashionable shoes that not only look good but feel even better.
Below are some of my personal favorites. (Along with some of my husband’s for you men – he doesn’t have plantar fasciitis but after witnessing my struggles, he saw the wisdom in prevention and is now a much more conscientious purchaser of foot wear.)
Other Things You Can Do for Plantar Fasciitis
On certain occasion, my more medicinal shoes just didn’t cut it and my fashion-brain would overrule my pragmatic one. When that happens, I made sure to use insoles that would help make the uncomfortable more bearable.
Plantar Fasciitis Support/Devices
I include these braces only for the sake of comprehensiveness. Fact is, even after my doctor told me I had to wear one, I couldn’t do it. I mean, I tried. I really, really, really tried. But they are so uncomfortable and cumbersome and they definitely did nothing for my love life. Although it was sweet how hubby would help me get into the damn thing. (And then have to help get it off of me five minutes later when the discomfort made me crazy.)
Stretching the muscles of your feet and calves can be tremendous in helping reduce the strain and pain associated with plantar fasciitis. I’ve made a habit of stretching several times a day to make sure I never have to suffer the excruciating pain I endured previously. Here are some you can do on your own – your doctor may recommend others, so follow his or her advice.
- Standing about arm’s length from a wall,
- place your right foot behind your left and
- slowly bend your left leg forward.
- Keep your right knee straight and your heel on the ground.
- Hold for a count of 30 and then release.
You can either do three sets of stretches and then switch legs or alternate between the two, whatever you prefer.
These seated stretches are great and easy to do.
- Take a seat and roll your foot over either a foam roller or, if you don’t have one, you can use a frozen water bottle or a can. Do this for about a minute before switching to your other foot.
- Next, cross one leg over your other and grab your big toe and gently pull it toward you, holding the position for about 30 seconds. Repeat three times.
- Lastly, using a towel, fold it beneath your feet and grab the ends of the towel with both hands and gently pull to top of your feet toward you. Hold for about 30 seconds and repeat three times.
Having plantar fasciitis rob me of my passion, I am much wiser for the wear now. I own several pairs of the right shoes for different occasions and I am diligent in my stretching. Because of this, I’ve been able to return to running full time. Yay! I hope this blog will help you to get your life back and make your feet happy, too!