Best Shoes for Heel Pain Reviewed & Rated for Comfort

Heel pain is an on-going concern for a lot of people in the world today, and the type of footwear you opt for can have a significant impact on how you feel when you’re out of the house.  Walking on painful heels can jeopardize your every day life, making you uncomfortable at all times and resistant to having to do anything. The most common times of the day for this pain to be extreme is first thing in the morning and after several hours on your feet. Slippers and shoes that are designed to help beat this pain are a great option for anyone suffering from painful heels, regardless of what condition you may have.

Last Updated: February 27, 2018
By Alice Frutis:

This update added a variety of dress, work, and athletic shoes to the list, which brings the list to a total of fifteen great shoes to help reduce heel pain. Two of the original shoes were replaced with two better shoes that are more effective at reducing your heel pain. Additionally, to help you make an educated decision in your search for the most effective heel pain-reducing shoes, we have added a Criteria for Selection section. The criteria section addresses the most important aspects of a shoe that can reduce pain and discomfort and also offers tips and home remedies for heel pain. A frequently asked questions section was added, as well, to provide you with answers to the most commonly asked questions about shoes for heel pain. Finally, if you want, you can do some research of your own with a list of sources which has been added to the page.

Featured Recommendations

Klogs Naples
  • Klogs Naples
  • 4.8 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Removable insoles
  • Price: See Here
Propet W3851
  • Propet W3851
  • 4.4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Firm Heel Counter
  • Price: See Here
Grasshoppers Stretch Plus
  • Grasshoppers Stretch Plus
  • 4 out of 5
    Our rating
  • Drilex Wick Lining
  • Price: See Here

Heel pain can be caused by a number of factors, be it repetitive stress, injury, or a medical condition.  Some ways to help reduce the pain and manage your condition are selecting shoes that maintain good arch support and securely balance your heel so that it is properly cushioned. Many people become insecure and almost have a sense of fear, knowing that they will be suffering from pain, and thus they avoid walking, running, or any other activity that requires putting their weight down on their heels. No one should miss out on life due to chronic, or even temporary, pain, so that is why we have put together this list of the fifteen best shoes for heel pain. Hopefully within this list you will be able to find an option that works for you, and gives you a sense of comfort so that you can get out and enjoy life.

 

 

15 Best Shoes for Heel Pain

 

 

 

1. Klogs Naples

Tough on your feet? Look no further! The Klogs have been designed to offer the best support for the longest days. Accommodating orthotics, Klogs also have great shock absorption, arch support, and anti-microbial properties to prevent those powerful odors. Made with fun styles, the pain free, Klogs will help your personality shine.
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Insole
Klog insoles have many benefits. Most popular to those on their feet, the Klogs were made with a durable, anti-microbial insole to keep long lasting comfort and prevent and smell your shoes could muster up. An added benefit of the anti-microbial insole is that it will keep you shoes disease free, leading to healthier feet.

Outsole
Klogs have an amazing rubber outsole with plenty of benefits to make your feet happy. A non-slip resistance to oil and liquids with amazing traction, the Klogs outsole is also incredibly shock absorbing, eliminating pain in your feet.

Cost and Value
Over the years, Klogs have taken the spot for being the most comfortable shoes on the market. Designed with orthotics, these shoes are made to keep your feet pain free and prevent any issues from starting or getting worse. Arch support is key, while the anti-microbial properties protect your feet from disease. With so many benefits, this shoe is a must have.
Pros
  • Non-Slip
  • Added Stability
  • Anti-Microbial
  • Shock Absorbing
  • Arch Support
Cons
  • Porous Soles Soak Water
  • Heavier Shoe

2. Vionic Orthaheel Tide

Vionic’s Orthaheel Tide Sequins Orthotic Sandals come in eleven stylish colors. They come with Orthaheel technology and an EVA midsole to offer you the support and cushioning you need to reduce the pain in your heels when you walk. They are a warm-weather alternative to constrictive and hot tennis shoes. The rubber outsole is carved with a geometric tread pattern.
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Orthaheel Technology
This flip-flop has Orthaheel technology built into it to provide you with support and cushioning. It includes arch support, a heel cup, and the insole is dotted for better grip.

EVA Midsole
To provide your feet- especially your heel- with ample cushioning, Vionic used an EVA midsole in this shoe to provide you with cushioning and shock-absorption right where you need it.

Cost and Value
This stylish flip-flop by Vionic can be found in the middle price range. Vionic’s Orthotic shoes offer ample support and cushioning to reduce pain in your heels as you walk.
Pros
  • Orthaheel Technology
  • EVA Midsole
  • Leather Strap
  • Toe Post is Webbed
  • Rubber Outsole
  • Geometric Tread Pattern
Cons
  • Very high arch
  • Strap may be tight

3. New Balance 990V4

This is the fourth iteration of New Balance’s 990 running shoe. It comes with a comfortable ENCAP heel complete with an EVA core, but this is only one of the many great features of this shoe. Its upper is made with a breathable mesh for temperature control and pigskin leather overlays for support and durability. It’s lightweight, comfortable, and stylish.
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ENCAP PU Ring with EVA Core
The 990v4 has New Balance’s specially designed ENCAP PU ring, which is a ring of polyurethane fitted with an EVA core, which together provides support and cushioning for your heels.

Dual-Density Collar Foam
New Balance’s 990v4’s collar is padded with gentle dual-density foam. This eliminates abrasive rubbing on your ankles by the collar of this running shoe so you can run with ease.

Cost and Value
This New Balance running shoe has a rather high price tag, but the ENCAP PU ring with EVA Core, dual-density collar foam, and extended width availability, it’s a good buy!
Pros
  • ENCAP PU Ring with EVA Core
  • Dual-Density Collar Foam
  • Pigskin and Mesh Upper
  • Rubber Sole
  • Lightweight
  • Lateral Support
  • Extended Widths
Cons
  • May need to be broken in
  • Sizing runs small and narrow

4. Propet W3851

4. Propet W3851
The Propet W3851 Wash & Wear Slip-On is a great shoe for comfort! With a quilted upper, this shoe is machine washable and can be kept clean and like new. Made for comfort, the Propet W3851 Wash & Wear Slip-On has a EVA insole and an orthotic insert to help alleviate heel pain and disperse your body weight evenly, taking that added weight off of your heels. As one of the top shoes on the market for heel pain, the Propet W3851 Wash & Wear Slip-On is a great shoe for you!
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Firm Heel Counter
Great stability and stride comes with the Propet W3851 Wash & Wear Slip-On. The firm heel counter is put in place in the shoe to assist with stability in any situation. The firm heel encounter allows for a cushioned support as well, eliminating pain.

EVA Midsole
The Propet W3851 Wash & Wear Slip-On not only protects your heel but also protects the rest of your foot as well. The Eva midsole is a cushioned support put in place to contour to the foot and absorb shock for hours. Working or working out, this shoe will keep your comfort.

Cost and Value
The Propet W3851 Wash & Wear Slip-On is an all purpose shoe that will keep your feet comfortable during any occasion. Washable materials sit nicely on your feet with a soft collar supports the ankle. Eva midsole will keep your feet contoured and comfortable while the firm heel counter gives great stability and assists in absorbing shock. Made with a hard rubber sole, this shoe is bound to keep you on your toes with added traction for a non-slip grip.
Pros
  • Removable Cushioned Orthotic
  • Eva Midsole
  • Slip-Resistant
  • Internal Heel Counter
Cons
  • Runs Small

5. OOFOS OOcloog Clog

5. OOFOS OOcloog Clog
OOFOS’s OOcloog Clog comes in narrow, medium width, and wide sizes. It offers arch support and a biomechanically designed footbed, but these are just two of the many features this shoe offers. It also has a non-slip pattern on the rubber outsole to improve traction. Its vented sides help with temperature management and its rubber outsole gives it shock-absorbing properties.
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Arch Support
To reduce any heel pain that comes from having plantar fasciitis, OOFOS’s OOcloog clog is designed with excellent arch support built into the sole which also provides cushioning and comfort.

Biomechanically Designed Footbed
The OOFOS OOcloog Clog is designed with a biomechanically designed footbed. This feature supports the natural movements of your feet by bending and flexing with your foot as you walk.

Cost and Value
This simple, comfortable clog by OOFOS can be found in the middle price range, making it an affordable casual shoe which provides support and reduces heel pain as you walk.
Pros
  • Arch Support
  • Biomechanically Designed Footbed
  • Nubuck Upper
  • Rubber Sole with Non-Slip Pattern
  • Vented Sides
  • Impact-Resistant
  • Slip-On
Cons
  • Sizing runs narrow
  • Can be very hot

6. Skechers Go Walk 4

6. Skechers Go Walk 4
The Go Walk 4 walking shoe from Skechers’s Performance series is a comfortable walking shoe that can reduce your heel pain via its responsive cushioning layers and the supportive GoGa Pillars that are built into the sole. The GO-KNIT mesh upper is also excellent for maintaining a comfortable temperature inside your shoes, as it allows air to pass through easily.
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GoGa Max Insole
The comfortable Go Walk 4 uses Skechers’s GoGa Max technology in its insole. The Go Walk 4 provides high energy bounceback and responsive cushioning for a comfortable step every time.

5Gen Midsole
The 5Gen midsole technology found in the Skechers Go Walk 4 is wedged between the insole and the outsole, providing extra responsive cushioning to make your walk even more comfortable.

Cost and Value
This comfortable walking shoe can be found in the low-to-high price range, so if you shop around you can get this great shoe for heel pain at a reasonable price!
Pros
  • GoGa Max Insole
  • 5Gen Midsole
  • Goga Pillars Underfoot
  • GO-KNIT Mesh Upper
  • Tapered Midfoot
  • Slip-On
  • Rubber Outsole
Cons
  • Inconsistent sizing
  • May become smelly

7. Dansko Sophie Sandal

7. Dansko Sophie Sandal
Dansko’s Sophie Sandal is a stylish platform sandal with approval from the American Podiatric Medical Association. This beautiful sandal sports a lovely and soft padded suede footbed for cushioning. The synthetic sole on the Dankso Sophie Sandal helps provide you with necessary traction while the straps over the top of your foot are made of sturdy leather with buckle closures.
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American Podiatric Medical Association Approved
Dansko’s Sophie Sandal was awarded the American Podiatric Medical Association’s Seal of Acceptance, which shows that this stylish sandal is great for helping maintain the good health of your feet.

Foam Midsole
The foam midsole used in Dansko’s Sophie Sandal is designed to provide your feet with optimum shock-absorption and cushioning, which will help reduce the pain and fatigue your feet feel.

Cost and Value
This stylish, APMA approved sandal can be found in the middle-to-upper price range, so if you shop around you can find a great deal on these exceptionally comfortable dress sandals.
Pros
  • American Podiatric Medical Association Approved
  • Foam Midsole
  • Padded Suede Footbed
  • Leather Straps with Buckle Closures
  • Synthetic Sole
Cons
  • Sizing runs small
  • Heavy

8. Rockport Cobb Hill Aubrey

8. Rockport Cobb Hill Aubrey
The Rockport Cobb Hill Aubrey Dress Pump features a shock-absorbing heel and an EVA foam footbed in a commitment to give you a more comfortable dress pump. These stylish pumps come in a variety of colors, so you’re sure to find the perfect one for your favorite outfit. The biomechanically designed outsole is also designed to support natural foot motion.
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Shock-Absorbing Heel
High heels and dress pumps are usually the least comfortable due to their hard and unyielding heels. However, Rockport Cobb Hill’s stylish Aubrey Dress Pump comes with a shock-absorbing heel.

EVA Foam Footbed
To further reduce any possible discomfort, the Aubrey Dress Pump comes with an EVA foam footbed, which provides extra cushioning and shock-absorption, which is something most heels don’t come with.

Cost and Value
You can find Rockport Cobb Hill’s Aubrey Dress Pump in the middle-to-high price range. This dress pump is a high-quality, fashionable, and comfortable dress shoe which is sure to impress.
Pros
  • Shock-Absorbing Heel
  • EVA Foam Footbed
  • Soft Leather Upper
  • Closed Toe Shoe with an Open Heel
  • Biomechanically Designed Outsole
  • Flexible Materials
Cons
  • Heel may wear down
  • Ankle strap may be abrasive

9. Grasshoppers Stretch Plus

9. Grasshoppers Stretch Plus
The Grasshoppers Stretch Plus Hook-and-Loop Sneaker is a stylish suede shoe that features velcro adjusting straps and an easy slip on tab. Ortholite sock liner assists in constant comfort an support while other technologies help wick away moistures, maintaining a healthy atmosphere for your feet. There is a natural movement in your feet with the Grasshoppers Stretch Plus Hook-and-Loop Sneaker's rounded outsole. Don't miss out an a pain free heel!
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Drilex Wick Lining
The Grasshoppers Stretch Plus Hook-and-Loop Sneaker have an incredibly moisture wicking technology added to their shoe that assists in wicking away moisture and preventing foul odors from occurring. The Drilex wick lining offers many benefits to this shoe! Keeping long lasting freshness, you will not be disappointed.

Pure Fit Comfort Cushion Arch
The Grasshoppers Stretch Plus Hook-and-Loop Sneaker as a Purefit Comfort Cushion Arch that is put into the shoe to help with extra padding in the heel and arch support to help disperse the foot weight, eliminating pain in the heel.

Cost and Value
The Grasshoppers Stretch Plus Hook-and-Loop Sneaker has plenty of benefits for your feet which is why it is APMA approve. Having a seal of acceptance, the Grasshoppers Stretch Plus Hook-and-Loop Sneaker has additional arch support, padding, and a moisture wick lining that will help control foot moisture. Having a healthy foot climate is incredibly important as is comfort, which is why the Grasshoppers Stretch Plus Hook-and-Loop Sneaker is a top rated shoe for heel pain!
Pros
  • APMA Approved
  • Ortholite Technology
  • Drylex Liner
  • Purefit Comfort Arch
  • Anti-Microbial Properties
Cons
  • Long Tongue
  • Narrow in Toe Area

10. Agile Kea Slip-on

10. Agile Kea Slip-on
The Agile Kea Slip-on is a great shoe that is versatile and also very easy to get on and off. For a shoe this relaxed, the Agile Kea Slip-on supports key alignment and comfort using flexible cushioned midsoles and a podiatrist designed orthotic. Heel comfort is key with the Agile Kea Slip-on.
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Twin Gore Panels
Twin gore panels are in place in the Agile Kea Slip-on to improve comfort and stability, while also giving you ease of movement with every step you take. The ease of movement benefits the pediatrist designed orthotic that keeps you aligned.

Advanced Motion System
Most people prefer a stable shoe that keeps natural alignment and stability. With the Agile Kea Slip-on, the Advance Motion System gives you premium stability while supporting natural alignment, reducing heel pain.

Cost and Value
Breathable and stable, the Agile Kea Slip-on is a great shoe for the price. Offering several advanced systems to support healthy and pain free feet, these shoes are ideal for long days ahead. The twin gore panels allows great comfort while foams contour to the feet and alleviate any pressure points. Stay aligned with the Agile Kea Slip-on.
Pros
  • Twin Gore Panels
  • Advanced Motion System
  • Flexible, Cushioned Midsoles
  • Mesh Upper for Breathability
Cons
  • Bunching Midsole
  • Narrow in Toes

11. OOFOS OOahh Slide Sandals

11. OOFOS OOahh Slide Sandals
The OOFOS OOahh Slide Sandal may not look like much, but it offers excellent cushioning and support. This sandal cradles your arches and reduces shock with its shock-absorbing sole. The sole is also designed to support natural foot motion which will also reduce shock on your feet and heels. This sandal conforms to your foot for a secure, comfortable fit.
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OOfoam Cushioning
Oofoam is OOFOS’s patented cushioning compound which is used in their OOah Slide Sandals and their other shoes to give you more bounceback and shock-absorption to reduce pain and discomfort.

Moisture and Bacteria Resistant
The OOFOS OOah Slide Sandal comes with moisture and bacteria resistance, so odors won’t form and stick to the shoe and you can let it get wet without damaging it.

Cost and Value
You can find this slip-on sandal in the middle price range, making it a very affordable and easy to care for shoe to help reduce your heel and foot pain.
Pros
  • OOfoam Cushioning
  • Moisture and Bacteria Resistant
  • Supports Natural Motion
  • Conforms to the Foot
  • Cradles Arches
  • Shock-Absorbant Sole
Cons
  • Poor Traction
  • Limited Sizing Options

12. Orthofeet Sprint

12. Orthofeet Sprint
The one of a kind Orthofeet Sprint Comfort Orthopedic offers mounds of support for your feet. Featuring a non-binding, extra depth design, the Orthofeet Sprint Comfort Orthopedic supports your gait and natural alignment while taking any shock out of the shoe. Completely versatile, this shoe is made for the long morning runs or casual afternoon walks.
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Orthotic Support
The Orthofeet Sprint Comfort Orthopedic offers a strong orthotic support system within the sole. Phenomenal arch support, the Orthofeet Sprint Comfort Orthopedic also offers a gel infused heel seat that helps alleviate pain.

Lightweight Sole
This shoe is one of a kind in offering gait support and an ergonomic stride support that assists in alleviation of pain and shock that goes into the foot. This also enhances stability and give your feet a cloud like feeling.

Cost and Value
Overall, the Orthofeet Sprint Comfort Orthopedic is one of a kind for heel support and pain alleviation. Versatile and durable, the Orthofeet Sprint Comfort Orthopedic offer extra depth in the shoe to help hammer toe and bunions. With all of the added benefits to this shoe, the value outweighs the cost.
Pros
  • Contoured Orthotic Insole
  • Gel Infused Heel Support
  • Ergonomic Stride
  • Lightweight Insole
Cons
  • Stiff
  • Heavy

13. Orthofeet Avery Island

13. Orthofeet Avery Island
The Orthofeet Avery Island Comfort Orthopedic is a durable, soft lined insole shoe that is bound to keep pain away from your heels and feet. The protective padding within this shoe helps conform to the feet and eliminate pressure points, helping in all pain relieving property. Built in gel padded heel seat will leave long lasting comfort and reduce pain throughout the day.
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Orthotic Support
The Orthofeet Avery Island Comfort Orthopedic has an outstanding support system built into the inside of the shoe. The contoured insole has excellent arch support and a gel padded heel seat that helps with both alleviating foot pain and boosts the comfort of the foot from the toe to the heel.

Protective Interior
With such technology, the Orthofeet Avery Island Comfort Orthopedic offers an incredibly soft, protective interior that enhances cushion and creates a long lasting comfort. With relief this good, you can't say no to the Orthofeet Avery Island Comfort Orthopedic.

Cost and Value
The amount of pain relieving properties, the Orthofeet Avery Island Comfort Orthopedic takes the top for being the best. Offering insoles that contour and relieve pain, this shoe is made to support and align from the tip of your toes to the lowest part of your back. With relief this great, these shoes are versatile and can be worn anywhere.
Pros
  • Protective Interior
  • Comfortable Fit
  • Orthotic Support
  • Adjustable Fit with Orthotic Foot Spacers
Cons
  • Narrow

14. Drew Shoe Rose Mary Jane

14. Drew Shoe Rose Mary Jane
The fashionable Drew Shoe Rose Mary Jane is a soft, fashionable soft leather shoe that gives long lasting comfort for long working days. The foam padded tongue lining gives extra support while the soft insole relieves pain and pressure from heel to toe. The slip resistant outsole will keep your body upright and prevent you from slipping on fluids and oils.
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Extended Medial Heel Stabilizer
The Drew Shoe Rose Mary Jane has an extended medial heel stabilizer that acts as a steel shank to help produce amazing stabilization in the shoe. Added stability will assist and keeping you on your toes.

Full Grain Leather
The Drew Shoe Rose Mary Jane offers a smooth and stylish, full grain leather upper that gives added stability and comfort. The full grain leather is also waterproof and does not crease over time.

Cost and Value
The Drew Shoe Rose Mary Jane has a lot to offer in terms of support, stability, and pain relief. Durable outsoles that offer a non-slip grip, are non marking and sturdy to maintain alignment. With so many benefits, the Drew Shoe Rose Mary Jane is a well appreciated shoe.
Pros
  • Full Grain Leather
  • Soft Spandex Lining
  • Extended Medial Stabilizer
  • Removable Foot Bed
Cons
  • Tight in the Toes
  • Socks Slide Down

15. Orthofeet Monterey Bay

15. Orthofeet Monterey Bay
The Orthofeet Monterey Bay Comfort is a tie-less shoes, leaving less maintenance in a tennis shoe. The strap system keeps the shoe in place while the sole offers constant stability. Removable spacers support extra room to prevent any additional pain caused by tight shoes and added arch support give you great pain relief. The Orthofeet Monterey Bay Comfort is one comfortable shoe.
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BioFit Orthotic Insole
The Orthofeet Monterey Bay Comfort has a bioFit Orthotic insole that gives superior heel support and arch relief with added foams that contour to the feet and provide maximum comfort. With an insole this good, its both lightweight and flexible.

Removable Spacers
The Orthofeet Monterey Bay Comfort come with 2 separate spacers that allow you to adjust the sizing of your shoe for a correct fit, every time. These shoe spacers help with bunions, hammer toes, and more. Keep comfortable with the Orthofeet Monterey Bay Comfort.

Cost and Value
Make pain and discomfort a thing of the past with the Orthofeet Monterey Bay Comfort. Offering several features and benefits for the feet, this shoe is one of a kind for pain relief. Added stability helps maintain perfect alignment and will keep you on your feet.
Pros
  • Lightweight, Ergonomic
  • BioFit Insole
  • Two Way Strap System
  • Removable Spacers
Cons
  • Outsoles Wears

 

You’ve had enough of this pain, right? There is no need to suffer any longer under excruciating pain when pain free shoes are right at your finger tips. with so many shoes available to help subdue foot pain there is no need to suffer, any longer. Enjoy a long walk, a full day at work, or a run on the beach with no foot pain!

With so many people suffering at the hands of heel pain, orthotics have become incredibly popular to help you get rid of or prevent foot pain. The benefit of orthotics are beyond amazing when you are trying to help your feet. These shoes are designed to cushion your heel and help maintain a healthy alignment, removing pain for good.

After reading all about these shoes, you will soon know what it is like to have a healthy atmosphere for your feet with no more long hours on a painful heel. Put your insecurities in the past. With these shoes, you will be about to workout, run, walk, and work in general, pain free. When looking into something so important, research is a great thing to do, but with all the research done for you here, you won’t have to look any further for a good set of shoes that will keep your feet comfortable for long hours. Say goodbye to long, uncomfortable hours and painful heels. These shoes are here to help!

Criteria Used to Evaluate the Best Shoes for Heel Pain

Heel pain is unpleasant at best and debilitating at worst. Some people choose to ignore their heel pain, believing that heel pain is just a fact of life and can’t be fixed. Ignoring your heel pain can result in worsening and intensifying of that pain and discomfort to the point where it’s unbearable! Unfortunately, this can also result in serious injuries and medical conditions.

 

Causes of Heel Pain

So, what causes heel pain? There are a plethora of possible causes of heel pain from the minor, which can be resolved by a change in shoes or shoe inserts, to the serious, which can only be corrected with surgery. To choose a shoe to reduce your heel pain, you would benefit from having some idea of what is causing the pain. We will briefly go over a few of the most common maladies that can result in heel pain, but you may need to see a doctor for an official medical diagnosis if changing shoes doesn’t help. Remember that this is not a conclusive list and there are many more, less-common conditions that can result in heel pain.

 

Improperly Fitting Shoes or Shoes With Inadequate Support

If your heel pain has only recently started, then it may be a result of improperly fitting shoes– shoes that are too wide, too tight, or otherwise squeeze your feet. Make sure that the shoes you buy fit you properly. Your toes should be able to spread out naturally inside your shoe and not be squished together and your shoes shouldn’t squeeze any part of your foot if they fit properly.

Inadequate support is the next issue that usually initially causes heel pain. You need shoes that offer the right amount of support for your feet. Your foot support needs will not be the same as your friend, your sibling, or your parent’s foot support needs. Properly supportive shoes help reduce over or underpronation if you experience either of those.

You can catch this heel discomfort early on and prevent the development of some of the following maladies and discomforts. However, sometimes hindsight is twenty-twenty and we discovered we have waited for far too long to invest in new, better shoes. That’s when serious harm, both short and long-term, occurs.

Plantar Fasciitis

There is a ligament that runs from your heel to your forefoot called the plantar fascia, which can become inflamed. This condition is called Plantar Fasciitis and is characterized by tiny tears in the ligament. This is the most common cause of heel pain.

Haglund’s Deformity

Haglund’s deformity is a condition where the calcaneus- a bone on the back of the heel- swells. This results in tenderness and pain where the back of your shoe rubs against the protruding bone. This condition is commonly found in people who regularly wear high heels or other shoes with stiff backs, like those used in some sports.

Achilles Insertional Tendonitis or Tendinosis

This condition forms due to overuse of the Achilles tendon, usually by athletes. It can also be caused by overpronation. This condition is characterized by pain and discomfort when you push against the ground to take a step. This can worsen if it isn’t treated quickly and you need to go to a doctor if you suspect you have developed this condition.

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis

Retrocalcaneal Bursitis occurs when the bursa between your heel bone and Achilles tendon becomes inflamed. The bursa is a fluid-filled sack and when functioning properly, it reduces shock and painful rubbing against the heel and Achilles tendon. As with Achilles Insertional Tendonitis, this condition is usually found in athletes and runners.

Calcaneus Fracture

The heel bone is also called the calcaneus. Usually, a calcaneus fracture is caused by a serious fall or car accident, but it can also occur when you severely twist and injure an ankle. If you have developed a heel bone fracture, you may need to use a splint or cast for a few weeks while the bone heals or you may have to undergo surgery. As it could be caused by a fall or twisting your ankle, it’s important to wear shoes that offer plenty of traction for the environment you will be in and the right amount of support to prevent ankle twisting and rolling as much as possible.

There are other possible causes of heel pain and none of them should be ignored. If switching to a shoe that fits properly and offers the right amount of support doesn’t alleviate the pain, then you should go to a doctor to determine what exactly is causing the pain.

Now that we’ve covered a few possible causes of your heel pain, let’s discuss what makes a shoe the very best for reducing or eliminating your heel pain.

Cushioning

Shock absorption is one of the most critical factors for combating heel pain. Many times, heel pain is caused by conditions that develop as a result of wearing shoes that don’t offer the right amounts of support in the correct places. As such, you should determine the areas that you need the most cushioning in and how high your arches are before you purchase a new pair of shoes.

To determine these details, check the bottoms of your shoes to see which areas show the most wear on the outsole. Those areas are the ones that endure the most pressure and correlate to the places where your feet feel the most pressure. After that, determine how high your arches are by placing a piece of paper on the floor, wetting your foot, and stepping on the paper. If you can see the entire or most of the outline of your foot, then you have flat or low arches. If your picture shows very little of the arch area, then you have high arches. Normal arches are in the middle between the two extremes.

Now, we will discuss the different areas of the shoe that affect the cushioning in your shoe. Each area serves a specialized purpose, but not all shoes will have cushioning in all of the following areas of the shoe.

  • Insole
    The insole is also known as the liner or the footbed of the shoe. Some shoes have replaceable insoles, but others do not. When you are considering a new pair of shoes, look for cushioning which is soft and comfortable, but also responsive with sufficient bounceback to reduce the shock associated with walking, running, or any other activity you do while wearing your shoes.
  • Arch
    People who over or underpronate need to consider the arch support, especially if they have developed plantar fasciitis. Some shoes come with specialized cushioning in the arch area of the shoe. This can actually be found in the midsole or in the insole of your shoe, but not all shoes have this feature, so if you need extra cushioning there, keep this in mind.
  • Heel
    An appropriate amount of cushioning in the heel area of your shoe can reduce or eliminate heel pain, especially in shoes with a raised heel and athletic shoes. Look for responsive cushioning and a slightly higher heel in athletic shoes. For dress shoes with a raised heel of any caliber, you should look for a heel that compresses just a little when you put pressure on it so that the heel can absorb a little of the shock from walking on it.
  • Midsole
    Midsoles can serve a few purposes in the shoe, but midsoles that provide cushioning help absorb the force generated by each walking or running step. Many shoe brands have their own patented midsole technologies, but many shoe manufacturers use EVA midsoles, or ethyl vinyl acetate or other types of responsive foam in their midsoles. You want a shoe that comes with a midsole, even if it is a very thin one. Bear in mind that many dress shoes don’t come with a midsole, so check to make sure before you invest!
  • Outsole
    Believe it or not, the outsole plays a big role in the cushioning of your shoes. A hard, unyielding outsole or heel cannot absorb the shock and will pass it up to your feet and then up to your legs, knees, and thighs. Look for rubber or synthetic outsoles when you are shopping for a shoe to help reduce your heel pain. If the kind of shoe you’re looking for doesn’t offer rubber or synthetic outsoles, opt for leather. Avoid crepe and fabric outsoles. They offer little to no cushioning or support.

Support and Stability

After cushioning, you should consider the support features in the shoes you are considering purchasing. In general, most support and stability features are found in the outsole, but some are built into the insole or midsole. We will discuss a couple of support and stability features which are designed to support the heel specifically. There are many other technologies used in shoes to produce support and stability for your foot in general.

  • Heel Counter
    A heel counter is a firm ring or piece in the heel of your shoe that usually holds responsive foam cushioning in the heel. Heel counters are commonly found in athletic shoes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t find a casual, dress, or work shoe with a heel counter in it.
  • Heel Shank
    Just as some shoes come with a shank down the middle or up the sides of the outsole to support the arch, some shoes come with a supportive shank in the heel, which is a short, firm stick of metal or other composite material. The best heel shanks for heel pain would be shanks made of slightly flexible materials rather than firm and unyielding materials.

 

Flexibility

When it comes to heel pain, cushioning and support are prime factors, but flexibility also plays a role in the development or reduction of heel pain. Flexible outsoles don’t just protect your feet from the elements or provide cushioning and support. Flexible outsoles also reduce the impact on your feet as you go about your daily routine. A shoe that is hard and unyielding, meaning it won’t bend with your foot as you walk, can hurt your foot. So look for outsole flexibility features, such as treads and grooves, but also consider the outsole material. You want to balance flexibility with support, which can be challenging, but many shoes out there are designed to be more flexible than shoes from years past.

 

Customizability

If you buy a shoe and need it to last more than a few months, then you would benefit from finding a shoe with removable insoles. This doesn’t necessarily mean that a shoe with non-removable insoles is ineffective, but sometimes the insoles that come in shoes don’t provide the support and cushioning that we need. Removable insoles allow you to customize your footbed so that you can use custom orthotics if you need them or replace the insole when it’s worn down to give your shoes new life.

Tips to Reduce Heel Pain

So you’ve bought your shoes and you still have heel pain. Either you bought the shoes before you read this guide or you have felt a reduction in the pain with your new shoes but your heel still hurts a little. You may be inclined to think that either your new shoes are inadequate and you wasted your money or you may resign yourself to suffering heel pain for the rest of your life. Don’t fall victim to this mindset. There are things you can do to reduce your heel pain and sometimes, especially if the pain is the result of a medical condition, the pain won’t go away right away or at all with the use of better fitting and supporting shoes.

  • Use an Over-the-Counter Pain Reliever
    To help you get through your day with heel pain, over-the-counter pain medications, such as ibuprofen, can help reduce heel pain and any inflammation that causes it. If there is no inflammation, Tylenol or another pain reliever would also suffice to dull or eliminate the pain.
  • Use an Orthotic Insert or Heel Cup
    While this may prove difficult if your shoes don’t have removable insoles, using a custom orthotic insert may offer the cushioning and support your heel and foot need to reduce or eliminate pain. Alternatively, you can use a heel cup, which is an orthotic piece you place in the heel of your shoe to provide extra shock-absorption, support, and cushioning.
  • Rest Your Feet
    If you have noticed the discomfort intensifies after a run or athletic activity, then you may need to give your aching heels time to rest and recover from the damage that naturally occurs when you use your muscles vigorously.
  • Use Ice
    Ice will cool and reduce inflammation in your heel, so give it a try while you’re resting your feet. You could give your foot an ice massage, place an ice pack against your heel, or give your feet an ice bath. It is not recommended for you to ice your foot in any way for more than twenty minutes at a time, but you should do it for at least ten minutes to reap the benefits.
  • Use a Splint
    There are special night splints you can use while you sleep to help reduce pain and discomfort in your heels when you wake up in the morning.
  • Stretch!
    Gently stretch your feet, Achilles tendon, and ankles a little bit every day. This can ease discomfort and strengthen your feet, Achilles tendon, and ankles.
  • Massage Your Feet
    You could pay someone to give you and your aching feet a luxurious massage, but you can also do it yourself! Gently rubbing and massaging the bottoms of your feet with your hands can help reduce pain, but many people find that using a special foot massaging roller is more convenient and effective. Do it daily to help reduce your heel pain!
  • See a Medical Expert
    If you have started regularly wearing only properly fitting and properly supportive shoes and have tried some or all of the above-mentioned tips without results or with insufficient pain reduction, then you need to see your family doctor or a podiatrist- a foot specialist- to make sure that there is nothing seriously wrong with your feet.

Remember that there are a plethora of medical conditions that can cause heel pain and the list at the beginning of this criteria section is not comprehensive. Your feet are some of the most important parts of your body and they deserve to be taken care of. You’re worth it, so if your heel pain doesn’t go away, seek medical attention.

Frequently Asked Questions

 

Q: What are the best shoe brands for heel pain relief?

A: The best shoe brands for heel pain relief are Vionic, Orthofeet, New Balance, and Dansko, but there are many great shoes that help reduce pain from other shoe manufacturers, as shown in the list above!

Q: What will happen if I don’t treat my heel pain?

A: If you don’t treat your heel pain right away, then you run the risk of developing a number of debilitating and painful medical conditions from plantar fasciitis to arthritis or Achilles Tendonitis or worse! Your feet should not hurt, so you should treat them at home and if nothing you try works to reduce and eliminate your pain, then you need to see a medical professional, such as a family physician or podiatrist.

Q: How long will it take for my heel pain to get better?

A: A few weeks, if you take action and treat the heel pain by investing in new shoes that fit properly with the right amount of support for you and take steps to further reduce the pain at home aside from using your new shoes. However, this heel pain can last for months or even years! The sooner you take action, the sooner you will be able to rest easy and walk without pain.

Q: Do I need to buy a custom orthotic to reduce my heel pain?

A: Not necessarily. It could help and offer more support, but ideally wearing the right shoes for you and your needs will suffice.

Q: Do I need to buy a heel cup for my heel pain?

A: Not necessarily. Ideally, wearing a shoe that fits well and offers the correct amount of support, cushioning, and flexibility for you and your feet will reduce or eliminate heel pain on its own. However, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of buying a whole new pair of shoes right away and have to use orthotics and heel cups to reduce the pain and make your shoes wearable.

 

Sources

Foot & Ankle Center of Washington, Back of Heel Pain Causes and Treatment – A Complete Guide

Foot & Ankle Center of Washington, Chronic and Severe Heel Pain | Advanced Therapies

Shoes Obsessions, New Balance Technologies, October 14, 2008

Go Skechers, Go Walk

OOFOS, OOFOS Recovery Footwear

Harvard Health Publishing, 10 tips for finding the right shoes

Prevention, 5 Signs You’re Wearing the Wrong Shoes, January 29, 2016

Medicine Net, Plantar Fasciitis, August 23, 2016

OrthoInfo, Calcaneus (Heel Bone) Fractures, January 2016

Podiatry Today, Understanding the Impact of Shoe Insoles and Midsoles, June 11, 2010

WorkingPerson.Me, Shanks: Everything You Need to Know

Foot & Ankle Center of Washington, Heel Pain Treatment with Home Remedies

Web MD, Ice for Heel Pain – Topic Overview

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