Best Shoes for Swollen Feet & Ankles Reviewed
Swelling in the feet and ankles, also called edema, is a problem that a huge part of the adult population faces. With numbers stating that up to 40-50% of Americans suffer from the condition, shoe manufacturers are working extra hard to provide footwear that can address these issues and offer much needed comfort and relief. Nonetheless, it is important to first address the reasons behind your swollen feet and ankles.
It might be that you are spending a lot of time standing up or walking due to your job, but edema might also be the result of a slight sprain, pregnancy or inflammation. Furthermore, swelling can also point to chronic ailments such as kidney disease, heart conditions and high blood pressure, as well as obesity or malnutrition, so it is crucial that if you suspect any of these, you consult your general practitioner in order to get to the root of the problem.
You will notice that the products listed in this buying guide differ greatly in design, support and features, and this is mostly because your top priority when choosing a pair of shoes that will work for your swollen feet is to make sure that they are completely comfortable. High heels and constricting footwear are out of the question, and try, instead, to look at shoes that are soft, cushioned, offer stability and are breathable and as lightweight as possible. Whether you are buying these for yourself or a loved one, it’s really important to make a smart choice in order to ensure a better overall quality of life.
10 Best Shoes for Swollen Feet and Ankles
1. Skechers Performance GOwalk
The best part of this shoe are the materials it is made of. The upper is soft, breathable and allows for free movement, while the inside has also been carefully thought out with integrated OrthoLight antimicrobial sock liners that inhibit and prevent odor and slippage. Furthermore, these walking shoes feature Resalyite midsoles which are very light but offer shock absorption, and a full insole made out of memory foam that includes heel and instep padding for added comfort. All of these mean that this particular shoe by Skechers is soft and able to move along with you, without constriction.
If saying that these shoes weigh only 3 ¾ oz per shoe means nothing to you, think of it in these terms: they are five times lighter than your regular pair of shoes (and we are not talking about clunky boots here). This is achieved through a careful production which eliminates any extra material that might add weight or bulk, as well as through implementing innovative technology in the production of soles.
Cost and Value
This pair of shoes will not break the bank, although the high-tech additions do bring the cost up slightly. Depending on the amount of time you wear and walk in them, they may last you a long time, but do expect the soft sole to be the first part of the shoe that gives in. If you do not plan on walking a lot every day, then these could definitely serve you well for a prolonged period of time.
- Extremely light at just 3 ¾ oz
- Memory foam insoles
- Roomy toe box
- Machine washable
- Breathable upper and antimicrobial inner lining
- Not ideal for walking on gravel and rough ground
- Soft soles may deteriorate with excessive use
2. UGG Neumel Chukka
These shoes are made out of suede for their upper and a luxurious sheep fur lining that was harvested in Australia. This means that these shoes will form based on your feet, allowing for a great, comfortable fit that will last you a long time. The downside of the Neumel Chukka Boots is that they will require you to take care them through regular cleaning and a monthly application of water and stain-repellent in order to make them more suitable for outside wear.
These shoes feature sturdy soles that are made out of EVA foam, which means that they provide good cushioning while also featuring grooves that will give you a decent grip of the ground. However, keep in mind that they were not intended to be worn as professional shoes, so if you need to work in a kitchen or on greasy/wet floors, opt for something more sturdy with a rubber sole.
Cost and Value
The Ugg Neumel are in the more expensive range of this list. Still, they have become the favorite pair of shoes of a lot of people, so if you can appreciate the design, natural materials and softness they provide, they will definitely prove to be a good investment.
- Soft suede upper will conform to foot shape
- Superior wool lining provides softness and warmth
- EVA foam soles provide shock absorption and cushioning
- Can be worn inside and outside
- Run wide, which is great for swollen feet
- Need special care and water repellent for outside wear
- Run small in length, so make sure to go a size up
3. Birkenstock Arizona
The outer and inner surface of these sandals is made out of suede which provides softness and a small amount of stretch for premium comfort. But what makes this pair of shoes different than most is that they feature metal buckles on the straps which will allow you to choose the fit that you need - be it narrow or wide, or even a combination of the two, you will be ale to make these shoes work for you.
Soft Anatomical Footbed
It was the anatomical cork footbed that made Birkenstocks so popular among Europeans. It is contoured so as to conform to the wearer’s foot, while providing ample arch support, a deep heel cup and a roomy toe box. It’s lined with a cushioned suede, which makes them soft to walk on, but still hard enough to be wearable on any surface, with a synthetic sole that will add extra protection and grip.
Cost and Value
Yes, a pair of Birkenstock sandals can be quite expensive, but what you want to be thinking about is the value you will get for the price you pay. First of all, these shoes are extremely durable, and get better and more comfortable with use. That said, they are not suitable for all weather conditions, which means that you will be limited to a shorter period of outside use during the summer. However, they can also work as an excellent inside slipper.
- Adjustable straps
- Anatomical cork footbed
- Suede lining for added cushioning
- Plenty of room in toe box
- Lets your feet breathe
- High price
- Might need some time to break in
4. Crocs Classic Clog
These shoes were made to allow for extra room in the clog, and not just in one area, but all. This means that if your feet tend to swell throughout the day, you will not experience that uncomfortable tightening feeling which comes from a snugly fit shoe. The ventilation ports add breathability, while the heel strap will aid in keeping these on you without slipping off.
Crocs are made out of a superior material that, in addition to its cushioning abilities also provides the wearer with an ease of maintenance. These clogs are water-friendly, which means that they are easy to clean, won’t stain, and most importantly, possess odor resistant qualities.
Cost and Value
Crocs clogs are the cheapest item on this list, and will prove to be an amazing pair of shoes you will love. They are fun, comfy, slip-resistant and breathable, all while being super-easy to clean and lightweight. They can be worn either as an outside shoe or as an inside shoe and will last you a long time as they have proven to be very durable.
- Roomy fit
- Fun designs in various colors
- Provide soft cushioning and massaging footbed
- Non-slip soles
- Won’t be appropriate in cold weather or on formal occasions
- Make sure to choose the right size, as there are men’s, women’s and unisex sizes available
5. Minnetonka Pile Lined
The upper of these shoes is made out of soft genuine leather, just like a traditional moccasin, which means that with these shoes you are getting footwear that will mold to your feet perfectly after a few uses. This is especially important if, in addition to swollen feet, you also suffer from bunions or any other similar problems. Luckily, soft leather will break in easily, which means that you don’t have to suffer any pain for prolonged periods of time just to make these shoes work for you.
A House Slipper With a Rubber Sole
Although these moccasins are a pair of house footwear, the synthetic hard sole gives you stability and protection on outside walks to get your morning coffee, or when walking your dog. Even though the leather itself is not waterproof, this sole will provide you with protection even when walking on wet surfaces. Just note that they are not anti-slip soles, which means that you should still take special care on wet and oily floors.
Cost and Value
While they may not be cheap, these shoes still cost half of what you would pay for the most expensive item on this list. They do well for inside and some outside use, and can last you up to a year with heavy use (we’re talking 24/7).
- Genuine soft leather
- Faux fur pile lining
- Stable synthetic soles
- Will break in easily
- Inside and outside use
- Could be too hot for use in summer
- Laces come loose easily
6. Vionic Tide II
These shoes have midsoles which are made out of lightweight and flexible EVA foam which does great to absorb shock, protecting your heels, ankles and knees from the impacts of walking. Even more, the shoes feature a biomechanical design that will hug your arches, as well as durable TPR outsoles which improve traction on most surfaces. This means that if, in addition to swelling, you also suffer from plantar fasciitis, these shoes will become the favorite item in your closet.
Woven & Leather Uppers
The straps on these flip-flops are made out of soft materials, but in addition to that, they are also lined with soft neoprene foam that will maximize your comfort and prevent them from painfully cutting into your feet. This means that even if your feet swell during the day, you will still be able to remain comfortable and go on with your daily tasks.
Cost and Value
For a pair of flip-flops, these shoes are quite expensive. However, they have been made in a way that was well thought out in order to provide you with a superior fit. They are a favorite with users who suffer from plantar fasciitis, require strong support, or are on their feet all day.
- Padded straps
- Shock absorbing EVA foam midsole
- Good arch support
- Outsoles designed for good traction
- Excellent lightweight shoes for summer
- Easy to wash, but takes long to dry
- The arch support takes an adjustment period to get used to
7. TOMS Classic Canvas
The upper of these shoes is made out of durable canvas that will mold to your feet based on the fit you need. The elastic V not only allows you to slip them on and off easily, it’s also a great addition because it allows some room for when your feet swell. Note that TOMS tend to be a little tight for the first few wears, so if you suffer from severe swelling or pain, do not purchase a tight fit.
Flexible and Soft Soles
Depending on the style you choose, these shoes will have either rubber, woven or EVA foam soles. However, all will come with either a leather or vegan inner liner that adds arch support and cushioning, making your TOMS a perfect pair of shoes for everyday wear, offering you flexibility and ease of movement due to them being very light.
Cost and Value
TOMS shoes are not cheap, and if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is. As there are many counterfeit pairs of TOMS available online, make sure you get the real deal in order to get the high quality make, and the supportive outsoles. These are great shoes that can last you a long time, and have a very versatile use, so you can dress them up or down according to what you need at the moment.
- Breathable canvas
- Soft & flexible outsoles
- Vegan options available
- Numerous fashionable styles
- Will mold to your feet
- Canvas can be stiff in the beginning until it breaks in
- Counterfeit shoes do not offer the same quality as the originals
8. Hush Puppies Gil
The collar on these shoes is padded, which your ankles will be very happy about. Furthermore, the closure is adjustable, meaning that you can make them as tight or loose as you need them to be. Even more, they come in a wide selection of sizes and widths, so you can be sure to find the best fit.
The footbed of these shoes is made out of EVA foam which is contoured with an open cell mesh cover, meaning that it will hug your feet and provide you with the necessary support. If, however, you do not need this feature, this is removable, so you can just use your own insoles. Furthermore, the outsole is made out of Zero G rubber which is very lightweight, provides traction, and makes walking in these very easy - one of the reasons the elderly absolutely love these shoes.
Cost and Value
These shoes do not come cheap, but you are looking at a product that was built to last you a considerable amount of time. The upper is leather, which means that with the correct care it can last a long time, while the soles are made out of EVA foam which is durable, and rubber which will prove to be appropriate on almost all surfaces.
- Hook and loop (velcro) closure
- Leather upper
- Contoured footbed
- Provide great traction
- Four times lighter than the average shoe
- Run a bit large, so choose size carefully
- More expensive than most shoes on this list
9. Dansko Professional Mule
If you opt for these shoes, you can expect several features that were designed to maximize your level of comfort. These include a padded collar which is crucial as these will be held on your feet through this part of the shoe, a roomy reinforced toe box, and a heel that is supposed to fit in a way that allows it to easily slip off. This means that the size you need is the one which allows about a finger’s width between the back of your foot and the shoe heel. It may take some time getting used to your heel slipping out, but that’s what actually makes these shoes so comfy.
Rocker Bottom Outsoles
The PU outsoles on these shoes feature a rocker bottom which will propel your feet forward when taking a step, something that can come in quite handy if you easily tire. Furthermore, these shoes are great at shock absorption, and the inner frame will reduce torque and offer stability.
Cost and Value
These shoes are the most expensive item on this list, however, they will last a long time, with user reports of them having lasted for over five years. Another great feature is the fact that they are easily cleaned - you can just wipe them with a damp cloth to remove any dirt that may have accumulated through use.
- Roomy fit will not constrict your swollen feet
- Padded collar for added comfort
- Shock absorbing PU outsole
- Wide heel offers stability when walking
- Easily cleaned
- Quite heavy compared to other shoes on this list
- Leather may need to be oiled to avoid cracking
10. Nike Free Flyknit 4.0
These shoes are supposed to feel like you are wearing nothing but socks, and they do great to achieve this. Additionally, the toe box is roomy which means your toes will not feel constricted in them. What this means for you if you have swollen feet and ankles is this: the fabric is stretchy, and will adapt to your feet, while you can still adjust the fit with the shoelaces. So, these will be comfortable, but will provide a secure fit so that you can take them for a run.
Excellent Stability and Cushioning
As you would expect from a running shoe by Nike, these rate high when it comes to cushioning and stability. The latest update to the soles features a hexagonal design which provides you with one of the most flexible shoes you can get, while still giving you some firm cushioning in the forefoot and heel.
Cost and Value
As expected for any shoe made by Nike, these are expensive. However, for the price you pay you receive a top quality shoe that not only looks and feels great, but will see you through a considerable period of time.
- Several stylish colors for men and women
- Woven upper that adapts to your feet
- Very light at 7.6 oz
- Flexible and supportive soles
- Offer great stability
- Better for narrow feet
- Not everyone can wear them without socks
Whether you are suffering from edema because you are pregnant, suffering from the consequences of a sprain or injury, or have a more serious condition that causes your feet to swell, the pair of shoes you choose to wear day in and day out is crucial. These shoes need to fit you perfectly, while allowing for some expansion without any features which will constrict you or cut into your feet. In addition to this, it’s important that your shoes are light so that your movement is not made even harder, and that you can slip them on and off easily.
Whichever style listed in this article you choose, you won’t go wrong as long as you make sure that your specific needs are met. For even more information, you can consult the Criteria for Evaluation and Frequently Asked Questions sections which will give you more in-depth information about how to select the best footwear for you.
Criteria for Evaluating the Best Shoes for Swollen Ankles and Feet
It’s very possible that you, like almost 50% of adults in America, suffer from edema which is the swelling of the feet and ankles due to various reasons. If this is the case, and you notice that lately your regular footwear has become tighter than usual, the first thing you need to do is pinpoint the reason for this change. Does your job require you to stand or walk for prolonged periods of time? Is your current pair of everyday shoes constricting your feet? It may be that you live in a place that is hot, and that your feet are expanding due to heat and humidity, but you could also be suffering from an injury such as a sprain, fracture or even achilles tendonitis that has not been treated, or is still in the recovering process. Women, particularly during pregnancy and PMS are susceptible to swelling, as are the elderly, but it is also possible that you are experiencing these symptoms due to an underlying medical condition connected to the heart, kidneys, liver or vascular system. Another factor that can contribute to swelling is obesity, so make sure that you are following a healthy meal plan and are getting enough exercise every week. If you are not sure why your feet and ankles have started to become swollen, visit a doctor to rule out any serious medical conditions.
Regardless of the reason behind your discomfort, it is important to do simple things which will not worsen the swelling, or cause you to be in pain. This includes choosing the right footwear – ideally a pair of shoes that is roomy, allows for enough stretch, offers support and is stable. High heels are out of the question, but luckily there is plenty of footwear out there that will meet these requirements, and our top 10 choices can be found on the list above. While compiling this list we looked at several factors, including reviews by people who also suffer from edema.
Flexible Upper Material
The most important thing you have to do if you have swollen feet is to treat them well, which includes comfortable shoes. Now, the size of a shoe can be easily determined based on the length and width of your feet, but what makes footwear really comfortable or just ill-fitting is the shape and material of the portion that covers your entire foot. This is why it’s crucial to choose footwear that is made out of soft materials that won’t constrict, and that will, ideally, allow for some stretch to accommodate the unique needs of your feet. Luckily, you can choose from a variety of materials for the upper of your shoes, and find the perfect fit just for you.
Leather is one of the most popular materials used to make shoes, and has been for a long time. It’s an excellent choice because it is durable, and can be treated in various ways in order to achieve different properties. But what makes it a good choice for you is that it is elastic, breathable and soft to the touch, which allows your swollen feet to expand as needed. Now, the harder the leather, the less elasticity it will have, so make sure to choose shoes which are made out of top grain leather which is softer than full grain. Suede and nubuck shoes are an excellent choice seeing that these materials will stretch with time and wear, and will mold to your feet. The downside is that they need to be treated with special products in order to achieve water repelling properties, as well as to keep dirt away.
Canvas is another great choice for your shoes, as it is lighter than leather, breathable, and depending on the type of canvas, can allow for quite a bit of stretch. The amount of stretch greatly depends on the type of weaving that has been done on the fabric – woven fabric is used for more sturdy, traditional, shoes, and knit fabric is often used on sports footwear that is expected to be more flexible. When choosing canvas shoes, you need to take into consideration the type of weaving and thread used, as some will prove to be better than others, but you also want to look at the design of the shoe. Does it look particularly narrow? Does it have a low profile? Does the pair of shoes you are looking at have any elastic closures, or laces that will work to allow you a better, more customized fit? Are parts of the shoe made out of mesh or similar material that will allow more stretch and breathability? These are all aspects that you should consider in order to make sure the shoes you purchase are, indeed, a good fit if you have edema.
Finally, you can also get a pair of rubber shoes, but make sure that these are a type of sandal. Although flexible, rubber will hardly mold to your feet, rather it will allow movement, then bounce back to its original shape. You can take advantage of this with shoes such as clogs or flip-flops which are roomy or open enough for your feet to be able to expand in them, but which won’t lose their shape, however, it’s crucial that you get a pair that is big enough to allow for swelling. There is nothing worse than being stuck in a pair of shoes that have no laces or closures that you can’t loosen after a long day of wear.
Even if you have chosen footwear that is made out of supple, flexible materials, there are still parts of the shoe which will have to be harder, due to construction or materials used. Any place that has stitching or involves two types of material coming together will, inevitably be bulkier than the rest of the shoe, and this extra bulk may prove to be the place where your shoes bother you the most. The thing about living your day-to-day life with edema is that you know that your feet will be expanding, and even though you cannot prevent them from touching parts of your shoes, you can make sure that these parts are padded well enough to be gentle to the touch.
Straps, for example, can be great as they will usually mean that you opted for a pair of shoes that is open, and that allows for some extra breathing space. But if these straps are rough, you could be doing more harm than good, setting yourself up for blisters. Too much padding, on the other hand, may create additional bulk and take away precious space in your favourite pair of shoes. That’s why you need to look at the padding that is provided in your footwear of choice, be they sandals, sneakers or even a pair of moccasins designed especially for swollen feet.
Some shoe types will not need much. For example, Birkenstock sandals feature suede padding that provides just enough softness to ensure your feet stay comfortable throughout the day. Others will use padding generously with foam, gel or sponge components, strategically placed to those parts of the shoe which could give you trouble. Before purchasing any pair of shoes, check the heel and tongue, as these are generally places where you might encounter some problems. Another good place to have some extra padding, especially if your ankles are swelling as well, is all the cuffs of your shoes, particularly the achilles notch which may prove to be cutting into the backs of your heels, making it impossible to spend any prolonged period of time wearing your shoes.
You may want your shoes to fit for comfort reasons, but there’s another very important aspect why you don’t just slip on a pair of clogs when going on your morning run, and that’s safety. Laces, straps and all closures are there to make your shoes hug your feet, ensuring that they stay on through any activity you may decide to undertake during the day. But, when you are suffering from swelling in your feet, these closures may make or break your chosen footwear, and you want to be looking at the way in which they can work best for you.
Laces are an excellent feature to have on any pair of shoes, because they will allow you to (almost) fully customize the fit. Look for shoes with more flexible laces, preferably ones made out of a woven material, rather than leather. This will ensure that they are softer, easier to handle and that they will allow for some stretch without easily coming undone. Furthermore, look at the placement of the laces – you don’t want to be stuck with a pair of lace-up shoes where the laces are just there for decorative purposes. You will be wanting the eyelets to start as low on the shoe as possible, which will allow you to tighten or loosen the fit more freely.
In case you have mobility issues, or prefer not to be hassled with lengthy fit adjustments, hook and loop closures (more widely known as Velcro) are another excellent choice. There’s a reason why these are so popular amongst kids and the elderly, and that’s the fact that they are easily adjustable, and you can do this as many times during the day as necessary. The ability to do this can come in particularly handy if you are experiencing swelling due to long hours spent standing or walking, which is making the swelling gradual throughout the day.
Finally, if you make the choice to purchase a pair of sandals, it’s a great thing for them to have adjustable straps. These can make or break a shoe, as you might want your forefoot to fit snugly, while allowing for more space in your arch or heel area, or even vice versa. These types of closures, just like laces and hook and loop closures, can also be adjusted as needed, which brings us to the conclusion that what you really need in your shoes is flexibility – not just in the materials, but also in the fit, as the ideal pair of shoes will be versatile enough to take you from morning until night without ever leaving you feel constricted.
The aesthetic qualities of your shoes may be important, but you need to be aware that some designs will work better if you suffer from edema. We have mentioned it before, and will say it again – high heels are out of the question, but so are other limiting features such as pointed toes, low profile shoes, heavy boots with steel toes or any footwear in which the soles are made in a way to direct your stance in an unnatural way. As a rule, your ideal shoe will have plenty of wiggle space, especially in the toe box and through the metatarsal area which will help prevent issues such as blisters, corns, bunions, neuroma, and others.
Shoes with a high profile can work great as they are less likely to press down on your feet, and the added room can allow for free movement and more breathability. Clogs are a particularly good choice, especially for this reason, and it’s no surprise that medical professionals will be wearing them even for double shifts and through lengthy procedures where they are required to stay on their feet. An added bonus to this type of shoe is that they are breathable and easy to slip on and off as needed – plus, there is no hazard of tripping over untied laces.
Finally, there’s a few more things you want from a truly great pair of shoes. Cushioning and support are features you want to be looking into, because these can make sure the swelling and pain you are experiencing isn’t coming from lack of support, or from too much shock on your muscles and bones. A lot of shoes will offer features such as arch support or deeper heel cups, which promote correct posture and ensure proper alignment that can take much pressure off your feet, ankles, knees and hips.
A cushioning sole is also good to have, as many people tend to walk or run in ways which put too much stress on the heel, or other parts of the foot, and consequently on the rest of their musculoskeletal frame. Whether you decide to go with EVA foam soled shoes, rubber, or something with a memory foam insole, you can be sure that the added softness will come in very handy on a long walk or a whole day of wearing shoes.
Last but not least, you want to purchase stable shoes – ones which will not allow you to easily roll your ankles, or slip on surfaces. Look for soles which have anti-slip properties, or shoes on which the bottoms have grooves that will provide traction on various surfaces. Do not opt for shoes with high platforms, as these can tend to be quite heavy in addition to limiting your feel of the ground, opening up possibilities for misplaced steps, sprains and even more serious injuries.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q: Should I buy a larger size of shoes if I suffer from swollen feet and ankles?
A: As a general rule, no, you shouldn’t. Instead, make sure that you are purchasing the right design that will work for your feet. Look for roomier shoes that allow more wiggle space in the front, or shoes made out of softer, stretchier materials that will allow for your feet to swell throughout the day.
Q: What materials will the best shoes for swollen feet be made out of?
A: There is not one correct answer to this question that will apply to everyone. You need to be thinking about your general preferences. Do you feel more comfortable with shoes that are open? Do you like canvas, or do you prefer a more athletic shoe made out of mesh or knit fabric? Maybe suede works great for you. Think about what you feel most comfortable in, and go from there. The perfect pair of shoes is not easy to find, but a good way to do this is to eliminate the features you know won’t work for you.
Q: What other things can I do to reduce the swelling in my feet?
A: Other than wearing a good pair of shoes, there is a number of things you can do to make your life easier. Elevation is one, and you can do this by putting a few blocks under the foot of your bed. Exercise is another key factor, so make sure you stand up and walk around every hour, as this will promote circulation. You can take baths with epsom salts, or soak your feet after a long day. Regulate your diet and stay away from salty foods which tend to make you retain water. Finally, you need to pinpoint the reason for the swelling that is bothering you. The best way to do so is to consult with your physician in order to eliminate more serious causes such as heart, kidney, liver or vascular disease.
Q: How do I buy shoes for someone who is suffering from edema?
A: If you are looking to buy a pair of shoes for a relative of friend who is bothered by swollen feet, you first need to find out their shoe size and width. Look at the shoes they are already wearing and talk to them about what it is they like, or that is making them uncomfortable. Make sure you choose a pair of shoes that will allow plenty of room, and that is, ideally, made out of a material that stretches and molds to the foot easily enough so as not to require too much breaking in.