Plantar fasciitis, an inflammation of tissue at the bottom of the foot, is all too common in modern life. It has a reputation for being a real pain in the foot (excuse the pun), since it rarely subsides on its own and makes your favourite activities uncomfortable to do. However, this troublesome condition is fairly easy to treat with a combination of treatments, one of them being orthotic support. This post will take a look at the best types of shoes (and brands), sandals and slippers to help support those who live with plantar fasciitis.
Plantar Fasciitis 101
If you’re unfamiliar with how plantar fasciitis develops, you might wonder why this miserable condition chose you. It occurs when the plantar fascia, a thick band of fibrous tissue running across the bottom of your feet, gets inflamed. This band of tissue connects the heel bone to your toes, and it supports your muscles, toes and the arch of your feet.
Without this band of tissue, walking, running and jumping would be unsupported and painful due to a lack of shock absorption. But like all human body parts, they’re subject to wear and tear. When the plantar fascia gets stretched too much, they develop tiny tears that cause inflammation and pain.
- Pain that occurs at the bottom of your foot or near your heel
- Pain that’s more severe in the morning (usually after waking up)
- Pain that worsens after carrying heavy weight
- Pain that worsens after exercise or activity
- Pain that alleviates with rest
- Pain that causes heel swelling and stiffness
- Pain that intensifies when stretching the foot
As was mentioned above, plantar fasciitis stems from inflammation of the plantar fascia. There is no singular reason for this happening, because we all acquire wear-and-tear on these tissues. But it would seem that some people are more prone to developing it than others. They include:
- People with poor foot mechanics due to flat feet/low arches, gait abnormalities and underpronation
- Middle-aged adults (40-60 years old) are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis
- Obesity, which puts excessive weight and strain on plantar fascia, increases one’s risk of developing the condition
- Athletes who engage in high impact exercise/sports are more likely to develop the condition
- Individuals who stand or walk for many hours on hard surfaces at their jobs are more likely to develop plantar fasciitis
Treating plantar fasciitis is largely case-dependent. The mildest forms of it can improve with rest, over-the-counter painkillers, and physiotherapy. The most severe cases, ones that don’t improve after 6 to 12 months, may require surgery.
Orthotic solutions sit in the middle of the plantar fasciitis treatment spectrum. This includes both orthotic shoes for men and women as well as custom orthotic insoles that go into your shoes. They provide direct support for the foot and can reduce the strain and pain of plantar fasciitis.
Orthotic Requirements for Sufferers of Plantar Fasciitis
Of course, not all orthotic solutions will do. You can forget about buying cheap orthotic inserts at the local pharmacy or run-of-the-mill sneakers at your favourite shoe stores. The most effective orthotic solutions for plantar fasciitis need to provide a few benefits for them to be worth your money.
When choosing orthotic solutions for plantar fasciitis, arch support is the most crucial feature to look for. Flat feet or low arches allow the foot to sit too close to the ground, which can lead to over pronation and put excessive strain on the plantar fascia. The best way to keep arches higher is by providing them with arch support.
Sole Cushioning/Shock Absorption
Plantar fasciitis pain can make you miserable and taking pain medicine is merely a band-aid solution. That’s why your orthotics should have some sort of sole cushioning to compensate. Sole cushioning helps to ease the pain that you might feel in your heel, so that each step you take feels more comfortable. Superior shock absorption is essential for relief. The rule of thumb is that you want to feel like you’re walking on a cloud.
There’s a cliche saying that applies to all orthotic solutions: “you get what you pay for”. You can save a few bucks if you buy cheaply-priced orthotics, but that means cheap materials that provide little, if any support and cushioning. To make matters worse, they’re likely to wear out sooner. High-quality materials cost more, but they provide long-lasting support that can nurture your feet throughout the course of having plantar fasciitis. Which one would you rather have?
Top Brands for Plantar Fasciitis
With those attributes in mind, we’ll be quite transparent with you that some brands are better for plantar fasciitis sufferers than others. That’s not to say that they’re only ones to look to for support, but some brands produce footwear and custom orthotic solutions that seem more favourable among sufferers. Here’s a look at some of the better brands.
Plantar Fasciitis Friendly Brands
- Aetrex - Aetrex creates orthotic shoes for men and women that feature innovative foam and cushioning technology (and design) that improves arch form and development.
- New Balance - They’re more than just the leader of making “dad shoes”. New Balance provides a wide range of performance-focused shoes that support healthy athletic movements such as running and jumping, which is a welcome feature for plantar fasciitis sufferers.
- Hoka One One - Hoka is well known for their outsoles and footbeds, which happen to provide some of the best shock absorption on the market.
- Brooks - Thanks to their focus on biomechanics, Brooks has developed an extensive selection of shoes that are built with cushioned and durable midsoles that provide great relief for plantar fasciitis.
- ECCO - Many of ECCO’s footwear combine the best of all worlds for plantar fasciitis sufferers. Shock absorption, superior cushioning, lightweight construction - you name it, you can find them in a pair of ECCOs.
Control Plantar Fasciitis Before it Controls You
Plantar fasciitis can make the most routine tasks and activities a burden if you don’t treat it. But keeping the pain and inflammation of plantar fasciitis under control is simple with the right methods. Orthotic solutions and orthotic shoes for men and women will support your feet biomechanically, so that it doesn’t get worse.
Also, rest, pain medication and light exercises (recommended by a physiotherapist) will bring added relief. With a little time and persistence, these methods will allow your foot to heal so that you can get back to whatever your “normal” is.
Looking for a pair of orthotic friendly shoes for plantar fasciitis but unsure where to start? Get in touch with us to help you find the perfect fit!