Feeling a bit of muscle soreness is a normal part of running, but if that soreness starts to morph into consistent pain, then there might be something else happening in your body. One of the most common injuries that runners experience is plantar fasciitis, which is characterized by sharp pains in the bottom of the foot and usually localized around the heel.
Plantar fasciitis can be extremely painful and it can make it difficult to take even those first few steps when you get out of bed, let alone continue with your training program. But plantar fasciitis isn't a career-ending injury: there are certain types of running shoes that can help alleviate this condition, giving you the best chance at not only healing, but also preventing it from coming back.
What is Plantar Fasciitis?
The plantar fascia is a band of tissue that collects the base of the toes to the heel bone, supporting the arch of your foot and helping to absorb shock from impact. Plantar fasciitis occurs when repeated stretching and tearing of this band leads to painful inflammation.
This injury can occur without an obvious reason, but some commonalities among folks who are prone to plantar fasciitis can include:
- Doing work that keeps you on your feet for long periods of time
- Foot mechanics, like flat/high arches or an atypical stride
- Certain types of exercise, including dancing and - you guessed it - running
Most people can manage and heal plantar fasciitis through stretching, controlling inflammation with medication and/or ice therapy, and supporting the muscles in the foot as they reintroduce movement and exercise. The right pair of running shoes can certainly help as well, but be sure to always meet with a doctor or specialist before returning to running after an injury.
Our Top Shoe Picks for Plantar Fasciitis
There are a few running-shoe features that can benefit plantar fasciitis sufferers as they hit the road to recovery:
- Plenty of shock-absorbing cushion to relieve pain and pressure
- Adequate arch support, tailored to the shape of your foot (an insole is an excellent option)
- A firm heel counter
- A wide base for added support
- A higher heel drop can relieve load on your calf/lower leg
So which pairs check all the boxes? Although it's important to remember that the best pair of shoes for any runner is specific to their foot mechanics, stride, and injury history, here are a few of our top running shoe picks to consider if you're struggling with plantar fasciitis.
Hoka Clifton or Bondi
Hoka is a good choice for people with plantar fasciitis. The thick stack of foam absorbs impact while still being firm enough to provide support, and the wide base encourages a natural stride while you're walking or running. The Clifton 8 or Bondi 7 are natural selections, but for those who need a stability shoe for overpronation, the Arahi 5 would work as well. Need a safe choice for race day? The Carbon X and Bondi X feature lots of cushioning and a carbon plate, perfectly blending support with speed.
We often recommend a high-drop shoe for those dealing with plantar fasciitis (8 mm or higher), so be sure to talk with an expert about your stride and previous success with low-drop shoes (less than 6 mm) before choosing a Hoka.
Saucony Triumph or Hurricane
Both of these shoes have extra-plush cushioning, which will give sore feet some much-needed relief, and a structured, supportive upper to hold the foot in place. The Hurricane features a high level of arch support, which makes it a great shoe for people who overpronate or need additional stability. Saucony's shoes tend to fit generously, making them popular among runners who need a wider toe box.
ASICS Gel-Nimbus or Gel-Kayano
The Gel-Nimbus and Gel-Kayano from ASICS are widely regarded as some of the best foot-stabilizing shoes on the market, making them a prime choice for plantar fasciitis sufferers. They are designed with support and comfort in mind, helping to keep your body in alignment whether you're standing, walking, or running. The Gel-Nimbus will work for neutral runners, while we recommend the Gel-Kayano for people who need a stability shoe with extra medial support.
New Balance 1080 or 860
New balance uses a unique honeycomb shape in their foam that provides the perfect landing pad for folks with sore feet, and the unique shape of the heel cup and firm, yet flexible, mesh upper provide incredible stability. The additional arch support in the New Balance 860 makes it a great choice for those who need some extra stability.
Insoles Versus Orthotics
When it comes to severe injury and pain, it's always a good idea to see your doctor to talk about treatment options. We help many people find shoes that work seamlessly with their orthotics so they can have the best chance at enjoying pain-free running.
If you're not using an orthotic, an insole can be an excellent compliment to your running shoes. Insoles, like the ones we carry from Currex, provide plenty of arch support to relieve tension, while also being flexible enough to help strengthen the foot muscles. They also have targeted cushioning in the heel and ball of the foot for added comfort.
Get Fitted for the Right Shoes at BlackToe Running
No matter your foot shape, stride, or injury history, we can help you find the best shoes for your needs. Stop by to visit us in-store or book a virtual running shoe assessment to meet with one of our expert BlackToe team members today!