- What Is The Link Between Running and Plantar Fasciitis?
- Best Running Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis Comparison Chart
- Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis Reviews
- 1. New Balance Men’s 608v5
- 2. Salomon Women’s XR Mission Running Shoe
- 3. Skechers – Mens Energy – After Burn Sneakers for Plantar Fasciits
- 4. ASICS Women’s Gel-Cumulus 19 Running Shoe
- 5. Saucony Men’s Cohesion 10 Running Shoe
- 6. Brooks Women’s Running Shoes
- 7. ASICS Men’s Gel-Kayano 24 Running Shoes
- 8. Brooks Women’s Levitate Running Shoe
- 9. Brooks Mens Adrenaline GTS 20 Running Shoe
- 10. Nike Air Max Sequent 3 Womens Running Shoes
- 11. NIKE Men’s Free Run Distance
- 12. ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 6 Running-Shoes
- Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis vs. Tennis Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis vs. Regular Shoes
- Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis Buying Guide
- FAQ About Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
- Wrap Up
Whether you like jogging in the morning before work to stay fit, enjoy a base run along the river in the evenings, or you’re preparing for yet another marathon, a good pair of running shoes is the single most important piece of gear you should get. As a runner, you’re at risk of injury with every mile you cross, so having a high quality, responsive, and well-cushioned shoe is paramount to keep yourself safe. This is especially true if you are already dealing with plantar fasciitis. This condition can be pesky and painful, but it doesn’t have to stop you from running entirely. With the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis, you can be able to hit the track without pain, and without fear that your condition will get worse.
Let’s dive right in and discuss all you need to know about picking the right pair of running shoes.
What Is The Link Between Running and Plantar Fasciitis?
Even though it seems like such a natural, innate action, running is far from easy. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for speed or endurance, running is a constant battle with yourself to push forward, to go a bit farther.
However, plantar fasciitis often gets in the way of runners. This condition affects plantar fascia, the long, thick ligaments at the bottom of your feet that serve as shock absorbers when you walk, jump, run, and even stand. In essence – whenever you take a step, the plantar fascia takes the hit so that your body doesn’t suffer from the impact. Too much stress, however, can cause deterioration in the ligament, causing pain in your heels and arches. So it makes sense that, as we already mentioned, this condition is very common among runners.
It all comes down to the way your feet strike the ground when you run. It does matter which part of the foot you land on because it will take the biggest part of the impact.
- Forefoot strike – You land on the forefoot (your toes or the ball of the foot) first, and heel follows.
- Midfoot strike – Your foot lands flat so that the entire foot touches the ground. This is considered the ideal running form.
- Heel strike – The heel lands first, and the rest of the foot follows in a pivoting motion. This is the most common, yet the most harmful way of running.
There’s no clear answer to why most people use the heel strike when running, even though it’s the most likely way to gain injuries. There are several theories as to why, but one thing is for sure: heel strike is “the right way” of walking.
The reason why this habit is good for walking but bad for running lies in the way your weight is distributed among your legs in the two actions. Whenever you take a step when strolling, you shift your weight onto the front leg gradually, after it already made contact with the ground – up to that point, you’ve been leaning on the leg that’s now behind. Running is different – once your front foot lands, your back foot has already been lifted off the ground, putting the entirety of your body weight on that single point that strikes the ground when you run – either the heel, the midfoot, or the forefoot. Naturally, this sudden shift in weight and the speed at which weight is being transferred from one foot to another creates a lot of impact with every stride on your run. That is one of the reasons why runners get plantar fasciitis more often, and those that don’t cushion their feet well get the worst consequences.
So, what can you do?
Wearing a well-built pair of sneakers for plantar fasciitis on a regular basis – when you’re running errands or just taking a stroll – will help your feet recover even when you’re not running. However, keeping your feet safe from further harm when during a run is even more important.
Getting a good pair of running shoes is the single most effective way to both prevent and battle plantar fasciitis when you run. A well-built running shoe will break down the impact and reduce the shock that reaches your foot.
However, if you’re a heel striker, in the long run, you would benefit the most from working on changing your striking habits. This is hard in the beginning, but it can quickly become your default when you realize how much more comfortable midfoot or forefoot strike is.
Best Running Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis Comparison Chart
New Balance Men’s 608v5
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Salomon Women’s XR Mission Running Shoe
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Skechers – Mens Energy – After Burn Sneakers for Plantar Fasciits
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ASICS Women’s Gel-Cumulus 19 Running Shoe
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Saucony Men’s Cohesion 10 Running Shoe
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Brooks Women’s Running Shoes
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Best Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis Reviews
1. New Balance Men’s 608v5
We’re sure you’ve heard about New Balance, the legendary brand of sneakers and running shoes. Here we have a great men’s model designed for running and working out.
The upper of this shoe is made out of manmade leather, with some bits of exposed mesh and perforation for improved breathability. This choice of material makes this model very protective, but not great for running in the summer heat.
The outsole of this model is made out of rubber and it features optimized arrow-shaped lugs, which are not very deep, making this shoe good for running on the road. You can even wear these indoors without worrying you’ll scuff your hardwood floors since the rubber is non-marking. The midsole is made out of a thick layer of dual-density EVA, and it features a 10 mm heel to toe drop. A unique feature of these running shoes is an internal shank, which ensures that the shoe bends at the right spot and that it never twists. The shoe includes a removable PU insert. Overall, the sole is very cushy, so your feet will feel comfortable.
You can get these in several colors. They’re available in a huge variety of sizes: 6.5 through 18, with each size being available in medium, wide, and extra-wide.
- Great stability with dual density EVA
- Huge size and width variety available
- Not very breathable
2. Salomon Women’s XR Mission Running Shoe
If you’re in search of a colorful women’s model that can take you breezing over light trails out in nature, Salomon has got a cushy running shoe that will also protect your feet for you.
This colorful shoe will make you stand out, even at night, so you’ll stay safe even with reduced visibility. With its upper made out of a combination of mesh and manmade leather, this shoe is breathable, but it feels very sturdy. In fact, it also has a toe piece that will protect your toes if you happen to bang them on a rock or a shrub. You don’t need to worry about stepping on sharp rocks or twigs: a rock plate, made out of thermoplastic urethane, is there right under your foot for protection.
But don’t worry, even with the rock plate, your strides won’t be uncomfortable. With generous EVA cushioning, this running shoe absorbs shock, and the manufacturer’s original Contragrip rubber outsole with fairly deep, multidirectional lugs is there to give you good traction. A possible issue with this shoe is its unique shoelace, which might be difficult to replace.
These come in a few color schemes, and you can get them in sizes 5 through 12.
- Rock plate protects your feet from stepping on rocks
- Generous EVA cushioning
- The shoelaces are hard to replace
3. Skechers – Mens Energy – After Burn Sneakers for Plantar Fasciits
Whether you’re running down a track or jumping on a basketball court, you need thick, solid protection, and this classic model by Sketchers provides just that.
With its upper made completely out of synthetic leather (including the tongue), this shoe provides a lot of protection to your entire foot. However, this sturdy material isn’t the most breathable. On the inside, the shoe is lined with soft fabric.
This is a heavy shoe, so it might not improve your speed, but it will surely help your feet feel stable on the ground. If you’re looking for something that feels like walking on pillows, look elsewhere, but the EVA midsole of this running shoe provides a lot of support, stability, and good shock-absorption. The heel is big and chunky, and the shoe also provides high-quality arch support.
This men’s model is available in sizes between 6.5 and 16, and you can get it in several black and white combinations, or even with red or navy details.
- A solid, supportive shoe with a 1 ½ inch heel and a 1 ¼ inch platform
- Good shock absorption at the heel
- Not very breathable
4. ASICS Women’s Gel-Cumulus 19 Running Shoe
Gel-Cumulus 19 is a legendary road running shoe made by Asics. While newer versions of this shoe do exist, loyal Asics customers swear by this classic model and claim that it’s the most comfortable version of the shoe on the market.
First of all, we have to notice the vivid yet stylish color combinations of these shoes. The material used for the upper is breathable mesh with synthetic reinforcements which add to the design of the shoe.
The patented FluidRide sole of the shoe is made out of a unique combination of materials, which includes Solyte (an original Asics foam), EVA, and gel pockets. The gel pockets are located both at the heel and the front of the foot. This combination creates the recognizable “cloudy” feeling and shock absorption. The shoe includes medial support to help your arches deal with the run, and the so-called Impact guidance system that helps runners get used to forefoot strike.
This model is available in medium, narrow, and wide in sizes 5 through 13, but the model runs a little small, so you might want to get half or a whole size bigger.
- Patented midsole technology for extra comfort
- Available in narrow, medium, and wide
- Runs small
5. Saucony Men’s Cohesion 10 Running Shoe
If you’re in search of a men’s running shoe that provides a great balance of support and flexibility, we recommend Cohesion 10 made by Saucony. You’ll be happy to know that this shoe is well made out of high-quality materials, yet it’s very affordable.
This good-looking jogging shoe is created to provide superb shock absorption, but it doesn’t feel very soft. The midsole is created out of injection-molded EVA, and it includes Saucony’s patented Heel GRID system which essentially acts like a trampoline for your heel, giving you that fluid bounce with every step. The rubber outsole is modeled with multi-directional lugs which give a good grip and enhance flexibility. The heel is slightly elevated at 1.1 inches, and the heel to toe drop measures 12 mm.
The upper of this shoe is made out of a breathable mesh material, which is reinforced with manmade leather details.
The shoe is available in several color combinations, and you can get it in sizes 7 through 14, in both medium and wide.
- EVA midsole with patented GRID technology for shock absorption
- Affordable model
- The midsole is not soft, but it absorbs shock
6. Brooks Women’s Running Shoes
Running on concrete or on a treadmill can hurt, especially with plantar fasciitis. That’s why the engineering team at Brooks created a super-cushy running shoe for supreme shock absorption.
The women’s Glycerin 16 model is created with the company’s own DNA LOFT midsole cushioning technology. The midsole is made out of an innovative material blend, which includes EVA, rubber, and air. The material gives you cushy softness that lasts much longer than a regular EVA midsole. The sole is quite thick, and it features a 10 mm drop. The shoe is designed for neutral gait.
When it comes to the shoe upper, it’s made out of a combined knit and mesh material. The result is a breathable, and partly stretchy fabric that adapts to the shape of your feet, and gives your toes a lot of wiggle room to stretch and move for improved natural stability.
The shoe is available in several beautiful color combinations, and you can find it in sizes 5 through 12, with medium, narrow, and extra narrow widths.
- A very soft and cushy midsole
- Stretchy, adaptable upper
- Not affordable
ASICS Men’s Gel-Kayano 24 Running Shoes
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Brooks Women’s Levitate Running Shoe
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Brooks Mens Adrenaline GTS 20 Running Shoe
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Nike Air Max Sequent 3 Womens Running Shoes
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NIKE Men’s Free Run Distance
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ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 6 Running-Shoes
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7. ASICS Men’s Gel-Kayano 24 Running Shoes
If you overpronate, you need a solid pair of running shoes that can provide great stability, but you shouldn’t sacrifice shock absorption and softness. Asics’ model Gel-Kayano 24 for men is a great shoe that delivers on both fronts.
In fact, this shoe was developed with overpronators in mind, with triple density midsole that provides solid arch and heel support. The midsole is made with Asics’ own FlyteFoam technology that’s embedded with Kevlar fibers for that perfect bounce back. The special material also makes the sole incredibly lightweight, yet very durable. The sole is flexible, and proper bending is reinforced with a plastic midfoot shank that helps reduce twisting as a result of overpronation. The heel to toe drop measures 10 mm. Your contact with the ground is also optimized with hard carbon rubber under the heel, and blown rubber helping your forefoot grip.
The top is a soft, breathable and stretchy knit and mesh material with a firm heel counter for better heel stability.
The shoe is available in many colors, and it comes in sizes 6 to 16, in medium, wide, and extra-wide.
- Cushioning made with custom FlyteFoam technology
- Created with a shank for overpronators
- Not very soft
8. Brooks Women’s Levitate Running Shoe
If you’re on a mission to find a shoe that makes you feel like you’re bouncing, we recommend looking into Levitate, the running shoe that premiered the DNA AMP technology by Brooks.
With the goal to find the recipe for the bounciest midsole that gives runners the benefit of great energy return, the Brooks engineering team has created DNA AMP tech for this running shoe. The new midsole design consists of a polyurethane midsole which is enveloped in a TPU membrane. Essentially, the rigid TPU doesn’t let the polyurethane expand, and since this material doesn’t decompress like EVA, the result is a springy ride that helps add extra lift to your stride. This innovative design and an 8 mm heel to toe drop can provide a lot of pain relief to people who suffer from plantar fasciitis, as it provides a lot of support and great shock absorption.
The upper is made out of an adaptable knit material that feels comfy, breathable, and lets your toes spread and grip naturally.
The model is available in many beautiful colors, and you can get it in sizes 5 through 12.
- Innovative polyurethane and TPU midsole
- Adaptable knit upper
- Cushioned heel counter was uncomfortable to some customers
9. Brooks Mens Adrenaline GTS 20 Running Shoe
Support comes in many shapes and forms, and Brooks took it a notch further in the 20th iteration in their Adrenaline GTS series. This running shoe is equipped with guide rails that can keep your gait pitch-perfect.
Let’s start at the top. This men’s shoe comes in many great color combinations, and the upper is made out of a flexible knit and mesh combination for ideal breathability and comfortable toe room. The upper is sturdy yet minimal, reducing the overall weight: 10.6 oz.
This shoe rocks the Brooks patented DNA Loft midsole. The technology is based around a special blend of EVA, rubber, and air – the combination of which has the softness of EVA, but the durability of rubber. On top of it is additional cushioning – the eco-friendly BioMoGo DNA. The unique feature in this model are Guide Rails, which are exactly what it sounds like – additional support on the sides that keeps your gait in check, not letting you overpronate or oversupinate. This has a positive effect on your arches, ankles, and knees.
The shoe is available in sizes 5 through 15, and you can get it in narrow, medium, wide, and extra-wide versions.
- Guide rails keep your gait in check
- Soft and supportive DNA Loft midsole technology
- Not very affordable
10. Nike Air Max Sequent 3 Womens Running Shoes
Nike’s Air Max is a famous line of athletic shoes, and Sequent 3 is a comfortable running shoe that has all the best qualities of the product line.
The upper of this road running shoe is made out of a comfy knit material. It adapts to the shape of your foot and gives your toes enough room to wiggle and spread for a better grip, even if they swell. The knit material is reinforced with rubber side and heel cups.
The soles of these shoes are almost entirely made out of a special material related to EVA called Phylon. This material is lightweight and flexible, and it provides great shock absorption. However, it’s slightly less durable than rubber, so the soles are partially reinforced with rubber elements on parts that suffer a lot of wear and tear. Additional cushioning is provided by the Air Max original U-shaped air bubble all around the heel area, which provides maximum cushioning and bounciness. The heel to toe drop measures 13 mm.
The shoe is available in sizes 5 through 11, and it comes in vivid, pastel, and elegant color variations.
- Phylon sole is soft, cushy, and lightweight
- Air bubble provides supreme cushioning
- The exposed air bubble might be a liability
11. NIKE Men’s Free Run Distance
Next up, we have a great road runner for men coming from the legendary Nike.
The upper of this running shoe is made out of a soft and adaptable knit material. It’s ready to accommodate the shape of your feet, and it provides premium breathability so your feet won’t feel like cooking even in the peak of summer.
This shoe provides great cushioning, even at its minimalist 4 mm heel to toe drop. The sole is made out of a combination of two types of alternated EVA foam: phylon and cushlon. Cushlon is very lightweight, and it runs the full length of the shoe. On the other hand, phylon is a bit heavier (still remarkably lightweight) and shock-absorbent, and in this shoe, it’s added under the heel to provide additional cushioning and support. Of course, as with many Nike models, this running shoe is additionally cushioned by air pockets, but this model rocks them on the forefoot, so this model provides more advantages to forefoot strikers. The outsole is reinforced with rubber for higher durability and better traction.
The shoe is available in sizes 8.5 through 11.5, but it runs a little short, so get half a size bigger than usual.
- Cushlon and phylon midsole provides good cushioning
- Minimalist 4 mm heel to toe drop
- Air pockets only under the forefoot
12. ASICS Women’s Gel-Venture 6 Running-Shoes
If you want to take on rugged terrain, do your feet a favor and get a pair of Asics Gel-Venture 6. This shoe provides great cushioning, and a specialized trail outsole.
The AHAR outsole is made out of rubber that’s highly resistant to abrasion, so it can withstand natural terrain. The specialized lugs that go front and back are designed to give you great uphill and downhill traction on the trail, so you can run without fear. This shoe is designed for neutral and underpronating runners. The EVA midsole is enriched with the Asics original gel cushioning that provides great shock absorption and keeps your feet safe during the entire run. The heel is not too thick at 0.8 inches, but it has a 10 mm drop from heel to toe.
The upper of the shoe is made out of mesh reinforced with stylish streaks of manmade rubber. This model comes in a huge variety of color combinations.
You can get these trail runners in sizes 5 through 14, and they come in both medium and wide.
- EVA midsole with additional gel cushioning
- Trail-specific rubber outsole with lugs
- The heel is less than an inch thick but well-cushioned
Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis vs. Tennis Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis vs. Regular Shoes
There’s a huge market for running shoes out there, so naturally, you might have a hard time picking the pair that suits you best. However, if you suffer from plantar fasciitis, some crucial factors separate good shoes from those that will just do more harm. The main differences between regular running shoes and those that are suitable for people with plantar fasciitis are shock absorbency, cushioning, heel and arch support, and the way they bend. In fact, these factors are crucial in any type of shoe, whether your special occasion dress shoes, hiking shoes, daily wear sneakers, or other sportswear like tennis shoes for plantar fasciitis.
1. Cushioning and Shock Absorbency
The most important aspect of any shoe for plantar fasciitis is superb cushioning. While they are recovering, your feet need all help they can get in taking the blow from taking steps – and that’s especially true for a high-impact activity like running.
There are many methods that running shoe manufacturers use to make your landing softer. The most common way throughout the shoe industry is through the use of thick layers of special synthetic materials that have supreme shock absorption – PU and EVA. On the other hand, we also have the recipe that’s nearly exclusive to the running and tennis shoe industries: air pockets under the heel. Both of these are successful at alleviating pain from plantar fasciitis, but you should keep in mind that more is not always better. In fact, moderate cushioning is important, since the shoe being too soft can be just as harmful as having no cushioning at all. That’s mostly because there’s another point that you have to add to the mix to get a shoe that will truly help a person with plantar fasciitis (and is also important for healthy feet): arch and heel support. The most important job of your shoes is helping your feet handle your weight when walking, so good heel and arch support is another paramount factor that good running (or any other type) shoes need to have.
The design of running shoes, especially those with a higher heel to toe drop, is quite clever. It allows the shoe to bend at the ball of the foot (as is the most biomechanically sound way of running), while at the same time not allowing your arches or heels to slide out of place. This is extremely important for runners because bad bending habits can cause many issues with the foot over time. A similar design can be found in sneakers for plantar fasciitis.
At the same time as providing good forefoot flexibility, your running shoes should also prevent overpronation. In essence, this is when your foot leans inwards, putting more weight on the inner part of the foot (where your big toe is) than the outer edge. This kind of “rolling in” is common among people who have flat feet, and running footwear with special stability support is designed specifically for people who need running shoes for flat feet. This is also very important for tennis shoes for plantar fasciitis which has additional ankle support because tennis players jump from side to side.
Shoe types that allow heavier weight (such as the models in our hiking boots for plantar fasciitis reviews) often have a shank – a metal centerpiece inside the sole that prevents bending at the heel and twisting inwards or outwards. Since lighter weight and flexibility is an important factor in running shoes, different stabilization methods are used. For example, one of the most common ways that running shoe makers prevents overpronation is called a medial post, and it’s essentially increased arch support – which can be quite helpful to most people who suffer from plantar fasciitis.
In addition to good cushioning, arch support, and proper bending, running shoes need to have an outsole that provides a great grip on various surfaces. In fact, you will come across options designed for different types of running surfaces – from road, running track, to pathways out in the nature. This is the main reason why you can’t wear tennis shoes for plantar fasciitis even if you have them – tennis shoes are designed for use on tennis courts, which have a very grippy top layer. This allows tennis shoes to have almost smooth outsoles without or with very shallow lugs – a feature that would almost certainly result in slipping on a running track.
Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis Buying Guide
A great pair of running shoes will help you push that extra mile. But when you suffer from plantar fasciitis, even a single step can become overwhelming. Don’t worry – you can feel the joy of running again if you get a pair of running shoes that are built to help people who deal with the same issue. But finding the right pair is not as easy as it sounds – after all, even without plantar fasciitis, there are almost as many different pairs of shoes as there are different pairs of feet. There are a couple of important aspects that you should consider when choosing your next pair.
1. The Sole Build
We already mentioned how important a high-quality sole is for someone who has plantar fasciitis. In fact, that is the single most important factor that differentiates running shoes for plantar fasciitis from your regular, run off the mill pair of running shoes.
The sole of almost any type of shoe is composed out of three parts: the outsole that touches the ground, the midsole that provides support, and the insole (or the footbed) that cradles your foot. Let’s take a look at each part separately.
1.1. The Insole
The insoles, also called the footbeds, are in direct contact with your feet, so naturally, you want them to be as comfortable as possible.
Running shoe insoles are usually thin, and they need to be made out of moisture-wicking materials to reduce the consequences of sweating. While it’s normal to sweat while running, it’s paramount to let the insoles dry completely before wearing them again to avoid bacterial and fungal infections like athlete’s foot. If you have this issue, you should also consider getting a pair of socks for sweaty feet for your runs.
Removable insoles are a great feature for any kind of shoes. When you can take the insole out, it’s easier to take care of it and let it dry properly. Additionally, people who suffer from plantar fasciitis can get prescription or custom orthotics that can be inserted into your shoes instead of the generic insole. Getting a podiatrist’s prescription or custom insoles will greatly aid your recovery, so we highly recommend doing it and getting a pair of running shoes where you can put your own insole. Finally, an insole that you can replace can improve shoe durability, since insoles are often the first to go when it comes to wear and tear.
Finally, you should consider getting shoes with contoured insoles. Typically, the contours include a heel cup and medial (arch) support. A heel cup will keep your heel in place and prevent injury because the material envelops the heel. On the other hand, a protruding or simply denser foam right under your arches will provide good support with every stride, and help to keep overpronation in check.
1.2. The Midsole
As the name suggests, the midsole is located between the insole and the outsole. This part of the shoe is responsible for giving your feet a comfy, cushioned ride. In fact, almost all of your shoe’s cushioning and support comes from this part of the sole, so it’s important to know what your options are. In general, most running shoes have their midsoles made either of a foamy material like EVA or Polyurethane, an air pocket system, or a gel-filled construction.
Midsoles made out of EVA are the most common type in the shoe industry, whether you’re talking about the best dress shoes for plantar fasciitis or the top-rated sandals for plantar fasciitis. This material is a compound that is very alike to foam in the sense that it has tiny bubbles of air trapped inside. These bubbles give the material its great shock absorption powers, which is the quality that makes it great for plantar fasciitis as well. In shoes with the so-called dual-density midsoles, the foam is softer on high impact areas and more dense and hard on the medial post – the area right under your arches. This area with harder (and sometimes protruding) foam provides good arch support. EVA is very flexible and soft, but its downside is that it compresses over time, so it becomes harder with use.
Polyurethane (PU) is less common as a standalone midsole material, but it does accompany EVA in many running shoe models. This material is also a type of foam, but it’s much denser and harder than EVA. However, it does have better durability and provides a fair amount of shock absorption, so it’s commonly used as a bottom part of the midsole in combination with EVA at the top for a great mix of softness and durable support.
1.2.3. Air Pockets
Developed in the late 1970s by Nike, the air pocket is a popular way of cushioning a runner’s or a jumper’s landing with every step. In most cases, the technology includes a flexible bag filled with pressurized nitrogen gas inside the midsole. Typically, this air pocket is located under the heel, under the ball of the foot, or both – depending on the preferred strike of the runner. Air pockets provide good cushioning, shock absorption, and bounce for runners. However, whether or not the shoe feels amazingly comfy or quite unstable is a matter of taste, and differs from runner to runner, so running shoes with air pockets are either a hit or a miss for every person individually.
1.2.4. Gel Technology
An alternative to air pockets are pockets of gel substance in the midsole. Developed and launched by Asics in 1986, the gel technology provides great cushioning and shock absorption. In fact, there are many similarities between air pockets and the gel-based so-called energy return systems. Both are also often located either under the heel, under the ball of the foot, or both. Another similarity with air pocket midsoles is that you can’t know whether the gel-filled technology is the right pick for you until you try the shoe out for a couple of miles.
1.3. The Outsole
The outsole of a shoe is the part that touches the ground. The main role of the outsole is to provide sufficient grip and traction. This is achieved with the shape and the material choice of the outsole.
Generally, outsoles are made out of either blown or carbon runner, though there are a few models with EVA, PU, and TPR outsoles out there. However, the two kinds of rubber – blown and carbon are the most common material choice for outsoles. Blown rubber feels soft, lightweight and very flexible, but it’s not very durable. On the other hand, carbon rubber is heavyweight, and a bit stiffer, but more durable. Some running shoes even have an outsole made out of a combination of the two.
The type of outsole you pick mainly depends on the surface you plan to run on. Trail running shoe soles are made out of heavier, stiffer rubber and often have deep lugs (the indentations that have the same function as your car tires’ tread pattern), or even spikes at the forefoot to help you gain maximum traction on soil, dirt, grass, and leaves. Track shoes often have cleats for good traction on the unique surface, while road shoes have soles made out of lightweight blown rubber for better support on the hard, smooth surface.
1.4. Heel to Toe Drop
Have you ever noticed that the soles of running shoes curiously resemble the shape of wedge sandals? There’s a good reason for that, and that decline in sole height from the heel to the toes is called heel to toe drop. This measurement doesn’t account for heel height alone – instead, it considers the difference in height of the sole under the heel and the platform under the toes.
As you can imagine, heel to toe drop is very related to cushioning. The range of the drop varies among models, and it’s anywhere between 0 and 12 mm. Conventional running shoes usually have a higher drop of 10 to 12 mm, and minimalist shoes are those in the 0 to 8 mm range.
The power of habit is amazing and people are used to different heel to toe drops, so if you already have a comfy pair of running shoes that you love, you should calculate the drop and try to get a similar pair of shoes.
When it comes to plantar fasciitis, podiatrists generally recommend a moderate elevation in any type of shoe you wear, so it’s recommended to stay away from the 0 – 8 mm drop range because those might be uncomfortably flat.
However, the low drop of minimalist shoes promotes a midfoot or forefoot strike, which is a good habit to develop, especially for those who are used to banging their heels first when running (a common cause of plantar fasciitis). If you do opt for a low drop shoe, make sure that the shoe does have a big, cushy platform where the heel and the toes are at a similar level, both with a lot of midsole under them. Even if you practice midfoot or forefoot striking form, you still need some cushion to absorb the shock.
2. The Upper
The upper is the part of the shoe that goes over your foot, holding the shoe in place and protecting the top of your foot. When it comes to running shoes, uppers are generally made out of a combination of mesh, manmade leather, and knit fabrics. All of these material variants have their own benefits, and that’s why most shoe manufacturers choose to make a unique combination for the best performance.
Mesh is used for its unparalleled breathability, which prevents your feet from becoming too sweaty. This material makes it easy for your running shoes to dry completely before your next workout, which in turn prevents fungal and bacterial growth. However, the mesh will also let water through, so it’s not a good idea to wear this type of running shoes in or after rain.
Synthetic or manmade leather is a material that gives you good water protection and high durability, but since it isn’t very breathable, it’s rarely used as the only material for running shoes. Just like hiking boots, trail running shoes need to protect your feet from bushes, shrubbery, and rocks, so this type of material combined with mesh for breathability is a good pick for that kind of shoe.
Knit materials are the least protective, but they do have good breathability, and most importantly, provide a soft feel with no chafing or rubbing. The issue with knit materials is that they’re often stretchy, so it’s best to combine them with a tougher material for a durable snug fit.
3. A Snug Fit
No matter how good the shoe is, if it doesn’t fit your feet, it won’t be comfortable and it may even cause trouble. Getting a snug fit is very important, so let’s discuss what that really means.
One thing you should always keep in mind when getting new running shoes is that your feet swell a bit when you run. This will increase the space you need to fill the shoe comfortably, so you should never pick a tight fit or tie your shoelaces too tightly.
3.1. Shoe and Feet Sizing
First and foremost, you should know your shoe size. You likely already have a general idea of your shoe size from shoes you already wear, but the issue is that many manufacturers use different molds, making many shoes on the market not true to size. If you want to be safe, you should measure your foot and compare inch values to shoe sizes. Make sure to check out your foot width too, as your foot needs to fit in comfortably even when your feet swell from running.
3.2. Running Shoe Last
A running shoe last is a foot-shaped mold that manufacturers use to create the outline of the shoe. The result of using different lasts is that there are three distinct running shoe shapes. If you look at the sole of the shoe, it will be easy to see whether the shoe is straight, semi-curved, or curved. You should try to match the type of last to the shape of your own foot, as that will make sure you get optimal support and flexibility out of your running shoe.
A shoe made with a straight last is generally heavier, and it provides a lot of support to the arch. This type of shoe is designed to control overpronation, so it’s a great pick for people with flat feet.
Semi-curved last has slightly less arch support, and this type of shoe is made for people with normal arches. This type of shoe provides sufficient arch support even if you have plantar fasciitis but don’t have flat feet.
A shoe made with a curved last is light, thin, and less supportive in the medial arch area. That’s why it’s generally used by oversupinating runners.
3.3. The Toe Box
Even though it won’t influence your plantar fasciitis, when getting running shoes you shouldn’t forget about the toe box (the front part of the shoe where your toes are) and how it fits.
Your toes must feel comfortable inside the shoe while you run, even when you consider the roll-through motion of your foot moving slightly forward inside the shoe as you land, and the fact that your feet swell while you run. That’s why you should always aim to get running shoes with an additional 1/3 inch (approximately the width of your thumb) between the tip of the shoe and your longest toe. Additionally, you should make sure that your toes have some wiggle room – that you can literally wiggle them and spread them inside the shoe without having to push against the toe box. Spreading your toes plays an important role in your stability and grip while you run, so make sure that your toe box is nice and roomy.
FAQ About Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
1. How to care for your running shoes?
There are thousands of different running shoe models out there, and they’re all unique in one way or another. That’s why we can only give you general advice, while the specifics will depend on the particular materials used for your shoe.
- First of all, you should never wash your running shoes in a washing machine. While they may hold up through a couple of washes, the materials will deteriorate more quickly. This puts your feet at risk since the padding can give in, and dramatically reduces the durability of your shoes.
- Instead of washing them in a machine, try to rinse mud and dirt off the soles of your shoes under a stream of lukewarm tap water. You can use a medium-soft bristled brush to remove large debris from nooks and crannies. This way of cleaning will be easiest if you do it before the mud dries.
- If there’s very little mud on your shoes after taking a run, you can use a dry brush to remove it. It’s important to let your running shoes dry completely before their next use – otherwise, you risk fungal infections.
- Once in a while, you should take the insoles of your shoes out and wash them by hand. Add some washing detergent into a bowl of warm water, make suds, stir the insoles through water and squeeze lightly, then let them soak for 10 minutes or more. Then, simply rinse them under a stream of water.
- If the upper of your running shoes gets dirty, use a damp cloth to clean them. Occasionally, you can wash your entire running shoes the same way you’d wash insoles. However, don’t do this often – harsh detergents can weaken the glue bonds.
- Always let your running shoes dry naturally, away from heat sources and direct sunlight. Excessive heat can weaken the glue that shoe manufacturers use, reducing the lifespan of your shoes. Spray your running shoes with a waterproofing product once they’re completely dry.
2. Is running bad for plantar fasciitis?
The truth is that, yes, running is bad for plantar fasciitis. Once the issue appears, the best thing you can do for yourself is to cease running for a while, ideally until the pain is completely gone. Rest is said to be the most important part of plantar fasciitis recovery, but the truth is that avoiding further aggravation is even more crucial. A good pair of running shoes for plantar fasciitis can mitigate the impact from running, but it can’t nullify it.
However, plantar fasciitis rarely lasts less than a month and a half, and sometimes it can last more than a full year, which is a lot of time to give up fitness completely. If you want to stay active, but don’t necessarily have to run, we recommend sports with less impact on the foot, such as weightlifting, swimming, or cycling. Avoid sports that involve jumping, or any sort of landing on your feet with force.
Finally, if you’re a professional athlete or simply aren’t ready to give up running, make sure that you rest at least one week after the onset of your plantar fasciitis. Once you go back to running, always wear the best running shoes you can get. Remember that pain from this condition doesn’t start while you run, but that it can hit you hard after you stop. Never pick a track far away from your home, because it may be too painful to walk back. There are natural home remedies for plantar fasciitis that you can use to lessen the pain after a training session, and always remember to give your feet a good rest and a massage after a run.
3. Is barefoot running good for plantar fasciitis?
Barefoot running is a trend that has been gaining traction in recent years. It’s not a harmful trend (apart from an occasional splinter and a somewhat higher chance of a sprain), though there’s no scientific evidence that it’s beneficial either.
One of the things that barefoot running can do, however, is to force you to change your strike. It’s simple – a heel strike becomes too painful when your heels bang the ground without cushioning from a running shoe. This forces you to switch to either a forefoot or midfoot strike, which is a much better habit in the long run. Remember – the heel strike is the most likely to cause injury and issues with the foot. In short, the benefit of barefoot running is that it makes it easy to change your running habits.
So, if you already have plantar fasciitis, barefoot running won’t do anything to help your condition. In fact, it may cause more harm than good because there’s no cushioning to soften the blow from each step. But if you don’t have plantar fasciitis, there’s no harm in trying it out if you have a suitable track nearby.
4. When do I need to replace my running shoes?
Many variables influence the durability of your running shoes. This includes the quality and material choice of the shoe, the surface you run on, your weight and your gait and strike, and even how far you run at the time. However, if you have plantar fasciitis, it’s very important that you don’t let your toes stick out of the shoe before you replace them. The most important function of running shoes is cushioning and protecting your feet and cushioning usually wears off long before the materials actually start tearing.
In general, the life expectancy of a pair of running shoes is between 300 and 600 miles.
You will know when your shoes start losing their cushioning. Often, the insoles are the first to go flat. That’s when it comes in handy that you can replace the insole in most running shoes. This should be the first thing to try if you feel that your shoes are becoming too stiff. If it doesn’t help much, though, it’s time to get a new pair of running shoes. Don’t feel sorry spending a hundred on a new pair of shoes – it’s much better than spending thousands on treatment if your condition gets worse.
5. Can I use my sneakers for plantar fasciitis to run?
It’s likely that you have a super comfy pair of sneakers that you really like, so you might want to try running in them. However, we generally advise against that idea, unless your sneakers have the right design that’s suitable for running. All types of athletic shoes are made with injury prevention unique for the type of the sport as the most important factor of the design. Hence, tennis shoes are heavier and provide great ankle and arch support to prevent injuries in those areas because tennis players must jump from side to side frequently. Basketball shoes are designed to provide maximum bounce and cushioning for the players that need to jump a lot. Finally, running shoes need to help a runner’s foot bend in the right spot and protect the points at which the runner’s weight falls on their stride. Regular sneakers are simply not designed to protect your foot in the right way, so we highly recommend getting a pair of shoes that have the right design for running – especially if you suffer from plantar fasciitis.
Plantar fasciitis is annoying, but it doesn’t have to stop you from doing what you love. Running is a great hobby that has many health benefits, but sadly, sometimes it can cause a health issue like plantar fasciitis. In order to keep yourself on the go, you should provide the best possible care for yourself, and that includes the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis.
Only supreme cushioning and support can keep the pain away, so we found the most promising models on the market for you. We hope our buying guide answered all of the questions you had about plantar fasciitis and how it relates to running, and helped you find an ideal pair of shoes for you. If you have any questions left, or you would like to share your own experience with us and other readers, feel free to do so in the question box below!