Finding the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis can be hard to spot at first glance. This guide helps to arm you with some fundamental knowledge about your unique foot shape and the respective shoes that will accelerate your recovery process. After checking out your new shoe options, consider other recovery strategies such as insoles and stretching.
Runner’s World Video
This video is solid gold for anyone attempting to understand their injury in the context of running. Dr. Jordan Metzl is a nationally recognized sports medicine expert, who also practices at the Hospital for Special Surgery located in NYC. This hospital has been voted annually as the top orthopedic hospital in the United States by US news and World Reports. Hopefully you can pick up a few new action items from Dr. Metzl as he relates his stunningly on point recommendations for plantar fasciitis.
Quick Pain Relief
In addition to trying out a new pair of shoes, you can combat your plantar fasciitis with the most effective of chemicals, frozen dihydrogen oxide. That’s right good ole’ ice is your friend. At the onset of symptoms place your foot in a bucket of ice water for about ten minutes, this should numb the pain temporarily.
Another solution is of course, anti-inflammatories. Note, that their primary purpose here is pain relief. The anti-inflammatory aspect of these drugs won’t necessarily speed healing because plantar fasciitis is not a result of inflammation. Plantar Fasciitis is the result of tiny tears which mimic inflammation.
A final word of warning. Cortisone shots are not recommended, as they can actually lead to the deterioration of your plantar fascia. Patients that have relied on cortisone shots are highly susceptible to rupturing their plantar fascia, an ailment that will require surgery and potentially limit their running abilities indefinitely
More on: Pain Relief
Your plantar fascia is connected to your achilles tendon which is in turn connected to your calf muscle. During your plantar fasciitis recovery, you should make a routine out of loosening your calf muscles. If they are tight, they can continue to strain the plantar fascia, which will dilate the healing process.
Basic calf stretches range from leaning up against a wall to using a tennis ball on the bottom of your foot. The importance of maintaining your flexibility cannot be understated. Some physical therapists have recommended stretching out your upper leg as well, on the basis that your calf muscle is tight due to inflexibility in your upper leg.
The big takeaway is that your tendons are all inter-connected. When stretching focus on both legs, even if only one foot has been affected and stretch several times a day. Night splints are neither comfortable nor recommended by many podiatrists. Try wearing a pair of light-weight running socks to bed instead, which may help to maintain blood flow and a gentle stretch during your sleeping hours.
More on: Plantar Fasciitis Stretches
How Long Will Recovery Take?
Quite possibly months. Your healing is a product of the amount of blood flow traveling to the injury. Unfortunately, tendons are notoriously slow to recover. Some patients have reported living with an injury for years. This is likely due to the fact that they have chronically re-injured it. So take your plantar fasciitis seriously and in thinking about recovery, view healing as a marathon rather than a sprint. By reducing your activity levels, adjusting your footwear, and following through on a stretching regimen. You could see symptoms recede in as little as 10 weeks. If symptoms worsen you should consult a podiatrist immediately.
Seek Out Cushion
Runners should select shoes that have greater cushioning properties and plenty of arch support. The plantar fascia is essentially a shock absorber put into tension with each step. Some studies found that those with plantar heel pain tended to have higher arches…indicating that arch support is a significant factor in considering shoe-based solutions. During the recovery period, avoid walking barefoot even around the house. Supporting that arch consistently will minimize the pain and facilitate the healing process.
More on: Plantar Fasciitis Insoles
If you are in love with your current running shoes or don’t want to invest in a new pair right now, then you might try fine-tuning your arch support with a popular over the counter insole. Superfeet makes a number of insoles for a variety of arch types. As a runner, the green option is most likely the one for you, but refer to the chart below (sourced from outdoorgb.com) for details on arch types.
Toss Old Shoes
For all those sandal lovers, you might need to retire your flip flops, at least while you recover. Dr. Pribut, a podiatrist who practices in Washington D.C ., recommends checking your shoes for a severe lack of arch support. Shoes should bend only at the ball of the foot, where your toes attach to the foot. Avoid any shoe that bends in the center of the arch or behind the ball of the foot.
|”People walk into the office wearing shoes that they should have replaced months ago.”
Worn-out shoes that have lost their cushioning are another culprit. Replace shoes every 250-400 miles, which can can mean as soon as 3 -4 months if you are a hardcore runner. Even if a shoe looks great on the outside, the inner support mechanisms can deteriorate. And if you do observed worn tread or scrunched padding, those could be the telltale signs that it’s time to pick up a new pair.
Elizabeth Kurtz, a podiatrist who practices in Chicago, says that many people punish their feet with flat, flimsy shoes that don’t support the arch. “Flip-flops seem to be a major source of foot pain.”Some podiatrists have noted a marked increase in the cases of plantar fasciitis during the fall because folks have been wearing cheap sandals all summer.
Wet Test – Measure Your Arch At Home
image source: www.share.upmc.com
Heel pain sometimes results from excessive pronation. Pronation is the normal flexible motion and flattening of the arch of the foot that allows it to adapt to ground surfaces and absorb shock in the normal walking pattern. As you walk, the heel contacts the ground first; the weight shifts first to the outside of the foot, then moves toward the big toe. As the arch rises, the foot generally rolls upward and outward.
An article published by Kogler in the Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery demonstrated that a valgus forefoot wedge was a highly effective means of reducing strain on the plantar fascia. Medial or varus wedges be placed beneath the insole of your running shoe work to counteract the amount of stretch your plantar fascia endures with each step.
Excessive pronation—excessive inward motion—can create an abnormal amount of stretching and pulling on the ligaments and tendons attaching to the bottom back of the heel bone. Note, that although pronation and supination have long been suspected causes of plantar fasciitis, there was not a strong correlation in the patients of recent studies.
Visit a local running store where they perform gait analysis. The process typically involves filming your stride on a treadmill and then zooming in to see your ankle motion. Your recording is then relayed on an iPad where slow motion and freeze frames can be used to assess your running or walking style. With luck, excessive ankle motions and imperfections in your stride can be correlated to your plantar fasciitis.
Although, their methodology is a far cry from the scientifically sound techniques of a podiatrist, it can certainly be cheaper (just the price of a new pair of shoes or free if you don’t find anything). As an added benefit of talking with a running shoes clerk, who should be highly knowledgable, you can try on a number of different shoes that explore various combinations of cushion, motion control, and insoles.
Gait analyses have received staunch criticism from some medical experts for their inattention to other aspects of the body that impact foot mechanics such as the hip and knee motion. Yet, a gait analysis can be highly valuable as can speaking with shoes experts at your local running store. Lots running stores now offer this service, at no cost, including Nike.
image source: www.jamieleighto.com
1. Adidas Supernova Glide 6
This shoe incorporates the Boost foam technology, which Adidas has announced will be designed into all of premium running shoes $100 or more. That news should be music to every runner’s ears. Historically speaking the Glide running shoe tends to be a fairly firm training show and was somewhat unmemorable in terms of design. The Boost foam however has breathed new life into the Glide. It provides superior cushioning, stays soft even when temperatures plunge, and makes for a springier step. The older version of the Glide crash pad has thankfully been reassigned to the trash bin, paving the way to a refreshingly smooth-heel-first strike.
At a glance: The new Boost foam technology is hard to beat.
2. Asics Gel Nimbus 15/16
The Nimbus has impressed runners for several years with a simple strategy, placing a large hunk of foam and Gel in between your plantar fascia and the pavement. Point in case, there is a one inch thick slab of beautiful cushion below the forefoot, which measures taller than the heel height of most shoes. The downside of all that cushion, and yes there’s always a catch, is that your comfort amounts to extra stiffness and ounces. Testers have noticed this as well. But hey, weight is a small price to pay in terms of plantar fascia relief.
At a glance: Think of this shoe as the Cadillac of cushion.
3. Brooks Glycerin 12
If you are looking for a first-rate cushioned sneaker from Brooks with an incredibly smooth feel, look no further than the Glyercin. After an overhaul from the version 11, Glycerin fans can rest easy knowing that the upgrades have deliver shoe with the same smooth strike, if not smoother. It’s perfect for those with higher arches who need the cushion for whatever their daily distances demand. The upper’s overall fit feels better and the heel to toe transition once again exceeds expectations.
At a glance: Brook’s version of a top of the line cushioned shoe
4. Mizuno Wave Rider
The Mizuno Wave rider has lost a few ounces, but in this case there’s still more to love not less. The upper fit felt snug and comfortable. The new pattern of blown-rubber facilitates the heel-to toe transition. It does everything that the previous Wave Rider has done, if not a little better and with a little less weight to boot!
At a glance: Same great shoe with fewer ounces to carry around
5. Nike Zoom Pegasus
The Pegasus represent a true classic when it comes to a well-cushioned stride at a reasonable price point. It’s the kind of shoe that has built a large following over the last 30 years from the basic principle that it’s comfy from day one. At a general price of $100, its perhaps one of the best deals currently on running shoe shelves. The upper was upgraded with Nike replacing a single mesh component for the unique three-pieced panels.
At a glance: The best deal on most running store shelves
6. Saucony Ride 7
If you’ve tried some of the blander models in the past and been bummed, it’s time to give the Ride 7 a try as it is their best work yet. The heel drop was decreased to 8mm which is a nice improvement, but what’s most appealing is the new cushion. The Ride 7 is now a comfortable shoe ideal even for faster paced running. That’s thanks to the PowerGrid EVA foam spanning for end to end of the shoe. The layer of foam and the flexible sole translates as a gentle ride, good for any terrain.
At a glance: A highly competitive blend of cushion, levity, and price point.
7. Asics Gel Cumulus 15/16 & GT 2000
Think of the Asics Gel Cumulus as the younger sibling to the uber-cushioned Gel-Nimbus. The Cumulus also is host to a lot of foam, but only enough to provide a healthy protection between you and the road. It’s cushioning with a tasteful restraint, unlike the Nimbus. A pad of Gel has been positioned under the forefoot and its larger than those in previous iterations of the Cumulus. Despite the extra cushioning the shoe maintains its responsiveness. The redesign of the outsole with a more nuanced approach to segmenting the rubber allows for greater flexibility.
At a glance: The less excessive little brother to the Asics Gel Nimbus
8. Asics Gel Kayano 20
A favorite among runners who seek ample cushion and high stability, this newest version is likely to please the Kayano club members. The smooth ride is a by product of the dual layers of foam, each with its own special purpose. The foam directly under foot is softer, to provide a gentle cushion, while the second spread of foam is spongier to give a more responsive ride. The upper also intended to be plush and comes pack with fluffy foam for a snug fit.
At a glance: Three different types of foam packed into one shoe
9. Brooks Ghost 6
The Brooks Ghost, has been an Editor’s favorite among runners world, with staff pleading for additional samples to wear about. That’s not a surprise given that the Ghost is everything one could want in a shoe: cushion, weight, durability, price. Since the last few iterations, the plastic arch was made smaller to make room for additional foam and rubber. Brooks also divided the area just below the inner edge of the heel, enabling a notable improvement on the heel-toe transition.
At a glance: Hauntingly perfect, a staff favorite among the editors of Runner’s World
10. Brooks Ravenna 6
The Ravenna has demonstrated that you can have superior stability without sacrificing aesthetics or paying a premium. The Ravenna offers up awesome stability and cushion at an affordable price. Although the mid and outsole have largely remained the same, the forefoot feels more plush and has a much better fit where it counts, the arch. The additional arch support arrives from an elastic component that wraps around the middle of the foot, letting the wearer adjust the snugness of the fit.
At a glance: Excellent arch support and stability for the right price
11. Asics DS Trainer 18
In its 18th version, the classic DS Trainer felt lighter and less clunky to our testers than earlier versions, due to a revamped upper that provided more toe room and a more flexible, breathable fit. The heel height was also lowered a millimeter, making it a bit more natural, while still providing plenty of material underfoot. Our test team appreciated the changes and remarked on the cushioning of this “excellent training shoe” for almost any distance. The dual-layer midsole transitioned smoothly and served heel-strikers and forefoot runners alike. It’s a great update on a traditional favorite.
At a glance: Excellent arch support and stability for the right price