Train Pain-Free With the 10 Best Editor-Tested Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (2024)

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Train Pain-Free With the 10 Best Editor-Tested Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (1)

Plantar fasciitis is one of the most common triggers for heel pain, especially among runners. If you’ve ever felt that stabbing pain in your feet when you take your first steps each morning, you know exactly what we’re talking about. Fortunately, you don’t need to let the condition stop you, even if you love running, but you do need to find a pair of running shoes that provide the right kind of support.

The plantar fascia is a shock-absorbing, bowstring-like ligament that connects your heel to your toes, explains New York City-based podiatrist Miguel Cunha. This ligament stretches out when you stand, which can cause micro-tears that contribute to weakness, swelling, and irritation of the plantar fascia. The best running shoes for plantar fasciitis have a wide toe box, are highly cushioned, and have a rigid midsole, good arch support, and a large heel drop.

To rate the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis, we tested dozens of popular models. Across a month of regular exercise, we took notes and evaluated each shoe based on fit, comfort, support, pain reduction, cushioning, stability and durability. A physical therapist on our Medical Expert Board also reviewed this article for medical and scientific accuracy. Read on for our top picks across multiple categories.

Signs of Plantar Fasciitis

The most common sign of plantar fasciitis is stabbing pain in the bottom of your foot when you get out of bed in the morning, after standing for prolonged periods of time, or when you stand up after sitting for a while. It's also common to experience pain after you exercise, rather than during your workout.

Our Top Picks

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Best for Treadmill Workouts:

Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 at Amazon ($140)

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Best Overall

Brooks Women's Glycerin GTS 20

Train Pain-Free With the 10 Best Editor-Tested Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (2)

Why We Like It

Designed with the comfort and support of your whole foot in mind, Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 running shoes provided pin-point cushioning to relieve fatigue and the effects of plantar fasciitis. The innersoles sculpted beautifully to our contours, providing hour upon hour of support without any arch pain. Across a combination of road/pavement, trail, sand, and treadmill runs, walks, and cardio workouts, the pillow-like support and springy propulsion delivered a marked reduction in post-run muscle and joint discomfort.

We loved the roomy toe box, and the snug, secure fit never felt overly hot or constrained. The lightweight construction was sturdy enough to provide great support for overpronation without making us feel like we were carrying too much weight on our feet. One of our editors described the level of cushioning and support as, “SO DREAMY—like a fantastic bra for your feet.” This enthusiasm was echoed by others over a month of testing, and the shoes were top-scoring across every metric.

It’s Worth Noting

While we found these shoes difficult to fault, it’s worth noting that the medium arch support might be lacking for runners with higher arches. We’re also interested to see how the mesh uppers hold up over time.

Product Details

  • Size Range: 5–11.5 (Medium and Wide)
  • Heel Drop: 10 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 9.4 ounces

Best Overall Runner-Up

On Running Men's Cloudsurfer

Train Pain-Free With the 10 Best Editor-Tested Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (3)

Why We Like It

With a near perfect balance of stability, shock absorption, and heel lift, On Running Cloudsurfer running shoes quickly became a go-to everyday trainer. Whether running or walking on pavement, treadmill, or track, the pillow-like cushioning absorbed impact and provided enough response to propel us from stride to stride. Throughout testing we noted reduced knee pain, hip flexor soreness, and calf tightness after running.

Snug without being tight, these shoes held our heels securely in place, with very little side-to-side or up-and-down movement. We loved that the neutral arch support is not over-exaggerated, and the cushioning is centered in the shoe, which reduces unnecessary forward propulsion and increases stability. The shoes were breathable enough to maintain a good temperature, though in black they did feel a little warmer than others we tried. All in all, the shoes ran a close second throughout testing.

It’s Worth Noting

These shoes have a snug fit, and the toe box is on the narrow side. If you are someone who experiences foot swelling during longer runs, you might consider a half-size up. We also wouldn't recommend these shoes for speed work, as they’re heavier than you'd need and not great for quick directional changes.

Product Details

  • Size Range: Women’s 5–11; Mens 7–14
  • Heel Drop: (Midsole drop) 10 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 8.64 ounces

Why We Like It

If you have high arches and struggle to find running shoes that provide ample support, the Brooks Ariel GTS 23 are definitely worth a look. Foot hugging yet squishy, the extra padding provides a whole other level of comfort compared to others we’ve tried. The pillow-like cushioning absorbed impact while running on hard surfaces, providing relief for existing knee conditions and reducing calf pain after exercise.

We loved the generous arch support and wide base, which added spring to our steps, propelling us forward stride by stride. The stretchy fabric upper and solid soles felt durable and held up wonderfully through a month of testing.

The snug fit (see note around sizing below) held every part of our feet firmly in place. Although the additional cushioning definitely reduced space for our toes, the trade-off is extra stability, which will appeal to anyone carrying knee or ankle injuries. The shoes come in medium, wide, and extra-wide sizings, so we’d recommend trying on a few variations before settling on the right fit.

It’s Worth Noting

The fit made our feet feel slightly warm, and the extra padding made the shoes feel tighter than other Brooks models we’ve tried. To allow enough space for your toes, we recommend purchasing a full size up from your usual.

Product Details

  • Size Range: 6–13 (Medium, Wide, Extra Wide)
  • Heel Drop: (Midsole drop) 12 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 10.7 ounces

Why We Like It

The combination of firm heel support and a wide toe box makes the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 a solid choice for treadmill workouts. Podiatrist Saylee Tulpule recommends these shoes based on the stability of the midsole, which keeps you in alignment while running. They also boast the Seal of Acceptance from the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA), meaning the APMA has determined the shoes promote good foot health.

The shoes combine a stretchy, breathable upper with generous toe space for a cool, roomy experience, even during long runs. The supportive heel provided great stability during our testing, although the arch support might be a bit lacking if you need more lift. The fit, fabric, and construction all hit the high level of quality for which Brooks is known. We especially liked wearing these shoes during low-impact activities like treadmill sessions, errands, and walking.

It’s Worth Noting

Two of our editors noted that these sneakers didn’t provide enough midsole support and cushioning for running on pavement. One of our editors also noticed an increase in hip flexor pain from an existing injury while testing these shoes.

Product Details

  • Size Range: 5–13 (Narrow, Medium, Wide, Extra Wide)
  • Heel Drop: (Midsole drop) 12 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 9.1 ounces

Why We Like It

Incredibly soft and lightweight, the Brooks Ghost 15 offers a great balance of comfort and responsiveness for people with wider feet. Slipping into these shoes for the first time, the level of padding is noticeable without feeling cumbersome. We found the snug fit combined with the soft cushioning and wide toe box provided excellent shock absorption while running on pavement. The combination of stability and propulsion even got the thumbs up from our editors who’ve run marathons and competed in Olympic-distance triathlons.

These shoes delivered noticeable relief for shin splints and patellar pain, whether we were running, walking, or doing bootcamp workouts. The midsole provided great arch support and prevented overpronation. The breathable uppers proved cooling and durable through testing, and the wide heel area offered plenty of space to alleviate the discomfort of bunions and plantar fasciitis. All in all, we highly recommend these trainers for people with wide feet. The only thing is, the range of eye-catching colors makes it difficult to choose.

It’s Worth Noting

These fit slightly larger than other Brooks shoes we’ve tried, so it’s worth trying a half size smaller than your usual. The wide heel and toe area aren’t ideal for people with narrow feet, although a “narrow” sizing is available.

Product Details

  • Size Range: 5–12 (Narrow, Medium, Wide, Extra Wide)
  • Heel Drop: 11 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 9.1 ounces

Why We Like It

Offering fantastic support on flat, hard surfaces, these super-light, lofty Hoka Arahi 6s provide enough stability to run with confidence, without aggravating existing knee injuries. The roomy toe box and firm heel kept our feet comfortable and cushioned, with no achilles pain or chafing. The pillowy yet responsive soles allowed us to run for longer while lessening the impact on our joints.

One small blister aside, these shoes scored highly in terms of overall comfort, with one editor describing the fit as “snugged and hugged.” The wide sole and generous arch support provided excellent stability and balance to prevent inward rolling or overpronation.

Though the lofted soles won't be to everybody’s aesthetic tastes, Hoka’s eye-popping colorways are ever-present here. The breathable mesh upper, plush tongue, and extended heel pull deliver superb functionality. They’re also certified vegan. The best feature of all? At just 7.6 ounces per shoe, you’ll barely notice you’re wearing them.

It’s Worth Noting

Although they’re supportive and comfortable, these shoes didn’t deliver the peak levels of springiness or responsiveness as others we tried, so they might not have you beating your PBs. We also found we needed to slow down in order to stabilize our gait on uneven terrain.

Product Details

  • Size Range: 5–12
  • Heel Drop: 5 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 7.6 ounces

Why We Like It

The cloud-like heel support and curved “rocker” on the bottom of the Hoka Gaviota 5 offered excellent stability across multiple surfaces during our testing. Whether we were running on grass, pavement, or the road, the soft foam and stabilizing frame absorbed joint impact with each stride, as well as during transitions in between. The wide sole and cushioning laid a solid foundation and superb forward propulsion, allowing our editors with existing knee injuries to run with confidence and minimal pain.

We found the plush cushioning surprisingly breathable, and we experienced no issues with overheating. Although they’re a little heavier than other shoes we tested, we loved the springy transitions between strides, and our legs felt energized after an up-tempo run. Although $175 is well above the median price of the shoes we tested, in terms of overall comfort and stability while running at pace, we found it difficult to fault this shoe.

It’s Worth Noting

At 9.1 ounces per shoe, these are not built to break speed records. One of our editors experienced some achilles pain but noted that it decreased while running in these shoes. We also experienced some looseness in the heel, but it was easily rectified by tightening the laces.

Product Details

  • Size Range: 5–12
  • Heel Drop: 6 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 9.1 ounces

Best for Trail Running

Hoka Women's Stinson 7

Train Pain-Free With the 10 Best Editor-Tested Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (9)

Why We Like It

If trail running is your thing, don’t be put off by the plushness of this shoe. The stretch and give of the upper fabric, combined with the foam around the rails, provided a sturdy, snug support, even on uneven terrain. They performed well across a range of surfaces, including a mix of treadmill, pavement, sidewalk, boardwalk, sand, dirt/grass, and trail runs (even in the rain). So, despite the chunky soles, we rate these as a stable and comfy choice for mixed-terrain running and walking.

We loved that the solid heel support held our feet securely against the back of the shoe, and the wider-than-usual toe box (a very “Hoka” thing) allowed ample space for wider foot shapes. The additional cushioning provided superb shock absorption, leading to a noticeable reduction in hip, knee and ankle pain, as well as less foot soreness after exercise.

All in all, the Hoka Stinson 7s are not the most responsive of the shoes we tried. The tradeoff? Excellent stability and pillow-like support—which, for people with plantar fasciitis, is entirely welcome.

It’s Worth Noting

Our editors noted that this shoe was incredibly stable though not the most responsive, so look to something like the Brooks Ariel GTS 23 if you have a need for more speed. These shoes are also very breathable, so you might want to wear thicker socks while running in cold weather.

Product Details

  • Size Range: 5–11
  • Heel Drop: 5 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 10.8 ounces

Best Cushioning

MBT MTR-1500 II

Train Pain-Free With the 10 Best Editor-Tested Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (10)

Why We Like It

The tight yet comfortable fit of these shoes delivered superb stability, while the firm cushioning absorbed impact, eliminating discomfort due to shin splints, hip tendonitis and plantar fasciitis.

The super-supportive heel cushion delivered a big reduction in knee pain. Even for our editors with high arches, these shoes offered excellent comfort and support from the first wear—with zero arch pain throughout testing.

The springy cushioning of these shoes allowed for efficient transitions between strides, though offered little in the way of forward propulsion. We loved that the sole traction didn’t grip too hard, but also provided great non-slip stability. After a brief period of breaking in, these shoes conformed to our contours so well, one editor noted that the shoes felt like part of their foot, while another lovedthat the cushioning made them feel taller. A bulkier shoe, they’re not built for speed, but if you can afford the above-average price tag, we recommend these as a superbly cushioned pair.

It’s Worth Noting

These shoes required a brief break-in period before launching into longer runs, and our editors recorded some chafing and minor blisters during this time. The shoes have high arch supports, so not ideal if you find extra arch cushioning uncomfortable. Our editors agreed, the laces are rough and not their favorite out of the trainers they’ve tried.

Product Details

  • Size Range: 7–14
  • Heel Drop:12 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 11 ounces

Why We Like It

The first thing we noticed about this shoe was the strange low fit of the heel, which at first felt like our heels were slipping out. Over time, however, we felt the slight up–down heel motion helped with our strides and reduced heel impact on hard surfaces. We loved how the marshmallow-like cushioning molded to our feet, feeling springy yet stable throughout testing. The toe box provided ample wiggle room, and the shock-absorption was superb, resulting in reduced ankle and knee pain.

The firm springiness of the soles delivered great forward propulsion between strides, popping and gliding us into the next step (one editor even noted an increase in treadmill speed from 5.6 to 6 mph). The wide tread provided excellent stability. And the materials held up superbly through a month of running and walking on treadmills and concrete. While the lower heel takes some getting used to, we recommend these as our top pick for road running (albeit with longer socks required).

It’s Worth Noting

The firm heel part of the shoe is very low, which can cause chafing when worn with low socks, and can feel as if your heel is slipping upwards.

Product Details

  • Size Range: 5–12 (Regular and Wide)
  • Heel Drop:9 millimeters
  • Weight (pair): 11 ounces

Running Shoes That Did Not Make Our List

We tested these popular shoes, but don't recommend them:

  • Altra Provision 7: We loved the feel of these shoes, and the cushioning, breathability, and responsiveness were all impressive. After exercising for long periods, however, we noticed our heels and metatarsals felt more fatigued than when training in other shoes we tried. The 0-millimeter heel drop is also not ideal for people experiencing plantar fasciitis.
  • lululemon Blissfeel Trail Running Shoe: Though the firm cushioning did a great job stabilizing our feet and absorbing impact, the stiff sole provided limited flexibility. We also noted a mildly irritating pinching sensation in the toe box.
  • Nike Pegasus 40 Women's Road Running Shoes:The heel shock support felt great, but the low arch padding provided inadequate support. We also found the cushioning lacking when used for anything more than short bursts of exercise.

Where We Stand

We spent hundreds of miles road-testing running shoes for plantar fasciitis, and in the end the Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 was a clear stand-out. The combination of the roomy toe box, snug cushioning, and sturdy construction had our feet feeling great during and after exercise. We’ll keep our list updated as we test new products, so watch this space.

Our Testing Process

Before we selected the shoes to test, we consulted several podiatrists who helped us define our test methodology and recommended the best features to look for in running shoes for plantar fasciitis. Dr. Levin Valencia helped set our test methodology, while Dr. Tulpule and Dr. Lobkova also shared their favorite pairs of sneakers from brands they often recommend to their patients.

After unboxing and acclimatizing to the shoes at home, we used each pair for one month, running a minimum of three times per week. Each shoe was tested by multiple editors, and a total of ten models came out on top for our various categories. Our editors who tested running shoes for plantar fasciitis have a range of foot and leg complaints, including plantar fasciitis, shin splints, bunions, knee, ankle, and hip flexor injuries, overpronation, and supination.

We rated each pair of shoes on a scale of 1–5 based on the following criteria:

  • Fit: We noted any heel chafing, foot movement, space between toe and end of shoe, and tingling or numbness during or after use.
  • Cushioning: We tracked each pair’s level of shock absorption and cushion comfort and noted any knee discomfort during or after use.
  • Comfort: We took note of any toe jamming or blisters and kept track of breathability, stability, and feel of materials and construction.
  • Responsiveness: We tested each pair’s forward propulsion, springiness, energy between strides, and bounce back, and noted the level of leg fatigue we felt post-exercise.
  • Stability: We noted any noticeable instability, shock support, curve of sole, and transitions between strides, as well as whether or notthe insoles mold to the contours of our feet.
  • Durability: We assessed the flattening of the sole, fabric wear, odors, and noticeable stretching after the testing period was complete.

Our Experts

  • Miguel Cunha, DPM, New York City-based podiatrist
  • Grant Duong, Podiatrist at Triumph Institute, Sydney, Australia
  • Saylee Tulpule, DPM, a podiatrist based in Washington, DC.
  • Nelya Lobkova, DPM, a podiatrist based in New York City
  • Diana Levin Valencia, DPM, a podiatrist at NYC Foot & Ankle Center

What to Know About Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis

While there aren't running shoes made specifically for plantar fasciitis, there are some smart features to look for when shoe shopping. Experts recommend choosing sneakers with good arch support, supportive cushioning, shock-absorbing soles, a deep heel cup, and a spacious toe box to keep plantar fasciitis symptoms at bay.

Key Features to Look For

  • A wide toe box: If you overpronate, a wide toe box can take the pressure off of your toes.
  • Extra cushioning: Thick padding in the midsole and the heel absorbs shock, which can be especially helpful for supinators (overpronators).2
  • A rigid midsole: Dr. Lobkova says a rigid midsole adds stability and doesn’t permit flexion in the arch area, which can cause tearing of the plantar fascia. You shouldn’t be able to bend or twist the shoe in half, she adds.
  • Heel height: Research suggests the best running shoes for plantar fasciitis have a heel height between 0.5 and 4 centimeters.3
  • A rocker design: This shoe shape has been proven to decrease plantar fasciitis pain, and Dr. Lobkova also recommends it.4 An added insole can help you get the full benefits of a rocker shoe.
  • A heavy shoe: Dr. Lobkova recommends looking for shoes that weigh over 9 ounces. Shoes with this amount of weight will probably have enough built-in support for your feet.
  • A large heel-to-toe drop: A high drop shoe (7 mm or higher) helps project more of your weight towards the ball of the foot rather than the heel.
  • A bend just before the toes: Our experts suggest bending the shoe in half before purchasing. If it bends at the balls of your feet, just before the toes, it's a good sneaker for plantar fasciitis.
  • Neutral or stability shoe: Well-fitted neutral shoes with decent padding may provide enough support to relieve symptoms of plantar fasciitis. If you’re prone to overpronation, shin splints, bunions, or knee pain, look to stability shoes for another level of cushioning.

What to Avoid

  • A low heel height: Shoes with a flat heel that’s less than 0.5 cm tall may not have enough padding to cushion your heel.
  • Hard insoles: Flat insoles that aren’t cushioned might not be comfortable to wear for long periods of time.
  • Flat midsoles: Shoes that don’t have any built-in arch support won’t help stabilize your foot.5
  • A bend mid-arch: Our experts say that if a shoe bends in the middle (mid-arch) or anywhere other than just before the toes, it's not a great shoe.

Your Questions, Answered

What is plantar fasciitis?

The plantar fascia is a shock-absorbing bowstring-like ligament that connects your heel to your toes. Plantar fasciitis occurs when the tissue on the sole of your foot becomes inflamed, resulting in weakness, swelling, and irritation of the plantar fascia.

How can you treat plantar fasciitis?

Treatment can range from rest and anti-inflammatory medicines to ice packs and regular exercises. Extreme cases may require surgery. It’s important to consult a GP or podiatrist at the first signs of inflammation.

Is it OK to run if I have plantar fasciitis?

Dr. Tulpule says it’s fine to run with plantar fasciitis, as long as you don’t experience a tear or rupture. She also notes that some runners may need to cut back on how often or how long they run at first, so their bodies can adjust to their new shoes and inserts.

What type of running shoe is best for plantar fasciitis?

To find the shoe that’s right for you, Dr. Tulpule recommends asking a podiatrist to suggest some brands of running shoes that you can find at a specialty running store. Professionals at the store will help you get the right fit and provide advice on orthotics.

Who We Are

Samson McDougall is a journalist, copywriter, editor and biology graduate. His work encompasses everything from web copy for science museums to sexual health articles for universities, info sheets for first-in-category pharmaceuticals to brand messaging for wearable touch therapy by neuroscientists. Samson is a walker, hiker, biker and surfer with high arches.

Train Pain-Free With the 10 Best Editor-Tested Running Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis (2024)
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