Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations

What is the “best shoe” you ask?

It depends on what you mean by “best.” Best for your foot or best made? The two are often not the same. A “best shoe” based on quality may be a shoe made of premium leathers, perhaps hand crafted and with a high quality durable leather or rubber sole. For men’s dress shoes, this might be an Allen Edmonds oxford. For women, this could be a Stuart Weitzman pump heel.

The point is, do not mistake “best” quality with “best” for your foot. What is best for your foot is a shoe that is comfortable and well suited for your activity. It could very well be an under $30 pair of shoes from Walmart (which I have seen a number of my patients wearing) or something else ten times as expensive. It all depends. Below are some specific recommendations to help you get started.

I recommend the following brands of shoes and sandals (see below). They generally have better than average arch support and some of them have a removable liner, allowing you to use your own orthotic or arch support. Have your foot measured while you are standing. Determine both the length and the width. Then, use that information as a guide to try on shoes. You may very well find that a shoe an entire size larger is the most comfortable. Better yet, take out the shoe liners and stand on them. If your feet fit within the boundary of the liners, the shoes are likely to fit well.

Shoes for Senior Citizens:

Choosing the correct footwear for senior citizens or anyone with mobility issues is important. A poorly fitting shoe or poorly designed shoe for that person may lead to a misstep or a fall which can have devastating consequences. I recommend looking for the following when selecting footwear for the elderly.
The shoe must fit well and have adequate room for the toes, allowing the toes to spread during walking. The shoe should be light weight and have a flexible sole helping the wearer have an improved ‘ground feel’ as they walk. The input the feet receive during walking will help contribute to the person’s proprioception, or, sense of where their body is as they walk about. It is not the only factor but increased ground feel can help.

A good example of footwear which meets these criteria is the original KEDS sneakers. These shoes are lightweight and flexible with a thin sole. One caveat however, is that these shoes may not accommodate a bunion or hammertoe. The Skechers Go Walk may be better for someone who needs more room for their toes.

Another feature which is important for seniors is the ability to easily get their shoes on independently. Zeba shoes makes footwear that has a springy back that the wearer can push down on as they slip the shoe on and the back will pop back up. Another way to solve this issue is to replace the laces with elastic laces, effectively making any lace up shoe into a slip on. Regardless of what shoe is used it is crucial that the wearer feels comfortable and confident with both the fit and the feel of the shoes on both feet.

KEDs Orignal Sneakers
KEDs Orignal Sneakers
NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapor PRO
NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapor PRO

Pickleball Shoes:

Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in the United States. It is a racquet game played on a smaller sized tennis court either as a singles or doubles game. The ball used for pickleball has less bounce than a tennis ball and the racquet is shorter than a tennis racquet. Since the court is smaller and the ball less bouncy, the game has been growing in popularity with people who perhaps did not feel they have the endurance for tennis. However, the game is so popular that even younger people are taking it up and local, regional and even national leagues are being formed.

So, what shoes do you wear to play Pickleball? You will want to wear a shoe that would be appropriate for the tennis court. It should have a flat non-skid sole, be flexible, have some lateral support, be light weight with good ground feel and have plenty of room in the toe area for your toes to spread as you rise up on tippy toes to serve or return a shot. Major major brands are starting to offer Pickleball specific shoes and are simply re-branding their tennis shoes. Some shoes to consider for Pickleball are the following:

Thierry Rabotin
Thierry Rabotin

Every Day or Dress Shoes for Women:

This is by far the most difficult category as women want shoes that are fashionable yet comfortable. High fashion brands know this, and price their shoes accordingly. Do not be surprised if some of these shoes are more expensive than you might expect.

Every Day or Dress Shoes for Men:

Samuel Hubbard - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations
Samuel Hubbard
shoes for people with high arches - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations

Shoes for People with a High Arch:

People who have a high arch foot, called a ‘cavus‘ foot, should look for a ‘neutral’ type sneaker. If you have a high arch foot you do not need additional arch support and are usually better off with a ‘neutral’ type shoe. Most of the shoe brand web sites have a filter for you to indicate your foot type. On the Brooks site, you would check ‘high arch’. Once you select the correct filter, you should be directed to neutral shoes. In the case of New Balance, you would check ‘neutral’ and not ‘stability’ or ‘motion control’. As an example, New Balance Fresh Foam Cruz and Fresh Foam Zante are neutral and this entire page is a list of New Balance neutral shoes. If ‘neutral’ is not an option, look for ‘high arch’.

Shoes that are Easy to Get On and Off:

Many people have trouble getting their shoes on and off and also tying them. This can be due to arthritis, being overweight or recovering from surgery among other reasons. It is not uncommon. One novel shoe is specially designed to be easy on and easy off. I have patients who use Zeba shoes which look like regular lace up shoes but the back easily collapses up and down. Check out the video on their website.

Another option is to re-lace your existing shoes with elastic laces. Lace them once and since the laces are elastic, it becomes like a slip on. Several companies sell elastic laces including xpandlaces, or, check your local shoe repair shop.

easy on and off shoes - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations
Brooks Asteria - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations
Brooks Asteria: Light weight, neutral and modestly low heel drop.

Starting to Exercise, Walk or Run?

If you are new to walking for exercise or running and do not yet have a favorite shoe and no specific foot problems, I recommend starting out with a light weight neutral shoe with a modest low drop heel. That is, a shoe that uses newer materials to keep each shoe around 8-10 oz., does not support your foot with extra arch support you probably don’t need and keeps the height of the heel a bit but not too much higher than the front of the shoe, taking some pressure off of your knees.

Shoes that have these characteristics include:

Find out what socks to wear on our sock page.

Running Shoes:

This category is HUGE and new brands are frequently entering the market. One rising brand is Swiss made ON and their popular multi purpose shoe the ON Cloud X with modular foam cells on the sole.

The following are brands/styles I have run in and found to be comfortable. Please note that shoe models change from slightly from year to year. I currently run in Saucony Kinvara 12 and find them light weight and comfortable. I find they last around 450 miles. I have run in Hoka One One Clifton 4 shoes for several years. I retired my first pair after 450 miles. Both are neutral light cushioned shoes with a roomy toe box.

I have run in various brands of shoes including Asics, Brooks and La Sportiva. For the past several years however, I ran in and had a good experience with Saucony Kinvaras (I did not use the most recent model, 14, which was changed substantially). Now I run in Saucony Ride 15. I find the Ride has a good mix of some support and some cushioning which I need now and I am very happy with them (I have pretty flat feet).

Here is a link to Runner’s World’s 2023 list of notable running shoes from a list of different categories like light weight and cushioned. As always, try them on and see if your feet are comfortable. Ranked a “best” for 2023 are Nike Vaporfly 3, New Balance FuelCell v3, Saucony Endorphin Elite, Mizuno Wave Rebellion, Puma Deviate Nitro, and Under Armour Flow Velociti, Brooks Ghost 15, Asics Gel Cumulus 25, Lulemon Blissfeel 2, Adidas Ultra Boost Light, Saucony Ride 16, and Altra River 3 among others.

Scroll to the bottom of the page here for info on Hiking, Trail and specialty running shoes.

Running Shoe Finder App: One of the best running shoe rating web sites I have found is still at www.runrepeat.com, with lists and rankings based on thousands of reviews. I referred to it myself in March 2022 to check out a couple of brands and models I am considering.

Hoka One One Clifton, Saucony Kinvara, and ON Cloud

New Balance 659 - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations
New Balance 659

Walking Shoes:

Walking, hopefully, is not too physically demanding and therefore should lend itself to most shoes that fit well. Any good ‘running’ shoe should be fine for walking. A good place to start for just walking would be with the following New Balance walking models for men or women: New Balance 813 for men or women has a very rounded toe box and New Balance 990, an overall oval shape which accommodates most feet as well as the 847 and the 928, which by the way, has plenty of room for foot orthotics. The New Balance 659 is a sturdy and durable walking shoe also okay for walking on trails. I also really like the New Balance 1080, which is a running shoe with a light weight foam mid sole that would be quite nice for walking about.

Brooks Ariel 18 is a road running shoe which has a lot of cushioning and is quite suitable for walking. Nike’s Free Rn Fly Knit is a super light weight running shoe with an almost mesh upper that would also be a good choice.

Light Weight, Running and Walking Shoes:

Light weight has real benefits for shoes. For running, multiple studies have determined that every 100 gram reduction in shoe weight also reduces the amount of energy required to run. Makes sense. I also recommend light weight shoes for daily walking around unless you need a heavier shoe. The past couple of years have seen a large increase in light weight shoes and specifically shoes with a foam type mid sole material that still have some arch support.

I recently had a chance to check out the Adidas Boost running shoes which have ample arch support and are very light weight. Other brands with foam soles that are equally or more light weight include Nike Vaporfly, Nike Epic React and New Balance Fresh Foam, among others.

lightweight shoes - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations
Specialty Shoes - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations

Specialty Running Shoes:

This is a huge category that now includes road running and trail running shoes as well as minimalist, maximalist (Hoka One) and zero drop shoes (Altra). No research has validated one type of shoe over another as better for preventing injuries. What the research seems to show is that shoe selection is very individual. You should wear what feels most comfortable to you. That being said, some studies have indicated that zero drop shoes may be easier on your knees but worse for your achilles tendon.

Here are the some of the leading catergories:

Minimalist Running Shoes: New Balance Minimus Collection, Merrell and Vivobarefoot.

“Zero Drop” shoes, meaning the height of the heel and the height of the forefoot are equal: Altra.

Extra cushioning: Hoka One One – this brand has has crossed over from trail runners to suburbanites including grandparents and was worn by Karl Metlzer who in September 2016 completed the fastest know time for completing the Appalachian Trail.

Every Day Shoes for Kids:

For kids’ sneakers I still like New Balance, Asics and Saucony but whatever they are comfortable in is probably fine assuming they are not complaining of foot pain and have no specific foot condition. The more common brands for kids, Nike, Reebok and Adidas are okay but are generally more narrow and do not always have a remove-able liner making those shoes a tighter fit when adding an arch support. Geox are a good choice for a casual shoe that accommodates orthotics if needed and are available in big and small children’s sizes. Remember that kids 12-13 years old or even younger can start shopping in the adult shoe section starting with (big kid) size 6. The challenge is really for teenage girls who need a shoe that can accommodate an arch-support since current fashions for girls favor low cut shoes with no arch support, almost a moccasin.

One brand of casual/dress shoes for girls which seems to work well is Venettini and the specific style is called 55-Lily. These shoes have an added elastic strap that holds the shoe onto the foot more effectively which is important if adding an arch support of some type.

Venettini Annie
Venettini Annie
Vaque Breeze, a long time favorite
Vaque Breeze, a long time favorite

Hiking Shoes and Boots:

Some recommended hiking shoes and boots includes Oboz Sawtooth Low, Merrell Moab 2 Ventilator, La Sportiva Trango TRK GTX, and perennial favorite, Vasque Breeze III.

Brands I can personally recommend include Danner, Five Ten, North Face, Garmont, Merrell, Salomon, Vasque, La Sportiva Wildcat ( I have hiked in Vasque, Garmont, Five Ten Guide Tennies* which have very good traction, and I have run and hiked in La Sportiva Wildcat* and La Sportiva Helios trail running shoes which have good traction and are stable).


This is a large category, especially for women trying to wear fashionable and comfortable boots. Here are several ideas to consider.

Consider Chaco boots. They have mastered foot friendly sandals very popular out west and now have boots available. Dansko, the clog company, has also been making closed shoes and offers boots as well. Their clogs, shoes and boots have a stable supportive platform and room for the toes. A new entrant into foot friendly shoes is Strivefootwear with a small offering of boots, but worth considering. Another brand to consider is Tom’s which donates proceeds from their sales to causes around the globe. Their styles are generally sensitive to comfort. Vionics has made a name for itself with sandals and shoes that include arch support. They also sell fall boots with a foot bed you can remove. And of course, I have to mention Uggs classic short boot as well as other Ugg styles. I recommend wearing a sock of some sort with Uggs to prevent sweating up the interior of the boots. And, ‘cowboy’ boots can also be considered. While they appear pointy at the toes, the foot bed is actually elongated, providing adequate toe room. Two leading brands are Ariat (which I have personal experience with the Heritage Ropers) and Justin boots.

* reviewed by Dr. Friedman here.

Chaco Hopi - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations
Chaco Hopi
Olukai ‘Upena Women’s sandal - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations
Olukai ‘Upena Women’s sandal

Summer Sandals and Clogs:

https://www.abeofootwear.com/If you have any history of heel pain or fasciitis in the past and plan to wear sandals or ‘flip flops’ for an extended time during the summer I would recommend a pair with built in arch support. If you have no history of foot problems, than wear whatever is comfortable. I am okay with flat sandals or even flip flops if you have no foot issues. On the other hand, I do see some patients who develop heel pain after a summer of wearing flat flip flops. I would recommend acclimating to wearing fit flops or sandals, increasing the length of time you wear them each day by a few hours.

Several sandals incorporate generous amounts of arch support, among them Abeo, Allegria sandals (which accommodate orthotics), Chacos, Birkenstocks, Dawgs, Fit Flops, Keen (sandals and water shoes), Israeli Naot sandals, Hawaii inspired OloKai, Reef (more flip flop than sandal), Rainbow (in leather, hemp and rubber materials), Dr. Scholl’s, Vionics, and Teva brands.

Warm Slippers with Arch Support:

If you will be spending a lot of time around the house in slippers and are more accustomed to wearing shoes most of the days, you may be more comfortable in slippers with some arch support. As your feet strengthen and get used to less supportive shoes you could transition to flat slippers or just walking around in socks. In the meanwhile though, the following short list of slippers provide some warmth and also provide arch support:

Taos Footwear Norah Wool Clog
Taos Footwear Norah Wool Clog

Share This