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. But that shoe may not be the best for your foot. On this page Dr. Howard Friedman, a podiatrist with over 25 years of experience, lists shoes that he often recommends.

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.

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

Summer Sandals and Clogs:

If you have any history of heel pain I recommend sandals with built in arch support.  I am okay with flat sandals or even flip flops if you have no foot issues.  I 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  AbeoAllegria sandals (which accommodate orthotics), Chacos,  BirkenstocksDawgsFit FlopsKeen (sandals and water shoes),  Israeli Naot sandals, Kuru sandals have generous arch supports and I wore them extensively, Hawaii inspired OloKai,  Reef (more flip flop than sandal), Rainbow (in leather, hemp and rubber materials), Dr. Scholl’sVionics, and Teva brand

Shoes for Senior Citizens:

Choosing the correct footwear for senior citizens or anyone with mobility issues is important. The wrong shoe for that person can lead to a sore or a fall. 

Look for the following when you choose footwear for the elderly.
The shoe must have adequate room for the toes. Toes need to spread during walking. Footwear should be light weight and have a flexible sole. This provides good ‘ground feel’ which can help the elderly avoid a fall. 

Shoes that meet these criteria are the original KEDS sneakers. They are lightweight, flexible and have a thin sole (but may not accommodate a bunion or hammertoe).

The Propet Viator and Propet Tour Knit,  are both light weight and secured either with stretchy laces or one wide velcro strap. The Skechers Go Walk may be better for someone who needs more toe room.

Make sure the shoes are easy to get on as well.

Zeba shoes, Kizik shoes and Skechers Slip-Ins have a special feature that make them easy to slip on.

KEDs Orignal Sneakers
KEDs Orignal Sneakers
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’.

Alternative Brand Footwear

Besides legacy shoe brands like Nike, New Balance and Addidas there are always new companies making various claims. Many brands claim to solve specific foot conditions like plantar fasciitis, or help you run more efficiently.

I can not certify specific claims but the shoes themselves are designed for comfort. Some shoes I have seen myself include Kuru, which has walking, running, hiking shoes and sandals, Joya shoes (which merged with Kybun shoes) and touts increased softness and a rocker bar, G-Defy which has a raised cushion under the heel area and XPACS, available on Amazon. 

Kuru ATOM Slip On
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 Ride a neutral shoe and find them light weight and comfortable. I have run in Saucony Kinvaras   for several years and Hoka One One Clifton 4  I have also run in Asics, Brooks and La Sportiva shoes as well.

Here is a link to Runner’s World’s 2024 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 2024 are Brooks Ghost 15,  Saucony Triumph 21, Hoka Mach 5, Asics Gel-Cumulus 25New Balance FuelCell Rebel v3, Brooks Hyperion GTS and New Balance Fresh Foam X 860v13, both stability shoes, Nike Vaporfly 3 for racing, and Salomon Thundercross and  Topo Athletic Mtn Racer 3 for trail shoes, among others.

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 refer to it myself when shopping for running shoes.

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 womenNew 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. And Kuru Shoes, a newer shoe company, with a variety of choices designed for comfort and support, is also a good option.

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
Adidas Ultra Boost
Specialty Shoes - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations
Hoka TenNine

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 ShoesNew Balance Minimus CollectionMerrell and Vivobarefoot.

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

Extra cushioningHoka 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

Vimazi. adds different amounts of cushioning to each model based on the calculated force of a specific running pace. Select the shoe for your pace to make your run more efficient-that’s the claim. The shoes are “tuned” to specific running paces.

Every Day Shoes for Kids:

For kids’ sneakers I still like New Balance, Asics and Saucony but whatever they are comfortable in is okay assuming they are not complaining of foot pain and have no specific foot conditions. Nike, Reebok and Adidas are okay too 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 usually can accommodate orthotics if needed and are available in big and small children’s sizes. Kids 12-13 years old or even younger can start shopping in the adult shoe section starting with adult size 6. 

Finding supportive footwear for fashion conscious tweens is challenging. Two brands for casual/dress shoes for girls I recommend are Venettini and London Kids

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 VentilatorLa Sportiva Trango TRK GTXLa Sportiva Bushido II (I am interviewed about the shoes here), Lowa Zephyr and perennial favorite, Vasque Breeze III.

Brands I can personally recommend include Danner,  Five TenNorth FaceGarmont,  MerrellSalomonVasqueLa Sportiva Wildcat ( I have hiked in Vasque, GarmontFive 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).

Boots

This is a large category, especially for women trying to wear warm, 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 (I have been wearing the Heritage Ropers for years) and Justin boots.

Chaco Hopi - Podiatrist Shoe Recommendations
Chaco Hopi
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:

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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: 

Birkenstock Boston Shearling