I recommend the following brands of shoes and sandals (see below). They generally have better than average arch support and many of them have a remove-able 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.
This section highlights a specific category of shoes currently most popular and generally well rated. This is not always the best way of determining what shoe will be comfortable, but, it may be a good place to start your shoe search.
Currently popular women’s athletic sandals (based on best rated on Zappos.com) as of June 2018, include Oofos Oolala Slide , Sanuk Yoga Joy, Keen Sarasota, ECCO Sport Yucatan, and Olukai Ohana W. Average price of sandals on this list is $79, ranging from $30 to $130.
Everyday or dress shoes:
This is by far the most difficult category as women want fashionable shoes yet still 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.
Abeo, Aetrex, Allegria ( with roomy toe area and remove-able foot beds), Ara, many styles including the Rachel, Aravon, Beautifeel shoes, Cole Haan Grand Collection, Clarks (specifically the Clarks Unstructured collection), Drew, Mephisto, Merrell, Munro, Naturalizer, P.W.Minor (made in Batavia, NY, I recommend the Casual, Euro Casual or Vintage collections), SAS (the Free Time or Time Out styles are the most popular), Stuart Weitzman (the Rialto or Domepump flats), Thierry Rabotin (especially the
collection of pumps but very expensive), Waldlaufer (Classic collection for women’s dress shoes) Zara Shoes ( many less than $100.00, especially the Leather Ballerinas with heels and most of the flats) and Ziera shoes which are fashionable and also includes a complete line designed to accept orthotics.
A new shoe company for men was launched at the end of 2014, Samuel Hubbard founded by one of the founders of the Rockport shoe company.
The founder has a multi-generational family history in the shoe manufacturing business and has launched Samuel Hubbard as a new family business with a goal to make high quality men’s shoes, dress and casual, that are, as they write “ridiculously comfortable”.
Abeo, Aetrex, Allen Edmonds, Allegria (clogs, slip ons and some lace ups) Bostonian, Clarks (I like the WaveWalk model), Cole Haan including their Grand collection, Danner, Drew, Eastland Shoes, Ecco, Fitflop shoes,
Florsheim (the Florsheim Comfortech line has a remove-able liner and a more cushioned sole) and the Florsheim Lexington is a well constructed wing-tip that could accommodate a 3/4 length orthotic, Jambu a new entry into the comfort shoe market, Johnston & Murphy, P.W.Minor, Rockport (check out the Rockport City Trails Mudgaurd as well as the Rocsports Lite and the Edge Hill), and Timberlands, both shoes and boots.
High Arch or Cavus feet: People who have a high arch foot, also known as a high instep (and called a ‘cavus‘ foot in medical jargon) should look for a ‘neutral’ type sneaker. If you have a high arch foot type 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 shoe ‘finder’ that has filter for you to indicate your foot type. On the Brooks site, you would check ‘neutral’ and not ‘support’. 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.
This category is HUGE. The following are brands/styles I have run in and found to be comfortable. Please note that shoe models change from time to time although the basic designoften remains the same. I recently retired my first pair of Hoka One One Clifton 3 road running shoes after 430 miles. They are a neutral light weight shoe with a roomy toe box with added cushioning underfoot. I am now running in the Hoka One One Clifton 4. After 170 miles I can say they seem similar to the previous version and I find them comfortable.
Shoes I have used worn in the past include Brooks Pure Grit 4, which I used for several years. Asics, (I wore Asics Trail Sensor for years with good results) and the La Sportiva Wildcat trail running shoe and La Sportiva Helios trail shoes and I was very happy with them-light weight, ventilated, cushioned with good traction.
Here is a link to Runners World magazine 2018 Spring selection of notable running shoes. It includes Saucony Kinvara 9, New Balance 890 V6, Brooks Ravenna 9, Saucony Liberty ISO and Brooks Adrenaline GTS 18.
Scroll to bottom of page 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 at www.runrepeat.com, with lists and rankings based on thousands of reviews. One of the best ‘running shoe finder’ pages I have found is on the Runners World web site. Simply follow the prompts to fill out the details of what you are looking for or what you are wearing and the site will return several suggestions. Here is a link to the shoe finder: http://www.runnersworld.com/shoe-finder/shoe-advisor
Everyday shoes for kids: For kids who wear 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 Addidas 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 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.
Walking: 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: model 812 has a very rounded toe box and New Balance 992, 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. Some earlier models such as the 409 and 661 are roomy and reliable. These models are very good for basic walking. The 812 and 928 have a more orthopedic look, while models 992 or 993 are sturdier with a sportier appearance (and more expensive). 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.
Light Weight, Running and Walking
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 Addidas 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 Epic React and New Balance Fresh Foam, among
Hiking shoes and boots:
Outside magazine 2018 list of best hiking boots includes Tecnica Forge GTX (heat moldable to your foot!), Five Ten Access Knit (lightweight shoe), La Sportiva Stream, Scarpa Kailash Trek and Aku Tenga Lite.
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.) Nevados and Timberland are also options. Even the originators of extra cushioned running shoes now provide a hiking boot, a Hoka One One thick soles boot.
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.
Trail running shoes for 2017, rated by Runners’ World magazine are here.
Some of the trail running shoes reviewed by Runners World:
Saucony Peregerine 7 with aggressive tread for trails, a protective rock plate, Hoka One One Challenger ATR 3 with mid sole and forefoot cushioning, soft soled New Balance Fresh Foam Hierro v2, rugged, less cushioned Inov-8 roclite 290, the flexible Merrell Agility Peak Flex, adaptable and rugged Brooks Caldera, lightweight Scarpa Spin and conforming and grippy Mizuno Wave Daichi 2, and Topo Athletic Terraventure Altra Superior 2.0 was one of last year’s winners.
Specialty Running Shoes
This is a growing and decidedly more popular category with new entrants every year. The companies target specific niches in the running community – people who want a minimalist low weight shoe, those who want a “zero drop” shoe (the heel height is the same as the height of the forefoot). Each of these brands has their loyal followers and sponsored athletes and each believes that their approach to running shoes is more natural for runners and may prevent injuries . On the last point, the jury is still out.
Here are the some of the leading catergories:
Minimalist Running Shoes: New Balance Minimus Collection, Merrell.
“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 is gaining a lot of attention recently and was worn by Karl Metlzer who in September 2016 completed the fastest know time for completing the Appalachian Trail
If you have any history of heel pain or fasciitis in the past and plan to wear sandals 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, 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) and Teva brands.
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.
* reviewed by Dr. Friedman here.