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 liner and stand on them. If your feet fit within the boundary of the liners, the shoes are likely to fit well.
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. Most sneakers have added arch support. But 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 asks you for your foot type. Once you enter ‘high arch’ or ‘under-pronator’ it should direct you to a neutral shoe.
Running shoes:This category is HUGE. The following are brands/styles I have personal experience with or more than passing familiarity and generally are available in multiple widths: 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 am very happy with them-light weight, ventilated, cushioned with good traction. Now I am running in Brooks
Pure Grit 4 and find them light weight and comfortable. Unfortunately they are being phased out in 2017 for the less popular Pure Grit 5 but are still available as of late 2016. Other options are Brooks Beast, Cascadia. There are also many options from New Balance or Saucony. Nike Free is also popular and lightweight, and, now after several first place Marathon wins, the addidas Adizero Boost model is popular.
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 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.
Aetrex, Allegria ( with roomy toe area and remove-able foot beds), Aravon, 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”.
Aetrex, Allen Edmonds, Allegria (clogs, slip ons and some lace ups) Bostonian, Clarks (I like the WaveWalk model), Cole Haan (quite impressed with the mens’ dress shoe offerings, with stitched soles), 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.
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.
Hiking shoes: Danner, Five Ten, North Face, Garmont, Merrell, Salomon, Vasque, La Sportiva Wildcat (I have worn Garmont and Vasque hiking shoes and or boots with good results. I have hiked in 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.
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 is a link to Runners World magazine 2017 Spring selection of notable running shoes.
Trail running shoes for 2016, rated by Runners’ World magazine in video reviews are here.
Some of the trail shoes reviewed by Runners World:
Saucony Peregerine 5 Features aggressive tread for trails, a protective rock plate
integrated into the mid sole and very good forefoot cushioning. Topo Runventure Roomy toe box, full length rock plate, protective rubber cap around the toes and aggressive tread. Altra Superior 2.0 Wide toe box, narrow heel, aggressive deep lugs on the sole and increased cushioning are enhance,nets in this Runners’World Editor’s Choice 2015 shoe which comes with a removable full length rock plate, that can be added when needed. This shoe has only about 3 mm of heel elevation, which is considerably less than the other shoes listed here. Hoka One One Challenger ATR A very cushioned, stable shoe with a firm mid sole yet flexible due to a rocker shape of the shoe. This rocker shape could be beneficial for people suffering from pain under their forefoot. Hoka One One is known for their ‘maximalist very cushioned road and trail running shoes. The thick sole might not be good for someone prone to ankle sprains. The heel is almost an inch and a half thick. Skechers GoRun Ultra 2 A less expensive maximally cushioned shoe with aggressive lugs for the trail, and a supportive heel. The thick sole might not be good for someone prone to ankle sprains. The heel is almost an inch and a half thick.
I am currently running in Brooks Pure Grit 4, a discontinued model, which is lightweight with a 4 mm heel drop. I am on my 4th pair, replacing them every 300 or so miles but they are becoming more scarce as Brooks has replaced them with the Pure Grit 5.
Specialty Running Shoes
This is an emerging 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 and each brand 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: Minimalist Running Shoes: New Balance Minimus Collection, Merrell. “Zero Drop” shoes: Altra. Extreme cushioning: Hoka One One (this brand and category are 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
Summer sandals: 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 significant 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.
* reviewed by Dr. Friedman here.