Heel pain can arise for a multitude of reasons. Some of those reasons may be closely tied to the type of footwear you commonly find yourself in.

Choosing the right shoes for your feet can go a long way toward reducing the severity of the heel pain you are currently experiencing, and in some cases even outright alleviate it. Those choices can also help prevent future heel pain from developing. 

Below, you can find some general advice on what to look for (and not look for) in a shoe. It is important to keep in mind, though, that these tips may not necessarily work best for you, depending on the actual source of your heel pain. If you have persistent heel pain, we highly recommend you see us to get to the root of the problem and determine the most direct course of treatment for your needs.

Get Full Support

Any shoe should provide good support for the foot, including the arch. This does not simply mean cushioning (although that can be helpful on its own). Proper support should be felt throughout the bottom of the foot.

The support should also be sturdy. One way to test this is to hold the shoe in both hands and try to twist the toes in one direction and the heel in another. If a shoe is simple to twist, it likely will not provide the support you need.

The type of support you need may differ depending on your foot structure. If your foot shape has special needs, custom orthotics can often supply exactly what you need in the form of an insert.

Keep the Heel Low…

The higher the heel, the more weight is unnaturally forced toward the front of the foot. This can cause excess strain on connective tissues and easily aggravate conditions such as plantar fasciitis and Achilles tendinitis.

Low heels are best. If you must wear high heels, try to limit the amount of time spent in them, and limit heel height to 2.25 inches or lower.

…But Don’t Go Totally Flat

If high heels are bad, then going totally flat would be ideal, right? Not so fast.

A little bit of a heel is ideal, as it provides some support to the area – and often support to the arch as well. Shoes that are completely flat – such as ballet slippers and flip-flops – will provide little-to-no support and often cause excess stress through the repetitive impacts of walking.

“Minimalist” shoes, which had higher popularity in the past but still have their defenders, are similarly not a great choice if you suffer from heel pain.

Get the Right Footwear for the Job

If you’re active in sports or specific workouts, a good shoe designed for your particular activity is more likely to protect your feet against heel pain (among other problems).

Different activities have different demands, and sport-specific shoes are designed to help your feet take those stresses more effectively. So a running shoe, for example, is typically more capable of absorbing impact stresses than a walking shoe or a general sneaker. That can help you avoid certain heel pain-causing conditions.

Favor Natural Movement

Once again, we’re not talking about a flat, minimalist approach. However, the feet should still be able to move naturally with the support given by a proper shoe.

If a shoe is too tight and restrictive, the foot may not move as it should and stress can build up in areas where it shouldn’t. This can very well cause or aggravate instances of heel pain.

Always take a few moments to walk around in any shoes you are thinking of buying to make sure the feel comfortable and natural to move in. Your toes should always have wiggle room and the heel should not slide around too much in the back.

An ideal time to shop for shoes is later in the afternoon, when feet are typically swollen a bit due to gravity. If they fit well then, odds are they will fit well anytime.

The Best Shoes (and Other Choices) for Your Heel Pain

If changing your footwear solves your heel pain problem, great!

But if it doesn’t fully solve your problem, you are far from alone. It does not mean you have some form of invincible monster heel pain – it just means your particular problem is not being fully addressed yet.

We are experts at diagnosing the causes of heel pain and recommending courses of action that fit our patients’ needs. Simple, conservative treatments may prove effective, while some cases may require a more advanced approach. In any case, we will help you find relief!

Schedule an appointment with us by calling our Oak Creek office at (414) 764-4500 or our New Berlin office at (262) 821-1588. We’ll be happy to help you find the right path to happier heels.