Best Running Shoes for Heel Pain – What to Look For

by | Nov 6, 2020

If there was one ideal running shoe for heel pain that worked for everyone, we’d have trucks lined up in the back of our office to keep it in stock!

But the simple truth is that no such “ultimate heel pain buster” exists in shoe form. There are definitely running shoes that will help your heel pain condition more than others, but what that shoe consists of will differ from person to person.

Different Heel Pain Causes Mean Different Running Shoe Needs

Heel pain can come from a variety of different conditions, each with a variety of possible contributing causes.

The good news is that most of these influences can be addressed using conservative measures that can make a difference – and that includes your choice of running shoes. However, the same features often won’t have the same effects on everyone.

The best way to take care of your heel pain is to have it professionally examined and treated. We can help you get to the root of the problem and recommend the most effective ways of dealing with it. But if you’re looking for running shoes in the meantime, it can’t hurt to keep some handy considerations in mind.

running shoes for heel pain

Find the Right Amount of Arch Support

Common heel pain problems such as plantar fasciitis occur when a part of the foot experiences too much strain. When the plantar fascia itself is concerned, a lot of this stress can often come from a failure to support this band of tissue, which runs across the arch of the foot.

A running shoe should provide firm support along the entire arch. How much support is required will greatly depend on how high or low your arches are.

While cushioning is also often a fantastic feature for running shoes, do not confuse cushioning and support as being the same thing. Support that gives way too easily is not really that supportive at all.

Some running shoes are designed particularly with support in mind, containing a denser layer of foam beneath the arch and softer layers of foam throughout the rest of the shoe. These may be worth considering for your particular situation.

Toe Room Matters

We know what you might be thinking: isn’t my heel in the back of the foot and the toes… opposite of that?

Yes, but everything remains connected. If your toes are scrunched up and compressed, it can affect the way you move and how your feet are positioned as you do so. The more you deviate from a natural gait, the more stress it can put on the plantar fascia and other connected elements.

Your toes should always have enough room to wiggle freely, but the shoe still needs to fit tight enough that they’re not constantly sliding forward and crashing into the front of your shoes as you run. 

Consider Rigidity

(Try saying that five times fast.)

Rigidity equals control of foot motion, which can be especially important if you tend to overpronate. 

Overpronation means that your feet roll inward more than they should during your walking cycle. This extra motion can not only lead to heel pain-causing strain as your body adjusts to keep itself balanced, but also pain in the legs, knees, hips, or lower back as well (once again, it’s all connected!).

Fortunately, determining whether motion control is something to look for in your running shoes – and how much of it you should have – is not terribly difficult. We can certainly help you with that, but a trained associate at a sporting goods store should also be able to make a reasonable analysis by watching you walk or run.

running shoes for heel pain

Sometimes a Replaceable Insole is Best

Running shoes may come with a range of sizes, cushioning levels, support options, etc., but that doesn’t always mean you can find a pair that is ideally suited for your needs.

There are times when exact amounts of cushioning and support will best accommodate a patient’s needs – especially when there is an abnormality in their foot structure. In these cases, custom orthotics may be an ideal recommendation.

But even if the best custom orthotics are prescribed for your needs, they can’t really do much if they don’t fit in your shoes! 

Custom orthotics are made for running and other athletic shoes all the time, but the shoes you use still need to be able to accommodate them. That may mean having extra depth or removable insoles to do so.

Sometimes it’s not what a shoe provides as much as what can be added to or taken out of it!

You Need the Right Tools for Lasting Relief

The more you can do to confront the causes of your heel pain today, the less of an impact it will have on your running routine now and into the future. 

Changes to your running shoes for heel pain may just be one part of an overall treatment plan to address your heel pain most effectively. Additional conservative or advanced forms of treatment might be recommended, and we’ll be happy to discuss them with you and answer any and all questions you may have.

Call Premier Podiatry Group at (814) 472-2660 to schedule an appointment at our offices in Johnstown or Ebensburg. If you prefer to reach us electronically, please don’t hesitate to fill out our online contact form.