The term rocker bottom might be one that is foreign to you. Maybe you’ve never seen, or even heard of them, but you have been told you need to get a pair of shoes that have them. Or maybe a friend or loved one has suggested them to you. Rocker bottoms allow the wearer of the shoe to be more comfortable and to overcome anything that has previously set them back before.
Because of that, they are great for a number of medical conditions, and are a viable option for those of us that just can’t wear regular shoes any longer. If you have ever been curious about them, then stay tuned and read on. We’ll discuss the benefits and differences of rocker bottom shoes today, will try to answer any and all questions you may have about them, and we’ll then take a look at the top ones for sale on the market in 2018.
Top Rocker Bottom Shoes Comparison Chart
|1. Topo Men's Athletic Magnifly 2 Running Shoes||Men||$$$|
|2. MBT Men’s Speed 17||Men||$$|
|3. Exersteps Men’s Whirlwind Sneakers||Men||$$$$$|
|4. Dansko Xp 2.0 Men’s Clog||Men||$$|
|5. Skechers Women’s Shape Up 2.0||Women||$$$|
|6. Alegria Women’s Debra Slip On||Women||$$$|
|7. Exersteps Women’s Brisa Sneakers||Women||$$$|
|8. SHAKE Women’s Slip On Wedge||Women||$$$|
Rocker Bottom Shoes Buying Guide
What Is It?
A rocker bottom shoe is a normal shoe with one big twist for good measure. The bottom of the shoe takes the normal shoe and just evolves it slightly to help you out. Where a normal shoe has a foot that is completely flat, the rocker bottom has a sole that is curved. This curving comes in the back of the shoe toward the heel. But that’s not all.
The fun isn’t in the back of the shoe only, it’s also in the front. Many ‘normal’ shoes are starting to do this today, but a rocker bottom also has a pointed toe that isn’t flat on the floor, either. This means that no part of the foot, or at least very little of it, is flat on the ground, taking some potential pain away from you in the process. The toe section is usually a little bit thicker than in regular shoes, so that is another benefit of wearing them.
Support & Pain Management
The chief idea of the rocker bottom shoe is to help alleviate pain in a person while they are walking, standing, or even running. The idea originally was intended to help the wearer to compensate for a lack of movement in your foot, like many people experience from Arthritis. They have also been suggested by doctors over the years for people after they have had a foot surgery so that they can recover without putting a lot of strain on the part of the foot that had just been cut on.
The way that they do this is by taking the area of the foot and making sure that the shoe does the work instead of that body part. By doing this, the shoe provides the flexibility that you need and it leaves you without the pain you’d otherwise have in a ‘flat’ shoe. A number of medical studies have shown that rocker bottom shoes have done a great job at reducing and relieving pain for a wide array of foot issues. Where the rocker is on the shoe can tell you how and where it will help your pain the most, so it can change based on how the shoe is constructed. One Certified Pedorthist made the statement that “next to foot orthotic devices, rocker bottom soles are the proverbial ‘aspirin’ to chronic and temporary foot problems.” What this means is that a vast swath of people, with problems ranging from ultra-serious to minor and not long lasting, can be helped by wearing rocker bottoms.
The Two Types
There are two main types of rocker bottom shoes that are out there on the market, though you can push it and call it three if you really insist (we’ll get to that later). Here is the section where we will take a look at them.
Heel to Toe Rocker Sole
The reason I have made this the first one mentioned is because this is the most common type of rocker bottom and the type that offers the most general foot relief. This type is very much the same as described earlier. It has a rounded shape to it both in the heel and toe areas, and it thus has the sole’s thickest point further back on the shoe than it would be on a normal pair of shoes or on our later types. What it does an effective job at is to limit the amount of motion in the middle of the foot and in the ankle. This means if you have Arthritis in either area that it can help you a whole lot. They also can do a very good job for someone who is a heel striker, meaning that they hit the ground with their heels first. They just simply take some of the load off of you as you continually do that stride after stride, so it’s not just medical use that these shoes help.
Forefoot Rocker Soles
Forefoot rocker soles look a lot more like normal shoes than the case above, but they also have a purpose and a valued one at that. Forefoot rocker soles concentrate on the forefoot only, making sure that your toes are protected as much as possible. They are effective at reducing the amount of pressure that is present underneath the ball of the foot. It does that by transferring the load to the shoe itself. Another thing it does is allow you to walk without needing a lot of motion in the toes. The conditions that are most commonly treated with this type of shoe are big toe Arthritis (known as hallux limitus) and also any pain on the ball of the foot.
If you want the most general protection, then the first choice is probably the right bet for you. If you are a runner, or just walk a lot and don’t find yourself having a lot of medical problems, that is definitely going to be preferred by you over the long haul. However, if your doctor is suggesting something specific, you should listen to them and go with what they tell you to get for your specific case because it will work out better for you to have exactly what you need.
Types of Rocker Bottoms & Where to Get Them
There are a few different ways, well three ways, that you can get the benefits of the rocker bottom on your shoe. Each of them have pros and cons, so you have to take a hard look at them.
- A prescription can be given to you for rocker bottom shoes. Originally, these shoes were designed sometime in the 1990s and it was for medical reasons. Because of that, they still remain involved and heavily linked to the medical field. If you have a very specific need, then your doctor will weigh that and might just consider putting you in a pair for varying reasons, so that advice should be heeded.
- Just go online or go to the store and buy one. If you don’t have a major medical problem, but you still want to try them out and see if it fixes your problems, then it is relatively easy to find them nowadays. They aren’t the most popular thing out there, but they aren’t all that tough to find, either. This means you can bring the benefits with you as you walk, stand, or run, depending on the brand and model. This is what we are here to do today, so we are in effect leading the way and showing you an example and an easy way to purchase said shoes.
Make Your Own
- You can make your own. This one is a little tough, but some people insist on doing it. You can get some of the benefits of a rocker bottom shoe by using what is called a “turf toe plate.” Basically, this is a piece of steel or graphite that you put in the shoe. It is meant to limit the motion of the toe. Graphite is the more rigid and stiffer option of the toe. With this type of shoe you don’t get as much protection as you would from a heel to toe rocker sole, and you are just improvising for your toes, so be aware. It might be good in a pinch, but it’s probably not your very best choice.
Things to Look For in Rocker Bottom Shoes
Here are a number of things to know and weigh out in your mind when you are looking to buy rocker bottom shoes online.
Right out of the gate, you are going to notice that rocker bottoms aren’t usually the best looking shoes. You are just going to have to accept that out of the gate. These shoes are oftentimes used to help people get rid of pain, and they are not made with aesthetics in mind. With that said, there are some very nice looking pairs out there, and if you look hard enough you will be sure to find some that will please you in that way.
But just know that style is only a small part of the equation with this type of shoe, and that there is a reason why you, your loved one, or your friend need them in the first place. You can’t have it all, so choose wisely and don’t settle just because of the looks. Still yet, you should know that even a great looking pair of rocker bottoms is probably not going to touch a slightly above average pair of normal shoes.
The midsole of the rocker bottom is where it is at, and because of that it will differ a lot from normal shoes. With normal shoes, even those that are very sturdy, you can usually take them and bend them at quite a bit. This is just not the case with a rocker bottom. What you absolutely have to got to have to get the most out of your shoes is an inflexible midsole.
This might sound counter intuitive to some athletes because we have been drilled time and time again that comfort equals flexibility. However, that’s not the case in this area. What you really have to see is a sturdy midsole so that your metatarsal area will be secure and stabilized. With that said, there is a range of options.
Some rocker bottoms will be more flexible than others, while some will be extremely sturdy. If you are someone that is looking for performance mostly, then more flexibility is probably your best choice. If you are wearing them because it is a necessity, then you shouldn’t try to incorporate a ton of flexibility.
Just like with the outsole, the insole has to be tailored for people with all sorts of foot problems and thus has to be specially designed to give you the full effect. The insole of a good rocker bottom shoe has to be able to adapt your foot and then also give you a comfy platform on which to walk. This is accomplished by using different sorts of materials, including things like latex, cork, and memory foam, the latter of which is all the craze these days. You also want to look at shoes that have an insole that can be taken out. Some people already know they need an insert of their own, and some find this out later down the line. IF you do find it out and it can’t be removed, then you will be up a creek without a paddle.
Outsole and Traction
Here is something that is a little bit more subjective and has to be decided by the individual wearing the shoe. The outsole of all rocker bottom needs to have good traction first and foremost. That’s a rule you should really take with you across all of shoe-dom, if you will. If you find that a shoe is said to have a lack of traction, though, that doesn’t mean to throw it out or to write it off. You have to first decide what you are going to use it for.
If you are looking for a dress shoe or a more casual shoe and you won’t be running on trails, then you don’t need something that is going to grip everything you could possibly counter. But, at the same, time you’ve got to have something that will make sure you don’t fall walking inside. In most cases, rubber is the material that is used and is best for the outsole because it gives you more durability and thus keeps you and your checkbook happier and larger.
How to Stay Comfy
Comfort is king in the world in 2019, and you really can’t blame people. But under the umbrella of comfort comes a ton of terms and things you have to look at.
Chief among them in this category might just be the lining of the shoes. A soft lining is very necessary for a lot of people because the top of the foot is very sensitive. A lot of people have loved shoes until they figured out that the tops (under the tongue) or the sides just rubbed them the wrong way. This can cause blistering and all sorts of other issues. A good liner also does a good job at absorbing any dampness as well. Look for soft materials like leathers and other fabrics.
Another thing to keep you comfy is staying cool. The way shoes help do this is through mesh or canvas in most cases. Both of these materials bring ‘breathability’ to you, keeping you both dry and cool. No one likes to have their feet feel sticky and sweaty, and the best way to prevent that from occurring is to find something breathable. Some shoes are better at this than others, and there are trade offs to be had in some corners of the market with it, but generally you will want plenty of breathability built in to your shoe.
Rocker Bottom Padding
The padding of the shoe is also vital to you. This comes both in the tongue and collar areas,. No one will want to feel the tongue hurting them, or for it to stick out in strange places, so this is something we can all agree on that will only make you happier and feel better. A loose tongue is another worry. Even if it won’t ‘hurt’ you, it can just be an annoyance you don’t want to deal with.
Finally, the closing mechanism also plays a role in your level of comfort. Whether you have laces, Velcro, a lock, or something else, this is very important. If you can’t tighten you shoes up to an optimum level, then you will end up wanting to throw them out the window. You also don’t want them too tight, though, so having the ability to adjust them is key. You never want to be too tight or too loose, and the only way to prevent that is to be able to move them at your will.
Best Rocker Bottom Shoes for Men
Topo Men’s Athletic Magnifly 2 Running Shoes
If you are looking for a pair of shoes that will not only look great but also feel great on the road for running, then you should look no further. Topo’s Magnifly 2 running shoes look great in three different colors, all of which standout and look very classy and sporty at the same time. The designs look really nice, too, and make you think they are one of the true big brands out there.
In addition to the looks, the shoe comes with a ton of mesh used to make it breathable. The use of mesh also makes them very lightweight, helping you to run whatever distance you choose to without all those miles adding up on you. One major kudo goes to them because they are very wide and roomy in the toe box, leading many to rejoice and switch allegiances to them for good. There is no ‘drop’ in this shoe, and that is something to be cautious of. That means there is no curved heel space to take pressure off the heels.
If you are looking for something to help because you tend to strike at the top of the foot, or if you have pain there, though, these are a good choice because they are forefoot rockers. This might not be best for everyone, so just keep that in mind if you have ankle or heel issues. One of the main obstacles for these shoes is going to be the price, which is pretty hefty. They also are a little bit firm on the bottom, which is a feel thing that might or might not bother you at all!
- Really awesome looks
- Tons of mesh make them breathable and light
- Very roomy toe box!
- A little steep with pricing
- Firm feel not for everyone
- No curvature in the heel
MBT Men’s Speed 17
Tracing its origins to the original rocket bottom, it should come as no surprise to see the MBT Men’s Speed 17 make the list. The 17th iteration of their shoes, this one is another snazzy looking offering that will leave you happy with both the looks and feels. Unlike the Topo, this listing comes with both a fully curved heel and a rounded toe to give you full protection and support, and this all-around functionality is sure to make a lot of people happy.
Like the Topo as well, it has a ton of mesh used, even more so in fact. It’s got it in the upper and in the rear, as well as underneath the tongue, too. The mesh helps to cut down with weight, which makes them ideal for running and thus contributes to the ‘speed’ name given to them. The footbed, which is anti-microbial to prevent odors and the like to grow and prosper, can be removed easily and allows supports and comforts the foot by shaping to the individual wearer’s foot. The rubber outsole is very durable, to, helping them to last a long time and keep you happy.
The tread is very good and even can prevent slipping because it is wide, but that can cause small bits of debris to get wedged in them from time to time. The padding available is also a little lax for some people’s liking, so that can also be a concern for those looking for extreme comfort.
- Lots of nice colors
- Full protection for heel and toes
- Bundles of mesh for breathability
- Debris can get lodged in the bottoms
- Lacks some padding
Exersteps Men’s Whirlwind Sneakers
One thing that has to be noted from the off about these shoes is that they do NOT have the looks of the previous two. Because of that, they might fall a little bit in your eyes, but don’t let it affect your view on them too much. Composed of mostly leather with very little mesh for breathability, this is a more casual and ‘medical’ type shoe than the two above.
They are also cheaper as a result of that, so despite you having to sacrifice looks and performance abilities, you don’t have to pay nearly as much for them. With that said, the lightweight nature of the midsole area is a major plus to these shoes as it makes them able to absorb shocks easily on the hardest of surfaces. With both heel and toe rounded, they also have great traction and will last a while due to the rubber outsole that will not mark.
The inside has a molded sock inside to help you experience a lot of comfort and cushion at the same time. They can be a little narrow for some due to only coming in one width, so that could prevent someone from buying them. Some users have experienced a lack of stability as a result of the shoes not providing a lot of give to them, so that is a major problem as well.
- Great, low price
- Good for inside use
- Gives adequate traction despite not being non-slip
- Not the best looking shoes
- Lack of ‘give’ to them
- Comes in one width only
Dansko Xp 2.0 Men’s Clog
To round out the list (pun definitely intended), we had to bring you a men’s shoe that was not a sneaker just to give you a choice. If you want something more professional or even a casual shoe, then Dansko could be the option for you. Dansko are known for products in this sphere and are well regarded for their ability to help people that have big toe problems with their joints and those that have bunions, too.
Despite that, they have the ability to help people with heel issues, too, because they do have a raised heel. Because they are a clog, they do look different and they have a pronounced drop in the middle of the foot that really sticks out. They are composed of all leather and have been treated in order to make them resistant to staining.
They are effectively a slip on in the style, so they are very easy to just put on and get on the go as quickly as you need. The sole is rubber to make it last quite a while and the footbed uses memory foam and can be removed easily for your own insert if needed. The biggest strike against these is the price, which is among the highest on the list. They’ve also got quite the reputation for squeaking as you walk on certain surfaces, so that can end up being a deal breaker.
- Good forefoot rocker
- Slip on much easier to manage
- Looks great and good for casual uses
- Premium price to lay down
- Makes a lot of noise on some surfaces
Best Rocker Bottom Shoes for Women
Skechers Women’s Shape Up 2.0
One of the things that Skechers has done is make itself the biggest brand to get into the comfort market. With that they have some designs that are pretty ‘out there,’ but if you need a rocker bottom, there aren’t many better choices than this. The Shape Up 2.0 is a great shoe if you have a problem in the ankle and/or have midfoot Arthritis.
These shoes are good there because they have a midfoot rocker that eases the pain in that region of the foot. The front part of the shoe is very flat compared to most, so that is something you might not like if you need overall coverage. Some people even claim that they are good for toning, but that is questionable and will have to be left up to your own judgment. One problem that can occur is that they can begin to tear after a lot of use. Another issue that is present is the memory foam isn’t great for everyone. A lot of people find it to be too much of a feeling like a sponge, which feels great for a while and then you realize there isn’t much support. They also tend to run a little bit small as well, so that’s something to think about.
- Good for midfoot Arthritis
- Nice designs
- Decent mid-range price
- Tear after a lot of use
- Too sponge-like for some users
- Runs small
Alegria Women’s Debra Slip On
If you want something that looks more professional and has a ton of different colors and designs to pick from, then this is your choice. This is the perfect shoe to wear at the office or at home, too, because they are easy to slip on and go in. This shoe has both a curved toe and heel, giving you full protection. As such, many have commented on how good they are at giving arch support, which can be crucial for anyone that is standing all day or those that have flat feet or Arthritic problems in the back of the foot and middle part.
The shoes are made from leather on the upper while using rubber for the soles, making them ultra durable. One problem, though, can be spotted with the uppers. In the printed designs, they tend to scratch rather easily. This isn’t present with the ‘matte’ designs, but it does happen with those, so be cautious. Another issue with this specific brand of Alegria shoes is that they run large and narrow at the same time and, thus, have made sizing a real headache for a lot of people as they try to zero in on their best size. They also take some time to break in when you are able to find the correct size.
- Versatile in its use
- Great for the office
- Easy to put on and take off
- Hard to find the best fit
- Difficult to break them in
- Printed designs tend to wear off easily and get scuffed
Exersteps Women’s Brisa Sneakers
If you are looking at getting a pair of shoes that are for either causal use or for athletic wear and you want a very reasonable price to go along with it, then the Exersteps Brisa rocker bottoms might just be your go-to pick. Despite being just a couple of colors and being just two-toned, they look quite nice all things considered.
One of the things that will be most appreciated is the high amount of mesh that is used in the upper and on the sides of the tongue. This allows you to air out as you run or walk in even the harshest of conditions. The midsole is very lightweight and offers a lot of shock absorbing qualities on hard surfaces, making them ideal if you are going to be standing on concrete all day or running on pavement or other surfaces that offer no give.
The inner liner has a molded sock-like feel that increases the amount of comfort you have and cushions you through the blows. It’s a shoe that is curved at both the toes and the heel, so it is a more traditional look to your rocker bottom in that regard. The soles are a little flexible, so that could be a plus or minus, depending on your needs. The big issue with these is that they offer a lack of width in the toe box, leading many to feel cramped and trapped inside. They also run large, too, and that is something that makes it hard to judge and pick your best size online. They also don’t allow you to put your own insert in, so that is a no sell for many people with footwear problems.
- Extremely good value
- Offer flexibility in the sole
- Good for harder surfaces
- Runs large and narrow
- Can’t bring in your own orthotics
SHAKE Women’s Slip On Wedge
“What if I want something casual but cheaper and less professional than the options already listed,” you ask? Well, this could be your best bet. The SHAKE slip on comes at a very manageable price, first and foremost, and it will give you the casual look you crave to wear around the house or on light walks and the like. Coming in a multitude of colors, most of them stick out in a very favorable way.
One thing that you’ll notice with one look at them is that they are very breathable as it is apparent given how much mesh is used. Mesh is everywhere on the upper, in the back, the heel, on the sides of where the tongue would be if it had on, and in the front. Like most rocker bottoms, it has a rounded heel and toe as well, and the elastic used in place of the traditional shoelaces makes it very easy to slip them on and go at moment’s notice. They do have some faults, though, to be aware of.
One of them is that they tend to run very narrow and thus will require you to size accordingly or be disappointed when you get them if you have wide feet. Another issue is that they don’t give you a lot of arch support beneath you, which is a real bummer because most of the people looking at these need all of the help they can get from their shoes. On top of that, they fit very loose in the heel area, which can make falling easier. So if you have stability problems at all, these might not be the wisest choice to make.
- Excellent price
- Good for casual use
- Tons of breathability built in
- Heel slips easily
- Lack of arch support afforded
- Runs narrow and small, making sizing very hard
Conclusion & Final Recommendations for Rocker Bottom Shoes
No matter the reason you need or want rocker bottom shoes, they can be a major help to you, your happiness, and your health. Whether you have a gait issue that needs correcting, or you’ve got Arthritis, or Plantar Fasciitis, have been through a recent surgery, are a heel striker, or just want to see if they will help you reduce the level of pain you experience in your day, rocker bottoms can do a good job. After today, you can rest assured that you have a lot more answers about this new-ish invention! If you have any further questions about them, here are some answers below to help you even further.
Frequently Asked Questions About Rocker Bottom Shoes
Is It True That Rocker Bottoms Strengthen Muscles?
In the past companies have tried to make claims that rocker bottom shoes make the muscles of the feet and calves stronger. However, there is no evidence whatsoever to back up those claims, and those companies ended up getting sued. As a result of that, some of them have went out of business due mainly for false advertising and the lost revenue of a court battle.
Should Older People Wear Rocker Bottoms?
The answer just depends on the person really. Once you reach a certain age and a threshold of health, you need to consult a doctor and come to a conclusion about it. Generally, if you are an able bodied individual, you should be more than fine to wear rocker bottoms. However, if you are older and are having balance issues, they have been shown to possibly increase the likelihood of a fall. Therefore, you should be careful you already have issues keeping on your feet. Provided the doctor knows all of this, you should feel safe with what they come up with.
Do Rocker Bottoms Burn More Calories?
Just like the claim that they strengthen muscles more than regular shoes do, the claim that rocker bottoms burn more calories is simply false. In studies that compared rocker bottoms with regular shoes, there was no apparent different in terms of performance. You may well feel better after running with them on, but it will not make you faster or lighter in weight or anything of the such.
Do Rocker Bottoms Help With Back Pain?
The scientific studies seem to indicate that they do not help with back pain much, if at all. In fact, some studies have concluded with the idea that they harm people that either have sciatica or lower back pain. Another study found that flat shoes worked better for people with back pains, so you shouldn’t hope that rocker bottoms will help all of your woes, just the ones with your feet!
What Was the Inspiration for Rocker Bottoms?
The story goes that a man by the name of Karl Muller went to African and noticed the people- the Masai- walked barefoot and didn’t suffer any injuries. From there, he developed the first rocker bottom shoes, called the MBT, or Masai Barefoot Technology.
When Should I Replace My Rocker Bottoms?
If you are starting to see signs of wear and tear, you probably need to look at replacing your pair of shoes, whether they are rocker bottoms or not. One great way to tell is to look at the midsole for any creases. If there are any and you are experiencing less comfort than you used to, chances are that you need to seek out a new pair. Nothing lasts forever, after all, even when it’s the best of the best you can find.
What Are Some Sizing Tips?
Sizing on rocker bottoms can be notoriously difficult for some. It is hard to narrow down the correct size, so it’s very much worth your time to try them on in person. If you can’t do that, you at least need to go somewhere where you can have your foot measured accurately. Foot doctors and even some stores that sell shoes will be able to help you do that. When you feel comfortable enough with your size, you can try some on. The best thing to do is to try them on in the middle part of the day or later on.
This will give you an accurate fit and it will correlate to how it will feel at the end of your own day. Always leave a thumb’s width between your toes- each of them- and the ends of the shoes to keep you from hurting and developing blisters. Also, check for width. If you have a wide foot, you might end up having to squeeze in and that will lead to frustration over time.