Although you may not think it at first, arthritis does impact the feet and can make walking becomes very difficult and painful. Arthritis is more well-known for its effect on joints such as hips, knees, and wrists, but those who have arthritis in their feet understand the negative impact that having the condition can make on their quality of life.
Given that you spend so much time on your feet, the type of shoes you have will make a large impact on how well you’re able to deal with your arthritis. Shoes that are adapted to help with the condition can make all the difference in the world. You can even wear these shoes before you develop arthritis, as a means of prevention and to ensure overall wellbeing for your legs, toes, and feet.
In general, shoes that offer arch support and don’t have any problems staying on your feet are best, such as walking shoes and running shoes. Shoes that are pointed or high-heeled should be avoided, because they put pressure on the balls of your feet and may contribute to the development of bunions. Degeneration of the foot’s arch can also lead to spur formation along the top of the foot. It may also be necessary for you to purchase wider shoes, in order to ensure comfort and fit.
Pressure along the top of your foot, which is caused when your shoes are too narrow or too tight, or you tie your shoelaces too tightly, can lead to pressure on adjacent nerves. This causes a burning sensation along your foot and toes and is another factor in the discomfort that comes with arthritis.
Top Shoes for Arthritic Feet, Knees, & Hips Comparison Chart
|1. New Balance Cruz Fresh Foam Running Shoe||Men||$$$$|
|2. New Balance MW877 Walking Shoe||Men||$$|
|3. Brooks Women’s Adrenaline Gts 17||Women||$$$|
|4. ASICS Women’s Gel-Nimbus 19||Women||$$|
|5. Orthofeet Monterey Bay Men’s Sneakers||Men||$$$|
|6. Dansko Women’s Pro XP Mule Shoe||Women||$$$$|
|7. Clarks Women’s Sillian Tana Fashion Boot||Women||$$$|
|8. Aravon Andrea-AR Ballet Flat||Women||$$$$|
|9. Vionic Unisex Wave Toe Post Sandal||Unisex||$$|
|10. Wolky Women’s Jewel Sandal||Women||$$$|
Shoes for Arthritic Feet Buying Guide
If you have arthritic feet, your doctor will either ask you what type of shoes you tend to wear, or examine those shoes themselves. Your shoes reveal a lot about your health, and it isn’t simply a matter of whether you wear heels all the time or not. Your doctor will look at the wear along your shoe, alignment, and if it leans to one side. This examination can help pinpoint not only the causes of your foot pain, but also what may be causing hip, knee, or ankle pain, as well.
After the examination, your doctor will recommend shoes for you to start wearing in order to help your feet. Generally, running shoes are among the top ones that are recommended, as they offer a lot of comfort and support, and they’re lightweight. Having the proper shoes will give you the relief you’ve been needing, and often, it can even improve function for people who have attained foot damage from their arthritis.
When you pick out shoes, you should always try on a couple pairs, and walk around for a little bit in them before you make a purchase. You can conduct research on medical websites to find great shoes for arthritic feet, and some salespeople will be able to help you as well in order to find something that offers both function and comfort for you. Shoes that fit well and help alleviate your pain are always worth the time and effort it takes to find them.
Types of Arthritis
There are many forms of arthritis that can affect your feet. They include:
This condition causes cartilage to degenerate, and leads to the formation of abnormal bone growths that are known as bone spurs, and are usually located at the base of the big toe.
This type of arthritis causes the joints that are located along the ball of your foot to become inflamed, which in turn makes the ligaments loose. This may also cause the bone to push against the skin that’s located along the bottom of the foot, resulting in calluses and ulcerations, which may require surgery to remove or repair.
Gout causes hard deposits of uric acid crystals to crowd together and form lumps. These lumps typically are located at the base of the big toe, along the inner side. If the size of the deposit is large, it may cause abrasion and even lead to ulceration. Shoes that are wider are often recommended to aid with this problem.
Nodules are lumps of soft tissue that may form along the sides of your heel, toes, or foot. They can potentially ulcerate from abrasion, if you’re wearing shoes that are too tight. Slits can be cut into the shoe at the point where the nodule is located, to help relieve pressure and therefore alleviate pain.
Why It’s Important to Choose Shoes that Help With Arthritis
Our feet support our entire body and provide the mobility and balance that we rely on during our day to day lives. It’s easy to misuse our feet and take advantage of our mobility. Many people sacrifice comfort and function for stylish shoes, and this can make an impact in the long run. People who wear high heels and other shoes for special occasions understand that shoe choices can be painful.
It’s essential that you choose shoes that support your arthritic feet, as this is a wellness choice that is much like other healthy choices, such as getting enough exercise on a regular basis or consuming a nutritious, well-balanced diet. These choices add up to improve your general quality of life. Really, you should begin to think of your shoes as a factor that can minimize bodily pain, and maximize your ability to get out and perform activities–just as eating well and exercising are factors.
Someone who has arthritis anywhere in their body, whether it’s in the feet, ankles, hips, or knees, can potentially worsen their problem without knowing it if they’re not wearing the right shoes and can cause complications and damages to their joints everywhere. Correct shoes may reduce, or even eliminate, the pain in your feet, which positively impacts your body’s mobility and function overall.
The Worst Types of Shoes for Arthritis
In general, there are certain kinds of shoes you should take care to avoid if you have arthritis or would like to take care of your feet. While you may find some brands that try to have more supportive shoes or are trying to fix the issues, it’s probably best to stay away from kinds such as:
It is common knowledge that high heels are bad for everyone’s feet no matter what. High heels are defined as heels that are higher than two inches. These shoes force you to walk on the balls of your feet, and negatively impact your arch as they wreak havoc on your joints. If you have any kind of arthritis, it can be even worse. Studies have shown that wearing stilettos and other such high heels contributes to the development of both arthritis and foot pain. People who wear high heels put a lot of force on their knees, and have a higher risk of knee osteoarthritis, lower back pain, and knee joint degeneration. The risk increases the higher the heel is. Women who have a history of wearing high heels often also experience more foot pain later in life, than those who don’t wear high heels.
These shoes may produce the same problems as their higher counterparts, but in a lesser impact. If your shoes have pointy toes, this can lead to even more discomfort and pain, as your toes and feet tend to take on the shape of the shoes you wear the most. This can lead to deformities like hammertoes, and pinched nerves. It’s important to remember that if it hurts to wear a shoe, even if it doesn’t seem harmful because it’s not a really high heel, the shoe is still causing damage to your foot. If you’d like to wear low heels, it’s recommended that you find ones that have wedge heels, rubber soles, or toe boxes that have plenty of room. These will have greater grip, will absorb shock better, increase stability, and reduce the stress that is applied to pressure points.
While flip flops may seem like a great choice during the summer or while you’re at the pool, they are not very stable and increase your risk of injury and falling. They’re best reserved for people who don’t have any problems with their balance or their feet. In some ways, flip flops are close to going barefoot, which is positive for knee load. However, flip flops easily slip off, have no arch support, and you have to squeeze your toes to keep them on, which may lead to damage in the long run. In general, save your flip flops for the annual trip to the beach.
Like flip flops, many sandals are only soles and some pieces of thin leather to keep the shoe attached to your foot. If you have arthritis, you will be able to wear sandals, however you’ll need to find ones that attach securely and provide a lot of support. The more straps they have, the better, as straps are adjustable for a custom and secure fit. Make sure that one of the sandals’ straps goes across the back of your ankle; if it doesn’t have a back strap, your toes overcompensate and grip hard, which leads to strain and hammertoes.
You may have seen people wear these as they run or kayak; they look like rubber-soled slippers, which wrap individually around each toe. They are a relatively new kind of shoe, and are very similar to being barefoot while still offering some support and protection. While many people enjoy these shoes, they are not a good option for people who have arthritis, as they have zero shock-absorbing protection, and can worsen your arthritis as your feet continue to hit hard surfaces.
Best Types of Shoes for Arthritis
In general, you want shoes that are comfortable and form-fitting, instead of shoes that you have to fight to get to stay on, or ones that hurt to wear. Clogs and sneakers are known as stability shoes, and they provide cushioning both at the forefront of the shoe for your toes, and at the back for your heel. They also contain a dense, firm, form-fitting midsole that will support the area of the middle of your foot. Some of the best shoes you can buy if you have arthritis include:
These shoes are classified in two categories: neutral sneakers, and stability sneakers.
Stability sneakers will have a midsole that is cushioned and dense, and a heel that aids with overpronation and controls motion. Overpronation is the foot’s tendency to roll inward, and when this occurs, weight is not evenly distributed across your legs and feet, and shock is not properly absorbed. These shoes take weight off of the balls of your feet, which is very important for people who have arthritis, whether in the foot, ankle, knee, or hip.
A neutral shoe is one that won’t correct pronation, whether it’s underpronation or overpronation. However, they do offer great cushioning and shock absorption, which many people can find benefit in. With a neutral design, these shoes can accommodate custom-made orthotics or other inserts, very easily. Neutral sneakers are best for people who regularly run or walk, have normal pronation, and don’t have any problems with their biomechanics.
It has been shown that clogs can decrease stress that’s placed on the knee. While some clogs, such as lightweight, plastic ones, might not offer any benefits, people who have foot or knee arthritis can seek out clogs that are well-made and have a closed back, rubberized sole, and heels lower than two inches. A closed back is especially important for support and comfort. Be aware, however; if your clogs don’t stay on very well and your toes need to grip hard, the shoe won’t provide any benefits.
These shoes can actually be a stable and healthy option for people who have arthritis in their ankles, or other ankle problems–as long as you make sure they are not high-heeled boots. If you have arthritis, and would like to wear boots, you can as long as you find ones that have rubber-soled, wedge heels that are low and stable, or boots that contain good support for your arch. In general, hiking boots are a great pick, as they have excellent arch and ankle support and are very sturdy.
While flats may seem counterintuitive, they will be fine for your arthritic feet, as long as they have arch support, shock absorption, and cushioning. The cheap, extremely flexible pairs you commonly find won’t be a great option for people who have arthritis, but flats that are sturdibly made and which you can’t bend in half or wring can in fact lend support. Flat and flexible walking shoes are good choices especially for people who have arthritis in their knees, and you can always add a personal insole to increase cushioning.
Best Shoes for Arthritic Feet, Knees, & Hips Reviews
If you need to stop or ease the pain in your feet and knees that’s due to arthritis, you need shoes that make a softer impact on your joints and offer lots of comfort and support. The best shoes you can get for arthritis are ones that have systems for shock absorption and excellent cushioning, so any force that’s exerted onto your legs is redirected away from the arthritis-affected areas. This redirection should occur whether you’re walking or running on a trail, on the treadmill, or on pavement. In the end, this is a health and wellness choice that will enable you to be able to do all the things you physically want and need to do.
Athletic Shoes for Arthritis
New Balance Cruz Fresh Foam Running Shoe
New Balance is a well-known brand that provides great products for both runners and walkers. All of its shoes provide optimum support, breathability, and comfort. These shoes especially have a comfort heel made from molded foam, and uppers made from knit material so your feet retain maximum breathability. They were constructed with a bootie and slip on style that make them very easy to put on, and easy to wear whether you’re going out for a walk or going out for dinner. Its fresh foam technology features a lighter and softer version of what New Balance is known for. With these features, the shoe provides great comfort and support for people who have arthritis.
However, some people have found that the shoe falls apart very quickly and as a whole doesn’t last very long. Some of the material, especially the knit fabric, may deteriorate fast based on your activities. It’s also recommended that you order a size up larger than what you’re used to, as they run small.
- Upper made from knit material for breathability
- Nubuck leather
- Easy to slip on
- Comfort heel made from molded foam
- Fresh foam technology
- Not very durable/long-lasting
- Fabric deteriorates quickly
- Run small; not ideal for those who have wide feet
- Bottom soles tend to crack
- Foam material rips easily
New Balance MW877 Walking Shoe
New Balance delivers again with these great walking shoes that have Walking Strike Path technology. They provide excellent comfort due to the ABZORB cushioning in the midsole, the padded collar and tongue, and excellent arch support. These were designed for athletes and provide a great fit that not only supports your feet, but relieves stress and aids with arthritic pain. The shoe also has New Balance’s classic look and build, with 100% mesh/suede material and the classic synthetic leather. A rubber sole provides great traction.
Some negative aspects to the shoe, however, is that many people found it does not provide great arch support, and that it would pinch their toes, as the toe area doesn’t have a lot of room. While the material makes the shoe light and breathable, the mesh also means that the shoe gets wet very easily, and the suede makes it difficult to dry out.
- Padded collar and tongue
- Midsole ABZORB cushioning
- Walking Strike Path technology
- 100% mesh/suede material for great breathability
- Outsole is firm and durable
- Arch support is not great
- May be tight in the toe area
- Mesh material means the shoe gets wet easily and stays wet
- Holes appear in the mesh material quickly
- Sole may disconnect
Brooks Women’s Adrenaline Gts 17
Brooks provides great stability and cushioning with this running shoe that’s great for your feet, whether you’re a runner or not. The Adrenaline series has cushioning that provides shock absorption and deals with lots of movement and energy. It also has a mid-foot saddle that’s adjustable so you can get a customized and secure fit, and comfort provided through the lining of the fabric and a plush collar and tongue. With Progressive Diagonal Rollbar technology, a midsole that was specifically created to help pronation control , these shoes are especially great if you suffer from overpronation.
However, there are some downsides to this shoe. There is not much room in the toe area, which leads to some pinching and pain, and may eventually cause holes in the mesh. The sole may also wear quickly, depending on your activities.
- Come in a lot of different colors and styles
- Great for those who have overpronation
- Mid-foot saddle that adjusts for customized fit
- Insole is molded foam and is removable
- Progressive Diagonal Rollbar technology
- Not a lot of room in the toe; toes may dig in to the mesh and cause pain
- Material around the ankle may fray
- Sole may wear quickly
- Some users found that wearing these shoes led to knee pain, or pain along one side of their foot
- Little arch support
ASICS Women’s Gel-Nimbus 19
ASICS’ Gel-Nimbus series are sneakers that are made to help alleviate some of the pressure and pain in your legs and feet. It also alleviates tension that’s placed along your achilles with FlyteFoam Midsole Technology, which puts an additional 3mm of height to the heel. The midsole also has FluidRide technology, which gives the shoe its lightweight feature and great durability, as well as a combo of cushioning and bounce properties. The Gel-Nimbus also has GEL cushioning systems in both the rear and fore parts of the shoe. These absorb shock and increase your ability for movement as you walk.
Some downsides to this shoe unfortunately are that they tend to run very small, so you should order a size up, and are not recommended for people who have wide feet. They may also be painful in the toe area or the front of the foot overall, and take a while to break in.
- Relieves tension in your achilles with FlyteFoam Midsole Technology
- GEL cushioning systems
- FluidRide Midsole technology
- Great cushioning and shock absorptions
- Helps you walk in a natural, fluid motion
- Tend to run small
- Not comfortable for people who have wide feet
- Toe area may be very tight, which can cause pain
- May hurt the balls of the feet
- Long break-in period
Orthofeet Monterey Bay Men’s Sneakers
Orthofeet provides orthopedic shoes that provide premium fit and support for people who have a variety of issues, including arthritis, with their feet. These sneakers have orthotic insoles that provide great arch support and a heel pad that’s extremely cushioning and adapts to your foot’s contours the more you wear it. They’re designed with extra depth, padded foam, and an engineered cushioning system. The shoe is made to alleviate pain, whether that pain is in your knees, heels, toes, or feet–or even the lower back.
Just like any shoe, however, there are negative aspects to Orthofeet’s sneakers. The material of the shoe doesn’t have long-lasting durability, and the biggest issue that there seems to be is with the Velcro part of the shoe. Many people dislike the Velcro, as dirt and other debris easily becomes trapped within it, which leads the Velcro to lose its stickiness and makes it more difficult to ensure a tight, custom fit.
- Have an orthotic insole
- Alleviates pain and enhances comfort in the ankles, legs, knees, heels, hips, and feet
- Designed with extra depth
- Ortho-cushion makes your gait natural and easy
- Designed with complete comfort features
- Mesh material not durable in the long run
- Velcro lace-up does not work well with some people
- Hair, dirt, and debris may get trapped in the Velcro, making it harder to ensure a tight fit
- Great for walking, but may not be great for other activities
- Rubber outsoles could use more traction
Dress and Casual Shoes for Arthritis
Dansko Women’s Pro XP Mule Shoe
If you’d like to wear a clog, or mule style, shoe that helps your arthritis, especially if you work on your feet all day, this is the shoe for you. Dansko is a very popular brand of clogs, and this type has everything that arthritic shoes require: a closed toe, a closed heel, a rubber outsole, and a heel that’s only 1.5 inches. It also contains a rocker bottom, which means your feet will move fluidly and naturally from heel to toe as you walk and no pressure will be put on the balls of your feet. The slip-on, 100% leather material looks very nice and professional, and you can work all day in ultimate comfort, as the shoe has a very roomy toe box, and a memory foam footbed that provides great support and cushioning. The padded instep provides even more comfort. Dansko is well known and accepted in many workplaces, and makes high-quality shoes that are great for arthritic feet.
However, as with any shoe, there are some downsides to this product. Since it’s made of real leather, you’ll have to purchase a leather-cleaning kit and won’t be able to clean the shoe in just any way. The shoe also tends to be very stiff, so it may take a long time to break it in and become comfortable. Some users said that they received blisters for the first few days as they wore these clogs, and they do not last for a long time.
- Heel height at 1.5 inches
- Footbed with memory foam
- Roomy toe box
- Rocker bottom
- 100% leather material
- Since the material is actual leather, it can be hard to clean
- Stiff; long break-in period
- Slip/fall off the foot very easily
- Many people find that they do not have very good durability
- May cause back leg pain
Clarks Women’s Sillian Tana Fashion Boot
If you’d like to help your arthritic feet as you continue to look very stylish, Clarks is a brand that makes comfortable and supportive ankle boots. These boots in particular have Clarks’ Cloudstepper technology, making them very lightweight yet comfortable. The heel height is only 1.35 inches, and the shaft is 4.52 inches as the platform is 0.5 inches, so you don’t have to worry about them being too high. You’ll also get day-long comfort from the cushioned insole. Clarks’ shoes are always made with ultimate flexibility, so you can effortlessly and easily move, making them great for arthritic feet. The shoe also comes in four colors, so you can choose ones that fit with all of your outfits.
While this is a great product, some people say that the flexibility of the shoe ends up creating a crease along the top, which rubs into the top of your foot and may cause blisters. The boots also run small, and are not ideal for wide feet. It’s recommended that as you make a purchase, you order up a size than your normal. They also don’t have great grip, so be careful if you wear these in the snow or rain.
- 35 inches heel height
- Very lightweight
- Contain Clarks’ Cloudsteppers technology
- Available in four different colors
- Cushioned insole provides comfort all day long
- Flexibility of the shoe may create a crease that digs into skin
- Very tight fit
- Run narrow; not ideal for those who have wide feet
- Do not have very good grip
- Slip off very easily
Aravon Andrea-AR Ballet Flat
Many flats are too flexible and don’t offer any cushioning or support, but Aravon is a company that designs flat shoes that people who have arthritis and other issues can still wear. These ballet flats in particular have EVA insoles that are removable so you can put your own insoles in, and they also have a memory foam footbed, with Stability Cradle technology, so your foot receives the ultimate support and comfort. The heels give a little lift at just one inch. The shoes are also very stylish with 100% leather material, have durability given the rubber outsole. The flat is also adjustable, so no matter whether your foot’s big, small, narrow, or wide, it’ll have a great fit, and has comfort with moisture-wicking Dri-Lex linings.
Some negative aspects to this shoe that people have reported are that the wrap that goes across the toe area tends to fall apart and split easily, and while the real leather material is bonus, that does mean you’ll need to purchase a leather cleaning kit if you don’t already have one. In fact, the material along the top of the shoe caused the most problems for many people. There is a toe box built into the shoe, however you might not find as much room as you need with it.
- 100% leather material
- EVA insole that is removable
- Memory foam footbed, with Stability Cradle Technology
- 1 inch heel height
- Adjustable, so it can fit a variety of feet sizes and provides ultimate comfort
- The leather material may be difficult to clean
- Wrap that goes across the toe may split or break apart
- Leather is of low quality
- Toe box is not very roomy
- Doesn’t provide a great fit for people who have very narrow feet
Vionic Unisex Wave Toe Post Sandal
Vionic’s thong style sandal, or flip flop, is perfect for the beach, pool, and river for both men and women. Its straps are made from mesh neoprene, so the shoe won’t fall off and you’ll get breathability for your entire foot as it’s drying from sweat or water. A padded neoprene liner provides great support, and the shoe has cushioning with an EVA midsole that also absorbs shock and reduces stress on your ankles and feet. The outsole is made of wave-patterned tread rubber material that provides great grip and traction so you never worry about slipping. It comes in three colors–black, brown, or grey, and the shoe goes perfectly with any outfit. At the end of the day, the shoe is very easy to clean, as well; simply take a damp cloth, wipe down the shoe, and let air dry.
The negative aspects to this shoe include the fact that it’s unisex, which means you might not get a very great fit depending on your gender; it tends to be too wide and too big for women. The strap also rides high for many people and may cause red lines or blisters as it rubs against the top part of your foot.
- Rubber outsole provides great traction
- Mesh Neoprene material on the straps provide breathability
- Available in three different colors
- Padded neoprene liner
- EVA midsole
- Since the shoe is unisex, may not fit well for women or for people with smaller, more narrow feet
- Strap can slide too high on the foot
- Straps may be uncomfortable at first, especially between the toes
- Not very durable; tend to break soon, especially at the straps
- Long break-in period considering that they are flip flops
Wolky Women’s Jewel Sandal
Wolky’s sandals are great, stylish shoes for people who struggle with arthritis yet would still love to wear chunky, bright footwear. Wolky’s provides full customizability, with a leather footbed that can be taken out, and adjustable toe, instep, and back straps that accommodate any foot, whether you have wide feet, narrow feet, large feet, a high arch, or a low arch. With Wolky’s, you’ll also get your most comfortable fit yet with a memory foam insole and soft, full-grain leather material to the upper. This sandal is also not only inspected, but certified by the APMA, the American Podiatric Medical association, and is approved for its comfort and fit. Overall, this is a great shoe for those who have arthritic feet.
However, there are some downsides. Although they’re lightweight, these are clunky shoes, and some people may not like the look and feel of them, as they come in bright colors as well. The leather is also hard to clean unless you own a kit for cleaning leather. Like many sandals, the straps may also take some time to adjust to, and they may leave red marks or blisters at first, especially if you strap your foot in too tight.
- Certified by the APMA, American Podiatric Medical Association
- Leather footbed that’s removable and customizable
- Outsole made of lightweight, polyurethane material
- Instep strap, toe strap, and back strap are all adjustable for a completely custom fit
- Absorbs shock and provides ultimate comfort
- May be a little pricey
- Some people don’t like the aesthetic look/feel the shoes aren’t very stylish
- Can feel clunky
- Straps may dig in to the skin and cause red marks or blisters
- Leather may be hard to clean
Conclusion and Final Arthritis Shoe Recommendations
If you have arthritis, making sure you have a good, form-fitting, cushioning, and flexible pair of shoes can make all the difference. Whether the arthritis is located in your feet, ankles, toes, knees, hips, or even lower back, shoes that provide support can not only help to alleviate your symptoms and pain, but also help you achieve the mobility and the ability you want in the long run. Look for shoes that have a secure fit and won’t fall off your feet, provide good arch support, have roomy toe areas, and that spread the impact or force of your activities, so not all of your weight falls on the balls of your feet.
Keep in mind there are certain types of shoes that may worsen arthritis, such as high heels and foot gloves. You may be able to find cushioning and comfortable sandals and boots, however, your best bet are running or walking shoes. Take a look at the best shoes for arthritic feet that are listed above, to find the best pair for you.
Frequently Asked Questions About Shoes for Arthritis
Is shoe size selected differently if I have arthritic feet?
Yes, a little bit. One of the most important things to consider is that if your feet are in pain, they are probably swelling up. If you already know you have arthritis in your feet, you should order a size up and get shoes a little bigger than normal, to accommodate for this swelling.
Do I need wider shoes?
Yes. It is recommended that you go with one size wider than normal. Shoes that were designed specifically to aid with arthritis and other types of foot pain will actually be wide or have extra depth.
Can I wear flip-flops or sandals if I have arthritis?
Yes. However, you should ensure the shoes you wear are ones that still provide cushioning, and support for areas such as the toes and arch of your foot. There are some stylish, supportive flip flops and sandals that have been made specifically for people who have health issues with their feet.
What kind of shoes can I wear if I’m attending an event or special occasion?
If you have arthritis, stay away from high heels. Luckily, there are some sandals and low heels that help with arthritic feet, and which are very stylish. If you need shoes for a special occasion, you won’t be out of options and will be able to choose from more than just sneakers.