"It's just arthritis doc," I hear often in the office from patients in pain. Chances are if you are older or have parents or grandparents who are older, many of them complain about their arthritis. It is believed that in the US, about 24% of the population suffers from some type of arthritis.
What are the best walking shoes to wear if you have arthritis?
A quick, important note: all the shoes that made my list are designed with the effective features I mentioned above.
Women’s Francis | Men’s Lava
The Francis and Lava sneakers are both designed with a no-tie system - an adjustable bungee lace closure that allows to do to two things:
- Easily slip in and out of the shoes without having to tie any laces.
- Fully adjust the fit to your specific foot width and shape.
The shoes are made with unique breathable materials that keep your feet aerated and healthy. The removable orthotic insole is also made with a breathable cover, which makes sure the feet are dry at all times.
Although these sneakers are constructed with a host of advanced orthopedic features, they are very lightweight and won’t feel heavy on your feet, and especially your joints, as you walk.
What the reviews say
“These shoes are the most comfortable I have ever worn. With arthritis in both feet I struggled to walk some days. Two days after I started wearing this brand of shoes I was practically pain free." Judy Hawley
Women’s Verve | Men’s Sprint
The Verve and Sprint walking shoes are designed with two features that make them the perfect choice for men and women with arthritis.
- Innovative tie-less lacing system with hidden tabs on both sides on the shoe. This feature eliminates the need to tie laces and allows you to fasten the shoe on either side - ideal for people who have difficulty bending down.
- Heel strap that allows a more custom fit around the heel, to accommodate any foot shape and size, and any need, including braces.
The soft fabric and microfiber upper offer a non-constricting fit, as well as superior breathability, while the smooth, padded interior eliminates irritation and protects sensitive feet.
What the reviews say
“Great shoes. It is perfect for my arthritic feet, arthritic knee and my back pain. All could feel relief because of these shoes. Very surprised but very grateful. Looking forward to getting some other shoes soon.” Terry Stewart
Does wearing shoes help with arthritis?
I am a Podiatrist. I treat feet and ankles. I see a lot of arthritis in feet and ankles along with knees and hips and backs.
Proper shoes for arthritis can help manage pain and reduce the compensations that cause further damage. Ill-fitting or improper shoes can contribute to the damage from arthritis and add to the pain and disability.
Toes are a common area of deformity with arthritis, especially if the big toe joint is damaged and compensation in gait occurs. Often, there are hammertoes and toes that deviate sideways.
In these cases, the best shoes for this type of arthritis deformity have a deep toe box to accommodate the elevation of the toes, so there is less rubbing on the top of the toes. Shoes designed with stretch materials in the upper provide extra give, so the toes aren't irritated.
Does walking help arthritis in feet?
If you have arthritis, it’s vital that you eat well, keep your weight down, exercise safely, don't ignore pain and wear proper well-made shoes (and replace them yearly before they wear out).
The safest exercise for many people with arthritis in the feet is walking, because it’s low impact and puts minimal stress on the joints.
Walking can help:
- Keep the joints flexible
- Minimize joint stiffness
- Promote bone health
- Reduce the risk of osteoporosis
- Improve pain
- Increase the range of motion
What type of shoes should I wear for arthritis?
With arthritis, any abnormality in the biomechanics of the feet can magnify the damage and pain. Shoes for arthritic feet are the starting point in effective treatment.
Here are the features that you should look for in shoes best for arthritis.
- Shoes designed with an orthotic insole support the arch of the foot, align the feet with the rest of the body and prevent excessive pronation.
- The shoes need to be deep from the heel to the toe area, to accommodate inserts or orthotics that may be recommended for treatment.
- A low heel prevents further damage to the toes, back and knees from elevated heels. Micro trauma to the lower back, flexion in the knees and forefoot damage to the toe joint can occur as a result of elevated heels.
- Wide width arthritis shoes are a must! They need to have enough width to accommodate the wide forefeet often seen with arthritic deformity, in order to provide a comfortable and pressure free fit. Look for shoes in Wide, Extra Wide and even Extra Extra Wide widths.
- A tall, wide and round toe box is essential to allow maximum toe movement and protect hammer toes and other deformities in the forefoot.
- The best arthritis shoes need to be stable enough to help create as normal a gait pattern as possible. In cases of big toe joint arthritis, I order rocker bottom shoes, which roll the foot through the damaged joint.
- Flexible, soft uppers and foam padded interiors are best to gently cushion and protect arthritic feet. Stretch materials provide a pressure free fit, as they shape to the specific contours of the feet.
- Sometimes there is arthritis of the hands, which makes putting on shoes difficult. A hook and loop (velcro) closure or tie-less lace shoes are a big help.
The tie-less lace style combines laces and straps on both sides of the shoe and enables fastening without the need for tying the laces.
After starting with shoes, I often proceed with either a non-custom orthotic insert or a custom orthotic, if warranted.
Orthotics stabilize the feet, allowing the best possible gait and reduce the damaging compensations that add to the arthritis.
I have seen many cases of back, hip and knee pain improve with proper shoes and orthotics, even in severe arthritis.