I fell in love with hiking during the pandemic since it was pretty much the only activity I could do during lock down and social distancing. Now I‘m not talking about climbing Mount Everest, but just being outdoors surrounded by untouched nature was enough to unwind me and provide my body with the exercise it needs to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, I also suffer from plantar fasciitis which definitely isn’t compatible with any strenuous activity on the foot.
One of the main causes of plantar fasciitis is participation in physical activities that put a lot of stress on the heel and attached tissue, or a sudden and rapid increase in levels of physical activity. In other words, hiking can exacerbate the condition if I didn’t take any specific action to prevent and comfort it.
Treating plantar fasciitis is not difficult and most of the time, the condition will improve over time with the right shoes, orthotics and care.
The best hiking boots for plantar fasciitis are recommended to have the following features:
Boots for plantar fasciitis need to provide superior support under the arch so that when the plantar fascia (runs under the bone from heel to toe) flexes and flattens with each step, it is not overly strained which can lead to tearing, inflammation, and pain.
Since the heel is also involved and pain presents there, it is important that walking boots for plantar fasciitis have substantial cushioning throughout but especially at the heel where the foot first strikes the ground. Any shock forces from the initial strike will be dispersed and deflected for a softer landing. The best hiking boots will have both cushioning in the insole and outsole, made from several layers, thicknesses and shock absorbing materials.
To improve and facilitate the walking motion of the foot, a boot with a low heel and a slightly curved sole, otherwise known as rocker bottom, does the trick. Keeping the foot close to the ground prevents extra pressure being placed on the forefoot and arch while the rocker bottom ensures smooth motion propelling the foot forward with minimal joint movement.
Luckily, I was able to continue hiking despite my plantar fasciitis thanks to boots made by shoe brands that really know what they are doing and specialize in problem feet. I was fortunate enough to test some styles out so that I can share my experiences with you.
The best waterproof boots for plantar fasciitis:
Hands down my top pick for when the trail or weather involves some splashing! Delta (for women) or Hunter (for men) recently received an incredible upgrade to the construction, material and sole. The upper material is made with waterproof leather that is super easy to clean and durable. The construction of the boot is sealed in the seams, even where the tongue connects to the boot, to ensure nothing seeps through, keeping your socks and feet dry.
The sole is made with special rubber and incudes many grooves that channel away liquids to prevent slips and falls on virtually any surface. Knowing this gave me peace of mind and increased confidence when trekking on wet trails.
The Ortho-Cushion System featured in the boots made my plantar fasciitis flare ups non-existent and allowed me to enjoy being active without any pain or discomfort. A premium orthotic insole supported my arch while the air and foam pockets within the sole cushioned my heel and surrounding area.
A wide toe area in the forefoot was much appreciated for much little bunion and I was still able to comfortably wear a thicker outdoor sock. A generously padded heel counter felt like a pillow against my heel and ankle area and provided supportive cushioning and protection for all day wear. I give the Delta a 10 for being the best women's hiking boots for plantar fasciitis!
Orthopedic hiking boots:
For those of us looking for a more classic looking boot that can transition from trail to paved ground, Glacier Gorge is a fantastic choice.
The pebbled full grain leather upper makes this boot a timeless classic that can be maintained and cleaned even after a stroll in rugged terrain. Yet, the leather is super pliable and provides a lot of give to accommodate every foot shape.
The two hook and loop straps make putting them on and taking them off a snap. The upper design is unique and allows the tongue to completely opens for easy foot insertion. You can literally step into them, which is rare when it comes to boots. And of course the straps are adjustable to create a custom fit and secure grip based on your preference and foot shape.
Glacier Gorge is designed with extra depth that runs from the heel to toe area which then leads to a wide, round and tall toe box construction. These features ensure a pressure free fit, allow for maximum toe movement and are very accommodating to bunions, hammertoes and wide/swollen feet making them the best hiking boots for bad feet.
And how do these help with Plantar Fasciitis? The built in anatomical arch support insoles and substantial shock dispersing materials ensure the plantar fascia is not overworked and is comforted and protected from all angles.
Men's hiking boots for plantar fasciitis
Ranger is one of the most innovative boots I have come across and is ideal for those of us who don’t like or have trouble tying laces or want quick and easy on/off wear. They look like regular lace boots but when you turn them around, you will discover two zippers at the heel. And yes, even though they are men’s boots, I was able to test them out in my size!
Adjust and tie the laces once (when you put them on for the first time) according to your grip and instep and never tie them again! And now for the best part, pull down both zippers at the back to create a wide opening that allows the foot to slide in easily. This was extremely beneficial as I was running in and out of the house and didn’t have to fuss with tedious lacing.
The built-in orthotic insole keeps the plantar fascia in check by controlling the foot rolling inwards and maintaining an aligned body. The rocker bottom sole further facilities proper foot motion and really improves walking.
A seam free interior that is generously padded with foam provides a smooth, gentle and protective environment for the foot. The wide, round and tall toe area give the toes the freedom to move around without overlapping others, potentially causing additional foot conditions.
A slip-resistant sole completes the package allowing one to venture on the off beaten path.
Ranger is available in a rustic brown and classic black.