Best Shoes for Heel Pain When Walking (For Women)

Best Shoes For Heel Pain When Walking

You and your feet have been suffering for too long. And now you’re reading this because you finally want to get help. 

You desperately want to know what are some good shoes for heel pain when walking.

Are you working as a nurse who has to walk tirelessly back and forth along the hospital corridors? 

Or are you an office lady who has to wear high heels to your workplace every single day? 

In this article, we will guide you on what might be the cause of your heel pain, what to look for in shoes to avoid heel pain, and what are some of the best shoes for heel pain when walking.

We’ll be doing a bit of explaining before jumping into the list of shoes we recommend for heel pain. 

But if you’re only here for the shoe recommendations, feel free to jump straight to section 5.

What Is the Cause of My Heel Pain When Walking?

There are many reasons why you might experience heel pain, and the cause depends on where you feel the most pain.

1. Plantar fasciitis

Plantar Fasciitis

If you feel the pain most at the bottom of the heel (or at the bottom of the mid-foot), then this is most likely it. 

The pain has a very special characteristic. It is a pulling type of pain and is most obvious early in the morning, right after you step out of bed.

How does plantar fasciitis happen? 

At the bottom of your feet, there is a sheet of tissue called the “plantar fascia.” 

In the simplest terms, overstretching of this tissue can cause inflammation, resulting in plantar fasciitis.

Risk factors for plantar fasciitis:

  • Standing for a long time
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Having a tight Achilles tendon
  • Excessive running
  • Wearing shoes that don’t fit

2. Heel spur

Heel Spur

If your plantar fasciitis is left untreated, then the constant pulling from the plantar fascia will cause a new bony thing (also called a “spur”) to grow on your heel bone.

Compared to plantar fasciitis, this is more of a stabbing type of pain on the bottom of your heel, which hurts every time your feet touch the ground. 

It can be difficulteven for doctorsto differentiate between these two just from your symptoms alone. 

When in doubt, get yourself an X-ray appointment with a doctor near you. It is the only way to confirm that a heel spur is there.

Causes and risk factors of heel spurs are exactly the same as those of plantar fasciitis.

3. “Pump bump”

Pump Bump

Now, this is a slightly different type of heel pain. It is also known as “Haglund’s deformity.”

If you notice a bump in the back of the heel, or experience pain in the area where the Achilles tendon meets the heel, then you are most likely dealing with “pump bump.”

This happens most frequently in individuals who wear tight shoes with a rigid ankle collar and a very hard back

When walking or running, these parts of the shoes tend to rub and cause friction with the skin and the Achilles tendon, leading to inflammation.

Shoes that can cause “pump bump”:

  • Ice skates
  • High heels
  • Women’s pumps

Why Is Heel Pain More Common in Women Than Men?

We’re not making things up. We promise this is true! 

In order to confirm our hypothesis, we did a (very) brief survey by asking our friends if they’ve ever experienced foot problems, and it was unbelievable how true this statement is.

It is undeniablewomen are more likely to have foot problems in general compared to men.

You wanna know why? The answer is unsurprising. Women’s footwear are not exactly built with comfort in mind

We’ll explain why.

 

1. High heels

Beauty is pain. High heels carry not only a woman’s femininity but also her entire body weight.

The problem is, high heels put a woman’s feet in an unnatural position.

Other than putting you at risk of ankle injuries, they also tend to overstretch your feet.

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One scientific study even showed that wearing high heels may lead to thickening of the plantar fascia, which can cause plantar fasciitis in the long run.

2. Pregnancy

Rapid weight gain during pregnancy can add strain to the heels. 

Now we’re in no way suggesting any pregnant woman to lose weight to prevent experiencing heel pain!

It’s inevitable and, in fact, healthy for weight gain to happen during pregnancy. 

But if you’re pregnant and  wearing poorly fitted shoes, then heel pain is bound to happen.

While you can’t change anything about your baby bump, you can make changes to your choice of footwear.

Can Heel Pain Be Caused By My Shoes?

Yes. Definitely. Absolutely.

We have mentioned multiple times on our blog that prevention is always better than cure

Poor footwear is one of the main reasons why many people are experiencing heel pain. 

So don’t be one of those people who still wear their worn-out sneakers their parents gave as a birthday present from 10 years back! 

While we totally understand the value of nostalgia, the cost it brings to your feet health in the long run is simply not worth the risk.

Here are some ways your shoes are causing you heel pain:

1. Poor arch support

What Is Arch Support?

When we talk about poor arch support, what we mean is the shape of the shoe arch does not fit the shape of your own foot arch.

If you have high foot arch (like me):

  • Your ligaments are strong.
  • Arch support – You don’t need very rigid or high-arched shoes. 
  • Cushioning – You need good cushioning. This is to minimize impact to the other parts of your feet. (Softer insoles are perfect for this, because your weight is being distributed to your heels and the balls of your feet instead.)
If you have low foot arch (also known as flat feet):
  • Your ligaments are weak. 
  • Arch support – You need to be supported by a stronger and more rigid arch. This is to prevent the inside of your soles from further collapsing.
  • Cushioning – You don’t need soft cushioning. What you need is a hard and rigid insole. But do take care, because jumping or running in hard insoles can lead to knee problems in the long run.

2. Narrow toe box

Narrow Toe Box

One example of footwear with a narrow toe box would beyou guessed ithigh heels!

Here’s what happens to you if you wear shoes with a narrow toe box all the time:

  • They will suffocate your feet in the short term.
  • Wearing them in the long run can cause increased pressure to the rest of your foot, including your heels.
  • In turn, this can lead to a change in the way your foot looks.

You may have been surprised that the toe box can affect your heel health as well, but it’s true. 

Since all of the structures in your foot are closely related to one another, when one thing is affected, everything else gets affected in one way or another.

3. Rigid back

Skate Shoes

Like we mentioned earlier, rigid back can lead to “pump bump.”

I used to skate a lot in rental skate shoes, which gave me so much pain and redness at the back of my heels.

This is not to say you should never ever go skating again. But the next time you go, try and put in some soft cushioning between your Achilles and the back of the shoes.

What To Look For In Walking Shoes For Heel Pain?

1. Shoe type and occasion

Have you ever walked in the mall for hours in sandals? After an hour of walking and shopping, you already start to feel some discomfort in the bottom of your feet.

Why does this happen?

That’s because sandals are not meant for long-distance walking in the first place!

Start dressing for the occasion:

  • Wear sandals at home or at the beach.
  • Wear walking shoes for long-duration walking.
  • Wear running shoes for casual or professional jogging/running.
Stop walking for long hours in sandals!

2. Good cushioning

If you are experiencing pain in your heel, it is a good idea to look for something softer to take the impact away temporarily.

However, if you have flat feet, you will still need a pair of shoes with stronger cushioning to prevent further collapsing of your inner arch.

3. Good arch support

The cause of plantar fasciitis is the overstretching and flattening of the bottom of the feet. 

In order to prevent this, wearing shoes with a higher arch can help with relieving the pain and discomfort.

4. Fitting toe box

Like we mentioned earlier, every single part of your feet is related to the other. Injuries to the toes can cause pain in the heel and vice versa.

So if your toes feel too tight or too loose, it could lead to heel pain. 

Find a pair of kicks that feel just right. Shoes with  a rounded toe box usually are the best.

Now if you want to know more about how to test whether or not your shoes are good for heel pain, then this video is perfect for you:

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What Are the Best Shoes for Heel Pain for Women?

1. Sandals

OUR #1 CHOICE – Oofos Original

OofosOriginal;

CUSHIONING AND COMFORT

The plush foam offers excellent cushioning in the heel. It feels soft when you walk, which is why this is one of the most comfortable flip-flops out there and why it is so different from the rest.

Our score: 10/10

ARCH SUPPORT

Strong arch support is one of the most unique features you can find in a pair of sandals, and the Oofos original can offer you that. Not only is this good for plantar fasciitis patients, it is also good for those with flat feet.

Our score: 9/10

OUR #2 CHOICE – Skechers Reggae Trailway

SkechersReggae;

CUSHIONING AND COMFORT

With a semirigid cushioning, the Skechers Reggae promises a comfortable landing every time you walk. 

Our score: 9/10

ARCH SUPPORT

Not only do they have good arch support, there is also a decent depth in the heel area. Other than functioning as stylish add-ons, the suede straps also provide more stability, so your heels will always be cradled in.

Our score: 9/10 

Speaking of Skechers, we have previously written an article about some good Skechers walking shoes which may be helpful for you to get further guidance.

OUR #3 CHOICE – Vionic Tide Toe Post

VionicTide;

CUSHIONING AND COMFORT

Shock absorption is maximal in the Vionic Tide Toe Post, because it is made of plastic-like EVA. This may help reduce stress on both the feet and the knees. 

Our score: 9/10

ARCH SUPPORT

Strapped with woven leather with padded neoprene liner, it is both stylish and stable.

Its high arch support guarantees a stable stride. However, for those with flat feet, you may need to give yourself a few days to get used to the high arch.

Our score: 8/10

Other than sandals, Vionic also has a lot of walking shoes which are suitable for plantar fasciitis. We have an article about this which you might find helpful.

2. Walking shoes

OUR #1 CHOICE – Brooks Addiction

BrooksAddiction;

CUSHIONING AND COMFORT

Brooks’ very own BioMoGo DNA Foam promises maximal walking comfort. The stocking inserts allow some flexibility but still embraces your arch perfectly. 

Our score: 10/10

ARCH SUPPORT

It feels flexible and semirigid at the same time. Not only does it have a deep heel cup, its arch also allows for very strong support, which is especially good those with pronation or flat feet issues. 

Our score: 10/10

OUR #2 CHOICE – Vionic Walker Classic

VionicWalkerClassic;

CUSHIONING AND COMFORT

Their Active Motion System (AMS) is designed to provide comfortable cushioning, which is good for anyone struggling with plantar fasciitis. 

However, their cushioning is a little on the thin side for those with high arches, who require more flexibility. 

Our score: 9/10

ARCH SUPPORT

The midsole is made of EVA material, which is a little flexible but mostly firm. With the removable orthotic, you can be confident that your archno matter the typewould be well supported. 

Our score: 9/10

OUR #3 CHOICE – Merrell Jungle Moc

MerrellJungleMoc;

CUSHIONING AND COMFORT

Its soft insole padding, coupled with the tight uppers, provide the stability that make this good not only for casual walking but for mountaineering as well.

However, it may not have the best heel collar if you’re looking for something soft around your Achilles.

Our score: 8/10

ARCH SUPPORT

The Jungle Moc can provide sufficient arch support for those with already well-supported feet, such as those with normal to high arch. But it may not be good enough for those with flat feet.

The good news is, its insoles can be removed, so you can change it to one with better arch support if that’s what you need.

Our score: 9/10 

3. Running shoes

OUR #1 CHOICE – Brooks Ariel 20

BrooksAriel20;

CUSHIONING AND COMFORT

The Ariel 20 from Brooks provide perfect cushioning. Not only is it good at absorbing impact, it also evenly distributes impact so that not a single part of your feet would feel strained. 

With a 12mm heel-to-toe drop, your weight would be more distributed to the toe, which can provide relief to your heel pain.

Our score: 10/10

ARCH SUPPORT

This is probably the perfect running shoes for those with a low arch or flat feet. Brooks Ariel 20 has the GuideRails technology, which aims to align your knees with your ankles.

However, it is important for us to remind you that if your feet tend to roll outward (i.e., you have a very high inner arch), then this is not for you. 

Our score: 9/10 

OUR #2 CHOICE – Brooks Ghost 14

AsicsGelNimbus24;

CUSHIONING AND COMFORT

An 8.1mm thick ankle collar, compared to a regular 5.5mm collar, should be the first sign that tells you this shoe will be super comfy on your ankles and Achilles. 

Brooks also managed to find a perfect balance between a soft and firm cushioning, making your run feel comfortable and supported at the same time.

Our score: 9/10

ARCH SUPPORT

Good for any arch type, the Brooks Ghost 14 provides both flexibility and strength where it needs to. Couple this with a 12mm drop, you can see how this is the perfect choice for those with plantar fasciitis. 

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Our score: 9/10

OUR #3 CHOICE – ASICS Gel Nimbus 24

=AsicsGelNimbus24;

CUSHIONING AND COMFORT

Its midsole has been described to be “nice and soft,” which should not come as a surprise for regular ASICS wearers. This is perfectly comfortable for those with heel pain. 

There are concerns, however, that it might not be as durable as their other shoes. 

Our score: 8/10

ARCH SUPPORT

 Perfect for those with neutral heels, this is built for runners who wish to be supported on both a sprint and a marathon alike. 

There is also a good 13mm heel-to-toe drop for those looking to relieve their heel pain.

Our score: 9/10 

What Are the Worst Shoes for Heel Pain for Women?

Where there is yin, there is always yang.

Now that we’ve discussed the best shoes for heel pain for women, it’s time to talk about the total opposite.

1. High heels

These put your feet in unnatural positions.

Wearing it for an occasion once in a while is fine, but it should not be worn all the time.

SOLUTION

Use lower heels.

2. Ballet flats

Without any arch support, ballet flats will put you at high risk of getting plantar fasciitis.

SOLUTION

Use orthotic inserts.

3. Flip-flops

Same reason as ballet flats, flip-flops also do not provide any arch support.

SOLUTION

Use orthotic inserts.

4. Ice skates

These can cause “pump bumps.”

SOLUTION

Insert heel cushions to the back of the skates.

Heel Cushions

What Are Other Ways to Prevent Heel Pain?

Stretch your feet daily

One of the causes of plantar fasciitis is a tight Achilles and a tight calf muscle. 

By stretching your calf muscles regularly, you are less likely to get plantar fasciitis.

Another stretch that you can do is the rolling stretch. Put a rolling object under your feet and roll your feet on it. This relaxes the small muscles in the feet and relieves tension.

Weight loss

One of the main reasons for foot problem in the first place is being overweight or obese. 

Excessive pressure on the joints and the bottom of the feetand especially the balls and the heels of the feetcan cause pain.

Lose weight by seeking help from your local dietitians and exercise therapists. 

Avoid walking barefoot

Walking barefoot means you are walking without any arch support. This is the same as wearing flip-flops or ballet shoes that simply do not provide any support whatsoever.

Always cover your feet up with a pair of shoes. This also protects you from stepping on anything sharp!

Do I Have High Arch or Flat Feet?

How can you tell if you have high arch or flat feet?

Follow these simple (and fun) steps to find out:

1. Prepare a basin of clean water as well as colored paper.

2. Dip one of your feet into the water.

3. Step onto the colored paper with your damp feet.

If you have normal feet, this is what it will probably look like:

Normal Arch

If you have high-arched feet, this is what it will probably look like:

High Arch Foot

If you have flat feet, this is what it will probably look like:

Flat Foot

What Are Some Misconceptions about Plantar Fasciitis?

MYTH #1: You need to take strong painkillers.

FACT #1: You should not always take strong painkillers.

Strong painkillers, when taken in the long run, can lead to kidney injuries. 

You can try to relieve your plantar fasciitis with simple stretch exercises, or go to a trained therapist who can help you with the pain.

MYTH #2: You should avoid walking altogether.

FACT #2: You can’t avoid walking all your life.

You should only avoid walking if you’re in the early phase of the pain. 

Once the redness or swelling subsides, you can gradually start doing some gentle stretches.

MYTH 3: You should walk on tiptoe more often to avoid putting pressure on your heel.

FACT 3: You need to stretch your Achilles tendon as it is one of the reason why you have plantar fasciitis.

Just because your heels are in pain doesn’t mean you should torture your toes and the balls of your feet. This will lead to new injuries altogether. 

Do some calf stretches instead.

Conclusion

All in all, it is safe to say that women are more likely to experience heel pain than men

This is because of many reasons. 

One of the main reasons is ill-fitting shoes. For example, high heels, ballet flats, flip-flops, and many other shoes that do not provide proper arch support and cushioning. 

We have recommended above some good shoes for heel pain when walking. 

In addition to that, we hope that we have given you a good guide to understand your own foot shape a bit better than before.

You should now be able to make a better decision on your next purchase. 

Hopefully, our guide and suggestions can provide relief for those of you who are suffering from plantar fasciitis or other foot conditions.

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