Best Orthotic Shoes – 2021 Reviews
Although anyone and everyone can benefit from wearing orthotic shoes, they’re especially beneficial for people who suffer from problems with their feet, such as abnormalities or injuries or are recovering from surgery.
Built specifically to support the heel and the arch of the foot, orthopedic shoes ensure healthy, normal feet and thus lower the risk of back pain, joint damage, limb swelling, and any related discomfort or pain. Even if your feet are fine right now, wearing this type of footwear could prevent you from having issues with mobility or requiring surgery for any unforeseen complications that you may develop in the future.
So let's take a look at these best shoes for various foot-related ailments!
In a Hurry? The best orthopedic sneakers winner after 18 hrs of research
Rearfoot GEL cushioning
Good for underpronation
Removable foam sockliner
Good for wide feet
1. ASICS Gel-Venture 7
Rearfoot GEL cushioning
Good for underpronation
Removable foam sockliner
Good for wide feet
The ASICS GEL-Venture 7 are a pair of trail runners that were made to give you the best possible support and comfort features, on all types of terrain. Made for runners, these feature plenty of cushioning and shock-absorbing features, but thanks to their simple aesthetics, they can also be worn as a pair of everyday casual sneakers if you need some extra support and comfort.
If you find yourself underpronating - carrying most of the weight on the outside part of your feet - you need to invest in a pair that will make up for the lack of shock absorption that happens during your gait cycle.
With rearfoot GEL cushioning, these will cup the heel and allow for a smoother transition to midstance, without sending too much stress up the entire leg.
The sockliner in these orthopedic sneakers is removable, which means that you can substitute them for your own custom orthotics. If you don’t need to use custom orthotics, you will be very happy with the high-quality foam insoles that come with the GEL-Venture 7s, seeing that they mold to the feet and give the feeling of a custom fit.
2. OluKai Nohea
Anatomically correct footbed
All-weather rubber outsole
Will stretch out considerably
This is a pair of versatile slip-on shoes that will work great for everyday wear, but also holidays and the beach, seeing that the mesh upper is quick to dry and provides you with excellent airflow throughout the day. What is more, they come with a one year warranty against any manufacturer’s defects from the date of purchase, meaning that you can rest assured that you are getting footwear that is of high quality.
One of the aspects of these orthotic shoes that make them a good choice for anyone suffering from foot problems is the heel which can be worn both as a regular shoe or can be lowered to be worn as a slide-in slipper. If you are recovering from surgery or have limited foot mobility, you will love this feature.
The long-lasting anatomically contoured footbed is lined with a microfibre Dri-Lex cover, making it quick to dry and suitable for summer use.
Also, it is removable, meaning that you can wash it whenever you feel like you need fresh ergonomic footwear, or replace it with your own custom orthotics for maximum comfort and support.
3. Birkenstock Boston
Anatomically correct footbed
Great for arthritis
Can get hot
Leather should not get wet
These classic clogs by Birkenstock make a great pair if you need supportive and comfortable slide sandals that will work just as well for the home as they will for running errands and going on walks. Featuring a rich oiled leather upper, the famous Birkenstock cork footbed and an EVA foam outsole that is water-friendly, you’ll find that the Boston is a classic pair that will never go out of style.
The upper of the Boston clog is made out of oiled, untreated leather. Using sturdy leather with a thickness of 2.8 to 3.2 millimeters, these will last a lifetime but will give you a breathable and personalized fit as they adapt to your personal foot shape. The insole is made out of suede which is very soft and gives excellent airflow, allowing you to wear these even at high temperatures or during strenuous activities.
The Boston features the famous Birkenstock cork footbed which is anatomically correct and provides excellent stabilization, arch support and plenty of room in the toe area, helping you distribute your weight evenly over the entire foot.
You’ll love the EVA foam outsole which gives additional shock absorption, making these ergonomic shoes perfect for when you need to stay on your feet for longer periods.
4. Alegria Paloma
Mild rocker sole
Stain resistant upper
Promotes proper posture
Velcro durability issues
Can be squeaky
Alegria footwear is simply unsurpassable when it comes to high quality, anatomically correct designs that work well even in a professional setting. The Paloma is a Mary Jane styled model that looks good thanks to the numerous colors and patterns available. It also offers excellent comfort and support features, including a non-slip polyurethane outsole that is made with a slight rocker bottom, giving you a good amount of energy return with each step you take.
The footbed in these ergonomic shoes is removable, and if you find that the amount and type of support and cushioning they originally come with is not enough for you, you can easily replace them with your own custom orthotics.
Otherwise, these provide the wearer with superior arch support thanks to the cork, memory foam and latex construction that will perfectly mold to the feet creating a custom fit.
If you spend a lot of time standing or walking, you will find that footwear can influence whether you feel any lower back pain at the end of the day. Alegria orthotic shoes are made so as to promote proper posture, evenly distributing your weight over the entire foot, and aligning your ankles, knees, and hips correctly.
5. Dansko XP 2.0
Classic slip-on style
Easy to clean
Comfy heel area
Memory foam insole
May get heavy
With the Dansko XP 2.0, you can look cute and still walk long distances without too much trouble. This slip-on design is easy to handle while still being snug-fitting and comfortable to walk in for long periods.
With a few different colors from which you can choose, these blend the line between casual and dressy and still offer all the support that your arches, ankles, and knees need to get through the day.
These ergonomic shoes feature a leather-covered dual-density PU footbed that is lightweight, cushioning and gives good arch support. In fact, it is built with the Dansko natural arch technology along with memory foam cushioning for even more support and comfort.
The upper is made out of leather that will stretch to your foot shape. It is treated with 3M Scotchgard for stain resistance and superior durability. The protective heel counter allows your heel to move freely as you walk while still maintaining lateral stability.
6. Vionic Tide II Toe Post
Fabric toe post
Great for warm weather
TPU outsole for good traction
Excellent arch support
Takes time to dry
Just because you’re conscious about foot health, doesn’t mean you can’t also be stylish. It also doesn’t mean you have to suffer sweaty feet in warm weather. These sandals have all the advantages of orthopedic designs such as arch support, shock absorption and padded soles with none of the bulky aesthetic. In fact, they come in various attractive colors and designs. Take a look at the numerous options!
The Vionic Tide II features some of the best arch support you can find in a pair of orthotic shoes. The EVA midsole provides good shock absorption without adding unnecessary weight, while you will find that the arch support and heel cup cradle your feet and align them properly, ensuring a pain-free experience.
Again, ease is of the essence; it doesn’t make sense for shoes that are focused on foot health to be difficult to put on or take off.
These sandals are as uncomplicated as any regular flip-flop, and the soft material of the toe post ensures that the space between your toes won’t get rubbed raw. What you’ll also love about these is the neoprene lining on the upper which is soft to the touch.
7. Propet Travelactiv
Flexible knit upper
Good for flat feet
Unsuitable for heavy physical activity
The Propet Travelactiv is a pair of orthopedic sneakers that’s a marvelous mix of practical and trendy! They check off all the criteria of what you would want in an orthopedic shoe, but they look like normal, lightweight sneakers. Some colors even have lacy designs on the top (and yes, you can choose from several different colors).
The synthetic material is designed specifically to make them wearable for anyone, so you shouldn’t have a problem finding a pair that feels like it was made for your feet. Furthermore, if you need to remove or replace the cushion for any reason, you can.
The Propet Travelactiv boasts several advantages over your regular pair of lifestyle sneakers. Firstly, it is incredibly lightweight while providing you with all the necessary features to prevent any foot pain. Secondly, it looks incomparably better than any other pair of orthopedic footwear you can find on the market.
One of the greatest advantages of these orthopedic sneakers is the flexible upper which will perfectly fit your foot. This is especially important for those who suffer from sensitivity issues, bunions, or metatarsal pain. The EVA foam outsole provides plenty of cushioning and is so lightweight you may even forget you’re wearing these.
8. Hush Puppies Gil
Hook & loop closure
Shock absorbing rubber
Classic & stylish look
Will stretch with time
The Gil by Hush Puppies is one of our favorite options that promotes foot health seeing that it offers excellent comfort features for anyone with arthritis, plantar fasciitis, bunions, or even for post-operative recovery. This model is easy to put on thanks to the hook and loop closure, and is very lightweight, making it perfect for prolonged use. Additionally, it's made with an aesthetic appeal that will work well even at work or on occasions that require more sophisticated attire.
The Hush Puppies Gil is exceptionally lightweight, thanks to the ZeroG System which it incorporates, eliminating weight and bulk that are often found in insoles.
These shoes have an outsole which is four times lighter than most other footwear. Made out of rubber, it will provide protection against slips on highly shined surfaces.
The upper of these orthotic shoes was also made with comfort in mind. Being a full-grain leather shoe, the Gil will adapt to the foot and can be bought in a wide variety of sizes and widths to ensure you get a proper fit. The hook and loop closure enables easy on and off, while the choice of three colors gives you solid styling options.
9. Clarks Janey June
Genuine leather upper
Non-slip rubber sole
Cushion plus technology
Insole sometimes slips around
Made in the United States using a leather upper, the Janey June is absolutely remarkable, especially considering the fact that it comes in such a stylish design. With a buckle closure, you would wear these with almost anything and you would never know they are an orthopedic design.
Laces can be time-consuming and dangerous and can pose a problem for people with mobility issues, the elderly, or even women who are pregnant and need footwear that is supportive and cushioning.
If you’re getting orthotic shoes to help correct a foot health problem, then it's important that the model you get is hassle-free, ensuring that you actually enjoy and look forward to putting it on.
The rubber sole on the Janey June is non-marking and non-slip. You won't have to worry about staying on your feet in these ergonomic shoes. And the low 0.5-inch heel won't pose any issues if you're not comfortable with additional height.
10. Propet Wash & Wear
Padded stretch collar
Shock absorbing insole
Difficult to put on & off
If you’re not a fan of velcro but still want a design that’s easy to put on or remove, the Propet Wash & Wear is an excellent choice. The quilted top is washable and looks nice, and you can get it in various colors, all of which are neutral enough to pair well with almost any outfit. Additionally, the cushion inside is removable, so if you want to clean, replace, or readjust it, you can do so.
To prevent the overgrowth of bacteria and the development of odors, podiatrists will often suggest replacing your insoles every three months. With the Propet Wash & Wear, you won’t have to purchase new orthopedic sneakers so often; rather you can just wash yours, making them fresh on the inside and shiny new-looking on the outside.
These orthotic shoes use EVA foam in the midsole, which means that they provide excellent arch support but don’t come at a big weight.
The upper features a padded stretch collar that additionally contributes to the level of comfort you will feel when wearing these.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
Added cushioning, padded collars and removable foam midsoles are the key to lasting comfort.
An orthopedic design that isn’t comfortable wouldn’t be a good choice, seeing that it would fail at performing its most important task. It’s critical that any orthopedic footwear you consider gives you comfort features that will make your steps feel pain-free, even effortless, while also reducing the likelihood of foot injuries.
One of the best comfort features that you can look out for is located in the midsole. You can look for midsoles made out of polyurethane, or PU. A PU midsole provides sturdy cushioned ridges that are important to give you the level of shock absorption necessary to reduce any strain from long days of standing and walking. PU insoles are also good for this kind of cushioning – you can look for ones with extra heel pads to protect this part of your foot.
Another great option is to get a pair that features EVA foam components. Some footwear will feature a dual-density EVA footbed which is excellent for shock absorption, especially for those who carry a bit more weight.
One thing to consider when making a purchase is whether the footbed or insole is removable. Although some footwear may have really comfortable insoles, it is recommended that these are changed every three months in order to ensure a healthy environment for your feet.
You can also look for a pair of sneakers that have a foam padded collar and tongue, as these will help give that all-around comfort on your feet and ankles.
The toes can be a sensitive area of our feet, and it is crucial that you search for footwear that has plenty of room in this area. Having a soft woven toe post in your orthotic sandals can give nice cushioning for your toes, preventing injury. If the orthopedic option you’re looking at is one with straps, make sure that these straps are padded, for example with a foam lining, so you get that gentle feel on top of your feet.
Support comes in the form of a deep heel cup, arch support, a flexible outsole, and a wide, stable fit.
Foot support is another essential component to have in a design you’re getting for its health benefits. When walking, it’s important that your feet have a full range of motion, and that your weight is properly distributed across the entire foot, lessening the strain on any particular part of the foot or joint.
A deep heel cup can greatly improve your overall walking and standing experience, as it is designed to realign the foot back to its natural position for a better stepping motion. One of the best signs that a design is healthy enough to wear if you suffer from any foot conditions is the APMA Seal of Acceptance. In addition to an APMA Seal of Acceptance, you can also look for footwear that is labeled as having been designed by a podiatrist.
Arch support is crucial for minimizing the pain or discomfort you may be experiencing from walking and standing. An anatomical or contoured footbed with a good level of arch support will softly hug your foot from underneath, preventing you from putting too much strain on the tendon at the bottom of your foot.
If the pair of orthotic shoes of your choice advertises a flexible outsole, that means that you’ve got yourself a pretty good option. An outsole that allows unhindered movement of the foot will let you walk more naturally, thus preventing unnecessary strain or fatigue.
Finally, try to look for footwear that will be of the correct width, especially on the forefoot. If you suffer from conditions such as bunions or flat feet, it is crucial that you have enough room so as not to put unnecessary pressure on any point of your feet.
Slip-resistant footwear is essential in preventing slips and skids and fall-related injuries.
Once you’ve found the orthopedic shoe with the right comfort and cushioning features for your unique needs, it is important to consider the outsole as well. The outsole of your footwear is in charge of keeping your footing secure, which includes preventing slips and falls that could result in nasty injuries that may take months to heal.
Your best bet will usually be a rubber outsole with a good traction pattern. If you find footwear that is advertised as water-friendly, slip resistant, or even appropriate for wear on oily surfaces, this means that it’ll be a good choice for walking on a large number of surfaces, including tile, hardwood floors, and highly polished surfaces.
Once you’ve got the comfort and foot support checked for in your potential orthotic shoe purchase, it’ll be helpful to see if the design has some good traction. Preventing foot injuries includes preventing ones that can occur as the result of a fall.
Airy, breathable materials such as mesh and fabric will keep your feet feeling fresh and will prevent any bad odors from developing.
Breathability will only add on to the comfort you’re looking for in your orthopedic footwear. The less sweaty and hot your feet feel, the better.
One obvious thing that will give you the most breathability is an open-toed design. It allows for maximum airflow to your feet, which will keep them dry all day.
The next best thing to having an open-toed design would be orthotic shoes that feature a mesh upper. Mesh is a net-like material that lets air into your footwear, allowing your feet to be cool and dry throughout the day. In addition to mesh uppers, mesh lining can also accomplish the same allowance of airflow, and so will perforated uppers.
Fabric lining is another good option as it’s designed to wick away moisture, reducing the amount of sweat that builds up in your orthopedic footwear. If you find that your feet tend to sweat, it is crucial that your shoes are completely dry before putting them on again.
The brand name is not a crucial factor, but it may play a role in your decision-making process.
When it comes to orthopedic footwear, the brand might not be the first thing that crosses your mind, but it could be the deciding factor when you've narrowed down your options.
The brand behind the design plays an integral role. Some orthopedic footwear brands are much more reliable than others, using specific materials that are known to help your feet stay comfortable and protected. Furthermore, some names - such as Vionic - have entire medical studies dedicated to ways their footwear helps prevent pain.
The options featured on this list are some of the most well-known designs from the brands in the orthotics business. They're known to be comfortable, well-made, and will protect your feet. Take a look at our list to see how each option compares to the others. While branding is certainly not the deciding factor, it may play a role in your decision.
If you feel like you've found just the right kind of design from one brand, try selecting something else from their offer - chances are that you'll love more than one type of footwear from the same label.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
When looking for footwear that helps your feet feel their best, no matter what your condition, it's key to look for something in your footwear that helps support any affected foot ailment, but also keeps a soft in-shoe feel. Proper arch support, wider toe boxes, and cushioning technology are all great components that are key in quality footwear.
Not all footwear designed to support and cushion you need be athletic sneakers! Several brands have great work shoes, even some with modest heels for formal occasions. Check on the APMA's website for a list of shoe brands who specialize in this kind of footwear.
Other Factors to Consider
Foot health is one of those things that you don’t always appreciate until it’s compromised or completely gone. Some of the most important things are done on our feet – walking, running, shopping, working, etc. Injury, disease, or age can affect things that you take for granted, like optimal shape, arches that are neither too high nor too flat, and whether your ankles, knees, and back are strong enough to withstand shock or prolonged activity.
Imagine being unable to walk or stand comfortably for long periods (or not at all) – and the only obstacle between you and carrying on with your life as usual is finding the right footwear for your feet.
Whether you’re hoping to prevent future problems or treat current ones, orthotic shoes can vastly improve your quality of life. There’s a wide variety of options available to you, but we stand by this list as one of the most comprehensive ones that you can find. Make the choice that’s best for you, remembering that your health is on the line.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can orthopedic shoes help my back feel better?
Definitely! Podiatrists say that misalignment of the back can be caused by force from the feet that transfers up to the hips. This type of footwear can reduce rotation at the ankle which limits the transfer of force to the knees and hips, reducing the amount of stress placed on the back.
While these types of shoes can help with back pain, podiatrists recommend that you consult with a physician before you purchase them.
q: How can these shoes help my plantar fasciitis?
Those who have plantar fasciitis experience a lot of pain in the heel area and the inside of the foot. Footwear made with orthopedic features can help with this pain by providing good support to the arch, reducing any tension that might be in the foot tendon.
Heel support is crucial as well, as it will provide a more comfortable walk. In addition, even if one doesn’t have plantar fasciitis, keeping the foot properly aligned and supported with adequately supportive footwear can prevent the problem from developing.
q: How can footwear help my diabetes?
Those who have diabetes can sometimes experience a lack of feeling in their feet due to poor blood circulation. This lack of feeling can put one at risk of not feeling any injuries to the foot and potentially leading to serious complications.
Orthopedic footwear can help improve circulation and feeling in the feet through the redistribution of pressure that’s placed on the foot. In addition, footwear that is made with soft materials helps reduce irritation of the diabetic foot.
Also worth noting, most orthopedic footwear can have their insoles removed for you to be able to put in a more customized insole to help your diabetic feet.
q: Can these designs help with bunions?
High heels or any type of footwear that’s poorly fitted can often cause bunions, particularly on the big toe because of the toe being forced to more inwardly while walking or standing.
Orthopedic footwear tends to be wide in width which helps, first of all, to prevent any bunions from happening because your feet won’t be rubbing on the inside of the shoes as much. Your toes will have room to stretch out as much as they need to.
Soft linings in orthopedic footwear can also protect the bunion you might have currently so it is able to heal. These linings can also relieve any pain you might be experiencing.
q: Do I need special footwear if I don’t have foot problems?
It’s estimated that most people walk as little as 5,000 steps a day or as much as 10,000 steps a day. That amount of walking in the least supportive and least comfortable footwear can add up to major foot problems over a course of several years.
Keeping your feet healthy can contribute to a lower likelihood of any problems appearing down the line, and orthopedic footwear can greatly help with this.