Best Orthopedic Shoes Reviewed & Rated
Although anyone and everyone can benefit from wearing orthopedic 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 arch of the foot and provide plenty of space for the toes to rest naturally, orthopedic shoes promote 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 shoes could prevent you from having issues with mobility or requiring surgery for any unforeseen complications that you may develop in the future.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 18 hrs of research
Rearfoot GEL Cushioning
Good for Underpronation
Removable Foam Sockliner
Good for Wide Feet
- ASICS GEL-Venture 6
- Olukai Nohea
- Alegria Paloma
- Dansko Xp 2.0
- Vionic Tide II
- Birkenstock Boston
- Propet Travelactiv
- Hush Puppies Gil
- Clarks Janey June
- Propet Wash & Wear
- Criteria Used for Evaluation
- Other Factors to Consider
- Frequently Asked Questions
10 Best Orthopedic Shoes
1. ASICS GEL-Venture 6
Rearfoot GEL Cushioning
Good for Underpronation
Removable Foam Sockliner
Good for Wide Feet
Some Users Prefer the GEL-Venture 5
The ASICS GEL-Venture 6 is a pair of trail running shoes that were made to give you the best possible support and comfort features, on all types of terrain. Made for runners, these shoes 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 shoes if you need some extra support and comfort.Read more
If you find yourself underpronating - carrying most of the weight on the outside part of your feet, you need to invest in a pair of shoes that will make up for the lack of shock absorption that happens during your gait cycle. With rearfoot GEL cushioning, these shoes 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 trail running shoes 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 shoes, seeing that they mold to the feet and give the feeling of a custom fit.
2. Olukai Nohea
Moisture Wicking Lining
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 a pair of footwear that is of high quality.Read more
One of the aspects of these 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 a fresh shoe, or replace it with your own custom orthotics for maximum comfort and support.
3. Alegria Paloma
Mild Rocker Sole
Stain Resistant Upper
Promotes Proper Posture
Velcro Durability Issues
Can be Squeaky
Alegria shoes are simply unsurpassable when it comes to high quality, anatomically correct footwear that works 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 but 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.Read more
The footbed in these 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 a pair of shoes can influence whether you feel any lower back pain at the end of the day. Alegria 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.
4. Dansko Xp 2.0
Easy to Clean
Memory Foam Insole
The Clog continues to be a popular design in orthopedic shoes, and with the Dansko Xp 2.0 shoes, you can look cute and still walk long distances without too much trouble. The 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 shoes 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.Read more
These 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.
5. Vionic Tide II
Fabric Toe Post
Great for Warm Weather
TPU Outsole for Good Traction
Excellent Arch Support
No Half Sizes Available
Take 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 design 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!Read more
The Vionic Tide II features some of the best arch support you can find in a pair of 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 with orthopedic shoes; 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 shoes is the neoprene lining on the upper which is soft to the touch.
6. 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 of footwear if you need a pair of 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 of footwear that will never go out of style.Read more
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 shoes will last a lifetime but will give you a breathable and personalized fit as they will 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 shoes perfect for when you need to stay on your feet for longer periods.
7. Propet Travelactiv
Flexible Knit Upper
Good for Flat Feet
Unsuitable for Heavy Physical Activity
The Propet Travelactiv is a pair of shoes 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.Read more
The Propet Travelactive 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 shoes 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
Made in China
Will Stretch With Time
The Gil by Hush Puppies is one of our favorite options for shoes that promote foot health seeing that it offers excellent comfort features for anyone with foot problems such as 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 a more sophisticated attire.Read more
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 shoes were 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
Made in the USA
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 shoe.Read more
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 orthopedic 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 is non-marking and non-slip. You won't have to worry about staying on your feet in these. And the low .5 inch heel won't pose any issues if you're not comfortable with any additional height.
10. Propet Wash & Wear
Padded Stretch Collar
Shock Absorbing Insole
Must be Washed
Difficult to Put On & Off
Here’s another shoe that manages to look nice while remaining functional. If you’re not a fan of velcro but still want a shoe that’s easy to put on or remove, the Propet Wash & Wear is an excellent choice. The quilted top of the shoe 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 of the shoe is removable, so if you want to clean, replace, or readjust it, you can do so.Read more
To prevent the overgrowth of bacteria and the appearance of odors, podiatrists will often suggest replacing your insoles every three months. With the Propet Wash & Wear, you won’t have to purchase new shoes so often; rather you can just wash yours, making them fresh on the inside and shiny new looking on the outside.
These 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
An orthopedic shoe 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 pair of 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 of footwear that features EVA foam components. Some footwear, for example, that made by New Balance, will feature a dual density EVA footbed which is excellent for shock absorption, especially for those who carry a bit more weight. This type of feature in your shoe reduces stress on your feet, ankles, and even your knees. Furthermore, you can look for footwear that states to feature an orthotic or anatomically correct insole, as it is definitely going to be a healthier option than regular footwear.
One thing to consider when making a purchase is whether the footbed or insole is removable. Although some shoes 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. It’s also possible for an insole to lose its cushioning abilities, so a removable feature can be quite helpful in saving some money if you can simply replace this part of the shoe, instead of purchasing brand new footwear.
You can also look for a pair of shoes or sneakers that have a foam padded collar and tongue, as these will help give that all around comfort on your feet and ankles. The same can be said if the shoe states the collar and tongue is cushioned. When it comes to the level of comfort provided by the upper section of a shoe, leather is always a great material for, as it will be pliable, soft, and provide great air flow.
The toes can be a sensitive area of our feet, and it is crucial that you search for shoes that have plenty of room in the toe area. Having a soft woven toe post in your orthopedic shoe can give nice cushioning for your toes assisting with preventing injury. If the orthopedic option you’re looking at is one with straps, in particular, make sure that these straps are padded, for example with a foam lining, so you get that gentle feel on top of your feet.
Foot support is another essential component to have in a shoe 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 through 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 shoe 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. This will help with the natural cushioning your foot should be making with each step, and will prevent any pronation issues, and relieving a wide variety of pains, you may be experiencing in the heel area, as well as the metatarsal bone or your joints.
If the pair of shoes of your choice advertises a flexible outsole, that means that you’ve got yourself a pretty good option. An outsole that allows the 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 in 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. Not only will a wider shoe reduce pain, swelling or even inflammation, but it will also be more stable to walk on, which is especially beneficial for the elderly and those with mobility issues.
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 a pair of 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 orthopedic shoe purchase, it’ll be helpful to see if the shoe has some good traction. Preventing foot injuries includes preventing ones that can occur is the result of a fall. Your first best bet would be a rubber outsole. This type of material is the same you’ll find in athletic footwear like wrestling shoes.
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 orthopedic shoe would be an orthopedic shoe that features a mesh upper. Mesh is a net-like material that helps let 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. While with some footwear it may be enough to leave them to dry overnight, others will take longer to eliminate all the built-up moisture. If that’s the case, you may want to consider purchasing more than one pairs of shoes, so that you can alternate between them. Though this will require a larger initial investment, it will pay off in the long run, as your footwear will last longer, and will be less likely to develop any odor.
When it comes to orthopedic footwear, 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 shoe brands are much more reliable than others, using specific materials that are known to help your feet stay comfortable and protected.
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. Brand may play a role in your decision.
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 that we do have to be 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 shoes for your feet. Whether you’re hoping to prevent future problems or treat current ones, orthopedic 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. Orthopedic shoes 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 type of shoes can help with back pain, podiatrists recommend that you consult with a physician before you purchase them.
q: How can orthopedic shoes help my plantar fasciitis?
Those who have plantar fasciitis experience a lot of pain in the heel area of the foot and the inside of the foot. Shoes made with orthopedic features can help with this pain by providing good support to the arch of the foot reducing any tension that might be in the foot tendon. Heel support is crucial as well, as it will provide for 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 shoes 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 shoes 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 can help reduce irritation of the diabetic foot. Also worth noting, most orthopedic shoes can have their insoles removed for you to be able to put in a more customized insole to help your diabetic feet.
q: Can orthopedic shoes help with bunions?
High heels or any type of footwear that’s poorly fitted can often cause bunions on the feet, particularly on the big toe because of the toe being forced to more inwardly while walking or standing. Orthopedic shoes tend 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 can be able to heal, and also help to 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 and as much as 10,000 steps a day. That amount of walking in the least supportive and least comfortable shoes can add up to major foot problems over a course of several year. 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.