Sandals For Plantar Fasciitis
Choosing the best sandals for plantar fasciitis is quite the challenge. It's also a challenge that a ton of people are having to deal with these days. It's estimated that something like 2,000,000 Americans are suffering from plantar fasciitis at any given time. In this article, we'll look at five different things folks who suffer from this condition should consider when choosing a sandal or flip flop. Now, the first thing to note is that I'm not a doctor or podiatrist of any kind. I've had bouts of PF in the past and know just how important good footwear is when it comes to both treating and preventing various foot conditions. I also know how much damage a bad set of shoes or sandals can do.
If you're in serious pain, you need to see a doctor. Even if said pain is just starting, it behooves you to figure out what exactly is going on. Join some physiotherapy forums and ask some questions. Read reviews on different shoes and see if it may be worth changing footwear. Sometimes this is all it takes.
Now, it's way easier to find a good set of shoes for plantar fasciitis then it is to find an appropriate set of sandals or flip flops. This is primarily due to the fact that plantar fasciitis affects a lot of athletes. Companies like New Balance, Mizuno and Brooks have subsequently created a ton of sneakers, trainers and running shoes for active men and women looking for foot pain relief. The sandal market, however, isn't quite as saturated. It is slowly catching up though. Sandals and flip flops are becoming more and more popular all the time. The footwear companies of the world have no choice but to provide healthy, supportive sandals :)
Five Things To Consider When You're Looking For Healthy Sandals
Note that the following guide isn't just for sufferers of plantar fasciitis. Other common foot ailments like heel spurs or tendinitis can also be prevented by wearing a solid pair of sandals.
Getting a sandal that fits is absolutely crucial if you want to prevent or solve a bit of pain. This rule applies if you're looking at shoes at well. Finding a shoe or sandal that fits isn't as easy as just saying "I'm a size 10!" either. There are a few different things that need to be right in order to consider an item of footwear to be a "good fit".
The first thing is length. How often have you seen people sporting sandals or flip flops that are too short for their feet. Their toes are usually kind of hanging off the front of the sandal. This definitely isn't good! There shouldn't be any overhang whatsoever when you're wearing sandals. Conversely, a sandal or flip flop that's too long isn't good either. Your foot is meant to sit snugly into the middle of the sole. Ensure that this is the case every time you try on a new sandal.
The arch height also needs to be looked at when we're talking about fit. Reading different things about plantar fasciitis and healthy feet, you'll often come across discussions about arches. In simplistic terms, the "arch" of your foot is on the bottom in between the toes and heel - a little bit closer to the heel. If this point on your foot is considerably higher than the toes and heels, you have high arches. If your entire foot is at the same level, you have flat feet. Now obviously it's not quite this easy. There are infinite possibilities in between high arches and flat feet. Most people that suffer from plantar fasciitis are on one extreme or the other though. When you're selecting a sandal, make sure you get one whose sole is somewhat akin to your arch. Moszkito is a unique company in that they manufacturer most of their sandals in two arch sizes - 16mm and 19mm. If you're feet are of the flatter variety, the 16mm will probably be a better option. They'll encourage, but not force, your foot to sit in a healthier position. Check out this review if you'd like to know more about Moszkito sandals for high arches.
The final thing to consider when talking about fit is the width of a sandal. Similar to the length, we don't want any overhang or too much free space. Birkenstock offers sandals in two different widths - normal and narrow. According to many, the "normal" sandals are actually quite wide. If you've never worn Birkenstocks before, I suggest getting yourself to a store and trying on a few pairs before purchasing. Once you know what your size, feel free to buy these puppies anywhere. Note that some of the best deals can be found online...
Preventing PF is all about limiting the impact that your feet take every time you step. Footwear with some sort of "shock absorbing" feature is one way to do this. Shoes or sandals with rock hard soles aren't good at all. These products force your feet to take the impact - leading to over-extension of the plantar fascia and subsequent pain. When you're selecting a sandal, note what the sole is made of. The most popular material is probably EVA. This a foam rubber-like material that's found in a variety of different footwear products. New Balance, for example, uses this material in their highly popular runners and cross trainers. It's firm enough to support your foot but soft enough to provide the necessary shock absorbency.
Birkenstock sandals for plantar fasciitis feature cork soles. This works as well but note that they're quite tough at the point of purchase. After wearing them for a short period of time though, they'll soften.
The best soles, in this writer's humble opinion, are found in Mephisto's line of sandals. Their "soft air" technology is brilliant. Words don't really do these soles justice. Check out this graphic for an idea of what Mephisto soft air is all about. Be warned though... It will make you crave a pair of Mephistos!
Feet are like snowflakes - no two are exactly the same. When you're selecting a pair of sandals for plantar fasciitis, pay close attention to the shape and contour of the footbed. Ideally you want it to mirror the profile of your foot. The arch, width, length and little subtleties of you foot should all be accounted for. Now, obviously getting a sandal that perfectly suits your foot's profile is going to be impossible - unless you have the means to have something custom made.
The point I'm really trying to drive home is that it behooves you to try on a handful of different brands and types before making a decision. Everyone's feet are different and what works for Susan won't necessarily work for Jane. While getting a sandal that's perfect may not be possible, you should be able to find something pretty darn close.
Just because a sandal is comfortable, doesn't mean it has to be ugly! There's no reason to sacrifice style when you're looking for healthy footwear. As I noted off the top, shoe manufacturers today know that savvy consumers like us want it all - comfort, style and value. We won't settle for anything less. Now, while style is really a personal thing, here is my two cents.
The best casual sandals on the market are made by Mephisto and Birkenstock. I've already outlined the amazingness that is Mephisto "Soft Air". Not only are their sandals all kinds of comfortable, they're stunningly beautiful as well. See some of the Amazon links on this page for reviews and pricing of various models. Birkenstock's offer fantastic value in terms of a price/quality ratio. The fact that you never ever hear anything bad about this company speaks volumes to this sandal lover...
If you're into sportier footwear, I recommend the Taos Active series of sandals. They have funky names like Hop and Skip that both feature high quality components. Check out the contoured footbeds, rubber outsoles and durable long lasting materials. They also have more straps than your average pair of sport sandals which offers extra support. Note that these sandals are made for folks with average height arches. I've heard some complaints regarding comfort from some ladies with high arches.
Traditionally, flip flops and plantar fasciitis haven't mixed well. It was generally understood that anyone suffering from PF should avoid flip flops at all costs. This, thankfully, has changed in recent years. See the Orthaheel Wave and Fit Flop for an idea of what make for a "safe" flip flop.
And last, but certainly not least, we come to price. Thankfully, there's enough money if everyone's budget for healthy sandals. Here's a basic outline of what you can get for x amount of dollars. For more prices, check out the Amazon links on this page. There, you'll find real user reviews, recommended products and competitive prices.
$40-$60: Orthaheel, Moszkito and FitFlops
$60-$90: Taos, Birkenstock
$90-$300: Mephisto Sandals For Plantar Fasciitis
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