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Best Hiking Boots for Plantar Fasciitis: A Buying Guide

Updated on June 26, 2014
The Right Hiking Boots Keep Away Heel Pain
The Right Hiking Boots Keep Away Heel Pain | Source

Can I hike with Plantar Fasciitis? This question bothers all those who have to bear excruciating heel pain after hiking. Fortunately, this painful foot condition is manageable. There are special hiking shoes for Plantar Fasciitis that not only provide support when walking on uneven terrain but also prevent this condition from worsening. Learning more about this condition will help you choose the best hiking boots for Plantar Fasciitis.

Plantar Fascia and Heel Pain

Plantar fascia is the long, flat ligament on the underside of the foot that joins the toe and the heel. It supports the longitudinal arch of the foot. This ligament may get stretched abnormally when you walk on rocky and uneven terrain in shoes that do not provide adequate cushioned support. This causes inflammation of the fascia, a condition known as Plantar Fasciitis. The resulting heel pain is either a dull consistent ache or a sharp jab that makes walking difficult. The pain gets worse if you walk for long stretches of time or carry a heavy backpack that puts extra pressure on your legs and feet.

Plantar Fasciitis may also cause heel spurs. These are deposits of calcium in the heel that cause sharp pain especially when walking. The pain is usually concentrated at the center of the heel or along its inner sides. A dull and consistent heel pain not only takes away from the joys of hiking but also makes it difficult for you to balance yourself on uneven tracts.

Incidentally, Plantar Fasciitis affects not only hikers but also athletes, runners, and people who are on their feet for most part of the day. People who lead sedentary lives may also experience arch pain if they suddenly become active. If you experience heel pain after hiking, stop trekking till the pain subsides and the plantar fascia heals. Meanwhile, start looking for walking shoes for heel spurs.

Hiking Shoes to Prevent Heel Pain

The best hiking boots for Plantar Fasciitis support the arches in the feet and have deep molded heel cups to provide cushioned support. The cups ensure that your heels are snugly encased and are protected from abrasion and pressure when you walk on stones, scree, or sand. These shoes usually have elevated foot beds while some makes have customized orthotics fitted into the shoe beds.

When looking for hiking shoes for Plantar Fasciitis, do not fall for labels like "aerobic shoes" or "running shoes." These may not be ideal for your foot condition. Walking, running, and exercising exert varying degrees of pressure on different parts of the feet. For instance, you need to wear shoes that provide cushioned support to the whole foot while carrying out high-impact activities like running and exercising. Hiking shoes should be more flexible to accommodate the rolling heel-to-toe motion of the feet when walking. The ideal hiking shoes for Plantar Fasciitis should be stable and comfortable but not bend entirely in the mid-sole region. The heels should also not collapse when you exert pressure on them.

Orthofeet, NAOT, and Mephisto manufacture some of the best walking shoes for heel spurs.

Plantar Fasciitis Hiking Boots for Specific Arch Types

The pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis can aggravate if you walk with an irregular gait. Because the plantar fascia ligament supports the arch of your feet, hikers who have Plantar Fasciitis usually also have weak arches. So it is critical that you look for hiking shoes that provide support to the specific type of arch you have. Most reputable shoe manufacturers have special hiking shoes designed for people with high, neutral, or low arches.

If you have high arches, it is likely that you roll your feet excessively outward and your ankles land inward when you walk. You should buy hiking boots that have extra cushioning at the front and back where you tend to exert the maximum pressure when take a step. This additional support will keep your ankles stable and keep away the heel pain associated with Plantar Fasciitis. Nike, New Balance, Avia, and Saucony manufacture special hiking boots for people with high arches.

If you have low arches, you most likely roll your feet inward when walking. You need Stability or Motion Control shoes that have a dense layer of foam in the mid-sole region to suport and stabilize the arches and prevent heel pain after hiking. ASICS, Brooks, and New Balance manufacture hiking boots for flat feet people to help them manage their Plantar Fasciitis condition.

Plantar Fasciitis is common among hikers. But now that you know how to choose the best hiking boots for Plantar Fasciitis, you can manage the condition satisfactorily and indulge in your passion without being bothered by nagging heel pain.

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