I had no idea what plantar fasciitis was.
I mean, I knew it had something to do with feet, but it was a term I had never Googled or thought any more about. And here I was – naively travelling around the world, wearing nothing but flip-flops year after year, not paying any mind to the damage I was doing.
Not only did I not really know what plantar fasciitis was, but I had never really given ANY thought to my feet. I knew I was a size 9.5, but other than that I never paid them any attention. I’ve heard people say things like “I have high arches” and “I need arch support in my shoes” and just figured it was a ‘old person thing’. I know this sounds terribly ignorant, but I’m just being honest.
Why would I care about high or low arches and orthidic support in my 20’s and 30’s right?
Flip Flops Caused My Plantar Fasciitis
5 years ago I started travelling… a LOT! Almost everywhere I’ve gone has been a hot, tropical destination. In the summer months I return to my native country Canada to take advantage of it’s hot and sunny weather. For almost 5 years straight I have only experienced a few WEEKS of autumn/winter weather, which means I have been wearing FLIP FLOPS about 95% of the time.
Why not right? They’re cool, easy to put on, go with summery outfits, and are cheap to replace.
But what I didn’t know about flip flops is they were RUINING my feet.
My husband and I walk everywhere and clock about 10,000 steps a day. For years I have been doing that in flip flops with no problem, until this past December as we were travelling in Vietnam.
After a long day of pounding the pavement, about 17,000 steps later, I noticed my foot was throbbing in pain. I just figured I had walked a lot that day and ignored it. But day after day it was getting worse and worse until I couldn’t walk anymore.
Of course I started Googling things to figure out what was wrong with me and how I could fix it FAST. The last thing I needed in my life was to be bedridden while we were trying to tour through a South East Asian country.
After hours of searching it seemed like all my symptoms were that of plantar fasciitis. What? How could this be? I’m not 70 years old with Velcro sneakers and a walker… right? Again, I had no idea what it was, and my preconceived notions of what PF really was were grossly incorrect.
I needed a professional opinion. I searched online for someone who could help me in Vietnam and made an appointment. The specialist I saw confirmed that I had developed plantar fasciitis in my left foot. Years of improper support, poor alignment and lots of walking seemed to be the cause. He told me to get some supportive shoes, take ibuprophen, and elevate/ice my foot several times a day.
Finding Travel Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis
So now I needed to find some shoes that I could:
A) wear in hot weather and
B) that had the proper arch support
Well I couldn’t have been in a worse geographical location to get proper foot wear. In the small village of Hoi An, Vietnam (where we were staying for a few months) there were 0 options. All the stores had were either cheaply made counterfeit sneakers, or expensive FLAT leather sandals, none of which were made to help plantar fasciitis.
I walked in pain all over town trying desperately to find something that would work, until I couldn’t walk anymore. My husband went out alone and finally found some foam like sandals for $4 that would ‘sort of’ do the trick until we could find a better alternative.
After weeks of me sitting around, we still couldn’t find proper shoes for plantar fasciitis. I found some on Amazon, but Amazon didn’t ship to Vietnam. I asked my mom to ship them to me from Canada, but it was going to be $326 on-top of the cost of shoes and it would take weeks.
I finally found another store that would ship to Vietnam, but it was now their ‘Tet Lunar New Year’ and mail wouldn’t be coming through for another few weeks.
For 4 weeks I iced my foot daily, took NSAIDS, and tried to not aggravate my foot. I hardly walked anywhere and we put many of our travel plans on hold. Let me tell you, it SUCKS to be in a foreign country and develop health issues that can’t be solved. I felt helpless, lazy and stupid for doing this to myself.
Eventually I found a pair of ‘Birkenstock-like’ sandals that seemed to give me the support I needed.
After a month of icing, Advil, resting and ‘better than flip-flops’ supportive shoes, my PF flare up finally calmed down. I could WALK AGAIN! It was such a relief! There were times when I wasn’t sure when the pain was going to stop. I kept thinking what if I was going to be like this forever. Thankfully it did stop, but I’m not sure when a flare up may hit me again.
Treating My Plantar Fasciitis Long Term…
Once I am back in Canada, I’m going to visit my doctor and get some more information on how to treat my plantar fasciitis in the long term. In the mean time, I was able to find some Dr. Scholls flip-flops in Bangkok and have been using them with success over the last few weeks. What has worked for me is:
- Supporting my arches and heel
- Icing my foot after days with lots of walking
- Using Ibuprofen to reduce swelling
I’ve also spent countless hours researching which shoes work best for travelling with plantar fasciitis. Reading hundreds of reviews and asking around to other people with the condition, I’ve made a list of the BEST plantar fasciitis shoes, flip-flips, and sandals for people who love to travel as much as I do!
Best Travel Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis – WOMEN'S
In doing research I saw that the most loved brand of plantar fasciitis-friendly shoes are Vionic. They have the most variety in styles, colours and the highest ratings. Half of the recommendations below are Vionic’s simply because they are one of the best brands out there.
Flip Flops For Plantar Fasciitis
These are the flip-flops I found at a department store in Bangkok. I've been using them to get some relief before my trip back to Canada in 6 weeks. I have to say they look a LOT like my gold Havianias I was wearing for years, but just have that added support I now need. I couldn't find this exact pair online, but this is a close match by the same brand
Vionic makes a great supportive flip flop! The ‘Tide' has over 5000 reviews and still knocks it out of the park with a near 5-star rating, which is unheard of for any other orthotic sandal. The classic black goes with everything, but they also make it in 14 other colors. This is a staple that any travel girl dealing with plantar fasciitis needs in her bag!
$35-$75 (depending on color/stock)
This Okabashi flip flop is loved by travellers, especially because they are super easy to clean! (you can just throw them in the washing machine!) People use them as outdoor flip flops, house shoes or even shower shoes. Beach-lovers like wearing them all year round because they are sand and water friendly, but still give great arch support.
They are also vegan and 100% latex free!
I love how these FitFlop's give a little more style to the average thong. The companies tag line is ‘Science With Style' and that shows. People (especially with heel spurs) found relief with these shoes because of the intense cushioning they have in the soles. Plus I think they look cute with resort-wear outfits!
Wedges For Plantar Fasciitis
Vionic Noble Laurie
A good wedge is the very foundation of my travel wardrobe. I love to sub them in for heels when I know I'll be walking longer distances and I find they go with almost everything! Vionic makes a great medium height wedge with the Noble Laurie model. This sandal absorbs shock giving relief to feet, ankles and knees on a sightseeing day. Plus they are pretty light so they won't weigh down your luggage.
$50-$100 (depending on color/stock)
Aetrex – Brynn
While being on the more expensive side, the Aetrex ‘Brynn' gives a ton of good quality support. Slow recovery memory foam makes the sole fit custom to your unique foot, and has a padded heel strap to keep the shoe comfortably in place. This shoe is also wide foot and high instep friendly. And yes, those are Velcro straps – it's never looked so good!
Clarks Annadel Eirwyn
For the travel girl who needs some extra height in her life. These 3″ wedges by Clarks are sturdy yet light, and come in staple colors like black, beige, and white. Of course, coral is always a good idea. The fabric over the toes is smooth and light, so it won't dig into your feet and the padded heel lets you stand around in them for hours.
$45-$75 (depending on color/stock)
Sandals With Heels For Plantar Fasciitis
The makers of this Sophie shoe started in the 90's out of Denmark and are committed to only making footwear that promotes good foot, leg and back health. This clog-type sandal has enough support that you can stand or walk in them all day long. They come in 12 different colors including metallics, multi-color and snakeskin.
$50-$115 (depending on color/stock)
Thank god for a block heel! They are so much easier to walk in, especially on uneven streets and cobblestone. The Blaire shoe by Vionic is also very cleverly disguising that it's a podiatrist-designed shoe, you can hardly see the hidden arch support. This model comes in suede or leather and lots of trendy colors. It's the best way to still rock heels on vacation.
$75-$125 (depending on color/stock)
Another great chunky heel choice by Vionic (I just couldn't pick one!) I feel this shoe goes perfectly with a LBD or cocktail dress. Again, Vionic was able to hide the arch support so no one would ever know this is an orthotic shoe!
$65-$125 (depending on color/stock)
Sneakers & Walking Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis
New Balance Arishi
Spoiler Alert – These super cute sneakers by New Balance aren't the most supportive on the block, but they are still pretty versatile. Many people mentioned for mild PF they worked great, but others just inserted their custom orthodic insoles to make it more supportive. It's positives are that it's extra-light, breathable and won't break the bank for a brand name shoe. They also come in approximately 1 zillion different colors.
This simple slip-on is a best seller for Vionic, with users raving about how comfy it is for an everyday shoe. It's designed with arch support and good heel padding to make walking easier, especially for those with plantar fasciitis. They also made an adorable baby blue perforated style of this shoe, which I'm in love with!
Around $100 (depending on color/stock)
This is a style sneaker that everyone loves to hate on, but buys and wears anyway. This old-timer style of shoe is going CRAZY on Instagram right now. Girls are wearing them with pretty colorful dresses all over the world. I personally have no idea why, but hey, if it's in style might as well reap the comfort benefits while you can. These shoes by Saucony are the Cadillac of support sneakers. They have so many technical bells and whistles, I'll let you do your own reading, but they are serious about being functional orthotic shoes.
Flats For Plantar Fasciitis
Vionic Minna Ballet Flat
This chic flat is easy to pack, doesn't take up coveted luggage space and goes with just about everything. It has a microfiber-covered, removable orthotic insole you can use or swap it with another that you like better. For a flat, they give pretty good arch support and have built in Orthaheel support to help alignment. They come in every color from mustard to crimson to navy to black.
Many people have mentioned they tend to run slightly big, so most opt for a half-size down.
The Tia Metatarsal flat gives serious support out of such a small shoe. Since I can't describe what it does as good as Abeo can, here is how they explain the features on their website:
“Metatarsal support provides enhanced arch support, with added ball-of-foot metatarsal support. Ideal for high arches, metatarsal support redistributes weight from the ball-of-foot and relieves forefoot pain and pressure.”
This makes the Tia a great flat for waking through the airport and exploring a new city on foot.
Booties For Plantar Fasciitis
This is more of a ‘shootie' than a bootie, but either way it's incredibly stylish for travel. The chunky block heel makes it easier to walk in and the hidden orthotics make it more supportive than any other bootie you'll find. Perfect for looking great in chilly spring and fall weather travel destinations.
It's suede finish comes in black and beige as well.
People rave about the comfort of the Dansko Delphina, both for support and not rubbing/causing blisters. The bootie is 100% leather, has a solid 3″ heel and a 0.75 platform in the front, but still makes walking and standing a breeze. They look great with jeans too!
Around $89-$129 depending on color/stock
Best Travel Shoes For Plantar Fasciitis – MEN'S
Now it's time to talk about the best MENS shoes for traveling with plantar fasciitis. Guys are lucky because they don't need as many pairs of shoes as us girls, but the ones they DO have can now be supportive and stylish. Almost ALL of the mens shoes I found are Vionic as well, because they really do make the best variety. (and the trendiest, non-old man type shoe)
Men's Flip Flops For Plantar Fasciitis
OOFOS Post Run Recovery
The post-run recovery sandal absorbs 37% more than a traditional foam sandal, is machine washable, gives great arch support, and even floats in water. The closed cell foam also minimizes stinky husband-feet syndrome. Plus it goes with just about anything a beach-lounging guy would be wearing on vacation.
Vionic Tide is a seriously high-rated mens sandal, with hundreds of 5-star reviews. This isn't just a great travel flip-flop for guys, it's the perfect everyday shoe. It's great quality and will last a while for long-term wearers.
The Tide has great arch support and forms to the foot to prevent sliding and over-stretching like some basic flip-flops. And best of all, you can't tell it's an orthotic shoe.
Vionic Kiwi Slide
Not a flip-flop, but still a super casual and comfy slide for men. Most users buy them as a masculine house-slipper, while others like to use them for summer days or vacation shoes. The top is Velcro so it's completely adjustable to custom fit your foot. In true Vionic fashion, it's got all the orthotic support you'd expect.
Men's Dress Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Dr. Comfort Wing
Comes in black or brown, this supportive dress shoe is also marketed for diabetics or anyone who needs medical grade orthotics. It comes with a removable gel insole and is made from 100% leather.
This smart looking dress loafer comes in black, brown and taupe, 100% leather and comes with all the arch support a guy needs. It has a cushioned leather foot-bed that is removable so you can swap it out for your favorite inserts as well.
Sneakers For Plantar Fasciitis – Men's
The Vionic Turner sneaker is a perfect choice for an active guy. The sneaker is light, breathable, moisture-wicking, anti-odor and has a removable mesh footbed. The outsole is rubber and durable so they can be worn for low-impact sports, walking, or just every day life.
This trendy shoe can go from street style to smart-casual easily! Rubber outsole helps traction, while the hidden orthotics inside give great arch support and reduce foot/ankle pain. Comes in black, white and brown.
I hope this gives anyone suffering with Plantar Fasciitis some great and supportive footwear options. If you have a brand or type of shoe that has worked well for you, let me know in the comments!
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