After you’ve seen a podiatrist, and know what is actually wrong with your foot, the natural next step is to make sure you are wearing the right kind of shoes. Most of us don’t have the best shoes for plantar fasciitis, which is partly why a lot of us are here in the first place, and we have no idea how to find out. Lucky for us, it is fairly easy to get a shoe consultation, either in person or online.
Here’s my experience with two different shoe consultations.
Consult #1: Fleet Feet Sports
I never even knew you could get semi-professional advice about the right shoe to wear until I walked into the Fleet Feet Sports in Pleasant Hill, California, looking for flip flops with arch support, and started talking to the sales guy, Spencer about my plantar fasciitis. (This was in July 2012).
Honestly, the consultation at Fleet Feet in Pleasant Hill was one of the most useful things I’ve done. He measured my feet, and had me walk through the store barefoot and noted that my arches are not all that low, that I do tend to pronate and that my feet are on the narrow side. He showed me what kind of shoes he thought I needed in general, based also on these three factors, and brought out two or three different brands for me to try. Different shoes are recommended for you if you have wider or narrower feet.
My doctor had recommended that I use off the shelf inserts like Superfeet, so Spencer helped my figure out the right type for my situation. More helpfully, he suggested that I get the next largest size, and cut down the inserts, so that the arch would better fit mine. When I put the recommended shoes, with the inserts, on my feet, my feet sort of breathed a sigh of relief. Seriously, it was clear immediately that this was the right combo to support my feet, which at that point were hurting pretty badly. (For more information on what was recommended, see the posts on shoes for plantar fasciitis and inserts for arch support.)
While my podiatrist had been great, I had learned a lot more about my particular situation and how to deal with it at the shoe store!
I think it made a big difference that I had a helpful and experienced person like Spencer to consult. It would be easy to go to a place where the consultants are not very helpful or knowledgeable, and there could be a big difference between different salespeople at the same store.
Since Yelp is so great, I would personally recommend looking up “sports medicine” or “orthotics” or “shoe fitting” or “physical therapy” on Yelp.com or somewhere in your area, and seeing what place other people in your area found helpful, and specifically, who at that store helped them.
If you can, you may want to try several different sports or shoe stores that will evaluate your feet, as you can learn a lot from different people.
Consult #2: LaFoot Plus
In October I checked out another sports shoes store — LaFoot Plus on Elmwood in Berkeley, CA, which calls itself a “sports health and wellness center,” and was also great.
A salesperson called Afsanah at LaFoot worked with me for a solid 40 minutes, assessing my walk when I asked her to, and recommending a different style of Brooks’ sports shoe than the one I had (Adrenaline) for my overpronation and plantar fasciitis, noting the one I had was fine, but that the new rec, the Addiction, was even stiffer and would be better. She wasn’t trying to sell me the Addictions – I had specifically asked what shoes she recommended – and by the end of the visit I realized that her strongest recommendation was that I focus on stretching my calf muscles.
When I asked her about the ball of my foot hurting, she said it was probably metatarsalgia and described to me how my tight calves would cause both the metatarsalgia and plantar fasciitis. She showed me on my foot how the tightness in the calf basically puts pressure on both the plantar fascia and the ball of the foot, and how my toes arch up a bit and how they should lay more flat.
She recommended that I add some stick-on heel lifts to the bottom of my Superfeet, to take some of the pressure caused by my tight calves off my feet, but warned that this was a temporary measure and that the stretching was what would help in the long run. The heel lifts were something like $1.50 each and she stuck them on and trimmed them for me.
When I asked if there are other shoes she would recommend, she said for my problem she would recommend either the Saucony Stabile or the New Balance 1012 except that both of those run a bit wide and my foot is on the narrow side, so that she would go with the Brooks Addiction. And that she thought my current Brooks were fine, especially with the inserts I wear.
In the end, I got a pair of the Brooks Addictions, to the salesperson’s surprise Since I wear my sports shoes almost literally all the time, and since it sounded like they were even better for my condition, I figured it was a good shot.
Final Report Card
At the end of the day, I was sad to find that my feet felt a bit worse after I wore the Addictions with the heel inserts, and they are not quite as comfy as my other Brooks. There are a million factors with plantar fasciitis, so I’m not honestly quite sure if either the shoes or the heel lifts are the problem, or something entirely different – more walks, etc. But my instinct was too lose the heel lifts, which I have now removed, and to only wear the Addictions at home rather than on walks or to work.
I don’t think Asfanah at La Foot gave me bad advice – far from it – but rather that each of our experience with plantar fasciitis is unique and that for my feet and my body, it’s better to wear Brooks Adrenalines without heel lifts.
I am indeed following her advice to do more plantar fasciitis exercises.
My point is that it’s worth it to get a shoe consultation at a good spot, and that it’s even better to try different places if you can, so that you can find the combination of shoes and inserts and lifts (or not) that is right for you.
I have no doubt that my feet would be in much worse shape if I had not done a shoe consult at all.
- Look on Yelp (or ask around) for a highly reputable “sports medicine” or “orthotics” or “shoe fitting” or “physical therapy” store in your area, especially paying attention to finding the most skilled shoe consultant at that store.
- If needed, ask them to evaluate your feet while walking.
- Keep in mind that off the shelf shoe inserts might work just fine for you instead of the much more expensive custom orthotics.
- If you can, try more than one consult.