Shoes for Arthritis: The Best and Worst Options for Your Feet

The human body is truly amazing. The foot, for instance, might look like a single organ but within it lies 28 bones and over 30 joints. Yes, we bet you didn’t know that.

Unfortunately, any of those bones and joints are susceptible to arthritis. Put simply, arthritis is the wear or inflammation of the cartilage tissues in the bones and joints. While common among aging individuals, anyone can get it.

What Causes Arthritis in the Foot?

Dislocations, fractures, and other injuries are the main causes of posttraumatic arthritis. Medical problems such as rheumatoid arthritis, infection in the joint, and gout make you vulnerable to arthritis.

There’s more. Overweight individuals are at a higher risk of getting foot arthritis (big toe, in particular). You see, the big toe handles double the force of your entire weight. Throw in exercise and it will be clear why your big toe hurts hellishly.

Arthritis can be hereditary as well. Lastly, your joint muscles weaken with age leaving one predisposed to foot and ankle pains. The common symptoms of arthritic feet include pain, stiffness, clicking noises, swelling, warm feet, locked joints, and a change in the shape of the affected toes.

Enough of talking about problems. Let’s talk about shoes for arthritic feet that you can use to bring your life back to normalcy.

The Best and Worst Shoes for Arthritis

When you have arthritic feet, there is a limit to what you can wear. Quite frankly, most of the everyday walking shoes you used to wear before this condition will no longer cut it. You will have to restock your shoe rack with orthopedic devices (at least until you get better). Let’s start with the worst choices you should avoid. 

Shoes for Arthritis-good and Bad Choices

Here is a list of arthritic unfriendly & unfriendly shoes:

1. Heels


You don’t really need scientific evidence to believe that heels are bad for your feet. Don’t get us wrong. As seasoned foot reviewers, we’ve come across stunning heels and other platform shoes that redefined beauty. But for someone in pain, 2-inch+ heels will make your life more difficult.

Heels and stilettos have hard soles. So basically there is no impact absorption in the arches and ball of the foot. Feet take the shape of your shoes. Watch how the feet of those who wear heels bend towards the toes. It’s not very healthy at all. If you have joint problems, it will get even more aggravating. 

Women who wear heels often complain of knee and back problems. You’ve noticed some even carry foldable flats and other alternatives in their purses for when heels become too much trouble.

Are heels part of your workplace dress code? No problem. If you must wear them, then ensure they have a rubber sole, roomier front, and a wedge-shaped platform for better stability. We are not harbingers of bad news but we’ve got to come clean. Women who consistently wear stilettos and heels end up with back pain, knee and foot problems later in life.

2. Low Heels

Like high heels, low heels too lack comforting features. Secondly, a good number of them are pointed towards the toes. This means your toes (which are already arthritic) will be squeezed together like candies in a pack. 

Continued compression of the toes hurts the nerves and joints leading to conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, pinched nerves, psoriatic arthritis, and ankylosing spondylitis. Let’s not forget back problems, huh. So if heels are causing you too much discomfort, just do yourself a favor and change your shoe rack.

3. Sandals

Sandals can be both good and bad. Many of them feature thin-layered soles and leather/non-leather straps. Sandals can be improper for arthritic feet if they are supremely skeletal. Basically, such designs lack impact absorption.

Secondly, you need a back (ankle) strap to lock the foot so it doesn’t move about. Be watchful of the straps that pass across inflamed regions. We bet you already know how good sandals should look like, right.

In short, try sandals that are padded, can accommodate orthotics, and with adjustable straps so you can adjust the fit. Straps also make them one of the most ideal footwear for swollen feet.

4. Flip-flops

There’s a bit of confusion surrounding flip-flops. Some say they are good for arthritic feet and some say they are not. However, the consensus is that if you go for flip-flops, try those with good comfort and support. Comfort should be a priority for those with arthritic knees as it helps to lessen joint loads.

Another thing we have to agree on is that those with arthritic fingers might benefit a lot from ergonomic flip-flops and sandals. Since these footwear types don’t involve laces, your fingers are rarely needed when wearing or removing them. 

5. Sneakers

Sneakers are the go-to casual shoes for many people. They fall into two groups-neutral and stability control. The latter is ideal for folks with pronation problems. By stabilizing the foot, you can quell arthritic storms and enjoy going about your everyday activities. 

Stability-enhancing running shoes will only be problematic if you go for the wrong support. This changes the way you walk resulting in nerve and muscle twists. So make sure to go with the right choice.

Next, let’s talk about neutral sneakers. Generally, they are massively padded and breathable. Their ample cushioning is exactly what those with arthritis in the knees, ankle, and foot need. Why? Because sneakers’ dense cushioning minimizes weight overload on both knees and feet.

As long as your sneakers are roomier and sport the right support, you should not be worried about worsening your arthritis.

6. Boots

Boots, especially those that go all the way close to the knees are great for those in need of ankle stability. They also tend to be roomier, which is a good quality for those with arthritic feet. 

Unfortunately, there are a few caveats. Boots tend to be inflexible and this can make arthritic pain worse. Secondly, you need to prioritize those with flat rubber soles. Weight can also be a big issue with steel-toe shoes. Thankfully, there are lightweight varieties that offer lightweight performance without compromising on safety.

7. Flats

Flats are great for those with healthy feet. Basically, they may not have great arch support. If your arthritis is minimal, then these shoes will do just fine. However, if you are in advanced stages, flats may not have the best comfort features. But with a little trial and error, you can find outstanding choices for long and short walks.

8. Clogs

Clogs are certainly some of the best everyday shoes but a few are not advisable for people with arthritis. Reasonable choices should be flexible, have a back strap, and be fairly padded. Avoid the thin plastic varieties.

Shoes for Arthritis: Worthwhile Features to Consider

Congratulations for reading all the way to this point. We have talked about the right and wrong shoes for arthritis. But to be on the safe side, here are the features you should be looking for in arthritic shoes:

  • Comfort

Arthritis shoes must be nicely padded. The denser the cushioning, the less the impact your joints receive. Just be careful not to buy a heavy shoe in the pursuit of supreme comfort.

  • Support & stability

Arch support shoes prevent feet from over or underpronation. High arches, in particular, can aggravate arthritis if not addressed. Motion control technology also ensures your foot is properly placed. This prevents the foot from rolling inwards or outwards.

  • Roomier construction

Tight shoes are bad for anyone with arthritic feet-especially the big toe type. Clumping your toes together will not only aggravate joint pains but opens the way to other foot problems like hammertoes and neuropathy as well. Whenever you have foot issues, try to buy shoes with roomier toe ends.

  • Adjustability

It’s really awesome to be able to adjust your shoes to manage foot swelling. As the day goes by, it comes a time where your feet crave some breathing. With easy adjustability, you can create more breathing space which is good for painful feet.

Wrap Up

Individuals with arthritis must be selective when buying shoes because some choices are not ideal. One mistake that some people make is going for fashionable looks instead of prioritizing their pain.

The second mistake is wearing the wrong size shoes. When you wear big shoes, your feet will move about resulting in joint inflammation. If they are too small, your toes get clumped together like candies in a jar. The general consensus is that there should be a half-inch space between your big toe and the end of the shoe.

Lastly, if you buy shoes offline, do your shopping in the afternoon when your feet are at their biggest. This ensures they don’t get tight and worsen your arthritic pain. That’s all for now. Happy shoe hunting!

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