Suffering from any kind of chronic foot condition can be a severely debilitating experience, even when it is a relatively minor condition. The amount of work your feet do during the course of an average day is something many people take for granted, but that can quickly change when you are experiencing pain as the result of a condition with your feet. Fortunately, there are very simple methods to combat these kinds of problems.
Orthotic inserts are simple insoles that slide into your shoes and can help to offset the problems that your feet are experiencing, if not correct them outright. There are also other orthotic devices, though they typically need specialist shoes to accommodate the extra size.
Orthotics help by controlling the position of your feet so that your muscles and ligaments are forced to assume the correct positioning as you move through your day. This also helps to reduce the amount of weight bearing down on particular parts of your feet, which is one of the main causes of problems down there. They can also help with recovery from things like fractures, ensuring that your feet remain in the correct shape and reducing the risk of bones healing incorrectly.
Why Are Orthotics Necessary?
We’ve mentioned a few things that orthotics can work to help relieve foot pain and correct any problems you might be having that have arisen as a result of something to do with your feet, but other than bone fractures we touched on, why might you need this kind of help?
In addition to physical conditions that might have arisen as a result of injury, there are also issues that can arise from long-term misuse of your feet. This could include things like years of bad posture, long periods of standing in footwear that does not adequately support your arches and wearing shoes that are not an appropriate size for your feet.
Things like plantar fasciitis—a pain in the heel and arch of your feet—in particular, can be exacerbated by improper arch support. Orthotics devices—such as insoles—are molded in such a way that they force your feet to rest and move in the correct positions.
It should be noted that the human body is an extremely complex thing, and things like improper footwear can cause all manner of problems beyond the soles of your feet. Many people have—much to their relief—that orthotics shoes have help ease or eradicate discomfort in their hips, back, neck, and shoulder blades.
Different Types of Orthotics
Not all orthotics are created equally, and there are different devices for different tasks. Here are the three types of orthotics.
Accommodative orthotics can be used to relieve some mild foot pain and is a popular way of correcting issues with young children. Orthotic devices used for this include splints and gait plates.
The most invasive method of using orthotics, braces, can be used to correct more severe issues in the foot, hip, or leg. These are most commonly used on small children to correct issues before they have a chance to develop fully.
Functional orthotics are the kind that we are dealing with in this post. This can come in the form of orthotic insoles or orthotic shoes, and the general purpose is to provide support for your feet where it needs it, stabilizing the foot to prevent injuries that can occur from repetitive overuse.
1. Brooks Men’s Beast 20
Starting off our best shoes for orthotics picks is a somewhat traditional looking sneaker from Brooks. The Beast 20 is designed for runners and so features a chunky cushioned midsole that is designed not to be too spongey underfoot. It also features a segmented crashpad between the midsole and the outsole, making the motion of each footfall smooth without losing all of the protection that a rigid sole would offer.
Being a running shoe, they are designed to fit snugly around your feet, which doesn’t leave a great deal of room for your own orthotic insoles, should you wish to use them. Fortunately, the insoles that come with the Beast 20s are removable, so you can always swap them out for insoles of your own choosing.
There is plenty of space in the forefoot area, and the fit of the shoe can be adjusted with the laces to get a comfortable level of security without restricting your feet. There are only two options as far as design goes; black and grey or grey and blue, but they are both very stylish.
- Removable insoles allow you to use your own orthotic inserts
- Cushioned midsole with segmented crash pads makes running less stressful on your body
- Adjustable fit thanks to laces and plenty of forefoot room
- Outsole tread is prone to trapping small stones
2. Sketchers Sport Women’s Good Life Fashion Sneaker
Sketchers have a strong pedigree for practical and comfortable shoes, and the Good Life Fashion Sneaker is no different. This is a low profile sneaker with a soft, fabric upper that makes for a very lightweight and comfortable wear. Despite the soft, flexible nature of that upper, these sneakers are surprisingly durable.
They feature laces for adjustment but are perfectly serviceable as slip-on shoes. The sole is relatively thin but features a memory foam footbed for additional comfort without making it too soft for orthotic insoles to be effective.
As you might expect from Sketchers, there are plenty of designs to choose from, though they are all subtle combinations of subdued colors like charcoal and taupe—no floral print designs for this one! The only real downsides to this shoe are that they don’t offer much resistance to liquid, and there isn’t a great deal of space for your orthotic insoles. They should be sufficient for partial inserts, such as heel or arch support, but if you need a full insole, this shoe may be a little tight.
- Flexible and comfortable thanks to fabric upper
- Lightweight with low profile design
- Material is breathable
- Easy to slip on and off
- Not the most spacious shoe
3. New Balance Men’s 940 V4 Running Shoe
Moving back to more traditional running shoes, New Balance’s 940 V4 running shoes sit a little towards the premium end of the market for this kind of shoe, but that extra price is not for nothing.
The upper section features a combination of breathable areas and sturdy material, providing excellent support while keeping your feet fresh—an essential quality for a running shoe. Laces ensure you can get a good fit, and the shoe being available in half sizes should allow you to purchase the best possible size for your feet.
The insoles are removable, so you are free to swap them out for your own choice of insoles. There is a choice of a few distinctive designs, but not a huge selection.
- Removable insoles allow you to use the inserts of your choice
- Available in half sizes
- Excellent arch support
- The lace-up design makes getting a comfortable fit easier
- Has a tendency to roll to the outside of the foot
4. Brooks Dyad 11
Coming back to Brooks, we have another running shoe in the form of their Dyad 11 offering. This sneaker is designed for runners who need a secure and stable experience from their footwear, with plenty of room in the forefoot that should make it more comfortable for people with wider feet.
The upper is constructed with a combination of breathable meshes and strong materials to keep your feet feeling fresh and secure, while the lacing means you can adjust your fit to suit. The midsole is cushioned for a better running experience, while the insole is removable, so you can use your own choice of orthotic inserts if you choose.
You can get the Dyad 11 in a choice of two designs, black with green highlights or dark blue with red highlights.
- Removable insoles to make space for inserts of your choosing
- The lace-up design and extra room makes for a comfortable yet secure fit
- Breathable upper sections and sock liner keep feet feeling fresh and secure
- Some customers complained of the images being a poor representation of the actual colors of the shoe
5. Saucony Men’s Echelon 7 Running Shoe
Saucony brings us our next set of running shoes with their Echelon 7 offering. Like many of the running shoes we have mentioned, these sneakers aim to give you plenty of stability and security while running. The upper sections feature engineered mesh that is both secure and breathable, while the lace-up design allows for a good degree of control over the fit.
Being designed for running, Saucony employs some clever technology in the soles of the Echelon, such as reflective elements in the heel that are designed to make each footfall that little bit easier. And, of course, the insoles are removable, so you can use your own if needed.
In terms of designs, you have a choice of four options with the Echelon, though they are mostly very subtle variations on the same blacks, blues, and greys.
- Removable insoles allow you to use inserts of your own choosing
- Roomy toe box combined with secure mid and heel areas
- Ideal for runners who suffer from under-pronation
- Maybe a bit too snug for wider footed people
6. Drew Shoe Women’s Rose Mary Jane
The Drew Shoe’s Rose Mary Jane is made of durable leather construction. It sports a synthetic outsole that is slip-resistant and provides plenty of grip. Inside there is light padding to keep your feet comfortable, while the low-profile sole offers a firm base for any orthotic liners you might care to use. It also features a breathable lining and is lightweight, which should make for a much more comfortable wearing experience, especially over long periods.
The Rose comes with two removable insoles, so you will have plenty of space for your own choice of orthotic insoles after taking those out. They are also double depth, which should make it easier to use any insole comfortably.
- Synthetic outsole is anti-slip and provides plenty of grip
- Double-depth and removable insoles mean plenty of space for the orthotic insole of your choice
- Breathable lining and lightweight
- Huge range of designs to choose from
- The strap can be a little tight on larger feet
7. ASICS Men’s Gel-Fortitude 8 Running Shoes
ASICS bring us our next pair of running shoes with their Gel-Fortitude 8 sneakers. These sneakers feature a mostly synthetic mesh upper allows for plenty of breathability, while the lace-up design allows you to dial in the fit of the relatively flexible material to your liking.
The gel technology is employed in the rear and forefoot sections of the sole work to absorb the shock of your footfalls during impact, while the midsole is reinforced with Guidance Line Midsole Technology to help maintain gait efficiency.
As you might expect, the insoles are removable, so you can always swap them out for your preferred choice. The shoe is available in two designs; black and grey or blue and yellow.
- Removable insoles allow you to use your preferred orthotic inserts
- Highly breathable upper keeps your feet fresher
- Gel technology reduces the shock of footfall impact
- Lace-up design allows you to adjust shoe for a better fit
- Not ideal for wider-footed people
8. Mizuno Men’s Wave Horizon 2 Running Shoes
Mizuno’s entry onto this list is another running shoe, this time featuring a less conventional outsole arrangement. The segmented, chunky outsole and tread is certainly distinctive, though whether that is a good or bad thing will be down to your personal tastes. What we can say objectively is that it does an amazing job at cradling your feet and absorbing the shock from those heavy footfalls you endure when running.
The upper is made from a combination of durable synthetic material and breathable mesh around the forefoot, and the laces allow for plenty of adjustment in the fit around the top of your feet.
There is a sock liner for added comfort and a spacious toe box, as well as removable insoles, as is standard for shoes designed with orthotics in mind. There is a limited selection of designs to choose from, also.
- Removable insoles allow you to use your own orthotic inserts
- Plenty of room in the toe box
- Mesh upper sections and sock liner make for a comfortable wear
- Shock-absorbing outsole reduces stress on joints
- Can feel a little on the heavy side compared to other running shoes
9. Brooks Addiction Walker 2
Brooks’ final entry into our list is a more formal looking option that would be more suited to the workplace. The Addiction Walker 2 is of a typical sneaker design but with an all-leather upper that presents a little more like a formal shoe. The leather construction makes it an incredibly durable shoe if a less breathable one.
Inside there is plenty of room in the toe box and soft cushioning thanks to the BioMoGo technology that works to reduce the impact on your joints. The outsole is certified for slip-resistance, making it an ideal orthotics shoe for work environments like busy kitchens. You can get the Addiction Walker 2 in white or black leather.
- Can be used with custom orthotic inserts
- Durable all-leather construction
- BioMoGo technology reduces the impact on joints during footfalls
- Certified slip-resistant outsoles
- Not as breathable as shoes with mesh construction
10. VIONIC with Orthaheel Technology Footwear Women’s Walker
This sneaker may look like your typical running shoe at first glance, but there is more to it than meets the eye. The footbeds feature excellent arch support and cushioning for your heels, which may make these sneakers good to go right out of the box. It’s also worth noting that the footbeds feature antimicrobial treatment. However, if they are not to your liking, the insoles are removable, so you can make space for the orthotic insoles of your choice.
The upper is made from soft, supple leathers and breathable meshes, while inside, there is a comfortable sock liner. The sneaker offers a degree of water resistance that you would expect to find in a shoe designed for running, just as the outsole provides plenty of flexibility and a good grip.
There are a few designs to choose from, though they mostly consist of white with different subtle highlights. There are a couple of black and taupe designs to choose from as well, however.
- Breathable mesh and strong leather upper construction
- Removable insoles feature an antimicrobial treatment
- Excellent arch support out of the box
- Several designs to choose from
- Can be a little uncomfortable around the top areas for larger feet
While we stand by our list as an excellent selection of the best shoes for orthotics, we understand there may be reasons you would want to look elsewhere. Perhaps you have personal, ideological, or ethical reasons for not wanting to buy some of the shoes on this list. Perhaps you simply do not like the look of our best shoes for orthotics picks. Whatever your reason, fear not.
This is by no means a definitive selection of the best shoes for orthotics. There are plenty more out there; you just need to know what you are looking for. To that end, we have put together a little buying guide. By making sure your potential new footwear ticks all of the following boxes, you should still have a great pair of shoes for orthotics on your hands—or, more accurately, your feet—regardless of whether they made this list.
While you may find a pair of orthotic shoes that are perfect for your particular problems, it is far more likely that you are going to want to make use of insoles. With insoles, you can change them if your situation changes have multiple sets for different activities, and it can also help with odor issues if you are not using the same set all of the time.
Bearing this in mind, you should be on the lookout for shoes with plenty of space inside. If the shoes are snug on your feet without an orthotic insole, they are going to be uncomfortable to wear with them, if not impossible to get on at all.
When buying shoes for orthotic use, cushioning can be a little tricky. You do not want too much cushioning in your midsole and outsole, as it may impede the insole from doing its job. If the idea is that the shape of the insole pushes against your feet in strategic places, having that insole resting on a soft, overly cushioned midsole will cause there to be less pressure on those parts of your foot that need it, reducing the effectiveness of the insole.
It probably goes without saying, but you want your shoes to be comfortable, which means no rubbing and no cramped toe space. If your shoes force discomfort on your feet, it can lead to you subtly changing the way you stand and walk in an effort to mitigate that discomfort. This can cause new problems for your feet. Indeed, a version of this could be the very reason for your problems in the first place.
When you find a pair of shoes that work for your feet, you will naturally want to stick with them. Shoes can sometimes take a bit of wearing in, and you can’t always guarantee you’ll be able to find the same pair when your current ones are worn out. By getting a pair that are durable, you will get more use out of them before having to find replacements.