Best Travel Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis and Bunions

by Jun 30, 2020Health

If you’ve ever had plantar fasciitis or bunions, then you know how painful it can be to stand for long periods of time and walk even around the block. You also know how hard it is to find good shoes for plantar fasciitis and even harder it is to find good shoes for bunions. I have both problems. I thought for sure I would not be able to travel again without foot surgery. However, I was able to find the perfect shoes for my plantar fasciitis and my bunions. In this post, I’m going to share with you the shoes that have allowed me to travel around the world pain free. Plus! As a teacher, they’ve allowed me to stand for long periods of time in from of my students.

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What is plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a foot condition you get when the tissue that connects the heel to the toe bones becomes inflamed. Plantar means sole of the foot and fascia means tissue that connects bones. You can get this condition from wearing the wrong shoes, putting too much weight on your feet, genetics and other reasons. People who do a lot of traveling can get plantar fasciitis easily because of the weight of the backpack and wearing bad shoes like flip flops.

plantar fasciitis

According to Orthofeet, for plantar fasciitis, you need shoes with good support and lots of cushioning.

  • Heel: There should be a high heel-to-toe drop in order to reduce the stress on the plantar fasciitis. 
  • Sole: The sole should be thick and rigid. 
  • Toe Box: The toe box should be wide and roomy enough for your toes. You don’t want anything too narrow in the toe area.
  • Cushioning: There should be lots of cushioning so that when your feet make contact with the ground, the shoes absorb the impact.
  • Arch support: The shoes should have good arch and heel support in order to reduce overpronation.
  • Flexibility: The front part of the shoe (where the toes are) shouldn’t be too stiff. You should be able to bend the shoe at the ball of the foot. However, the back of the shoe should be more rigid and not bend so much.

What are Bunions?

Bunions is the foot condition whereby the bone or tissue at the bottom of your big toe moves out of place. As a result, a lump appears on the side of your big toe and it then rubs against your shoe. It can be excruciatingly painful and cause lots of problems like blisters (me!) and arthritis.

bones of a normal foot and bones of a foot with bunions

Ideally, you should avoid wearing high heels and shoes that are too narrow and too small. Generally, people with bunions, have wider feet, so try to find shoes that have sizes in wide or extra-wide (Prevention).

  • Toe Box: The toe box should be wide so that your toes save a lot of space to move around
  • Material: The shoes should be made out of soft leather and fabric

PRO TIP: No one likes to think about insurance, but accidents do happen. I highly recommend getting World Nomads. This is what I've used for short-term travel. When  I quit my job to travel around the world, I switched to Safety Wings. They're very affordable (less than US$100 a month depending on age) especially for those of us who are over 40 years old. They now cover COVID19.

BEST SHOES FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS ANd BUNIONS: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20

My absolute favorite pair of shoes for travel are the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 for wide feet. I love these shoes! They’re the perfect shoes for both plantar fasciitis AND bunions. I can walk over 20,000 steps a day on these shoes and not feel a thing. No burning sensation on the bottom of my feet and no scraping sensation on the side of my big toe where my ugly bunion is. They have saved me from having to resort to surgery.

You can get the Brooks Adrenaline GTS20 in a non-wide size at all if you just suffer from plantar fasciitis. 

These are great shoes for plantar fasciitis because they’ve got a high heel-to-toe drop, and great arch support and cushioning so that when the foot hits the ground, the shoes absorb the impact. The front part is roomy and flexible and the sole is thick and rigid.

These are also great shoes for those with bunions because they’ve got a super wide and flexible toe-box that gives the toes lots of room to roam around in. The material is also soft and comfy so when the sides of my feet rub against the shoe, I don’t feel any pain. Plus! These shoes come in wide and extra-wide sizes–another bonus for both my bunions and plantar fasciitis. It’s REALLY hard to find good-looking shoes that come in these wide sizes.

Purple Brooks shoes with logo

The shoes are not cheap. I paid US$130 in 2018 for a pair. I pretty much wear only these shoes when I travel, hike, or go for long walks.

I’ve definitely gotten my money’s worth from them.

I’ve seen lots of articles on bunions and plantar fasciitis promoting the Brooks Ghost 12 shoes. I haven’t tried these shoes so I can’t tell you if they would be better than the Adrenaline shoes that I own.

BEST SHOES FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS: ON CLOUDFLYER RUNNING SHOES

The best shoes for plantar fasciitis are the On Cloudflyer Running Shoes. I love these shoes. They are not only super comfy but they’re also very stylish.

The shoes are made by a Swiss company called On. Unfortunately, they’re not cheap. Mine cost US$180.

The bad thing is that these shoes don’t come in a wide size, so they’re not the best for people with bunions. However, I can still wear my Cloudflyers nearly every day at work as a teacher. I can stand for long periods of time without feeling any pain under my foot or on my bunions.

The thing I can’t use them for is walking for a long period of time. If I do, the material starts to rub against my bunions.

Mine are black, so I can get away with wearing them to work with a black or grey skirt and black tights and even black or grey dress pants.

Why they are such good shoes for plantar fasciitis is that they have a high heel-to-toe drop, great arch support, and beautiful cushioning. When my foot hits the ground, the shoe absorbs the impact, which puts less stress on my meniscus-torn right knee, leading me to put less pressure on my plantar fasciitis-left foot. There’s also something about the shoelaces. When I lace up my shoes, my feet feel so stable like they’re being enclosed in a little cocoon.

They’re also excellent travel shoes for those with plantar fasciitis and knee problems because they’re super lightweight, so you’re less likely to experience fatigue when out walking all day. Feet can get tired, and when they do, they can tire out your knees. When a bad knee like my right knee gets tired, I put more pressure on my right leg, causing my plantar fasciitis to flare up.

ADDITIONAL ITEMS FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS AND BUNIONS

Orthotics

Along with buying shoes with a lot of cushion, another essential item to get for your trip is a pair of orthotics to go inside the shoes. They come in different sizes and arch height. Just ask the salesperson about which kind they recommend. I got the ones with the most support.

I have Superfeet orthotic insoles and I am quite happy with them.

I got one pair and I just move them to whatever shoe I am wearing.

Compression Socks

Another essential item for plantar fasciitis is a pair of compression socks. They reduce inflammation in your feet, increase circulation thereby reducing fatigue, and give extra cushioning. I just love them for how they feel—a bit like I’m getting a massage.

These compression socks from Sockwell are the ones that I bought and I’ve been very happy with them. I bought a medium/large size for my 8 and 8.5 size feet.

If you’re looking for a really good pair of shoes for your plantar fasciitis or bunions, then you can’t go wrong with either the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20. What I most love about these shoes is the wide and flexible toe box.

If you don’t have bunions, then the On Cloudflyers would also work well. What I adore about the Cloudflyers is that they come in a really slick and stylish black color which makes them suitable for semi-casual workplaces. I can easily get away with wearing them with black or grey pants or a black skirt and tights.

One of the best important things to do to prevent getting sick or injured when you travel is to have a good pair of shoes. Don’t do like me and end up in the emergency room of a Japanese hospital

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Best Walking Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
Best shoes for bunions

PRO TIP: Don't travel anywhere without bringing these essential items with you to keep you safe and secure:

Combination lock - The one thing you MUST bring with you to Asia if you're planning on staying in hostels is a combination lock. Hostels provide lockers and you provide the lock.

Money belt - Even though these are not the most comfortable things to wear, a money belt is essential. I've tried both these traditional travel belts and ones that runners use.

RFID Blocking Sleeves - Another great item to use is an RFID sleeve for your credit and debit cards and passport so that thieves can't scan your credit and debit cards and passport.

Anti-Theft Messenger Bags -  Anti-theft messenger bags are great because they're made of a material that is difficult for thieves to slash. They've got lots of pockets as well and a way to lock the zippers.

Privacy Screen Protectors - Privacy screen protectors prevent people from seeing what's on your screen while working cafes, hostels, or co-working spaces. You can buy one for any type of laptop.

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About the Bamboo Traveler

Julie Krolak

Hi! I’m Julie, the Bamboo Traveler!  This blog is devoted to helping the inquisitive traveler explore Asia’s history and culture. On this site, you’ll find itineraries to help you plan your trip, reviews to help you make more informed decisions, lots of history and cultural information to help make your travels more meaningful, and book recommendations to help you understand a place more deeply.

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