Best Travel Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis and Bunions

by Jul 16, 2022Health, Travel

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 around even one 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, and genetics.

People who do a lot of traveling can get plantar fasciitis easily from carrying a heavy backpack or camera and wearing bad shoes like flip-flops or poor-quality sneakers.

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?

A Bunion is a 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. It then rubs against your shoe.

Bunions 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 shoe sizes that are specifically 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 travel medical insurance. During my travels over the past 3 years, I've been using Safety Wing for my medical insurance. They're very affordable and digital nomads can use their insurance long-term.

BEST SHOES FOR PLANTAR FASCIITIS AND BUNIONS: BROOKS ADRENALINE

My absolute favorite pair of shoes for travel are the Brooks Adrenaline GTS for wide feet.

I love these shoes!

They’re the perfect shoes for BOTH plantar fasciitis AND bunions because they have great stability and come in wide and extra wide sizes.

I can walk over 20,000 steps a day in 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 GTS in a non-wide size if you just suffer from plantar fasciitis.

Brooks Adrenaline shoes are great shoes for those with plantar fasciitis because they’ve got a high heel-to-toe drop, and great arch support and cushioning. 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.

They 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

What’s my experience wearing Brooks Adrenaline for travel?

I have been traveling full-time in Mexico and Central America since April 2021. I only have o2 pairs of shoes with me: a cheap pair of flip-flops and my Brooks Adrenaline GTS22.

I wear flip-flops around my hotel room or to the beach. For all other times, I wear my Brooks Adrenalines. That means I wear these shoes nearly 340 days a year. I don’t have a car, so that means I walk or take the bus everywhere. It’s common for me to do 10,000 steps a day in my Brooks shoes.

On top of the walking, I’m also carrying a purse and a backpack filled with a mirrorless camera and lenses.

Plus, I weigh 150 lbs.

And I have a really bad right knee.

Since I started traveling 15 months ago, I have felt my bunions rubbing against the material of my shoes once or twice.

I usually only feel that burning sensation under my feet from my plantar fasciitis if I’ve been standing around in museums for a long time. I have pretty much no problem hiking or walking around the city in these shoes.

Should I get wide or extra-wide shoes?

Brooks Adrenaline shoes come in wide or extra-wide.

My first 3 pairs of Brooks shoes were wide. In my first year, I had no problems with my bunions.

Then with my second pair of Brooks shoes, a hole began to appear in the material over the bunion of my left shoe. I was walking around Mexico and Guatemala with an ugly hole in my shoe. I want to add that I never had any pain from my bunions while wearing these shoes.

For my third pair of Brooks shoes, a hole over my bunion appeared even sooner. However, still no pain from the bunions.

I contacted Brooks about the problem of the material ripping and they told me to get the extra wide. So far so good. It’s been 2 months and the shoes are in good condition.

The only thing is that the extra-wide shoes feel wider in the toe part than the wide shoes. So, I think I should have gotten a half a size smaller to compensate for the extra wide shoes. If you’re buying extra-wide, you might want to consider this.

What’s the difference between Brooks Adrenaline GTS20, GTS21, and GTS22?

I have worn all of them. The GTS22 has thankfully the most variety of colors in wide and extra-wide sizes.

I own the GTS22 extra wide and just wide size for the GTS20 and GTS21. The reason I went with extra-wide this year was that my growing bunion caused my shoe to tear. I contacted Brooks, and they told me to go with the extra-wide.

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 were not cheap. Mine cost US$180.

Why I love my Cloudflyers

1. Good for standing for long periods of time

When I was a teacher, I wore my Cloudflyers nearly every day to work. I could stand for long periods of time without feeling any pain under my foot or on my bunions.

2. Cloudflyers are stylish

My shoes 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.

3. Shoelaces

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.

4. Great arch support and cushioning

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.

5. Super lightweight

They’re also excellent travel shoes for those with plantar fasciitis and knee problems. 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.

Why Cloudflyers are not so good for people with bunions

Cloudflyers don’t come in wide or extra wide sizes. As a result, your bunions are more likely to rub against the shoe.

I can wear these in the classroom but I can’t go for long walks with them.

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  (also called insoles) to go inside the shoes.

They come in different sizes and arch heights. 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.

Unfortunately, they are unavailable. However, Sockwell has 2 other styles of compression socks for plantar fasciitis and 1 style for bunions.

 

Conclusion

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 22. 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 PursesTravel-on Anti-theft purses are great because they're made of a material that's 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

The Bamboo Traveler

Welcome to The Bamboo Traveler, a travel blog dedicated to helping those travelers who want to dig deeply into the history, heritage, and culture of a place. Whether it’s through the pages of your passport or the pages of a book, I’ll help you travel the world and uncover the history, culture, food, architecture, and natural beauty of some of the world’s most fascinating places.

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