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Dealing with heel spurs? Podiatrists say you should look for these shoe features and styles

"Improper footwear can exacerbate the problem and make the pain and discomfort worse."
Kara Birnbaum / TODAY
/ Source: TODAY

Whether you've heard of heel spurs or not, this pesky foot condition is more common than you may think. Much like neuropathy, bunions and high arches, heel spurs can make the shoe shopping process a bit challenging, but the right pair of shoes can help you forget any footwear troubles you may have.

To help you find the perfect fit, Shop TODAY enlisted the help of top podiatrists to find out what shoe styles work best for heel spurs.

What causes heel spurs?

These small, typically jagged areas of bony growth can be found on two spots on the plantar (bottom) or posterior (back) of your heel bone, according to podiatrist Dr. Asim Sayed.

"They tend to form in the area of insertion of a tendon, fascia or ligament. The spur that forms on the back of the heel bone is where the Achilles tendon is attached. The spur that forms on the bottom of the heel bone is where the plantar fascia is attached," he explains.

Much like many other foot conditions, heel spurs often form due to added stress and strain on the area.

"Improper footwear can exacerbate the problem and make the pain and discomfort worse," Sayed adds.

How are heel spurs related to plantar fasciitis?

Plantar fasciitis is a condition that occurs when the ligament connecting your heel bone to the bottom of your foot (the base of your toes, to be exact) gets inflamed. If you have plantar fasciitis, you're more likely to have heel spurs.

"Heel spurs actually are not the cause of heel pain. They are really a radiographic finding that simply tells the provider how long they have had plantar fasciitis," podiatrist Dr. Emily Splichal says.

If you have chronic plantar fasciitis, plantar heel spurs frequently occur, according to Sayed. On the other hand, if you have chronic insertional Achilles tendinitis, a posterior heel spur usually follows.

Are heel spurs preventable?

A little movement goes a long way towards helping you manage heel spurs. If you're hoping to fend them off, Sayed suggests adding some mobility and range of motion exercises, like yoga, into your weekly routine.

"I always recommend increasing your range of motion to your lower extremity joints. Daily stretching, when done correctly, can lead to long-term relief of heel spurs," he states.

"Wearing footwear that reduces stress and strain on the muscles and joints is also helpful."

What shoe styles and features work best for heel spurs?

Ready to curate a shoe collection that helps your feet feel their best while dealing with heel spurs? Sayed recommends gravitating towards these styles and features:

  • Wedges: "A shoe style with a platform wedge, where the forefoot and heel are on a closer plane, is less detrimental to your foot. The higher the heel, the more issues you can experience over time."
  • Tennis shoes: "The design of a tennis shoe typically places the heel higher than the forefoot, which reduces stress on the heel spur sites."
  • Shoes with extra cushioning: "Look for a shoe with a generously cushioned heel. You also want to look for built-in arch support that limits overpronation. This will reduce stress on the plantar fascia."

Wedge heels for heel spurs

Skechers Beverlee Wedge

These wedge sandals are made of vegan materials and have plenty of comfortable features, including a cushioned foam footbed, a flexible traction outsole and a stretchy slingback strap. The 2 1/4-inch wedge also offers just enough height without putting a strain on your feet.

LifeStride Stellar Wedge Sandal

Available in regular and wide sizes, these dressy wedges are perfect for special events or can even help dress up a more casual ensemble. They offer plenty of cushioning, shock absorption and pressure distribution, and also have stretchy straps.

BZees Daytona Machine-Washable Wedge Sandal

Think you have to give up cute shoes just because you're dealing with heel spurs? Think again. A padded insole makes every step a breeze while you're wearing these wedge sandals. The slingback style offers plenty of support and the shoes are also machine-washable.

Sperry Kennedy Wedge

If you're looking for a heel that screams "summer," look no further. Striped straps lend these wedges a flirty, nautical feel. Notable features include adjustable ankle straps, a padded heel and a comfy footbed.

Earth Shoes Willa Strappy Casual Mid Cork Wedge Sandals

Whether you prefer neutrals or metallics, these wedge sandals with an arch-friendly footbed come in a variety of colors (five, to be exact) to go with every outfit you have planned. Plus, the brand regularly uses recyclable, renewable and regenerative materials.

Rockport Briah Sandal

Psyched for sunny days ahead? We are too! And we're currently crushing on this pair of sassy sandals with a wooden wedge heel. A breathable textile lining keeps sweat at bay, while an adjustable closure helps you get the perfect fit. The stretchy footbed also absorbs shock and the metallic front buckle adds a touch of panache.

Dansko Malena Heel Sandal

After one quick glance at these wedge sandals, we could already see ourselves rocking them with springy sundresses and denim shorts. The adjustable triple strap design locks your feet in for ample support, while the cushioned footbed and soft lining ensure that your feet are happy campers.

Aetrex Vania Arch Support Platform Sandal

There's just something cheerful about a pair of raffia wedges. Maybe it's because they remind us of carefree, breezy summer days. As we look forward to sunny weather, we're adding this pair of platform sandals to our wishlist and we dig the fact that they feature arch support, a memory foam footbed and a material with antimicrobial technology that fends off odors.

Tennis shoes for heel spurs

New Balance Fresh Foam Arishi v4 Running Shoe

New Balance's snazzy running shoes are chock full of cushioning and have a comfortable padded collar and mesh fabric lining. The foam midsole and removable cushioned insole also join forces to satisfy your toes as you go about your day.

Easy Spirit Tech Slip-On

Slip into comfort with these affordable Easy Spirit kicks. The orthotic-friendly design offers fabulous arch support and the breathable fabric is ideal for multiseason use.

Rykä Never Quit Training Shoe

Whether you're working out or running errands, the right pair of sneakers can make a world of difference. Rykä created this training shoe with comfort in mind and added several handy features, including cushioning and arch and heel support. The pull tabs also make it easy to get in and out of the shoes in a hurry!

Vionic Zeliya Lace Up Sneaker

Treating your feet to some TLC is easy with these lightweight sneakers that have a podiatrist-approved orthotic, a cushioned outsole and a removable footbed.

OrthoFeet Verve Tie-Less

Hate fussing over shoelaces? You'll dig these "tie-less" sneakers that fasten on each side. The ergonomic cushioning and orthotic insole offer arch support, eliminate pressure and the foam padding cradles even the most sensitive of feet with ease.

Reebok Floatride Energy 5 Running Shoes

Cushioning? Check! Ample support? Yep. Reebok's latest running shoe combines fashion and function with its bold color palette, sharp lines and foam midsole, which offers "responsive feel and energy return," according to the brand. Even better, part of the shoe is made with recycled materials.

OrthoFeet Francis No-Tie

Ideal for sensitive feet, these no-tie sneakers feature an orthotic insole with plenty of arch support, a wide toe box and a cushioned sole. They even earned the American Podiatric Medical Association's seal of approval.

Kuru Atom Slip-On

This lace-free, breathable slip-on from Kuru Footwear adheres to your unique foot shape and supports your arches as you take on the day with confidence. Pull tabs at the front and back are another handy feature.

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