The 8 Best Shoes for Arthritis of 2021

Walk comfortably with these top picks

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People living with arthritis deal with some combination of joint pain, swelling: all things that can make activities as simple as standing, or walking a challenge. And while everyone can benefit from wearing comfortable, well-fitting shoes, it’s especially important for people with arthritis

“Good shoes are important for people with arthritis because the support from the footwear helps improve mobility,” Dr. Bruce Pinker, board-certified podiatrist and foot surgeon practicing in White Plains, New York tells Verywell Health. “A supportive shoe also supports the many joints and ligaments and tendons of the foot which can help reduce inflammation.” 

When shopping for shoes for someone with arthritis (including yourself), start by checking out the cushion and arch support. “Cushion and arch support are the two most important features of a shoe if the person has foot arthritis; this will soften the impact forces and create stability in the foot,” Dr. Emily Splichal, a podiatrist based in New York City tells Verywell Health.

To help make that task easier, we scoured the reviews and expert recommendations for the best shoes for arthritis available in 2021. Here’s what we found.

Our Top Picks
With a removable insole, it allows you to add your own orthotics to meet your specific needs.
These shoes are from a podiatrist-approved brand and are comfortable right out of the box!
Best for Rheumatoid Arthritis:
Mephisto Hadrian Perf at Nordstrom
These are easy to put on and remove, thanks to elastic stretchy material on the sides—which also ensure a perfect fit.
Best for Ankle Arthritis:
SAS Kich Lace Up Ankle Boot at Zappos
Beneath the insoles is shock-absorbing cushioning which provides extra support to the three main pressure points of the foot.
Best for Toe Arthritis:
HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7 at Amazon
Its rocker-bottom sole helps take pressure off the big toe and the shoe’s toe box.
These shoes offer a highly cushioned footbed and a soft, stretchy knit upper.
Every part of this boot is designed to fully support both the foot and ankle.
This comes with a modest 2 inch block heel.

Best Overall: ECCO SOFT 7 Slip-On Sneakers

Ecco Soft 7 Slip On Sneakers
Pros
  • Supportive while still being stylish and versatile

  • Removable, leather-covered insole

  • Easy slip-on for people also dealing with arthritis in their hands, fingers, and wrists

Cons
  • Pricey

  • May run narrow

These lightweight, slip-on casual sneakers provide cushioning and support for people with arthritis—and anyone else looking for a versatile shoe. The insole that comes with the shoe is removable, allowing you to add your own orthotics to meet your specific needs. The elastic panels on the side of the shoe make them easy to slip on and off—a bonus for those dealing with arthritis in their hands, wrists, or fingers. 

A fabric lining makes the shoes breathable, so your feet will stay cool and comfortable even after wearing them for hours. Plus, even though they feel like athletic shoes, the style can be worn with everything from athleisure to business casual. If that’s the case, their sturdy construction will keep them looking new for years of wear.

Sizes Available: Womens 4/4.5 - 12/12.5 | Materials: Full grain nappa leather; textile lining | Width: Standard | Arch Support: Neutral | Weight: Lightweight

Best Budget: Vionic Malibu Slip On at Vionic

Vionic Malibu
Pros
  • Made from upcycled cotton

  • Comes in a variety of colors

  • Great value

Cons
  • Only comes in medium (B) width

  • Thinner insole than other shoes from the brand

Comfortable right out of the box, these shoes are from podiatrist-approved brand Vionic and come at a lower price point than most of their products—making their well-constructed shoes accessible to more people. With an upcycled cotton upper and a sole made from a combination of rubber and soybean-based compound, they’re not just friendly on your feet: they’re friendly to the environment too. Plus, if they get dirty because you’re wearing them so often, just pop them in the washing machine.

Sizes Available: Women’s 5-11 | Materials: Cotton canvas textile upper, TPR outsole | Width: Medium (B) | Arch Support: Neutral

Best for Rheumatoid Arthritis: Mephisto Hadrian Perf

Mephisto Hadrian Perf Shoes
Pros
  • Shock-absorbing heel

  • Easy to put on and take off

  • Removable footbed

Cons
  • Expensive

  • Only comes in medium width

These classic casual slip-ons are easy to put on and remove, thanks to elastic stretchy material on the sides—which also ensure a perfect fit. This is particularly important for someone with rheumatoid arthritis, who may have difficulty bending over or experience pain in their hands or wrists. While the shock-absorbing heel is built into the shoe, the insole it comes with is removable, in case you want to put in your own orthotics. Made from leather on the inside and outside of the shoes, they’re on the pricey side, but make up for that in versatility.

Sizes Available: Men’s 6-13 | Materials: 100% leather; rubber sole | Width: Medium | Arch Support: Neutral | Weight: 10 oz

Best for Ankle Arthritis: SAS Kich Lace Up Ankle Boot

SAS Kich Ankle Boots
Pros
  • Comes in 5 different widths

  • Added metatarsal and arch support

Cons
  • Narrow heel

  • Expensive

This soft-but-structured boot provides extra support for someone with ankle arthritis. The sides come up around the ankles to help keep you stable and are made with leather that molds to the foot instead of feeling stiff. The insoles are removable, but with reinforced metatarsal and arch support they may be exactly what you need. Beneath the insoles is shock-absorbing cushioning which provides extra support to the three main pressure points of the foot: inside ball, outside ball, and heel.

Sizes Available: Women's 5-10 | Materials: Leather upper | Width: Narrow, medium, wide, double wide | Arch Support: Neutral

Best for Toe Arthritis: HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7

Hoka One Bondi 7
Pros
  • Available in men’s and women’s varieties/sizes

  • Highly cushioned sole

  • Rocker-bottom sole

Cons
  • Style is not to everyone’s taste

  • Runs slightly narrow through the midfoot and forefoot

Technically, these are running shoes, but they work just as well for running errands as they do around a track. People with toe arthritis will appreciate the rocker-bottom sole, which helps take pressure off the big toe, as well as the shoe’s toe box—which is roomy while still being supportive. The breathable lining was designed to cut down on rubbing, so it’s also a good option for those prone to blisters.

Sizes Available: Men’s sizes 7-16; women’s sizes 5-12 | Materials: Mesh upper, memory foam collar | Width: Men’s widths: regular (D), wide (EE), and x-wide (EEEE); women’s widths: regular (B) and wide (D) | Arch Support: Neutral | Weight: Men: 10.7 oz; women: 8.9 oz

One of the ways to minimize pain associated with arthritis is to minimize excessive flexion of joints through shoes with rocker-bottom or rigid outsoles. All HOKA ONE ONE sneakers have the rocker-bottom sole, which minimizes pain at the big toe joint. The rocker-bottom sole also allows the torso to smoothly shift weight forward over the ankle during walking, minimizing arthritic pain in the ankle and subtalar joints. —Dr. Nelya Lobkova, a podiatrist in private practice in New York City

Best Running Shoes: New Balance Fresh Foam 1080 V11

New Balance Men's Fresh Foam 1080 V11
Pros
  • Available in men’s and women’s sizes and styles

  • Responsive foam footbed

Cons
  • Very thick sole

  • Foot-hugging fit may feel too snug on inflamed joints

If you have arthritis and are looking for a solid running shoe, this is it. The Fresh Foam 1080 V11's highly cushioned footbed comes standard in all shoes in this line for both men and women. Three widths and a soft, stretchy knit upper that offers 360-degree support make these an incredibly comfortable—but highly supportive—option.

Sizes Available: Men's sizes 7-16; women's sizes 5-13 | Materials: 50% synthetic, 50% mesh; rubber sole | Width: Narrow, Standard, Wide, X-Wide | Arch Support: Neutral | Weight: Men: 9.3 oz; women: 8.1 oz

Best Boots: Drew Bronx Boots

Drew Bronx Boots
Pros
  • Removable footbed with arch build-up

  • Shock-absorbing outsole

  • Odor and stain control

Cons
  • Can be difficult to find in stock

  • Takes a while to break in

These boots offer so many features that it’s hard to keep track of them all. From an extended heel stabilizer to a heel notch, a tempered steel shank, to a soft, padded tongue and collar, every part of this boot is designed to fully support both the foot and ankle. As a bonus, the insole wicks moisture away from the foot, keeping it not only dry but reducing odor.

Sizes Available: Mens 7-16 | Materials: Leather upper, polyurethane outer, leather and Drilex lining | Width: Narrow (B); Medium (D); Wide (EE); 4W (4E); 6E | Arch Support: Maximum arch buildup

Boots, if improperly fitted, can cause plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendinitis, and bursitis of the heel. The reason boots can cause these conditions is that they actually restrict a lot of the natural motion that is needed in the foot and ankle when walking. Dr. Emily Splichal, a podiatrist based in New York City. 

Best Heels: Sole Bliss Ingrid

Ingrid Black Leather Heels
Pros
  • Rubber shock-resistant heel

  • Bunion support

  • Three layers of anti-bacterial, custom-cushioning memory foam

Cons
  • Not everyone’s idea of a stylish heel

  • Pricey

Only recently available in the United States, Sole Bliss already had a celebrity following in the UK, counting Dame Helen Mirren and Camilla Parker-Bowles as fans of the brand. And that should give you an idea of the type of support and cushioning that comes with their shoes, including this modest 2” block heel. Though technically designed for people with bunions, they also tick the boxes for someone with arthritis.

Sizes Available: 5-11 | Materials: Leather upper, leather lined | Width: Wide | Arch Support: Anti-pronating

Final Verdict

With the ideal mix of comfort, cushion, support, and style, it’s hard to beat the ECCO SOFT 7 Slip-On Sneakers (view at Amazon)—especially considering their versatility for a wide range of occasions. Easy to slip on and off and also breathable, these workhorse shoes make it worth the price. But for those looking for a more affordable option, Vionic’s Malibu Slip-On (view at Amazon) offers many of the brand’s signature foot-friendly features at a wallet-friendly price.

What to Look for in Shoes for Arthritis

Living with arthritis can make even the most basic everyday tasks and actions—including walking and standing—painful. While no pair of shoes, boots, or insoles are going to cure arthritis, some are better equipped to provide support than others. Here’s what to keep an eye out for:

Weight:

Walking is hard enough for people with arthritis, so do yourself a favor and check the weight of the shoe before buying it. If you’re shopping in person, you can simply pick it up and/or try it on. If you’re shopping online, check the product’s specifications. Even if a shoe is comfortable otherwise, if they’re too heavy, they can make walking harder instead of easier.

Arch Support:

Generally speaking, there are three types of arch support: high arch, normal arch, and low arch. Some brands get more specific than that, but the point is that it’s not enough to simply look for shoes with arch support—you’re going to also want to figure out if they offer the specific type of support you need.

Style:

Once you start shopping for shoes to help cope with arthritis, your expectations for finding anything remotely stylish probably go out the window. Of course, this is about comfort over fashion, but if you drop a lot of money on an expensive pair of shoes that you think are so ugly that you never actually wear them, that’s not helping anyone. And the good news is that we’ve moved far beyond the thick orthopedic shoes your grandmother might have worn, and actually have some decent options. So again, comfort, fit, and pain relief should be your top priorities when buying shoes, but it’s worth taking the extra time to find an option you’re more likely to wear (but still offers the same support). 

Online Return Policy:

In a perfect world, we’d always be able to try on shoes before buying them. But for a variety of reasons, in-person shoe shopping isn’t an option for everyone, leaving us guessing about the fit and size of the shoes we buy online. For this reason, be sure to check the shoe company’s return policy. If you’re ordering through Amazon, take a minute to figure out how returns for this vendor work. It’s also worth checking if the shoes come with some sort of established trial period—like when you’re able to wear them around and test them out before deciding whether or not to keep them. 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How much arch support should you look for?

    Different feet require different types of arch support—something that’s especially important for people with arthritis. Most shoes out there come with “normal” arch support, while some brands and styles may also be available in a high or low arch. “Those with a low arch are known to pronate, and so they should look for an anti-pronator type of shoe,” Dr. Pinker explains. “Those with a high arch have a tendency to supinate, and so footwear that prevents over-supination is recommended; however, these types of shoes are not easy to find.”  

    And if you’re unable to find shoes with the arch support you need, your next best bet is using orthotics—either prefabricated or custom-made. “Orthotics or insoles are the only devices that place the foot in ‘neutral’ by providing the correct tilt in the heel as well as arch support,” Dr. Lobkova explains. While potentially helpful, buying over-the-counter orthotics can be tricky, because you might not know which kind would work best for you, and as they are made of flexible material, they provide limited support. 

    “Custom orthotics, if made correctly, can provide adequate support to decompress the great toe joint (increase the joint space), minimize excessive motion in the midfoot, realign the subtalar and ankle joints, and alleviate pain,” Dr. Lobkova says. To determine how much arch support and tilt your feet require, your podiatrist will use X-ray imaging and gait analysis.

  • Are there any shoe styles that people with arthritis should avoid?

    Those with arthritis should avoid shoes that place a lot of stress on the feet, Dr. Pinker says, including high heels, pumps, stilettos, and pointy-toed or narrow-toed shoes. “Flats can also be very uncomfortable for those with arthritis to wear, due to the lack of support,” he adds. People with arthritis should also avoid shoes that are very flexible and have a thin outsole, according to Dr. Lobkova. This is because they provide minimal cushioning for the weight-bearing joints, and their flexibility allows for excessive motion in these joints—which causes pain and inflammation

What the Experts Say

"By supporting the feet with a well-made shoe, increased locomotion is usually experienced by the wearer. Also, with supportive footwear and comfortable feet, some experience a positive state of mind—free from pain and discomfort—which can be a significant advantage." Dr. Bruce Pinker, board-certified podiatrist and foot surgeon practicing in White Plains, New York

Why Trust Verywell Health? 

As a seasoned health writer and editor—and someone with rheumatoid arthritis—Elizabeth Yuko understands how much of a difference having the right pair of shoes can make. Coming from a long line of women with arthritis, she also helped family members shop for shoes of their own, and realizes that two people with the same condition aren’t necessarily going to have the same needs from a pair of shoes. Finally, as a New Yorker who relies on public transit and her own two feet to get around, she has firsthand experience with what it’s like to be on your feet all day in the wrong pair of shoes (ouch). 

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