The Best Running Shoes for Heel Pain that You Can Get in 2020 – Compared

When you’re running, your heels will probably take most of the impact since almost all runners land heel-first.

It’s no wonder that one of the most common problems that runners encounter is heel pain.

Over time, this can develop from a niggling annoyance to a severe problem that stops you from running altogether.

However, there is a way to mitigate the problem – with the right shoes; you’ll be able to minimize the impact and run without heel pain.

Today you’ll find out all about the best running shoes for heel pain that you can buy right now.

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The Causes of Heel Pain

A woman holds on to the heel, a pain in the heel

Heel pain in runners doesn’t always have the same cause.

Even if it hurts in the same way, the underlying condition might be different, thus requiring different treatment – which also means a different type of shoes.

Here you’ll find out a bit about the most common causes of heel pain in runners and how to deal with them.

Plantar fasciitis is the most common cause of heel pain.

It’s an inflammation of the plantar fascia – a strong ligament that starts at the heel bone and ends at the tip of your foot.

The reason for the inflammation of this ligament is usually overwork.

If it’s stretched too much and too far it will become inflamed, usually at the heel, but sometimes in the middle of your foot as well.

This is also one of the most sinister types of heel pain since you usually won’t feel it when running – it will appear after an extended period of rest.

Because of that, you might not connect it to running straight away, but the impact it puts on your heel is what most likely caused this condition.

This is why it’s also called ‘jogger’s heel’ in some circles.

If it’s not treated in time, it might lead to a degenerative process that causes permanent damage to your foot ligaments.

Heel Bursitis is another common foot condition caused by the inflammation of small fluid sacks in your foot, specifically those positioned near your heel.

Hard or awkward landings might cause this condition to occur, through overwork is also a factor.

You’ll probably feel the pain deep in your heel and swelling may occur, getting worse and worse until it’s treated.

Heel Spurs are a particularly nasty condition.

They are small bony protrusions on your heel bones caused by chronic strain, overwork, running on hard surfaces or repeated injuries.

The pain you’ll feel is akin to small painful jabs while running or walking.

In addition to being painful by themselves, heel spurs can also cause an onset of plantar fasciitis.

Tarsal tunnel syndrome is a condition caused by the tarsal nerve at the back of your foot getting compressed or pinched.

It can occur in your ankle or in the foot itself, causing pain, tingling, and numbness not only in the heel but through the whole foot.

Stress fractures are another common cause of heel pain in runners that often goes undetected.

These are micro-fractures in the foot bones caused by constant stress being put on the foot.

Achilles tendonitis, the progressive degeneration of the Achilles tendon is also a cause of heel pain.

It can be caused or made worse by overworking the foot and performing high-impact activities like running.

There are many other possible causes, including tendon ruptures, ligament tears, cysts, circulation issues, osteoporosis, nerve degeneration, and more. These are just the most prominent ones.

How The Right Running Shoes Can Help

Female runner holding her painful heel

Since impact and overwork contributes or causes, most of the conditions that cause heel pain, proper support and cushioning will certainly help you to avoid them.

Good shoes can significantly reduce the impact on your heels by cushioning them and distributing the weight of your foot evenly.

If there’s less impact on the bones and muscles of your foot, there’s a smaller chance that you’ll develop one of these conditions.

However, good running shoes serve not only as prevention for some of these conditions but also as a form of symptom relief and treatment.

Studies have shown that orthotics and footwear changes contribute significantly to reduced pain and disease regression in patients with plantar fasciitis.

More supportive shoes with better shock absorption are the first thing you should buy if you learn that you have plantar fasciitis.

But, how do you choose the right shoes? Here are some things to look out for.

How To Choose The Best Running Shoes For Heel Pain

Female runner lace up her shoes

Heel Support

Since you’re trying to prevent and deal with heel pain, it stands to reason that the most important part of the shoes you need to buy will be the heel. 

Shoes with thin soles shouldn’t even be something you consider.

You will need to buy a shoe that has a thick heel with good support, and that properly cups your leg.

That way, you won’t have any unnecessary, jerky movements that might impact your ligaments and your heel will feel less impact when you run.

Arch Support

When your heel is hurting the problem might not necessarily have started there – after all, it’s connected to the rest of your foot.

One of the main sources of most foot problems in runners is bad arch support, and that’s what you need to look out for next.

You need to test to see what kind of arch you have – high, neutral or low – and get a shoe which supports it properly.

Fit

There are a lot of people out there that get a shoe which doesn’t fit them properly and think they just need to ‘break it in’ and all will be well.

Sadly, that’s not the case, and an ill-fitting shoe will inevitably lead to some foot problems, especially in runners.

If you’ve got heel pain problems, you will need a tighter shoe that doesn’t let the foot move around too much, but remains comfortable.

You should also look for shoes with a wide toe box.

Shock Absorption

Good shock absorption is another thing to consider when you’re trying to get the best running shoes for heel pain.

If the shoe properly distributes the shock from the impact across the entire foot, your heel will suffer less when you land on it.

Shoes that can handle impact up to 4 or 5 times your bodyweight are what you need to look for.

Proper cushioning helps with this, and you should look for shoes that fit your running style.

If you’re a sprinter, you need lightweight cushioning, but you’ll need much more extensive cushioning if you’re a long-distance runner. 

Breathability

Many foot problems, like heel spurs, can be exacerbated if your feet become too wet and sweaty.

If you intend to run for a long time during hot weather, the breathability of your shoes will help with your heel pain problems.

Try to look for synthetic shoes that have lots of strong but flexible mesh that allows for good airflow.

Synthetic leather and nylon are some of the best choices out there, though pigskin leather is also a good choice.

The 5 Best Running Shoes for Heel Pain

1. ASICS Men's Gel Nimbus 18

ASICS Men's Gel Nimbus 18 Running Shoe

Source: Amazon.com

These ASICS shoes are made primarily from textile and synthetic fabrics which makes them highly breathable and comfortable.

The cushioning here is great, and they absorb shock quite well, meaning that your heel won’t take the brunt of the impact.


However, all the cushioning makes them a bit heavier than the average running shoe.

As far as the fit goes, they’re good, and if you’ve good feet that aren’t’ oddly-shaped, they will be good for you.


The toe box is a particular standout, being incredibly roomy and accommodating.

The worst part of the shoe is the sole, which is not quite as durable as it should be in a running shoe, so it will start wearing down after around 5 to 6 months of use.

Overall, these shoes will be a good fit for someone looking to fix their constant heel pain problems.

Pros

  • Highly breathable;
  • An extremely wide toe box;
  • Good fit for most foot types;
  • Great cushioning.

Cons

  • Heavier than most running shoes;
  • The sole starts wearing down quickly.

2. Brooks Men's Ghost 10

Brooks Men's Ghost 10 Running Shoe

Source: Amazon.com

Here’s a pair of shoes that will be great for almost anyone.


They are made out of extremely lightweight materials, mostly synthetics and textile fabric. For most people, they will fit like a glove.

Even though they’re not heavy, they offer extensive cushioning, making them great for those with heel pain.


The full-length segmented crash pads will also be able to absorb most of the impact when you land and offer relief for your painful heels.

Sadly, the cushioning makes them a bit stuffy and hot at the front.

They offer medium to high arch support, and they’re great if you happen to have a high arch and need a bit of that extra supportiveness for your foot.

The sad part is that the foam in these shoes starts to break down rather quickly and if you’re a long-distance runner they will be almost unusable after roughly five hundred miles.


They come at a great price, but that is the real cost.

Pros

  • Great, tight cushioning;
  • They are a great fit;
  • Extremely lightweight;
  • They come at a great price;
  • Good arch support for high arches.

Cons

  • The front is not breathable enough;
  • The foam starts breaking down after a few hundred miles.

3. Saucony Women's Kinvara 7

Saucony Women's Kinvara 7

Source: Amazon.com

For someone with heel pain problems, these will be one of the best shoes they can get because of one outstanding thing – the cushioning around the heel.


The cushioning is tight and effective and will almost certainly help with any heel pain you might have.

Other than that, the shoes are quite lightweight, and the underfoot is especially springy.


They will be a good fit for most people out there, though there is one slight problem – the toe box is tighter than you might expect.

In addition to all that, the shoes offer great arch support, and if you have a high arch, you might want to try these on.

The only other major issue is the lack of breathability, and that might be a problem in the summer months.

Pros

  • Better price than most competitors;
  • The underfoot is quite springy;
  • Extremely comfortable and a good fit;
  • They offer good arch support;
  • The heel is tightly cushioned.

Cons

  • Tight toe box;
  • Lack of proper breathability.

4. New Balance 990v4

New Balance Men's 990v4

Source: Amazon.com

These are definitely one of the best shoes out there for people who have problems with pain in their heels.

They are made to be lightweight with a toe box that you can comfortably move in and a heel that’s properly cupped and supported.


The cushioning is excellent, and so is the overall shock absorption.

To top it all off, they’re made in the USA from highly durable materials and will last for more than a thousand miles of running for sure.

These shoes have one of the strangest downsides, though – they squeak when you’re walking or running in them.


After a while, it can become quite grating, so if you’re easily irritated by that sort of thing, you should give these a hard pass.

Other than that, the price tag is quite high, but considering the quality you get for the money it’s more than worth the price.

Pros

  • They feature a comfortable fit;
  • An extremely roomy toe box;
  • Highly comfortable;
  • Extremely durable;
  • Amazing cushioning and shock absorption.

Cons

  • High price tag;
  • They squeak a lot.

5. Saucony Women's Guide 10

Saucony Women's Guide 10

Source: Amazon.com

These are highly comfortable shoes made from fabric producing a highly breathable and light piece of running gear.


Despite that, they’re also highly durable, and it will be a long time before you have to replace them.

The cushioning is distributed evenly between the forefoot and heel offering great support and pain relief.


The shock absorption works great and provides comfort for your painful heels.

If you happen to have plantar fasciitis, these are also some of the best shoes you can get since they offer astoundingly good support for your arches.

Keep in mind to get them a size larger, since the fit runs a bit small and you might end up with unusable shoes if you order the size you’re used to.

Besides that, the only other downside is the shoelaces – they are of poor quality, difficult to lace up and break easily.


However, it’s not difficult to replace them with a good pair.

Pros

  • Comfortable;
  • Awesome arch support for plantar fasciitis;
  • The cushioning is superb;
  • Made from breathable materials;
  • Highly durable.

Cons

  • The fit is a bit small;
  • The shoelaces are of poor quality.

The Best Pair of Shoes is…

golden sneakers for heel pain

All of these shoes are on this list for a reason – they’re great for runners who are experiencing heel pain and which ones will fit you the best depends on your condition and your preferences.

However, the best pair overall and the one that will fit the most people is definitely the New Balance M990GL4.

These shoes excel in almost every possible category – they are durable, have great cushioning, good breathability, a comfortable fit and more! All without any major downsides - they’re certainly worth twice their price!

If you’re going to pick one of these shoes – this is the pair you should get.

In case you have any questions or opinions on the article, feel free to post them in the comments and share the article if you liked it.

Most importantly – just keep on running!

Matt C.
 

Hi, I’m Matt, the man behind Empower Your Run. There's nothing quite like crossing your first finish line, and I hope one day you'll get the chance to experience that for yourself. Remember – “if you can walk, you can run” – and I'll be here guiding you every step of the way!