With Achilles tendonitis, you most probably suffer from pain while walking or running for long periods. Even just casual activity might cause discomfort that’s why it will help to choose the right shoes to lessen pain and bring on recovery.
We have chosen 3 running shoes for women and 3 for men. It is thought that women’s shoes are just a honed-down version of a man’s sports shoe but not so.
There is a serious number of anatomical differences between men and women. This includes the width of the foot, the arch, the ankle and foot shape and the calf which has implications in regards to the Achilles tendon, of course.
One day we shall do our research into a detailed account of the differences and see if manufacturers are getting it right in their design and “shoe build”.
After the Guide on the right shoes to look for, we review each of the best shoes for Achilles tendonitis: 3 for women and 3 for men.
You might also be interested in the best shoes for older runners.
This article includes affiliate links. If you choose to purchase any of the products we have discussed in this article, we may receive a small commission with no additional cost.
These are the models we’ve chosen.
- Asics Gel-Venture 6 Men’s (Editor’s Choice)
- New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 Men’s
- Mizuno Wave Rider 25 Men’s Running Shoe (Value Option)
- Hoka ONE ONE Bondi 7 Women’s (Editor’s Choice)
- Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 Women’s (Good Value)
- Saucony Ride ISO 2 Women’s Running Shoes (Super Value)
Table of Contents
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis, also known recently as Achilles tendinopathy, is a foot condition that affects mostly runners, people with active lifestyles or older people. The resulting pain is a result of repetitive use.
It’s an injury in the Achilles tendon, the tissue linking your heel to the calf on the lower back part of your leg. Tightening calf muscles can cause problems with the sensitive Achilles.
That there is insertional Achilles tendonitis and noninsertional Achilles tendonitis.
Noninsertional affects the part of the tendon higher up where it is not attached to the bone. This is more often associated with wear and (literally) tear of those fibers, it’s more common with runners.
Insertional concerns the lower part of the tendon that attaches directly to the heel bone. The resulting inflammation, in this case, can occur at any time to anyone including older people.
Damaged areas can calcify and create bone spurs which can be an additional source of discomfort and something else to be aware of when choosing your shoes.
How to Choose Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis?
Even buying the best shoes for painful Achilles won’t cure the problem especially if it’s something more serious like an Achilles tendon rupture so make sure you get the appropriate advice from your medical professional.
Choosing shoes when you have painful Achilles is dependent on the level of discomfort and what activity you are going to do – or try to do.
So we’ll consider running, walking and normal wear for our choice of sports shoes.
If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis, there are several factors to consider when buying a new pair of shoes.
Suffering from shin splints? We cover them in this article.
Cushioning & Structure
Heel cushioning can relieve the pain of Achilles tendonitis, regardless of its severity. It can also prevent the condition from getting worse.
Good running shoe brands all have their own proprietary EVA and polypropylene material of all densities used as cushioning in the outer sole and midsole.
These materials also provide the structure and flexibility of the shoes. A rigid sole gives stability. It should feel very firm when trying to twist in opposite directions across the shoe’s length.
This helps cushion the foot at the point of the heel strike when running as well as walking briskly.
The heel counter is specific to running shoes and runners. The heel counter gives stability to the back of the shoe especially as the foot strikes the ground and rolls through. For those with a normal or overpronating running gait, this was always considered a good thing.
However, for those with heel pain and problems with their Achilles tendon, it’s best to run (or when walking briskly) with a “soft” heel counter. This will allow the shoe to flex and not irritate the heel.
The change to a soft heel counter is a feature that many runners swear by.
A soft heel counter is also recommended for those with heel spurs which can become further inflamed.
Heel Drop (Lift) or Heel to Toe Offset
Like the heel counter, this feature is an issue often discussed by runners and there is often a difference of opinions on running forums.
The heel drop is the difference in height between your heel and toe.
A heel drop of 5mil or higher will take the pressure off the heel. This helps reduce the stretch on the Achilles tendon as well as the plantar fascia where it meets the heel bone. Avoid flat shoes.
Heel lifts for insertional Achilles tendonitis can be used to lift up the heel.
For walkers or casual wear having some level of heel drop may help alleviate pain and aid recovery.
If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis, you may also have collapsed or high arches. This means you have a tendency to supinate. If your arches collapse on impact when running your gait tends toward overpronation or flat-footed.
Either way, you need shoes with optimal arch support. The more support you get, the more chance you’ll have of getting pain relief and the heel issues clearing up – as they often do.
Ample Toe Box
Achilles tendonitis and other foot problems can get worse if you wear tight or ill-fitting shoes. Tight shoes won’t give you enough freedom to move and will create friction between your foot and the shoe’s inner.
Wear shoes that fit you well with a good-sized toe box in order to avoid striking your heel, which can give you severe pain. In addition, it can lead to heel spurs due to excess pressure.
We recommend referring to the sizing chart provided by the manufacturer of the shoes you’re looking to buy to ensure an ideal fit.
Flexible shoes can relieve the pain and stress on your Achilles tendon. They should be flexible along the length so bending the toe to heel should be very easy although as mentioned before rigid when twisted.
Choose flexible shoes to be able to move freely for longer periods without the risk of worsening your injury.
No or Low Back
Depending on the severity of the pain from the Achilles tendon or heel having low or no back of the shoe can be a help.
This is where sandals, clogs or an open shoe is good for Achilles tendonitis.
Running Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis & Plantar Fasciitis
The great thing about good running shoes is that they are made to provide the best comfort and fit for an activity that puts the feet and lower body under a lot of stress.
For instance, every mile you walk puts 60 tons of stress on each foot. And for running it’s even more stressful – on the body that is.
There have been tests showing that whilst running at a steady pace (8 min mile) one heel strike is equivalent to a force 3 to 4 times the body weight. That’s 2600 tonnes of pressure (and stress) at the end of a 10-mile run for a runner weighing 150 lbs.
For conditions that involve heel pain like Achilles tendonitis and Plantar fasciitis, running shoes are generally considered suitable for walking, running or casual wear.
So we have focused on running shoes but I have also included some of my favorite walking shoes which have served me well when I have had foot problems and needed extra comfort and support.
And also some open shoes, clogs and sandals.
We have had years of experience with sports shoes and as a research team, we delve as deep as we can into finding the best shoes for different activities.
Here is a list of the top three walking and running shoes for men and women with Achilles tendonitis or for others who are seeking heel pain relief.
3 Best Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis (Men)
Asics Men’s Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe – Best Overall
Thanks to its rearfoot gel cushioning, the ASICS Gel-Venture 6 running shoe is a comfortable design for anyone with Achilles tendonitis with its ability to absorb shocks and impact when running or walking.
These shoes are designed to accommodate people with Achilles tendonitis and other foot problems. You can remove the sock liner to make room for a medical orthotic.
If you jog or run constantly, these shoes should help with minimizing pain. With their trail-specific outsole, they provide you with downhill and uphill traction and allow you to exercise on every type of terrain.
This product is made of mesh and synthetic material that allow for maximum breathability, which means more running time with less pain and sweat.
The rubber soles give you additional comfort with super rigidity. In addition, with its high abrasion rubber in critical spots of the outsole, this shoe features great durability.
Package Dimensions: 10’’ x 15’’ x 6’’
Package Weight: 2.3 lbs
Cushioning: Rearfoot gel
- Long-lasting design due to its high abrasive rubber outsoles
- Comfortable interior
- Good traction
- Great for casual, standing all day or running
- Accommodates medical orthotic with removable sock liners
- A covering tab to protect the upper part from wearing out if you have a rising big toe
- They run slightly narrow
New Balance Fresh Foam X 1080v12 Men’s – Support
The Fresh Foam X 1080v12 has a more stream-lined shape to it than the 990v series which I don’t mind. And the heel counter is improved upon the previous model giving support to the heel but with flexibility, perfect for heel and Achilles problems.
They have minimal heel to toe drop but the rocker motion of the shoe design negates that anyway..
The cushioning of this shoe is distributed in different spots “informed by pressure mapping data“, which I assume means that it has something to do with the engineering of New Balance’s particular memory foam in the midsole.
I don’t know if it was because they were new shoes but the bounce back and roll of the outsole was superb.
All this cushioning comfort and the New Balance shoe helps with heel, ankle and Achilles pain making for quicker recovery.
One drawback could be, we were not able to confirm, for a couple of reviewers the Fresh Foam wore out quicker than expected.
- Package Dimensions: 13.46″ x 8.43″ x 5.2″
- Package Weight: 2.47 oz
- Product Weight: 1.57 lbs
- Cushioning: Zonal cushioning
- More emphasis on cushioning
- Heel cup excellent for relieving Achilles tendonitis pain
- Super shoes for recovery
- A durable rim of polyurethane for extra support
- Come in very big & wide sizes
- Smaller toe box than some
Mizuno Men’s Wave Rider 25 Running Shoe – Best Value
The Mizuno Men’s Wave Rider 25 is good for running and walking, thanks to the great deal of comfort that its rubber sole provides. It’s even perfect for all-day wearing. It’s more versatile than most shoes.
With its superior cushioning, this shoe offers remarkable heel support, comfort, and flexibility. It also offers reduced shocks, which is ideal for runners suffering from Achilles tendonitis.
The Wave Rider absorbs impact and distributes it onto a larger area. This provides you with a great deal of stability. Moreover, this product features a durable outsole made of carbon rubber giving rigidity and longevity.
- Package Dimensions: 12.17’’ x 7.32’’ x 4.69’’
- Package Weight: 1.41 Pounds
- Product Weight: 10.2 oz
- Cushioning: High
- Good arch support
- Soft heel padding
- Ideal for demanding activities thanks to its relatively light weight and comfortable design
- Helps relieve the pain of Achilles tendonitis with enhanced stability and increased heel support
- Not the best shoe for breathability
3 Best Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis (Women’s)
HOKA Women’s Bondi 7
I love these running shoes especially for cushioning. We reviewed the Hoka Bondi 7 model here. In fact, the company was founded on the desire to have a more maximal type of sports shoe.
The Hoka women’s shoes are not for those runners who over pronate and if you tend towards the supination (rolling out), like me then even better.
Being a neutral shoe with extra midsole posts and the like they are more flexible than you might think with all the cushioning material.
(We’ve covered our favorite neutral shoe which you may wan to choose and then add your own prescribed orthotics.)
To look at, they have been compared with Frankenstein’s Monster Shoe but the large, splayed out beveled heel has a purpose. It affords a smooth transition whatever type of heel strike you have and on what sort of terrain.
The Bondi 7 shoes have what the company call “Meta-Rocker Technology” which means the natural path of the foot whilst striding rolls from heel to toe.
Max cushioned midsole.
The memory foam has been designed for narrower heels and the collar cradles the Achilles tendon and ankle area noticeably when walking, running or standing around. This should alleviate pain from Achilles tendoditis but also help speed up recovery.
Redesigned rubber outsole reduces weight while optimizing durability Open, engineered mesh construction to optimize breathability and comfort.
Many people wear them as work shoes when the profession calls for standing or walking a lot. I had to include the following quote that I came across when I was looking to see what other people thought about the Hokas.
“They’re supportive but feel like you’re walking on marshmallows, or cotton candy, or clouds! Seriously, I spend st least 12 hours a day on my feet and with these shoes, I go home pain free.”
The small-ish heel to toe drop of 4mm might not some with a lot of Achilles tendon pain.
Specifications: Weight: 8.6 oz Heel-to-Toe Offset: 4 mm Style:
- Package Dimensions: 11 x 4 x 7 inches
- Product Weight: 8.6 oz
- Cushion: Plush
- Offers a superior comfortable cushioned experience whilst active
- Plush cushioned collar
- Easy “rocker” motion
- Good for standing on your feet all day
- The men’s version are great too
- Lowish heel drop (4mm) but negated by the rocker motion
We checked the men’s Bondi 7 as well and they are up there too.
Brooks Women’s Adrenaline GTS 21 – Build Quality
These Brooks shoes is ideal for both walking and running. It has an enhanced support system that makes it smooth and soft for any body type.
The Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21 has something called GauideRails, another fancy name the marketing team at Brooks have come up with.
They have built more stability into the shoe laterally which will keep unnecessary movement side-ways of your legs which means the knees are stable. It also means less inclination for the foot to rock about so more heel and ankle support.
This product guarantees the best quality with a PDAC A5500 Diabetic shoe certification and an APMA Seal of Acceptance. This certification sets these shoes apart from all other shoes in this review.
If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis, these shoes are for you because they provide high levels of stability, cushioning, and support. They can also be helpful with cases of overpronation.
With a firm rubber sole and a mesh top, this product has increased breathability that allows you to walk or run comfortably for long periods.
- Package Dimensions: 11.2’’ x 6.9’’ x 4.4’’
- Product Weight: 9.1 oz
- Cushion: Soft and protective
- Offers you a soft and comfortable experience that relieves pressure on the joints
- Mesh top with 3D Fit Print allows for a perfect fit and breathability with no extra bulk
- The relatively narrow toe box makes them less comfortable shoes
Saucony Ride ISO 2 Women’s Running Shoes – Good Value
These Saucony Ride shoes feature a PWRFOAM midsole and an EVERUN topsole, which is how they absorb impact and relieve any pressure exerted on the feet and the Achilles tendon.With rubber soles, they offer a smooth fit that allows your feet to move freely and comfortably at the same time.
As the successor of the ISO Sneakers, the Saucony Ride ISO 2 features an updated ISOFIT technology. This allows the shoes to take on your feet’s motion and shape. This feature isn’t available in the Asics Men’s Gel-Venture 6
This product is ideal if you walk or run for long hours. Sweat all you want and the increased breathability of these shoes will even the moisture out for a more comfortable experience, a feature lacking in the New Balance 990V5.
Moreover, these shoes have wide toe boxes that make them comfortable and provide a strong structure that supports your feet.
- Package Dimensions: 11.9’’ x 7.5’’ x 4.4’’
- Product Weight: 8.8 oz
- Cushion: Moderate
- Enhanced heel lift that helps runners with underpronation
- Flexible enough to give extra comfort
- Good arch support especially for people with low arches
- Can use more cushioning for more pressure relief
- Not true to the size, which can be frustrating
A Word on The Best Walking Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis
For sensitive foot problems running shoes are a great choice in my opinion but they aren’t the only footwear. The shoes and sandals of many designs made by Orthofeet are specifically for those people who have problems with their feet.
Comfort problems when walking often, dare I say, associated with older adults who had a lot of use from them over the years and so need a bit of comfort and support from orthotic footwear.
The company boast that they are the no.1 recommended shoe maker by medical specialists and name 18 foot conditions that their shoes should provide help for. Achilles tendonitis is mentioned specifically along with many other conditions.
We’ve covered shoes for Morton’s Neuroma, a painful condition concerning nerve endings around the ball of the foot.
We have provided a more in depth look at the Orthofeet range. Or check out them out directly here. They have over 90 styles for women and over 40 for men covering casual wear, boots formal wear, slippers etc.
They cover open shoes and sandals which might be most helpful for anyone very sensitive and painful foot problems.
The Asics Gel-Venture 6 Running Shoe is our pick for the best shoe for men with Achilles tendonitis. It’s designed with runners with foot issues in mind but should be good for anyone
It has a soft heel counter that is supportive but flexible around the Achilles. It has great all round cushioning specifically in the midsole and heel.
They come with a removable sock liner to facilitate wearing a medical orthotic. And are a reasonable price.
The HOKA Bondi 7 is our choice for women with Achilles, heel and ankle problems. It’s a serious cushioned and comfortable shoe with memory foam made specifically for the narrower heel.
An outstanding feature is the collar which hugs the Achilles tendon and ankle area whilst doing any activity. The Bondi 7 should alleviate pain from Achilles tendonitis and help speed recovery.
We felt that the men’s Bondi 7 was also a winner. A favorite for not just runners but chosen by many who are on their feet all day.