Shoes for arthritis: 5 things to look for

May 19, 2023

Shoes for arthritis: 5 things to look for

If you have any form of arthritis, you know that getting the right shoes can make a major difference in your quality of life. Comfort and support are key to keeping your pain in check and helping you manage your symptoms. 

Not every shoe can do the job of giving you the support you need. In fact, some shoes that even look like they might be good turn out to not provide enough support — but how can you tell the difference?

Today, we’re going to talk about how to pick the right shoes for your arthritis. If you follow these tips and make the right decisions, hopefully, your life will be easier, and your joints will be singing your praises. Let’s jump right in!

What Is arthritis?

You probably have a decent understanding of what arthritis is, but if you need a refresher, we’re going to walk through some of the details here. This way, we can better understand what our feet need when it comes to shoes. 

Arthritis, in its most basic form, is the swelling and inflammation of one or more joints. It leads to swelling, joint pain, stiffness, and limited movement. It makes various areas of your life inconvenient and difficult. 

There are over 150 different types of arthritis. It can be caused by a variety of different things, including disease, infection, genetics, injury, or overuse. In some cases, the cause is completely unknown.

These are two main types of arthritis that we will focus on here today:


Osteoarthritis (OA) is the most common type of arthritis out there, and it’s caused by the natural degeneration of the joints. It usually appears in the hands, hips, and knees. Essentially, after going through so much use over time, the cartilage in the joints starts to deteriorate. This causes the bones in the joints to change, leading to pain and inflammation. 

Often, OA occurs in an isolated joint. You’ll find that it happens in the joints you use the most throughout your life. For many, this means the ankles, feet, or hands. Besides the damage to cartilage, osteoarthritis can result in bony spurs at the base of the big toe

Rheumatoid arthritis

The next most common kind of arthritis is rheumatoid arthritis (RA). This type isn’t a result of wear and tear. Instead, it’s an autoimmune condition where the body mistakenly begins to attack the synovial membrane around the joints. This membrane is meant to protect the joint, so when it gets attacked, your joints suffer. 

This can lead to pain and swelling, but it can also lead to symptoms like fever, anemia, fatigue, and loss of appetite. This condition may attack multiple joints at once, and it often happens in symmetry, so if you get it in one hip, you’ll likely get it in the other. 

Why do shoes matter for arthritis?

For starters, comfortable and supportive shoes can help alleviate the pain in places where your arthritis is especially troublesome. The right pair of shoes can increase your comfort and restore some of your movement and mobility. If you have arthritis, you know what a big deal that is. 

It goes beyond that. Arthritis, especially RA, can cause a weakening of the joints in the feet, which can lead to all sorts of foot deformities, including bunions, hammertoes, or claw toes. 

Shoes that support your feet can help to alleviate some of these deformities and keep your body in a good place. That’s why we will try to help you find the best arthritis shoes possible. Now, let’s get onto what you should look for in shoes that can help with arthritis pain.

1. Arch support 

If you have arthritis in your feet, the joints, tendons, and ligaments in your feet become weaker. Over time, this can lead to flatfootedness, a condition where the arch of your foot begins to flatten. This can cause uneven weight distribution around the foot. 

Uneven weight disruption can lead to heel pain and pain in the midfoot while causing other areas of your body, such as your knees, ankles, and hips, to have to overcompensate. So it can even cause joint pain in other areas of your body. 

To alleviate this, shoes with insoles and outsoles that provide good arch support are likely in order. This will help to lift up the fallen arch of your flat feet and distribute weight around your foot, taking pressure off highly sensitive areas like the big toe joint. This will give you more comfortable shoes and help your arthritic feet and the rest of your body in a big way. 

2. Proper cushioning

Next up, it’s important that your feet get the cushioning that they need and deserve. Arch support is well and good, but it would be incomplete without the comfy cushioning of a nice insole or podiatrist-prescribed orthotic

Cushioning does more than make it feel like you’re walking on clouds. Cushioning forms to your unique feet, kind of like a memory foam mattress. By contouring to your foot, it provides support to the specific pressure points that your foot needs while providing excellent shock absorption for the parts of your feet that come into hard contact with the ground. 

A comfy footbed in your shoes can make all the difference in the world when it comes to arthritis. 

3. Wide toe box

This next one is something you might not think about very often, but it’s incredibly important for arthritic feet. You want to make sure that the toe box of the shoe (the area where your toes and forefoot lie) is wide enough for your feet. 

Narrow toe boxes don’t allow your foot to spread out as it naturally would, which can put pressure on certain parts of your foot, cause greater foot pain, and even contribute to the worsening of the deformities we mentioned earlier.

Speaking of narrow shoes, high heels pose a unique problem. Heels over one to 1.5 inches put extra strain on the forefoot, contributing to conditions like plantar fasciitis, bunions, corns, and more. 

A toe area with a wide width also supports irregular foot shapes. If you have a claw toe, hammer toe, or bunion, you want to make sure that your shoe isn’t pushing up against it, which could lead to pain. Extra wide shoes can help you in more ways than one.

4. Breathability

If you have arthritis, you might know firsthand that the inflammation in your joints can often cause you to feel overheated and sweaty. Being in pain and having swollen joints just has a way of raising the temperature in your body. Doctors don’t really have an explanation for this, but it’s a phenomenon that many arthritis patients report. 

So having shoes with breathable fabric in the upper is a nice feature for people with arthritis. You already have to deal with pain and swelling, so let’s do everything we can to make sure that sweaty feet don’t get added to the list of things on your plate. 

Shoes like The Lima offer unparalleled breathability, thanks to the knit upper. Plus, it has an extra-roomy toe box. With a dozen color options, there’s one for everyone!

5. Slip-on shoes

Another incredibly convenient feature to have in your shoes if you have arthritis is being able to use them hands-free. 

Oftentimes, arthritis is not merely a foot condition; it’s something that affects your entire body. If that’s the case, bending down to tie your shoes and fumbling around with laces can be inconvenient and painful. 

In this way, slip-on shoes aren’t only convenient, but they can also provide some level of pain relief. If you can find walking shoes that have good support and are slip-on, you’ve really hit the jackpot. 

Kiziks: The best-in-class arthritis shoe

If you’re wondering if there is a type of shoe out there that has all of these qualities, the answer is yes. Kiziks! 

Kiziks are a revolutionary shoe that is changing the game for all sorts of people. Not only are these shoes comfortable and provide good support, but they also have a wide toe box, come with breathable fabric options, and are completely hands-free. 

Kizik’s revolutionary Cage™ technology is what sets us apart. Simply put your foot in the shoe, step down on the heel, and the flexible, comfortable heel snaps up around your foot. No more messing around with laces or even velcro straps. Just step in and go! 

Not only do they have everything you’ll need as somebody with arthritis, but Kiziks even have a removable footbed, so if you’d like to take out our insoles and put in your custom orthotics, you can do just that with no problems. 

All these things make Kiziks the best shoes for arthritis out there. So head to our website and check out our selection of shoes, from active shoes to everyday pairs and step out in comfort. 


Arthritis - Symptoms and Causes | Penn Medicine

Difference Between Osteoarthritis and Rheumatoid Arthritis | Michigan Medicine

Why Inflammatory Arthritis Makes You Feel Hot and Overheated | Creaky Joints 

 Arthritis Types | CDC

Rheumatoid Arthritis Basics: Overview, Symptoms, and Causes | NIH

Written By: Chris Fry

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