If you have plantar fasciitis, the right footwear can make all the difference. The intense heel pain can keep you from being as active as you’d like. The wrong footwear can aggravate the problem by putting unnecessary stress on the plantar fascia, the band of tissue on the bottom of the foot. On the flip side, certain shoe types, features and accessories can help relieve pain. In fact, in many cases, your doctor will recommend footwear changes as a first-line treatment for plantar fasciitis. Talk with a doctor or podiatrist if heel pain is limiting your activities. In the meantime, follow these rules for footwear if you have plantar fasciitis: 1. Wear supportive shoes. As a general rule, people with plantar fasciitis should always wear shoes that support the arch of the foot. Look for features like cushioned, shock-absorbing soles and slightly raised heels, which can help ease pain. 2. Don’t go barefoot. Avoid walking around barefoot if you have plantar fasciitis. Doing so can strain the plantar fascia. Likewise, don’t wear nonsupportive shoes, such as flip-flops. 3. Consider inserts or heel pads. Shoe inserts can be effective in reducing heel pain caused by plantar fasciitis. By giving your shoes additional cushioning or arch support, they help distribute the pressure on the foot more evenly and reduce the pressure put on the heel. There are a variety of types of shoe inserts available. Check your drugstore or the shoe section of a department store. Over-the-counter heel pads, heel cups, and heel lifts are other options to consider. 4. Ask your doctor about custom orthotics. Your doctor or podiatrist may recommend custom orthotics for you. These special shoe inserts are designed specifically for your foot. They help to correct the underlying problems causing plantar fasciitis, such as flat feet or very high arches. Studies show that custom inserts significantly improve plantar fasciitis symptoms in about 50 to 70% of people. However, they may be just as effective as over-the-counter inserts, according to other research. Ask your doctor if they are right for you. Most insurance companies do not cover the cost of orthotics, but they are typically eligible for reimbursement from a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (HRA). 5. Try on rocker shoes. Rocker shoes are a type of therapeutic footwear. Doctors frequently recommend rocker shoes for plantar fasciitis pain. The shoes have a rounded outsole that “rocks” the foot from heel to toe as you walk. Research shows that rocker shoes reduce heel pressure by up to 30%. One study found that using rocker shoes with custom orthotics relieved pain more than either option alone. 6. Know that all sneakers aren’t created equal. All active people should take special care when buying athletic shoes, as the right footwear can impact comfort, improve performance, and prevent injury. And people who regularly walk or run for exercise may be more prone to plantar fasciitis. There are many models of running shoes designed for people with different types of feet. Having a professional shoe fitting or gait analysis can help ensure you choose the right athletic shoes for your body.