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10 best orthopaedic shoes

Corns or calluses? These shoes could provide the perfect fit

Gone are the days when orthopaedic footwear was reserved solely for those with serious medical ailments. Rising foot problems in young adults, attributed to an increase in the number of people exercising  as well as an increase in poorly fitted footwear, has converted many to the orthopaedic shoe club.

The most common issues range from corns or calluses, occurring as a result of poor-fitted shoes, or bunions, a foot deformity where the first joint of the big toe juts out. These problems have been noted as most prominent in women wearing uncomfortable shoes. Other common causes of foot pain are plantar fasciitis, where the ligament connecting your heel bone to your toes is strained, causing your heel to hurt when you walk.

And according to government statistics, plantar fasciitis is increasing due to more people taking up exercise. Orthopaedic shoes are also vital for those with inherited flat feet or fallen arches, which without proper support affects the alignment of your spine. On the most serious side of the spectrum are those with diabetes, causing edema, or swelling of the feet. 

An orthopaedic shoe can be identified by its ability to support the structure of the foot – including its highly technical insole, footbed, midsole and sole. Measuring your feet is also advisable before buying a pair, as each brand will have its own size guidelines. But as long as you know the length in centimetres and the width in millimetres, you’re good to go. Most brands use the letter system for width measurements, with D being standard and E being a wide fit.

Today, wearing orthopaedic shoes does not mean we have to compromise on style either. Some of the best known footwear brands are in fact orthopaedic. For example, Birkenstock sandals became popular due to the orthopaedic support they gave to soldiers after the Second World War. What’s more, Crocs were originally invented as boating footwear before rapidly becoming a podiatrists’ favourite. With an increasing amount of choice, there may even come a time when all footwear brands will be orthopaedic. 

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps us to fund journalism across The Independent. 

 

Wolky e-walk in red stretch nubuck: £149.99, Amazon

A Dutch family-run company founded in 1982, Wolky is established as an American Medical Podiatric Association (APMA)-approved brand, creating stylish shoes with orthopaedic benefits. The latest e-walk trainers are a particular triumph. Made with a special Roll-a-Way system, the motion encourages heel-to-toe walking, which is not only a more efficient way of walking but it also reduces risk of injury.

The footbed is removable so suitable for people with bespoke orthotics, and the EVA sole is known as the best shock-absorbing material on the market today. All this creates a trainer which not only looks as good as any other leading athletic footwear brand, but is so comfortable you can be on your feet for an entire day without any discomfort. For the colour-confident, the design even comes in camo and silver.

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Birkenstock Boston Clog: £80, Birkenstock

The popularity of Birkenstocks grows year-on-year, significantly blurring the line between comfort and style. The Boston clog in taupe suede leather is by far one of their trendiest styles. Ideal for most kinds of leisurely excursion, the footbed is made of anatomically shaped cork-latex to support the foot and the EVA (shock-absorbing) flexible sole makes walking such a pleasurable experience, with no discomfort, calf pain, rubbing or blisters.

The shoe comes in other materials too, from wool felt to leather, and in a variety of colours including red, brown, blue and even gold. There's also a narrow foot option. And what’s even better, with a thick woolly sock these clogs are appropriate for winter, too, but if you’re a fast walker, it’s best to get a pair with a heel strap for extra support and to prevent toe gripping.

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Alegria Paloma Shoe: £115, Cheerful Soles

The funky shape of the black nappa leather Alegria Paloma is for the trend-setters rather than the followers. The beauty of this shoe design is the polyurethane outsoles, which instigate a rocking motion as you walk, thus relieving a lot of pressure from your feet, so you’ll find standing up for long periods of time a lot easier. They also contain a cork, memory foam and latex insole that moulds to your foot when on the move.

All of this combined means that you not only feel your posture improving as you walk but also less pressure on your joints. The wider toe shape allows for a lot of wiggle room so are suitable for wide feet. And if black is too boring for you, not to worry, they are also available in a variety of psychedelic colours.

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FitFlop Loosh Luxe Leather Metallic Slide Sandals: £165, FitFlop

Carrying the American Medical Podiatric Association (APMA) seal of approval, FitFlop uses biomechanics to create every single pair of shoes, sandals and trainers. We chose this pair not solely because metallics are now a neutral, and therefore can be worn with everything, but the comfort these sandals offer is unparalleled. Whether for a beach holiday or city strolling, the super spongy, pressure-diffusing Microwobbleboard midsole helps engage muscle activity while diffusing pressure across the whole foot and adjusting body alignment.

They don’t make your feet sweaty, the thick rubber outsole is great for giving you a bit of height and is also slip-resistant, and by the end of a day, your legs do feel that little bit more toned with absolutely no negative impact to the feet. The thick strap also ensures there is no toe gripping either. If you’re not a silver person, there are four other colours to choose from.

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Crocs Specialist: £29.99, Crocs

A brand with a knack for reinvention, whether it’s a new shape or collaboration with a leading fashion designer, Crocs are the kind of comfort we all crave. It is the Specialist range that is the best for taking care of your orthopaedic needs. Used in the main by those who stand most of the day, such as chefs or surgeons, this particular shoe is designed to meet all workplace standards, with a closed heel and toe.

They also come with enhanced arch support, nubs across the footbed for a massaging comfort, and special Croslite material that moulds to the foot. Available in navy, white or black, these are the kind of shoe that keep feet so comfortable, you’ll find yourself reaching for them at any given opportunity.

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Hotter Resort Sandals in Leopard: £59, Hotter

Recommended by podiatrists, Hotter has been established since 1959, when the company was solely making slippers from their factory in Lancashire. Using the Comfort Concept technology to create shoes, boots and sandals, this pair of T-bar sandals are made with a cork footbed, cushioned and contoured suede insole and lightweight cleated sole, made airy by being filled with million of tiny air bubbles.

The result is a pair of sandals, great for summer, but also wearing around the house as they offer supreme comfort. They also come in four more colourways in case you’re not an animal print fan.

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Asics Gel Kenun: £130, Asics

Although there are many highly sophisticated running shoes on the market, there are few that are not only orthopaedic but stylish enough to be worn on and off the track. The Gel Kenun solves this problem. Made with a rearfoot gel cushioning system for shock absorption, there are flex grooves for better movement and a super light midsole.

The standout feature is the tight ankle support, ideal for anyone who struggles with injury in this area. Available in four colourways, these make for not only a great running shoe but also a pair to wear day-to-day, especially to and from the office.

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JD Williams Orthopedic Ladies Shoe: £22, JD Williams

A nod to the sixties style, this T-bar model from JD Williams’ orthopaedic line of shoes will not only jazz up an evening gown, they’ll ensure your feet aren’t suffering at the end of an evening. Made from black leather, these shoes have a modest 31mm heel, which makes them easy to wear all day at work too.

The ultra-wide fit is particularly great for those who have trouble finding elegant evening sandals without the problem of feet spilling over the sides. 

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Vionic Reagan: £110, Vionic Shoes

Finding a flat mule that delivers on both a style and comfort level is a tricky task, but if anyone can do it, Vionic can. The orthopaedic shoe brand incorporates its podiatrist-designed FMT Technology into all the shoes. The Reagan tasselled mule is a timeless loafer look, modernised with silver leather, that makes for a great work shoe.

Reagan also comes in patent black for those whose places of work have strict colour codes. The footbed is made with an injected insole and breathable manmade sock for orthotic support, breathability and to help realign the feet back to their natural position. Compared to other flat mules, there is a real difference in comfort, with the one inch heel offering some height to reduce impact from walking.

After wearing for a week, there was no rubbing or discomfort, feet did get a bit hot in the harsh sun, but the beauty of these shoes is you can slip them off in a second for a bit of air.

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New Balance Suede 840: £75, New Balance

Founded in 1906 as the “New Balance Arch Support Company”, New Balance has become a firm favourite in both the sporting and leisure spheres. The Suede 840 in the new Sunrise Glo shade features ENCAP technology, which basically means they contain a midsole that has a cushy core EVA (shock-absorbing) layer and a durable rim of polyurethane for support and durability.

This particular model also includes the brand’s REVLite technology, a special foam that is 30 per cent lighter than regular foam but offers the same durability and respsonsiveness. As a result this shoe is unexpectedly light, springy and comfortable. Available in six different colourways, it ticks all the boxes for the athleisure style, blending the appearance of a running shoe with materials usually seen on a leisure trainer — leather, suede, and a textile upper.

As expected, there is plenty of support for all-day walking, feet didn’t overheat and they look pretty good with dresses as well as jeans or tracksuits.

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The Verdict: Best orthopaedic shoes

If you’re looking for a pair of shoes that will provide all day comfort in a colour and a style to match with most outfits, it has to be the Wolky e-walk. For summer, Hotter’s Resort Sandals are not only reasonable priced, they also provide an exceptional level of comfort.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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