I’ve tried hundreds of shoes since starting BarkingDogShoes.com almost eleven years ago, but I always come back to my Birkenstocks. Thankfully, they never seem to go out of style. In fact, the company continues to introduce sleeker styles in lovely patterns and hues, yet I remain faithful to my two-strap Arizonas. My heels and arches quickly complain if I walk around the house too long without them.
Every year I expect Wolky to discontinue their flagship shoe, the Jewel sandal. but it continues to be a bestseller for the Dutch company. It may be a bit clunky, but the thick rocker sole feels heavenly on my arthritic big toe (hallux limitus) and keeps it from over-flexing causing undue pain. When I want a more diminutive sandal, I reach for my Naot Doriths. They’re from Naot’s Elegant flat line–probably they’re most streamlined, ligthweight collection of shoes with contoured cork and latex footbeds.
Alegria shoes and sandals have been a godsend for my feet during bouts of plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia and hallux limitus. I recall when the brand only offered two styles: the classic slip-on and the Paloma mary jane. But there’s no stopping this company! From colorful sandals to wedge heels to non-slip professional shoes, Alegria’s got you covered. The secret sauce? A cork, memory foam and polyurethane footbed that forms to the natural contours of your feet. Most styles feature a rocker sole to help feet “roll” through the stride taking pressure off forefoot and heel. My favorite style this spring include the Playa sandal, Venice sandal in cheery cherry print and Mixie sandal with multi-color wedge.
The very first shoe I bought after my RA diagnosis was the Dansko Kirsten, a closed-toe mary jane clog. Finally, I could walk again without limping! Although the style is long-discontinued, Dansko came out with the Sam clog–very similar to the Kirsten. It has the same wonderful arch support as the Professional clog, but with a soft, memory-foam footbed for extra cushioning. The rocker sole makes walking easier with aching feet.
Nike Air Zoom Winflo 4
I’ve tried a lot of fitness shoes including Altra and On Running shoes. I love them both for different reasons (click through links to read my reviews), but recently I’ve found a cross-training shoe that multi-tasks as a walking shoe, light jogging shoe, and Zumba shoe! My Nike Airzoom Winflo shoes not only provide a perfect fit for my wider forefoot/narrow heel combo, they provide a “just-right” level of arch support–like a broken-in pair of Birks. The lateral (side to side) support is excellent, my feet don’t ache after cardio-dance classes like Zumba and WERQ. The outsole absorbs impact well and gives me a spring to my step! I also love the dark gray on black colorway as it doesn’t clash with fitness outfits.
L’Amour des Pieds Oriana
For dressier occasions, I turn to L’Amour des Pieds shoes (the love of feet). They certainly aren’t cheap, but one pair of their slingback wedges should last years if you save them for special events. LDP uses top-quality leathers and incorporates moderate arch support in their memory-foam cushioned footbeds. Check out the entire brand at Nordstrom and Zappos.
If you just can’t give up your flip-flops, at least try a supportive one! My Vionic Tide flips are a relief to slip on when my arches and heels are achy. Read a review of the Vionic Tide by my friend, Anne.
- I understand comfort footwear often comes with a hefty price tag, so check out our article on tips for finding affordable, comfortable shoes.
- If you need comfort footwear in extended sizes in widths, check out SAS shoes (they have new designers who have updated and modernized the styles).
I have been reviewing and recommending comfortable, stylish footwear for almost 11 years and I’m excited to share eight of my favorite go-to shoes I’ve owned over the years. You can read more about my journey with rheumatoid arthritis and how I started, BarkingDogShoes.com here.
How about you?
Do you have a favorite go-to shoe or sandal that helps relieve the pain of RA or other condition?
Leave a comment and let us know!