If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis then it is crucial to find the right running shoe so you don’t aggravate your condition. If there is inflammation in your tendon then your normal running shoes will just exacerbate the problem.
Running shoes that help relieve issues with your Achilles have a high heel-to-toe drop, good ankle support, plenty of flex, and supportive cushioning.
Plus, if you overpronate (when your gait flattens the arches of your feet more than usual) then finding running shoes with enough stability is a must.
So if you suffer from Achilles tendonitis how do you find the right shoe for you? Well, that’s where we come in!
Not only do we have seven of the best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis, but a buyer’s guide and FAQs to help you make an informed and confident decision.
But first, let’s take a look at the different types of running shoes.
Types Of Running Shoes
Supportive Neutral Shoes
If you have medium to high arches then you may want a pair of supportive neutral shoes that don’t necessarily have the stability needed for those who overpronate.
It may be tempting to try a more stable running shoe if you have an Achilles injury, but stability shoes are usually stiffer and heavier than neutral shoes and tend to have little effect on Achilles injuries.
It’s important that shoes that help relieve Achilles tendonitis fit your foot and stride so unless you need extra support, avoid these types of shoes.
If you’re a neutral runner, it’s better to have a supportive shoe without pronation correction.
Stability Running Shoes
If you overpronate or need a more supportive shoe, then we recommend stability running shoes to help with your Achilles tendonitis. They have plenty of stability and a high drop which relieves pressure on your Achilles.
The Brooks Ghost 14 is ideal for those who are recovering from tendonitis, thanks to its excellent fit, support, and high drop. No wonder it’s one of the most popular and best-selling running shoes out there!
It has a prominent midsole drop of 12 mm to take pressure off your tendon. Plus, the BioMoGo Gel and the DNA Loft foam midsole cushioning system adapts to your stride for smooth steps.
If you have a high arch, the midsole of the Ghost 14 cushions your foot while you run which takes pressure off your Achilles and lessens pain and inflammation.
- Great flex and heel-to-toe stride.
- The heel collar helps to stabilize your ankle.
- Soft and comfortable upper that keeps your foot in place.
- Tight lace holes.
- Poor color selection.
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One of the best shoes for Achilles’ tendonitis, the latest version of the Asics Gel-Cumulus 23 has been totally overhauled to be more lightweight with a natural heel-to-toe transition and lots of cushioning.
If you suffer from Achilles tendonitis the guidance line strip on the tread corrects the alignment of your foot when you run, helping you run not just efficiently but comfortably too. There is also a firm heel cup that secures your ankle and heel while supporting the Achilles.
The Cumulus 23 has a high 10 mm heel-to-toe drop which reduces the pressure put on your Achilles. Plus, the heel has a shock absorbing gel pad and the front of the sole has a springy gel, which reduces the shock to your feet with every stride.
The overhauled design to the Cumulus 23 also has a soft upper that makes your feet feel great as soon as you slip them on. The wider toe box helps these shoes feel extra roomy and suitable for most foot types.
Plus, they have a new layer of EVA foam directly under the insert for extra comfort.
- Soft gel cushioning.
- High drop to support your Achilles.
- Seamless upper so your toes have plenty of room.
- The snug midfoot and heel may not be suitable for everyone.
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A great all-round shoe, the Saucony Ride 14 is a shoe that is packed with features that will help those with Achilles tendonitis.
For starters, it has an 8 mm heel offset to reduce pain in the Achilles. It’s great for those with neutral pronation and for those who need some cushioning but not necessarily extra support. The rubber sole provides good traction and extra flex for a more natural stride.
The Ride 14 is an update from the previous version, with the FORMFIT upper. This lacing system has a soft and flexible upper which helps you achieve a custom fit.
Like the previous version, the Rise 14 also has a PWRRUN foam layer in the center which provides a nice cushioning, while maintaining a nice bounce.
Regularly stopping and starting isn’t ideal for tendonitis, but as this shoe gives in the right places then you can speed up and slow down without aggravating your tendon.
If you’re used to a lighter shoe with less cushioning then you may find the shoe to be a bit on the larger side and a bit unresponsive.
- Ideal for those with normal arches.
- Excellent fit in the upper.
- Plenty of cushioning.
- The drop isn’t as high as other running shoes.
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A lightweight and functional shoe, the Mizuno Wave Rider 25 has a great flex and a high drop that makes it ideal for those with Achilles Tendonitis. Mizuno’s patented wave plate provides a dynamic stride like no other.
They have a good underfoot feel, heel support, and durability which makes them ideal for shorter runs and for those focusing on speed.
Combining good shock absorbance and a nice road feel, the high drop and flex makes this shoe ideal for those suffering from tendonitis. Considering they are such a lightweight shoe, they provide excellent support.
- Lightweight design.
- Breathable, cool mesh.
- Extremely durable.
- Small amount of stitching makes these shoes more comfortable.
- The cut in the ankle may be too deep for some.
- Doesn’t have as much cushioning compared to other running shoes.
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Balancing soft cushioning in a lightweight shoe, the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 has a heel-to-toe drop of 12 mm to keep your Achilles tendon in the correct position.
The arch of the shoe is ideal for those with low to flat arches, and the seamless mesh upper of the shoe is pretty lightweight. The mesh is also breathable, but isn’t as secure as its rivals.
They also have a guide rails for support, which is a new technology from Brooks that tailors the shoe’s support to the individual. This makes the shoe lighter and more durable, as well as giving you more cushioning in the midsole.
Support and stability is crucial as your Achilles’ tendon will be protected with every step.
- High drop for Achilles support.
- Breathable and lightweight top mesh.
- Comfortable and supportive.
- The upper might not be secure enough for some.
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The New Balance 990v5 has a classic look and feel, and is super durable. It has a 12 mm drop, good arch support, and lots of cushioning.
While the shoe isn’t very breathable, it’s still very comfortable with a well-cushioned heel ideal for all arch types.
Some might find it too close-fitting and padded, but these features are ideal for keeping the Achilles in a comfortable position.
However, where these shoes fall short is their agility features and efficiency, as they prioritize comfort over things like agility, efficiency, and proper posture.
This may cause you to become fatigued easily when running in these shoes, although your feet will feel comfortable.
- Extremely comfortable.
- Ideal for all kinds of foot types and postures.
- Good arch support.
- Made in the USA.
- Not budget-friendly.
- They have an old-fashioned look that might be off-putting to some.
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A highly supportive running shoe, the Mizuno Wave Inspire 17 is an excellent shoe for those with Achilles tendonitis.
They have a shock-absorbing midsole that protects your tendons and joints, and if you have low or flat arches the Inspire 17 is a lightweight shoe that gives you plenty of stability.
The Inspire 17 has a very durable sole and provides a large offset between the heel and the toe so your Achilles tendon can relax during the upward swing of your stride.
However, the only downside to this shoe is the side area near the saddle which affects your stride. This puts stress on this area of the shoe and affects the overall durability. However, the toe, rear of the shoe and the rubber sole are still very durable.
- Sole and toe are very durable.
- Deep offset of heel to support your Achilles.
- It is lightweight despite being a stability shoe.
- Not the best color selection.
- Doesn’t offer that much cushioning.
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Now that we’ve taken a look at the 7 best shoes for Achilles tendonitis let’s take a look at the different components of a running shoe and how these components can help relieve tendonitis.
Drop (or Heel-To-Toe Drop)
When we talk about the drop on a running shoe we’re talking about how high the heel is compared to the toe. Many running shoes are raised in the heel, meaning your foot slightly angles down but the difference between the heel height and the toe is called the drop.
The drop is measured in millimeters, and a high drop like 12 mm means your foot is angled forward and down. Meanwhile, a low drop like 4 mm means your foot is flatter to the ground.
For a while, running shoes tended to have a high drop at 12 mm, and while you can get more of a variety now this is still the case for most running shoes.
This is great if you strike with your heel – common amongst runners – as it cushions your foot well on the landing. It also gives you a smooth transition from heel-to-toe while you run.
Barefoot running has been a thing in recent years, if you run barefoot, your heel isn’t being raised and stays the same height as your toes. In other words, you have zero drop.
Shoe manufacturers took note, and Vibram running shoes led the way with their barefoot designs.
Brands such as Altra also feature a barefoot design while keeping the cushioning of a classic running shoe. But now running shoes have a wide range of drops available, from 0 to 13 mm.
If you suffer with Achilles tendonitis, a running shoe with a higher drop will put less strain on your Achilles. It will flex less and relieve the pressure on that part of your foot while you run.
Stack height is often talked about in the same sentence as drop when discussing running shoe features. This refers to how thick the cushioning is in a running shoe.
Stack height is also measured in millimeters, and is measured from the heel to the toe. The stack height in running shoes varies from lightweight and minimal (low stick height) to thick and cushioned (high stack height).
The toe-to-heel drop is the difference between toe stack height and heel stack height, but some running shoes will not have the drop displayed. However, you can work this out by subtracting the heel stack height from the toe stack height.
Support And Stability
Support and stability are terms that are used interchangeably, and that is because they are kind of the same thing. But shoes can be supportive and stable in different ways.
Generally, shoes that are stable and supportive mean they are on the stiff side as they keep your feet aligned when you run. But the alignment will vary depending on the shoe.
Running shoes that don’t have support or stability don’t align your feet. These are often called barefoot or minimalist running shoes and they let your feet move naturally.
Stability running shoes were designed to correct overpronation, which causes your feet to roll inward, and support shoes can also do this.
Support shoes were also designed to do this, but stability and support shoes can also just support your feet and keep them aligned rather than correcting overpronation.
If you have Achilles tendonitis, having a supportive running shoe is essential, even if you don’t overpronate. You will still need a shoe that has good support, such as being stiff with little flex. But if you do overpronate the extra support and stability will be very helpful.
The majority of running shoes will have some cushioning. Cushioning protects your feet, legs, and body from stress and the excessive pounding that occurs when running.
How much cushioning a shoe has will differ from shoe to shoe. For example, barefoot shoes have very little cushioning, while Hoka One One running shoes have a lot of pillowy cushioning.
If you have Achilles tendonitis, then cushioned shoes will be very helpful to your recovery. However, excessive cushioning will add strain to your Achilles. A moderate amount of cushioning is what you should be going for.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Causes Achilles Tendonitis?
Runners who regularly run uphill, slow down, or pivot are more likely to sustain injuries like Achilles tendonitis. Runners who land on their forefoot or toes (common in barefoot or natural running) are also more likely to develop Achilles tendonitis.
Can Running Shoes Cause Achilles Tendonitis?
Many runners don’t know that running in the incorrect pair of shoes can actually lead to Achilles tendonitis, especially if the shoe is inflexible or poorly made. This is why it’s so important to invest in a good pair of running shoes to prevent Achilles tendonitis or to relieve it.
No matter if you’re a neutral runner or overpronator, runners should shop around for running shoes that have features like a flexible outsole, high heel-to-toe drop, a springy midsole, soft interior, a wide forefoot, and – if you’re an overpronator – stability control.
How Do You Treat Achilles Tendonitis?
There are many simple ways to treat Achilles tendonitis at home, such as doing ankle strengthening and mobility exercises, heating before each run, icing after a run, massaging your calves with a foam roller, performing eccentric heel drops and heel lifts, and – of course – wearing more supportive running shoes.
A more severe treatment is Iontophoresis with dexamethasone. This is a treatment prescribed by physical therapists which consists of delivering anti-inflammatory steroids to the tendon to relieve pain.
There are also things you can avoid to ease the pain of Achilles tendonitis such as excessive stretching. Until you’re totally healed, only do light and easy stretching.