Trail running can be hard on your feet. The constantly changing terrain and long distances can take their toll even on feet that don’t struggle with painful foot conditions.
But when you have to contend with things like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs, or swollen feet, it can be even worse.
If you have plantar fasciitis, rest assured: there are trail shoes made to counteract the pain and problems associated with the condition. By choosing one of these pairs of shoes, you’ll immediately notice how different they are from any old pair of trail running shoes.
They offer a good mix of support and cushioning, to protect the feet and ease pain and tension.
Our first choice is the Hoka One One Speedgoat 4, as it has a wide forefoot for extra toe room and stability, an ultra-soft midsole, and rubber cushioned zones for optimal shock absorption, as well as a good grip on rough terrain.
There are many other great options that vary by budget, style, and design. Read on to see our favorites…
Top 3 Best and Favorites
Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
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Salomon Sense Ride 4
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Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6
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1. Hoka One One Speedgoat 4
Hoka One One is known for its great cushioning.
The Speedgoat 4 is a neutral shoe with a good range of features that makes it both a great shoe for trail running, as well as for those with plantar fasciitis.
When you’re hitting the trails, you’ll be grateful for the Vibram MegaGrip outsole with 5mm, multi-directional lugs. You can run comfortably and safely over a variety of rough terrains. The lugs are strategically placed in “zones” on the sole for extra stability and durability.
A wider forefoot adds extra stability as well as comfort. The foam midsole is ultra-soft and cushions your foot in such a way that it offers relief from plantar fasciitis pain. You can remove the insole if you would like to add an orthotic.
The heel drop is small, at just 4mm. This helps to more evenly disperse pressure across the underside of the foot, so there’s less pressure on the forefoot than there would be in shoes with a higher drop.
Some people may find that these shoes are a bit too stiff for their liking, and aren’t as flexible when running.
- Vibram MegaGrip
- Zonal rubber placement
- Wider forefoot
- Ultra-soft midsole
- Some people may find the shoe to be too stiff for their comfort
2. Salomon Sense Ride 4
When it comes to trail running, Salomon is a big name. You just have to look at a pair of their shoes to know that they cater to rough terrain.
The Sense Ride 4 is their trail running shoe geared toward over-pronators. It has a number of features that make it effective.
On the trail, you need good grip, and the Contagrip outsole provides traction on both wet and dry surfaces. Sensifit technology and an Endofit internal sleeve create a snug fit inside the shoe, cocooning your foot comfortably.
The Sense Ride 4 is well-cushioned with Opal cushioning and Opti-Vibe technology in the EVA midsole to counteract and absorb vibration from impact. A removable OrthoLite footbed has anti-odor properties to keep your feet fresh as well as comfortable. A padded ankle collar means there’s cushioning from all angles.
The Quicklace system is a gem of Salomon’s shoe design. Just one pull allows you to get a good, comfortable, tight fit. No lace tying needed.
Salomons often run narrow, and some runners may find that this causes the shoe to put pressure on their feet at certain pressure points. This can exacerbate plantar fasciitis, so if you have wide feet, they’re probably not your brand.
- Endofit internal sleeve
- Quicklace system
- Sensifit technology
- Molded EVA midsole
- People with wider feet may find that this shoe is too narrow and puts pressure on certain parts of their feet
Best for Road and Trail
3. Hoka One One Challenger ATR 6
The Hoka One One Challenger works well for both trails and road running. It’s a good choice for runners who like all kinds of terrain but don’t like to spend all kinds of money on different shoes.
The midsole is made of compression-molded EVA foam, which is lightweight but still provides plenty of cushioning.
It also incorporates a meta-rocker in the midsole, engineered to provide a smooth run on any surface and improve your energy return and propulsion with each step. This helps relieve the pain of plantar fasciitis while still providing good rebound.
Other things that make this a good trail and road running shoe: an internal heel counter to keep the heel locked in on any terrain, and a dual-layer mesh upper that provides light support and high breathability.
4mm rubber lugs for grip on the outsole, with zonal rubber placement, increase durability and effectiveness.
- Early Stage Meta-Rocker Geometry
- Internal heel counter
- Dual-layer mesh
- Compression-molded EVA midsole
- Some people may find that there’s very little flex in the forefoot
Top Stability Shoe
4. Hoka One One Stinson ATR 6
The Hoka One One Stinson is yet another shoe with impressive cushioning that relieves plantar fasciitis pain when you’re running. It is a neutral shoe, but would work well for individuals who need extra stability, as it molds to the foot to provide support where you need it most.
You can see just by looking at this shoe that it’s very cushioned. The plush, compression-molded EVA midsole is light but delivers responsive bounce back, and the meta-rocker in the midsole helps the foot move fluidly from heel strike to toe-off.
For extra support and stability on rough terrain, these shoes feature broad lugs that are strategically placed in high-impact areas to keep you steady on any surface. A unique integrated eyelet lacing system allows you to get a tighter fit so your foot is cradled comfortably and solidly.
Even the upper helps to provide extra support by hugging the foot. It also has moisture-wicking properties and provides good airflow through the shoe to keep your feet cool on long runs. A reinforced toe cap offers structure in the forefoot too.
- Integrated eyelet lacing system
- TPU-reinforced toe cap
- High-volume compression-molded EVA midsole
- Late-stage meta-rocker
- The shoe can look bulky and some people may find it to be a bit heavy to run with
Best For Wide Feet
5. New Balance Fresh Foam More Trail V1
Shoes that are too tight can be a cause of plantar fasciitis. Most runners know how long their feet are, but fewer have had the width measured. If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, this is very worth doing, and a wide shoe might be the best option. These shoes from New Balance offer a good fit as well as effective cushioning for sore feet.
They come in wide and extra wide for every size, so you should be able to find the right size for your foot. Once you’ve got the right fit, the full-length EVA foam midsole is plush and lightweight and makes your foot feel as if it’s being cradled gently.
The Vibram outsole helps reduce plantar fasciitis pain by absorbing the impact vibrations that can jar the foot and increase tension and sensitivity. A wide toe box allows you plenty of room to stretch your foot out without losing stability.
Mid-foot overlays make the shoe even more stable and snug, and the breathable upper features a DWR coating (durable water repellent). The widespread tread and segmented outsole allow for good traction and increased safety on uneven terrain.
- Full-length Fresh Foam midsole
- Wide toe box
- Vibram outsole
- May not suit runners who pronate, as this shoe is a neutral shoe
- It is a bulky-looking shoe and some runners may not like the look or feel of it
Best for Muddy Trails
6. Salomon Speedcross 5
In running as well as other sports, Salomon sets its sights on the high mountains. And the Speedcross in the shoes to take you there. It is one of the sturdiest trail shoes out there. If you want the best protection from mud and debris when running the trails, then the Salomon Speedcross 5 could be the shoe for you.
Aside from being ultra-rugged, Salomon shoes are well-known for being very comfortable. It’s not that they are extravagantly cushioned – they’re not, and tend toward a firm, responsive feel. But they way they encase and protect the feet makes them an ideal option for runners with plantar fasciitis. The Speedcross 5 features an EVA midsole with EnergyCell+ technology. This adds all-day comfort and reduces shock.
The molded OrthoLite insole is designed to shape to the feet and be responsive and comfortable, in addition to reducing foot pain. Sensifit technology makes sure the shoe fits snugly and provides extra comfort.
Your feet will stay mud- and debris-free on the trails thanks to a rubber toe cap and mudguard on the heel. The mesh upper is woven tightly together to prevent debris from entering it. A gusseted tongue and tight QuickLace system also help stop dirt, sand, and other debris from ending up inside the shoes.
Some people may find that these shoes run a bit narrow, as Salomons tend to be a more snug fit than most.
- Injected EVA midsole with EnergyCell+ technology
- Contagrip TA rubber outsole
- Molded OrthoLite insole
- Anti-debris mesh upper
- Some people may find the shoe to be narrow
7. Hoka One One Torrent 2
These neutral shoes are well-padded but remain lightweight. If you like a light shoe, especially if you’re a competitive runner, you may like the Torrent 2.
The midsole is oversized but light, giving you plenty of cushion for very little weight. Each shoe weighs just 8 ounces. The PROFLY technology provides both shock absorption on landing and propulsion on rising.
The Torrent 2 also features reinforced overlays for extra stability, support, and protection against debris and dirt. A rubber outsole provides traction on all surfaces, allowing you to run comfortably and safely no matter where you are.
These shoes are also a sustainable option, as they’re made from a minimum of 20% recycled materials.
- PROFLY midsole
- Reinforced overlays
- Sticky rubber outsole
- Lower stack height
- Some people may find the shoe to be too firm for comfort
8. Brooks Caldera 5
Although all the shoes on this list are well-cushioned to alleviate plantar fasciitis pain, the Brooks Caldera has been chosen as the most comfortable.
It uses the Brooks BioMogo DNA midsole, which is not only padded but also is environmentally-friendly, biodegrading 50 times faster than others.
The cushioning adapts to your foot, but it may take a bit of time for this to happen. You’ll need to wear them in properly in order to make the most of their comfort, so it’s important to be patient. Once they are broken in, you’ll find they’re incredibly comfortable.
The Ariaprene mesh upper is flexible and provides good airflow, so it keeps your feet comfortable and cool at the same time. The smooth fabric lining and padded ankle collar and tongue also contribute to the comfort factor.
For staying stable on the trail, a TrailTack rubber outsole with uniquely-shaped lugs keeps traction on any surface.
- BioMogo DNA midsole
- Ariaprene mesh upper
- Sticky TrailTack rubber outsole
- Removable foam insole
- The shoes may take a bit of time to wear in
Top Zero Drop
9. Altra Timp 4
Plantar fasciitis is exactly the type of malady zero-drop shoes are supposed to stave off. If you like zero drop shoes and you’re looking for a trail running shoe that’s also helpful for plantar fasciitis, then Altra’s Timp 4 is a great choice.
Zero drop shoes promote low-impact running and proper form, which can help relieve pain from plantar fasciitis – or avoid it completely from the get-go. The Quantic foam midsole cushion is balanced, and uses InnerFlex grooves to keep it flexible while you’re running. The 5mm footbed is contoured and lined with soft fabric for extra comfort.
For comfort and stability, TrailClaw lugs are carefully positioned to not only give you extra grip to prevent falling or slipping, but also to allow you greater traction when you push-off, so you can get off at a speed.
Some buyers find the tow box to be disappointingly narrow, and they advise going one size up in order to be comfortable.
- Quantic foam midsole
- InnerFlex grid-like grooves
- FootShape toe box
- TrailClaw canted lugs
- Some people have reported the shoe runs small
Best Racing Shoe
10. Hoka One One Evo Mafate 2
With a weight of just 11 ounces per shoe, the Hoka One One Mafate provides both enough cushion and enough support to be a comfortable racing shoe.
The compressed EVA midsole is responsive and keeps you comfortable for many hours on your feet. A 4mm heel drop means that your body weight will be more evenly dispersed across the cushioning, so there should be no high-pressure spots.
Early-stage Meta-Rocker geometry increases your heel-to-toe transition effectiveness and allows a more explosive push-off. Vibram technology reduces shock so you can hit the ground and get going again in as short a time as possible.
Other things that make this an effective and comfortable trail racing shoe are the sculpted arch pod for extra support, MATRYX technology upper for increased breathability and stability, and the high-traction outsole for better grip wherever you are.
- Sculpted arch pod
- Rubberized-foam midsole and outsole
- Upper features MATRYX technology
- Vibram MegaGrip Hi-Traction
- Some people may find that the sole of the shoe starts to bend right or left, making the shoe unbalanced
What is plantar fasciitis?
If you’ve been experiencing pain in your heel, then you could be suffering from plantar fasciitis. It’s one of the most common causes of heel pain in runners. It results from the plantar fascia, a thick band of connective tissue on the underside of the foot, becoming irritated or inflamed.
You may find that the pain is worse in the morning when you wake up or if you’ve been sitting for a long time. The symptoms of plantar fasciitis include:
- Swelling on the bottom of your heel
- Stabbing pain in the heel
- Pain or discomfort in the arch of the foot
- Pain that increases in intensity over a few weeks
Anyone can experience plantar fasciitis. However, you may be at a higher risk if you don’t wear shoes that provide the right amount of support. You could also develop plantar fasciitis if you work in a job that has you spending long hours on your feet.
If you participate in activities such as running or ballet that place a tremendous amount of stress on your heels and the surrounding tissues, that could contribute to plantar fasciitis.
If you’re overweight, this could lead to you developing plantar fasciitis, as walking and standing will affect the way weight is distributed. This could place added stress onto the plantar fascia.
People who have an abnormal walking pattern, high arches, or flat feet could aslo be at increased risk of suffering from plantar fasciitis.
What should you look for in a trail shoe if you have plantar fasciitis?
If you’re experiencing plantar fasciitis, you may find running on trails provides a tough challenge. There are a few things you can look for when getting a trail shoe that can protect your feet from shock and reduce the stress on the plantar fascia. Look for the following:
- Stability – especially in the midsole
- Adequate arch and heel support
- Traction on the outsole
- Responsive cushioning
- Has a deep heel cup
- Cushioning in the forefoot
- A firm heel counter
What to avoid?
If you’re suffering from plantar fasciitis, steer clear of shoes that have more minimal support or cushioning. If the shoe doesn’t have any cushioning or support in the heel, then you’re going to be placing your heel under a lot of stress.