Sneakers aren’t just about style — they’re also crucial to keeping a healthy pep in your step.
And as we turn a corner to warmer days, outdoor activities — whether leisurely walks or brisk jogs — require shoes that offer solid support.
So we asked four renowned podiatrists to share their top sneaker recommendations.
“Fresh Foam 880v11” running shoes, $130 at New Balance
Dr. Rock G. Positano, director of the Non-Surgical Foot and Ankle Service at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City, is recognized globally for his noninvasive approach to treating foot disorders. He recommends the New Balance 880 series.
“These sneakers orthopedically and biomechanically provide excellent heel and forefoot support,” he says. “They possess a wide toe box, which places less stress and compression on the forefoot, especially in the presence of bunion and hammertoe deformities. In addition, the heel support is excellent for shock absorption, which places less force and stress on the knee, hip and lower back.
“Also, these models accommodate prescription foot orthoses best that are used to functionally make the foot work more effectively as a shock absorber and provide optimal foot function,” he continues. “These New Balance models are best suited for prolonged walking, running and sports that require side-to-side motion, such as tennis and squash.”
“Clifton 7” running shoes, $130 at Hoka
Dr. Suzanne Levine, a board-certified podiatric surgeon, notes that “all sneakers are not created equal,” explaining that they should be selected with function in mind — whether for running, tennis, basketball, cross training or walking.
“Also understand your foot type — flat feet, high arch, average arch,” she advises. “You can test this with wet feet walking on a nonabsorbent surface — and look at your footprints. How much pronation when you walk. Sneakers should have proper fit, with about a centimeter of space in front of your longest toe.”
Levine recommends the Hoka shoe for its “overall foot protection, support and stability.”
“Gel-Kayano 27” running shoes, $160 at ASICS
Dr. Miguel Cunha, a board-certified podiatric surgeon and founder of NYC’s Gotham Footcare has experience treating a wide array of foot and ankle conditions, including complex reconstructive foot and ankle surgery. For running purposes, he suggests the ASICS “Gel-Kayano [added hyphen!!] 27” shoes.
“Runners will find this sneaker to have superior comfort that enhances the foot’s natural gait from heel strike to toe-off,” he says. “It’s designed with rear foot and forefoot gel technology that provides superior cushioning and shock absorption. This shoe incorporates exceptional durability and lightweight materials with a medial extension from the midsole to the heel for increased motion control.
“Last but not least,” he continues, “these sneakers include an additional 3 millimeters of midsole height to decrease tension placed on the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon.”
“Primus Lite III” shoes, $145 at Vivobarefoot
Dr. Emily Splichal, the founder of Evidence Based Fitness Academy, and a podiatrist and functional movement specialist, focuses on problems caused by modern shoes.
“When you look at people who have worn traditional shoes for years, you start to see a change in the shape of their foot,” she says. “You see a rigidity and restriction in the natural movement. A lot of modern innovations that we see, particularly in athletic footwear — carbon fiber plates, springs in the heel, air within the heel — are trying to mimic a very intelligent system that we already naturally have.”
With that in mind, Splichal is an advocate for minimalist footwear brand Vivobarefoot, specifically its “Primus Lite III” sneakers.