The best orthotic sandals
For some individuals, custom orthotics make a big difference in terms of comfort and ease of walking. Unfortunately, they’re prescription-only and expensive if insurance doesn’t cover their cost. An orthotic sandal, now available at many retailers, is an affordable alternative.
Flip-flops and slides are among the most popular orthotic sandal styles, followed by many other sporty or fashion-forward options. Vionic Unisex Wave Toe-Post Sandal, a popular laid-back style, is a classic orthotic flip-flop that lends itself to all-day wear.
What to know before you buy orthotic sandals
What are orthotic sandals?
An orthotic sandal offers enhanced support and comfort through contoured designs, shock-absorbing materials or pressure-relieving features. These styles promote a natural, safe stride by helping the foot connect to the ground properly.
Orthotic sandals are often worn by older adults as well as individuals managing podiatric-related conditions such as plantar fasciitis, flat feet and diabetes. However, the footwear is also worn by active individuals and professionals who spend a considerable portion of their days walking or standing.
What is the APMA Seal of Acceptance?
Several of the top-rated orthotic sandals have received the APMA Seal of Acceptance. Awarded by the American Podiatric Medical Association, the seal recognizes the sandal as promoting foot health and safety according to APMA’s expert testing panel.
With that said, just because an orthotic sandal lacks the APMA Seal of Acceptance doesn’t necessarily mean it’s an inferior style. In fact, some wearers find that many non-APMA sandals and footwear brands meet their needs and expectations.
Orthotic sandals features
Orthotic sandals are usually made with synthetic materials, such as plastic, neoprene, silicone and rubber. Almost all styles have some type of foam or gel, both of which may boost cushioning and support and minimize shock. Some orthotic sandals have full-length foam or gel pads, whereas other styles only have them in specific locations, such as the heel cup or arch.
Most unisex, men’s and women’s orthotic sandals are available in traditional adult footwear sizes. However, unlike shoes and sneakers, sandals are less likely to be available in half sizes. Orthotic sandals are no exception, and for some wearers, it may be challenging to find a pair that offers an ideal fit.
Support takes on many forms in orthotic sandals. Depending on style and construction, orthotic sandals may have just one or a combination of supportive features.
- Contoured footbeds place the foot in optimal alignment, which in turn promotes a natural stride.
- Heel cushions, often made of memory foam or gel, absorb shock.
- Nonslip outsoles with well-defined treads can minimize the risk for falls, including on unstable or wet ground.
- Well-defined arch support may reduce pressure on the arch and ankle, as it may prevent the foot from tilting or rolling inward.
- Textured footbeds grip the soles of the feet to reduce sliding and slipping.
- Wide straps may be effective at distributing pressure across the instep.
Orthotic sandals cost
Orthotic sandals usually start at $40 for entry-level flip-flops and slides. Styles with advanced features or patented foot support cost $60-$100. There are a few specialty orthotic sandals on the market that target specific podiatric conditions, and they cost about $100-$175.
Orthotic sandals FAQ
How long do orthotic sandals last?
A. It’s recommended to replace orthotic sandals when they show signs of wear, particularly decreased shock absorption and deteriorating materials. If you begin experiencing pain while wearing the sandals, which may be attributed to deteriorating support, it’s also time to upgrade to a new pair.
How do I clean orthotic sandals?
A. Because orthotic sandals are mostly made with synthetic materials, you can rinse or hose them down when they’re in need of deep cleaning. As far as daily cleaning, it’s recommended to sprinkle the footbeds with odor- and moisture-absorbing products, such as antifungal powder, to prevent bacteria and fungus accumulation that may result in infections or athlete’s foot.
Should I buy orthotic sandals with adjustable straps?
A. There are a few orthotic sandals that have adjustable straps, including slides with hook-and-eye closures and strappy styles with buckles. They’re ideal if you’re looking for a more secure fit compared to other orthotic sandals, which tend to run wide and have looser straps. However, adjustable straps will require more effort to put them on and take them off, and that may be inconvenient for some wearers.
Which orthotic sandals should I get?
Best of the best orthotic sandals
Vionic Unisex Wave Toe-Post Sandal: available at Amazon
Our take: A comfortable style available in five colors, this orthotic flip-flop features a podiatrist-designed footbed.
What we like: The sandal has a textured footbed that promotes stability, including when feet are sweaty. It has a high, supportive arch that works well for those with flat feet. The sandal is one of few orthotic styles with a low-profile design.
What we dislike: The straps and toe posts are rough and uncomfortable according to some wearers.
Best bang for your buck orthotic sandals
FitFlop Women’s Surfa Flip-Flop: available at Amazon
Our take: If you have wider feet, this popular FitFlop style offers a spacious, accommodating design.
What we like: While the flip-flop is durable and has a low center of gravity, it’s nowhere as heavy as comparable styles. Wide straps distribute pressure across the instep, making them comfortable for prolonged periods of walking.
What we dislike: A few individuals felt the style was too rigid, while others reported the straps deteriorated sooner than expected.
Honorable mention orthotic sandals
OOFOS Unisex OOaah Slide: available at Amazon
Our take: The contoured sole of this popular slide promotes a natural stride and minimizes stress on feet and knees.
What we like: The slide has a minimalist design that coordinates well with most outfits. Its unique sole promises to reduce heel impact by 37%. The strap offers extra coverage and gently hugs the instep to stay put.
What we dislike: The sandal has a wide cut that may not be suitable for individuals with slender feet.
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Sian Babish is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money.
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