One of the most common injuries to strike runners is Achilles tendonitis – and it’s a painful condition that can seriously derail your training.
There’s a strong relationship between Achilles tendonitis and the type of running shoes you wear. Not only can the wrong shoes aggravate the condition and worsen your pain, but improper footwear can even cause the initial injury.
That makes choosing the best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis extremely important, whether it’s to ease your way back into running or to prevent a similar injury in the future.
In this guide, we are going to take a look at the best shoes for running if you have experienced an Achilles injury. We’ll also explain the important features to look for when choosing the right footwear for your needs.
But first, let’s discuss just what Achilles tendonitis actually is, and how it affects your training.
What is Achilles Tendonitis?
Achilles tendonitis is an injury to the Achilles tendon – the fibrous band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your calf muscles.
When the tendon becomes inflamed, it causes pain, stiffness, and sometimes swelling in the heel area and/or lower calf.
There are two kinds of Achilles tendonitis – insertional (which causes inflammation in the part of the tendon attached to your heel) and non-insertional (which affects the middle of the tendon).
The injury is usually caused by overuse of the tendon. This can happen if you suddenly increase your training schedule.
Alternatively, it can be triggered by running with poor form or failing to warm up properly.
We also become more prone to injuries like this as we age.
Related article: Check out The 10 Best Achilles Stretches For Runners
Can You Still Run With Achilles Tendonitis?
You should always speak to a healthcare professional for advice when you experience a running injury.
In general, a period of rest along with treatment using ice, compression, and elevation is usually recommended.
Once you’re up to running again, it’s important to take steps to prevent the problem from worsening or recurring.
One of those is to make sure that your running shoes are not aggravating the injury.
Features to Look For in the Best Running Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis
The best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis will help you manage the condition by reducing your level of pain and preventing strain on the Achilles tendon.
They should have:
A High Heel-to-Toe Drop
The heel-to-toe drop refers to the difference in height between the shoe’s forefoot and heel.
In general, a high heel-to-toe drop is recommended for runners with Achilles tendonitis as it prevents too much tension in the tendon. This can help keep pain to a minimum as you run.
The best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis are those that have a little stiffness to them, helping keep your feet properly aligned with each stride.
Stability Control (If Needed)
If you overpronate (your foot rolls inwards excessively) then it is especially important to choose running shoes designed for stability.
Studies have shown that Achilles tendonitis is linked to foot pronation and can be prevented by shoes that utilize antipronation technology.
A Rocker Sole May Also Be Useful
A ‘rocker’ style shoe has a curved shape designed to help with the transition from heel to forefoot and propel you forward.
Rocker bottom soles are not for everyone and can take some getting used to. Nevertheless, there is scientific evidence that they can reduce the load on the Achilles tendon and help relieve pain.
The Best Running Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis
#1. Brooks Ghost 15 Running Shoe
– Neutral support, lightweight DNA Loft foam midsole cushioning, and a segmented crash pad
– A great shoe for everyday training
The Ghost is one of the most popular running shoes in the Brooks lineup.
This latest edition is the most comfortable yet, seeming to mold itself effortlessly to your foot and offering the support you need.
The newly updated midsole is made from a lighter version of the DNA Loft foam previously used. Whilst this feels very soft, it’s still responsive enough to put a spring in your step.
The shoe has the same 12-millimeter heel-to-toe drop as its predecessor – helping relieve strain on your Achilles – and the breathable mesh upper is made with 3D Fit Print technology for structured support.
With a pleasantly roomy toe box and an integrated shock absorption system, this is a shoe that promises a smooth ride from landing to toe-off.
#2. ASICS Gel-Kayano 29 Running Shoes
– FF BLAST PLUS midsole cushioning, snug mesh upper, and a new lightweight design
– Best choice for overpronators
Probably the most well-established stability shoe around, the ASICS Gel-Kayano features a traditional medial post and an extended medial external heel counter.
Whilst these provide plenty of stability and guidance, the support is unobtrusive and comfortable.
The upper is made from a soft and supportive recycled knit fabric. This has a sock-like feel and hugs the foot very securely.
This might take a little getting used to at first and doesn’t provide much space in the toe box.
But it does give a locked-down feel and prevents any excess movement of your foot within the shoe.
The 10 mm heel-to-toe drop is sufficient to ease tension on the Achilles tendon, whilst the soft midsole cushioning is lightweight yet still delivers an energized rebound.
We were also impressed by the durability of this shoe. It features an outsole made with AHAR rubber – a material that’s used for car tires and delivers excellent abrasion resistance and grip.
#3. Mizuno Wave Rider 26 Running Shoe
– Stable platform, well-cushioned midsole, and a durable carbon rubber outsole
– Best choice for a wider forefoot
Although this is a neutral running shoe, it does provide some mild stability features.
There is a slight flare in the rearfoot that – along with a wider forefoot – gives a balanced feel.
This is enhanced by Mizuno’s WAVE® plate technology that provides excellent shock absorption, dispersing the energy from impact across a broader area.
At 12 mm it has the high heel-to-toe drop you need to minimize stress in your Achilles tendon, plus it features a slightly stretchy mesh upper for a fit that is both comfortable and sufficiently locked down.
The MIZUNO ENERZY midsole foam cushioning feels slightly firm, giving great energy return and helping propel you forward.
The rigid heel counter and densely padded heel collar prevent your heel from moving around in the shoe, avoiding unnecessary stress on the Achilles and preventing pain.
#4. New Balance 990v5 Running Shoes
– Pigskin and mesh upper, excellent ankle support, and a wide range of sizes and width fittings
– The best ‘classic’ style shoe for Achilles tendonitis
If you love the old-school look and want a durable shoe built for comfort rather than speed, look no further than New Balance’s 990v5.
The 990 has always been a popular shoe with walkers and recreational runners, and this version has a couple of nice new touches. These include a plastic panel for lateral ankle support and an extra roomy toe box.
The shoe also features ENCAP in the midsole, a supportive core of soft cushioning with a tough polyurethane rim for durability.
There is an Ortholite wedge insert in the heel and the overall drop is 12 mm, which will avoid tightening your Achilles.
Versatile enough for daily wear, the 990’s only real downside is its lack of breathability – suede makes up the majority of the upper.
But unless you’re planning on running in very warm conditions, this is a great all-around shoe that will keep you comfortable throughout training and beyond.
#5. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22 Running Shoes
– Updated soft cushioning, Segmented Crash Pad, and a sleek 3D fit print upper
– Best running shoes for Achilles Tendonitis if you have low arches
The Adrenaline 22 is a great shoe for holding your foot in the optimal position for running.
It uses Brooks’ GuideRails technology, designed to reduce excess shin and heel rotation and encourage safe and natural movement.
In fact, Brooks compares this technology to the use of stabilizers on a bike, preventing it from falling too far to one side or the other.
You’ll feel the effects on other parts of your body, too, as this support is also beneficial to your knees and hips.
The 12 mm heel-to-toe drop helps alleviate Achilles pain and the durable upper is made from very breathable and supportive mesh knit.
The heel counter is well padded and stiff, locking your heel securely in place.
Meanwhile, the 100% DNA LOFT cushioning of the midsole ensures a smooth ride. It is soft without being squishy, providing the perfect combination of excellent shock absorption and the responsiveness you need.
#6. HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 8 Running Shoes
– Ortholite® hybrid sockliner, maximum cushioning, and a flared sole for stability
– Best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis with rocker-style
Hoka’s Bondi shoes are some of the best on the market when it comes to cushioning and comfort, but they’ve always tended to be bulky.
With the Bondi 8, however, Hoka seems to have struck just the right balance between padding and style.
This is a shoe that looks streamlined yet still provides all the comfort for which the line is famous!
With an internal heel counter to limit side-to-side movement, the Bondi 8 has a cozy memory foam collar that provides a contoured fit and a wide platform for stability.
The upper has been redesigned to be far more aesthetically pleasing than previous iterations. But the new design has practical benefits too and helps to guide your midfoot and arch as you run.
At just 4 mm the heel-to-toe drop is a fair bit lower than the other shoes in this guide.
The benefit comes instead from the highly rockered geometry, which minimizes the load on the Achilles tendon, calf, and ankle.
The Best Running Shoes for Achilles Tendonitis: Key Takeaways
Achilles tendonitis is a painful injury that can become a chronic problem without proper care.
If you are prone to the condition then it is very important to consider your footwear and make sure you choose shoes that will help relieve your pain rather than aggravate it.
We hope that you have found this list of the best running shoes for Achilles tendonitis useful and you’re soon back to enjoying your runs.
Are You Stretching Your Feet After Running?
We often focus on glute, quad, hamstring, and calf stretches after running. But stretching your feet is important, too, and can help prevent pain and injury.
Learn more in our article about the 10 Best Foot Stretches for Runners