The Best Running Shoe for Ankle Problems Depends on What Ankle Problem You Have

The best running shoe for bad ankles will depend first on what kind of ankle problem you have. There are three primary ankle problems that we commonly see in our practice for which the correct shoe can be helpful in reducing symptoms and I will provide recommendations for a specific running shoe for each of these problems. Those problems are:

  • Unstable ankles (ankles prone to sprains)
  • Ankles that are painful due to arthritis in the ankle
  • Ankles that are painful because of an overpronated (flat) foot

Shoes are Just a Part of an Overall Treatment Plan

Before we go further, however, I want to make clear that while the correct shoe can help reduce symptoms associated with ankle conditions, it is rare that a shoe alone will eliminate these conditions. In most cases the shoe is simply a part of an overall treatment plan that might include rehabilitation exercises, proper orthotics or arch supports, training modifications, shoes and other treatments.  Below I will recommend specific shoes and arch supports, but if you try these and don’t have relief within a couple weeks, then be sure to see a sports medicine oriented podiatrist near you. If you are in the Seattle area make an appointment to see us.

Understand that while I recommend the shoes below on a regular basis with good success, no shoe works for everyone.  Also, here’s an important disclosure about the products recommended in this article.

The Best Running Shoes for Unstable Ankles

If you have an ankle that is prone to sprains then you likely have a condition called chronic lateral ankle instability and it should be treated in a comprehensive manner.

When looking for running shoes for an unstable ankle, you need to find a shoe that is stable on the outside (the lateral side). If a shoe is firm laterally then it is less likely to allow your foot to collapse to the inside and can help prevent lateral ankle sprains.

My current favorite running shoe for prevention of ankle sprains is the New Balance 1080 series. The 1080 is Best running shoes for unstable anklescushioned on the inside but firmer on the outside of the midsole to help prevent the ankle from going over.  Whether you’ve had a previous injury or if your ankles are “prone to twist or give way,” the best running shoe protects, provides balance, and keeps the ankle area stable.

In addition to a running shoe with lateral stability, a number of studies have shown that the use of stable arch supports can improve ankle stability. The arch support we recommend most for lateral stability is the FootChair Plus Orthotic Not only is it the most stable OTC arch support we have found but it is also includes arch pads to allow for a customized arch fit  which provides increased stability for people with unstable ankles.

The Best Running Shoe for Ankle Arthritis

If you have arthritis is the ankle, be sure to get a doctor’s ok before running on it.

If you are going to run, however, the role of a running shoe should be to reduce force through the joint by providing exceptional cushioning when your foot hits the ground and by limiting ankle joint motion with the use of a rocker sole.

My favorite running shoes, by far, for ankle arthritis are currently from Hoka One One. They have three models of Hoka One Cushioning and Rockerrunning shoes that provide an excellent rocker shoe (as shown in the picture).

Some Hoka shoes do not have this rocker so it is critical that you get the correct model. Make sure that the forefoot does not bend when you push on the front of the shoe. As of winter 2017 the following models have a rigid rocker. Other models may also, but check to make sure. You can use the links to see the running shoe for ankle arthritis

The Best Running Shoes for Ankle Pain Due to Flat Feet

If your foot is excessively flat, the rolling in of the ankle that occurs in this situation can put a tremendous amount of stress on the ankle. In this situation you will need a running shoe that helps to limit the excessive pronation.

Our favorite running shoe for runners with flat feet and ankle pain is the Brooks Addiction. Although improbest running shoe for ankle pain due to flat feetved a bit every year, the Addition has  been around for nearly two decades and is a well-proven shoe for those who pronate excessively.

If your ankle pain is secondary to having an over-pronated foot, you will also need to use an arch support inside the shoe. Our favorite support for powerstep widerunners with very flat feet is the PowerStep Wide Orthotic. People with flat feet tend to have wider feet also and this is the only over-the-counter support we have found that has both adequate arch support and adequate width for flat feet.

Depending on the severity of your flat feet you may need custom orthotics to eliminate your ankle pain. You can learn about orthotics for flat feet here.

For a complete evaluation of your ankle pain and a plan to eliminate it, contact us for an appointment in our Seattle clinic.

Download Our List of Recommended Shoes

No shoe works for every person. For a more complete list of our currently best reviewed running shoes you can download our shoe list. It has just recently been updated with the best shoe choices in most of the major brands for people with bad ankles


Dr. Larry Huppin
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21 thoughts on “Best Running Shoes for Bad Ankles

  1. There’s a 4th condition.
    High arches, leading to a tendency to roll outward.
    Source: a podiatrist who worked on an avulsion fracture of mine.
    I need a shoe cheated the other way….

    1. This is a great question – with a frustrating answer. There are hundreds of shoes designed to help people who are over pronated and who roll in too much. But there are essentially no shoes meant for those with high arches and who roll out too much. I often prescribe shoe modifications for these patients and will have a cobbler modify the shoe to make it more stable laterally. For now the New Balance shoe on this page is the best we have found. It is a very frustrating issue, however.

    2. i have the same problem sometimes but i have sprained the exact same ankle 2 times.
      I have 1 question are Nike shoes okay for ankles

      1. Depends on what the ankle problem is and what model of shoe. There are both too many potential ankle conditions and too many models of Nike shoes to answer that question. Sorry.

  2. I am a caterer and no matter what shoe I wear my ankles get swollen And become very painful i need a pair of shoe that add comfort and look great For work

  3. I had a 3rd metatarsal fracture at the base. It’s been 6 months and I’m still not totally healed. I am having trouble finding a sneaker that is comfortable and supportive. Any suggestions?

    1. Base fractures have more force on them that can interfere with healing. I can’t give specific information, but the most important thing I tell my patients when they come out of their walking boot is to always have arch support in their shoes. Not a single step without arch support for at least 6 months. You can see our recommended arch supports here. I also tell these patients that a shoe with a rocker sole</a> can be helpful at reducing force on the metatarsals.

  4. I shattered my right ankle years ago leaving me with multiple screws and a steel plate that runs up the outside of my leg. The good news is I can walk without noticeable limping 95% of the time. Bad news is I now pronate that foot and have an ankle that is 1 1/2 inches bigger that the other. Not to mention that I had to get rid of all my heels. 🙁 I can’t run anymore but I walk very fast on the treadmill. Most athletic shoes don’t work for me because they come up too high and tight around my bad ankle. Very painful. I found a few Mary Jane type athletic shoes that have worked ok but they do not correct the pronation problem and those styles (with the appropriate support) are becoming very hard to find. Since I also have an extremely high instep, I usually require a wide width in any shoe that covers the top of my foot. My current workout shoes are wearing out fast and I don’t know what to do. Any ideas?

    1. This is too involved to try to give advice online. You need to see a podiatrist who specializes in conservative treatment and orthotic therapy to get a complete evaluation, diagnosis and treatment plan.

  5. hi there I was born with club feet ….. but my ankle on the left side is always sore on a days work …. even when its my first day back at work … I work as a housekeeper … is there any shoes that will be prefect for me to wear so I dont limp around as much as I usually do

  6. What if I have flat feet but my ankles supinate? The outside edges of my shoes always wear first, starting at the heels. I have had multiple high ankle sprains and two fractures because of this. Any suggestions?

      1. Thank you for the link. Two questions; Do you still recommend the Ossur brace as the best ankle brace? Do you have a recommendation for a top foot and ankle doc in the DFW area?

        BTW, the outside edge wear of my shoes is fairly extreme, and all of my injuries have been from supination.

  7. Hi. I have a very high arch and developed a lateral Achilles bursitis that flares up after running. It getting chronic. Lots of calf stretching helps. But it keeps coming back. I was wondering I’d a shoes with ankle support would help.

  8. Hi! Great article!
    I had a ligament injury when i fell and sprained my foot. many months since the ankle is still not so strong, still aches when i walk on hard surfaces like concrete. Doctor advised a high ankle shoe which wont allow my ankle to roll a lot. (small foot at 23.5cms, narrow and a low arch but not flat) but I havent been able to find one that really does the job. Can you recommend what kind I should go for? Thanks!

  9. In addition to a more stable running shoe, can you recommend a good ankle brace that works in conjunction with the running shoe, but is light weight and not too bulky? I seem to remember Michael Chang (tennis player) used to have braces on both ankles for just the stop the turning of his ankles.

  10. Hi,
    I lost significant amount of cartilage in my right ankle from a leg-breaking fall some years ago, so that it hurts if I run too much. But I am fit and want to have a reasonably competitive running shoe that will maintain my ankle from impact to the greatest extent possible, both in the short term and to avoid arthiritis in the longer term. My concern with a shoe like the Hoka is that it may significantly impair performance. Is this right and can you recommend a particular shoe that offers good shock absorbency and as reasonably good performance?

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