Rocker soles on shoes have been shown in a number of studies (some listed below) to substantially relieve pain associated with a variety of foot problems. Depending on where the rocker is placed on the shoe, it can provide different benefits.
Video: Using Rocker Soled Shoes to Treat Foot Pain
Types of Rockers Soles
Forefoot Rocker Sole: A rocker placed just behind the metatarsal heads is very effective at reducing pressure under the ball of the foot and reducing motion in the toe joints. Thus we use it for treating hallux limitus (big toe arthritis) and ball-of-foot pain.
Heel to Toe Rocker Sole: As you can see in the picture, this type of rocker sole has the thickest point farther back on the shoe. This type of rocker shoe can be effective for limiting ankle and midfoot motion. Thus, it is helpful when a patient has ankle arthritis or midfoot arthritis. It also can reduce force on the heel at heel strike, as the foot rolls faster off of the heel.
How Do You Get a Rocker Sole on Your Shoe?
There are several ways to get rocker bottom soles on your shoes:
- We can write a prescription to have a rocker sole added to a shoe.
- You can buy a shoe with a rocker sole.
- You can achieve some, but not all, of the benefits of a rocker sole by using a “turf toe plate“ in your shoe. This is a steel or graphite plate put in the shoe to limit toe motion. The graphite is stiffer than the steel plate.
Prescription for a Rocker Sole
We can write a prescription to have a rocker added to many types of shoes – including running shoes and women’s dress shoes. Once we write the prescription we will refer you to skilled shoe technicians in the Seattle area to have the work done on your shoes. Contact us for an appointment to discuss a rocker shoe prescription.
Our Recommended Rocker Sole Shoes
Some shoes come with rocker soles built-in. In fact, it became a bit of a fad a few years ago brands like MBT and Sketchers were marketing rocker soled shoes as “fitness shoes” and claiming they will strengthen your muscles just by wearing them. Most of those companies were sued for making false claims and are now out of business.
There are, however, some shoes on the market with rocker soles that are quite effective. PW Minor makes a number of rocker soled shoes. Hoka makes some good running shoes with rocker technology and Dansko offers particularly good rockers for people with ball-of-foot pain and big toe joint pain. Listed below are brands that we recommend to our patients that come with built-in rocker soles.
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Best Running and Walking Shoe with Rocker Sole
Hoka One One: The best running and exercise walking shoes with a rocker sole. Excellent for runners with heel pain or ball of foot pain. Hoka shoes also include extra cushioning under heel and forefoot. These shoes are, however, less stable than some athletic shoes because of their thick sole so should not be used for side-to-side sports such as tennis or basketball. They also make great rocker soled shoes for trail running and day hiking.
Best Running and Walking Shoe with Rocker Sole for Wide Feet
Altra Olympus: The best running and exercise walking shoes with a rocker sole for people with wide feet. Excellent for runners who need more cushion or have ball of foot pain. Altra shoes have a zero drop, which means heel and forefoot at the same level, no heel lift. If you have a tight heel cord you may want to try these with a heel lift. These shoes are made for runners and walkers. They are used by triathletes and ultra-marathoners but also good for daily walking.
New Balance 928: The New Balance 928 comes in widths up to 6E in addition to having a generous toe box and an excellent forefoot rocker. Probably the best rocker walking shoe we have seen for people with wide feet. Because this is a “forefoot rocker” shoe, it works best for people with pain under the ball of the foot and in the big toe joint. Also great for those with hammertoes and bunions. See the New Balance 928 here.
Best Dress and Casual Shoes with Rocker Soles
Dansko: Most Dansko clogs and shoes have an excellent forefoot rocker. They are a great choice for people with bunions and other big toe joint problems and also for those with ball of foot pain. Dansko shoes used to be quite clunky, but now they have many models that are quire attractive. You can see a selection of Dansko shoes here.
Best Rocker Shoes for People with Hard to Fit Feet
New Balance Fresh Foam More: New Balance is know to have more widths and sizes than most brands making it easier to find a shoe that fits. The Fresh Foam More from New Balance has several widths along with a rocker sole.
If you have arthritis in the ankle or the middle or back portion of your foot, then a shoe with a “midfoot rocker” tends to work best to decrease pain in those regions. This is a rocker that is place just forward of the ankle joint and does the best job at limiting motion in those painful joints. The MBT, Gravity Defyer and the Sketcher Shape-ups have a midfoot rocker and work well for these problems. Both of these shoes are a bit unstable in the heel, so if you have any instability we recommend the Hoka One One instead. They are a bit more of a forefoot rocker, which may not provide as much motion reduction in the ankle, but they are much more stable shoes.
Alegria: Our patients have had great success with Alegria. Not only do they have an excellent rocker sole, most of their sandals also have a removable insole so that we can make a custom orthotic to go in the sandal. If you want us to make a custom orthotic for the sandal, buy the the sandal first. We will then send the sandal to the orthotic lab with the image of your foot and our prescription to have an orthotic made to specially fit the sandal. See a selection of Alegria sandals here.
El Naturalista Boot: This stylish boot has a thick crepe rubber sole that is very stiff in the forefoot. In addition it has a removable foot bed that makes it a great choice for orthotic wearers. It comes in only one width, but it fits relatively wide. It has a side panel elastic that makes it easy to slide on and off. See the El Naturalista Boot here.
Hoka Hiking Boot: The Hoka hiking boots are the best midweight rocker hikers we have found. We recommend them regularly to our patients and have had great feedback. It’s waterproof and has a high-traction outersole. It has a “metatarsal rocker” which is the best type of rocker for people with pain under the ball of the foot and in the big toe joint. An excellent choice for hikers who would benefit from rocker soles to reduce foot and ankle pain. See the Hoka hikers here.
Earthies Boots: Earthies makes some of the best fashionable yet healthy women’s shoes on the market. Not only do their shoes generally have excellent arch supports but many come with exceptional rocker technology in the soles. Higher fashion shoes and boots that have rocker soles do so by using a platform on the forefoot. If you are looking for a great looking high heel boot with a rocker the Earthies Ferrera boot is the best we have found.
Earthies Sandals: Earthies also makes a number of fashionable sandals with a forefoot platform rocker sole. More than any other brand of fashion shoe, Earthies tends to be very thoughtful about incorporating features which advance foot health and improve comfort. They obviously are not going to be as good for your feet as a running shoe, but they are still the best fashionable sandals to minimize foot problems.
Platform Pumps – Various Brands: Who would have thought? Pumps are the shoe type with the greatest amount of choice in manufactures. This is because platforms are popular now in fashionable pumps and by definition a platform happens to be a rocker. We again really like Earthies pumps because not only do they have a great rocker but in general Earthies fit women’s feet better than most dress shoes. So first check out the Earthies pumps, but also you can see many other choices of pumps wtih rockers here.
Video: Hoka Technology Including Rocker