By Paul Freary
When fitting running shoes for people suffering from plantar fasciitis, I am always sure to recommend strengthening the tendon in the first instance. It’s been my experience that people who follow a course of strengthening exercises usually show the best signs of improvement. Take a look at my top 5 Brooks shoes suitable for plantar fasciitis.
What Causes Plantar Fasciitis?
The causes of plantar fasciitis are not very clear but several risk factors are associated with the condition. These include obesity, an increase in exercise (or general workload) and over-pronation.
Research now shows that inflammation plays little role in the condition and many believe the condition would be better described as plantar fasciosis.
Everday running, Support
286g / 10.1oz
258g / 9.1oz
DNA Loft v2 cushioning
Max Cushion, Support
298g / 10.5oz
258g / 9.1oz
DNA Loft v3 - Nitro foam
346g / 12.2oz
314g / 11.1oz
244g / 8.6oz
221g / 7.8oz
286g / 10.1oz
258g / 9.1oz
DNA Loft v3 - Nitro foam
Footwear Selection for Plantar Fasciitis
Plantar fasciitis can be a very painful condition so the choice of footwear is important. Cushioning, support and comfort are important considerations when selecting shoes to help when suffering from the condition.
Best Brooks Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
1. Brooks Glycerin GTS 20 - Most Cushioned Running Shoe
Offering the brand’s best cushioning in the form of DNA Loft v3 nitro-infused foam, the Glycerin GTS 20 provides a great combination of support and comfort, be it for daily training or all-day use. It’s one of the brand’s most popular models and one which I recommend almost daily to those suffering with plantar fasciitis.
Brooks' support comes from their GuideRail system. One of the contributing factors of plantar fasciitis is overpronation and this model reduces the strain on the tendon by elevating the heel (10mm heel-to-toe drop) and controlling excessive pronation.
The GuideRail system is an extension of the midsole cushioning that wraps up, around both the lateral and medial side of the rear of the foot. Acting like the kid's rails at a bowling alley which help keep the ball in the lane, they help keep the foot central within the cushioning of the shoe. This provides general support and helps reduce excessive pronation in the arch.
The DNA Loft v3 midsole is a nitrogen-infused midsole material. The use of nitrogen rather than air creates a more responsive, cushioned feel that’s also very durable.
The overall fit of the Glycerin is a little roomier than the Adrenaline GTS 23 (below) thanks to a different engineered mesh upper construction which tends to have a little more natural stretch to it.
The Glycerin GTS 20 is a shoe I run in myself and I find the upper is very plush with the soft engineered mesh, generous padding throughout and a very breathable feel to the construction.
2. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 23 - Best All Rounder Running Shoe
While the Glycerin GTS provides the brand’s range-topping cushioning technology, the Adrenaline GTS features exactly the same support in the form of the GuideRail and is, in fact, the brand’s best-selling shoe in this category.
Being at a slightly lower price point as well as a longer established model, the Adrenaline GTS 23 is Brooks’ most popular support category shoe, offering a great combination of cushioning and control.
Cushioning comes from the DNA Loft v2 midsole and is the same as that found on the equally popular Ghost model.
DNA Loft v2 is a compression moulded EVA-based material and gives a soft, smooth ride that’s great for everyday miles.
A 12mm heel-to-toe drop helps reduce the stretch on the plantar fascia tendon as well as that on the Achilles, soleus and calf muscles.
The Guiderails once again keep any excessive pronation under control and contribute to a very stable ride. The effectiveness of the GuideRail system also works well in providing general stability to the knee, making this system a great ‘go-to-support’ choice.
When I recommend running shoes, I always find the Adrenaline GTS to be a very safe option. I find the manner in which the GuideRails function works well for a wide range of runners.
As always, being a Brooks, the upper is a great quality construction and is available in wide fittings as well as a wide range of colours, including plain black, making the Adrenaline a good choice of work shoe as well.
I’ve probably worn the Adrenaline for the last 10 years and even today I have a pair in my shoe rotation that I’ll reach for a couple of times a week.
I find the shoe reliable and durable, it does a great job and I think it represents great value too.
3. Brooks Addiction GTS 15 - Best for Heavier Runners
Weight can be a contributing factor in the cause of plantar fasciitis and of course, exercise will help, so finding a suitable shoe to work out in is the first port of call.
The DNA cushioning found in the Addiction GTS 15 is slightly firmer than the other shoes featured here, but in being so it provides a very stable and durable support for the heavier runner.
The GuideRail support system features in much the same way as the other shoes featured here, except in this model the shoe features a straighter last. The last is the over shape of the shoe, the amount of curve it features from the heel through to the toes.
Generally speaking, running shoes have a slightly curved last. This curve encourages the foot to gently roll inwards quicker, perfect for running.
A straighter lasted shoe will resist a little inward roll of the foot and provide a little more control.
The straighter last of the Addiction, combined with the GuideRails makes for a generally more supportive shoe that works well for the heavier runner.
In my experience of fitting footwear and in particular running shoes, I’ve gained a great deal of experience in understanding how different shoes work for different people. For the heavier runner that needs support, the Addiction is a great shoe. But at the same time, I find the lighter runners may find this shoe a little too bulky or heavy.
As with any shoe, I feel specific shoes work best in specific scenarios for specific people. I’d always say try a shoe before you buy.
Elsewhere, the shoe is the same high quality as we’d expect from Brooks and features a breathable mesh upper and an extremely comfortable fit that once again, is available in width fittings to accommodate more foot shapes.
For faster-paced running, tempo efforts or speed work sessions on the road, the Launch GTS, as the name suggests helps you Launch into a different gear. Well, it certainly helps me!
While the shoe doesn’t fall into the ‘super shoe’ category, it is lightweight and helps provide a faster feel when running.
The Launch reminds me of a road racing shoe of the past generation (around 5 years ago), pre-carbon plates. It features a regular EVA-based, Brooks DNA midsole foam and the same GTS GuideRail support system as featured in the other shoes mentioned here.
Faster riding shoes traditionally have lacked support or control in order to keep weight to a minimum and there is a non-support version of the Launch 10 available.
I’d recommend the Launch to those wanting a light shoe to use during their weekly workout schedule, the Launch GTS 10 provides that all-important support in a lightweight package.
5. Brooks Glycerin 20 - Maximum Cushioned Running Shoe
For some people, they may be suffering from plantar fasciitis without any signs of overpronation or need for control from a shoe. In this case, simply great cushioning and a shoe with an elevated heel may be the best place to go.
With its 10mm heel-to-toe drop and the same great cushioning as the Glycerin GTS 20, the ‘regular’ version of the Glycerin is a great choice.
Featuring the DNA Loft v3 nitrogen-infused midsole, I think the cushioning is second to none in terms of shock-absorbing quality and general comfort.
Elsewhere the shoe remains exactly the same in both the regular and GTS options, so features the same, plush upper and generous fit in the forefoot.
As I’ve mentioned previously, I am fortunate to own my own running store and be able to try lots of different shoes. I like to keep a pair of Glycerin on hand myself for those training runs following a race or hard session. I find the soft, plush cushioning the perfect antidote for tired legs.
As with all injuries, it’s best to seek appropriate medical advice in the first instance, as well as reduce your exercise workload in the early stages of any injury.
Appropriate strength, conditioning and stretches are always a good consideration when dealing with plantar fascia heel pain.