When it comes to shopping for a pair of recovery shoes, runners and athletes alike will need to readily identify the following design features for the best results. If you’re interested in pain relief and injury prevention, choose recovery shoes that feature:
✔️ Ample arch support and sole cushioning. More important than most other design features, the best recovery shoes incorporate more structural support in order to better aid your joints, muscles in your feet and tender ligaments. Padding at the heel (and sometimes at the tip of the shoe, towards the toes) may help you relieve stress on your feet as you naturally roll weight from your heel to toes in each step. You may not wear recovery shoes for as long as you do other running shoes or walking sneakers, but they should feel equally (if not more) supportive as the foundations in the shoes you wear during workouts.
✔️ Size and flexibility. Unlike sneakers or training shoes, experts say recovery shoes should not feel constricting in any way, including along the width of your foot and in the toe area. While padded sole support is key, you should be able to walk as naturally as possible (almost as if you were not wearing shoes at all). Ensuring a good fit on your slides, slip-ons or sandals will help blood flow and circulation in your foot, as well as help relieve any tenderness in your feet after a tough workout.
✔️ Breathability. Most of the best recovery shoes promote airflow in one way or another, to ensure any sweat or moisture retained during a workout can effectively dissipate after you leave the gym. Whether that’s through intentional design features — like a perforated vamp or cutouts, or the use of airy materials, like mesh — it’s important to keep your feet cool and dry.
✔️ Durability. While you should never wear recovery shoes while doing strenuous activities like running, biking, hiking or playing intramural sports, they are often worn outside and should be able to stand up to the elements. Look for textured outsoles (the bottoms of the shoe) that provide good grip and the use of high-quality materials to ensure these shoes last.
✔️ Style: There is a myriad of recovery shoe styles that you can choose from, all built with similar support structures in the sole and toe regions. Think about whether you’d like to walk in slides or sandals, if you’d prefer a slip-on sneaker or even a more enclosed mule, which provides more coverage from the elements when outside.