Score a pair of doctor-approved kicks to keep your feet healthy all season long.
Summer means grilling, the beach, and sandals. And although it’s always fun to kick your heavy winter boots aside, sandals are not the most foot-friendly shoes to be wearing. Besides the lack of support and blister-causing straps, sandals can also be easier to trip in, leading to bumps, bruises, or something worse, like rolled ankles and broken toes.
Luckily, there are plenty of supportive and stylish sandals out there. “There are many companies that have started making much better sandals,” Dr. Howard Osterman, a Washington, D.C.-based podiatrist, tells Health. “People have gotten much less formal and perform increased activities with less supportive shoes. The companies have caught on to this and have started designing better sandals.” We reached out to top podiatrists across the country to get the scoop on what they personally wear and recommend to their patients.
The most comfortable sandals to buy in 2021
- Best Overall: Birkenstock Arizona Soft Footbed Sandal
- Best Wedges: Vionic Amy Wedge Espadrille Sandal
- Best With Strap: Naot Footwear Kayla Sandal
- Best With Arch Support: Therafit Eva Leather Adjustable Strap Slip-on Sandal
- Best Flip Flops: OluKai U’I Sandal
- Best With Memory Foam: Aetrex Jillian Quarter Strap Sandal
- Best for Walking: Chaco Z/Cloud 2 Sandals
- Best for Flat Feet: Timberland Santorini Sun 2 Ankle Strap
- Best for Plantar Fasciitis: FitFlop Iqushion Flip-Flop
- Best for Pregnancy: Birkenstock Gizeh Sandal
- Best Stylish: Sofft Casidy Wedge Sandal
- Best Flats: Seychelles Speechless Slide Sandal
- Best Budget: Rockport Briah Perf Sling Wedge
How to Make Sure Your Sandals Are Comfortable
Shoe enthusiasts know that no two sandals are the same. When shopping for a new sandal, New York City-based podiatrist Dr. Miguel Cunha, DPM, recommends taking extra time to make sure that you’ve found the right size. “You should try on shoes at the end of the day to ensure a more accurate fit,” he tells Health. “A lot of times, people buy their sandals at the beginning of the day when your body is in equilibrium and when their feet are in their smallest state, compared to the end of the day when gravity has pulled all the fluid down and feet are most swollen. So, if the sandal fits well at the end of the day it is most likely to feel comfortable throughout the day.”
He also suggests paying close attention to details such as the width, heel height, and strength of the arch to guarantee comfort. “The sandal should have somewhat of a slight heel less than ¾ inches in relation to the front because it takes the stress off the achilles, which can help with the alignment of your posture, ankles, knees, and spine,” he explains. “Also ensure that the sandal is wide enough in the forefoot but also that the straps are not too loose to avoid injury. Make sure the sandal is also not flimsy in the middle. If it bends easily, then you are not getting adequate support in the arch and you will get foot pain such as arch pain and heel pain.”
And, as a general rule of thumb, Dr. Cunha recommends avoiding flip-flops whenever possible. He adds, “You don't want a sandal where your toes are contracting similar to flip-flops. At every step your foot is exercising to hold on to the sandals, and over time it can cause foot pain, or imbalance issues.”
Ready to shop? Below, explore the most comfortable sandals that come recommended by experts. They also have thousands of glowing reviews on Amazon, Zappos, and Nordstrom.