Work Boots for Plantar Fasciitis | Are Red Wing the Best Steel Toe Boots for Heel Pain?

According to the Mayo Clinic, plantar fasciitis–the inflammation of the thick layer of tissue that connects your heel to your toes–is one of the most common causes of heel pain. Severe cases of plantar fasciitis cause searing pain each time you step. This can be debilitating and can also lead to other foot and back problems caused by an unusual gait. Our top 3 work boots for plantar fasciitis, all meet ASTM standards for safety shoes. They provide lots of cushioning and support to lessen the stress on the plantar fasci tendon, and allow for comfortable walking and standing.

Updated March 2020 by Maya

work boots for plantar fasciitis

You’re susceptible to plantar fasciitis if you’re overweight or if you regularly stress your plantar fasci with strenuous exercise like long-distance running or ballet dancing.

You’re also at risk if you are a construction worker, logger, ironworker welding or anyone else who spends most of the work day on your feet.  Age and foot problems, like very high arches or flat feet, also tend to increase your susceptibility to plantar fasciitis.

In a Hurry? The Top Pick:

Wolverine Direct-Attach, Read on to find out why.


Comparison Chart

Waterproof
Safety Toe Features
Caterpillar Diagnostic Boot
Yes Steel Steel Shank
Thinsulate Insulated
shock-, slip-resistant
View
Red Wing Supersole Boot
Resistant Steel EH-hazard protection
11” Pull-on Style
Steel Shank
Made in USA
View
Wolverine Direct-Attach Boot
Resistant Steel Nylon Shank
Padded heel
Full cushion insole
View

Key Features 

A removable insole

is a critical feature if you suffer from plantar fasciitis.

If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, you really must have a padded insole that cushions your foot, prevents further tears of the plantar fasci, and lessens the pain.

However, even a quality insole will wear out and need to be replaced before the upper and outsole of your work shoe. (Manufacturers suggest that insoles be replaced every 7-12 months.) You need to be able to replace the worn insole without facing the expense of replacing the entire work boot. 

Severe plantar fasciitis pain

If your plantar fasciitis pain is severe, you may need to purchase an over-the-counter insert for your work boot. These are available from virtually any shoe and boot manufacturer. Timberland, Keen and Wolverine all make replacement inserts that get good reviews and are cut-to-fit.

The cut-to-fit feature means that these insoles are compatible with nearly any brand of work boot. You simply remove the insole from your work boot, carefully trim the insert to match the original insole, and insert the replacement into your boot.

Dr. Scholl’s also produces a line of cut-to-fit insoles. Their inserts designed specifically for plantar fasciitis are top-rated and affordable. They are also cut-to-fit, and, therefore, can be used in virtually any brand of work boot.

For extreme cases of plantar fasciitis, you may need to purchase orthotics in order to cure the inflammation and get complete relief from pain. Orthotics are classified as medical devices. They require a doctor’s prescription and are more expensive to purchase. 

Padding & Shock absorption

If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, look for a work boot with lots of padding and shock absorption.

The biggest symptom of plantar fasciitis is searing heel pain caused by a tear (or tears) in the large tendon along the bottom of the foot. When the tearing occurs, the tendon gets inflamed and tells you something’s wrong by sending shock waves of pain through your heel, especially when you rise in the morning or after you’ve been stationary at points during the day.

The best men’s work boots for plantar fasciitis feature lots of padding to minimize the stress on your inflamed tendon. They further protect your heel from the pounding and pressure it faces when you walk or stand. 

Our 3 favorite work boots for heel pain all feature padded insoles as well as padding along the heel. One includes a padded heel cup. All 3 also support the whole underside of the foot in order to cushion the entire plantar fasci tendon and promote healing. 

Special features of your feet

Choose a work shoe with features that match the special features of your feet. 

Considering your feet is always a good idea, but it’s essential if you are dealing with–or prone to–plantar fasciitis. If your foot is narrow and has a high arch, for example, you may need a lace up shoe with a moc toe and a non slip lining to keep your foot from sliding around in the shoe.

If your feet are prone to sweat, you’ll probably benefit from a leather shoe with a breathable lining. Wearing good-fitting and comfortable work shoes is one of the best things you can do to prevent an outbreak—or recurrence—of plantar fasciitis.

The top 3 work boots for plantar fasciitis

Our top 3 steel toe boots for the heel pain of plantar fasciitis exhibit some unique features and some shared characteristics. They all have an actual steel safety toe, not a composite toe that would be more lightweight.

They all lack a met guard; none of them is puncture resistant. You’ll need to consider a different boot if metatarsal protection is an absolute requirement. However, all of these rank well in overall customer satisfaction. Here’s how they compare in regard to the features they provide. 

Caterpillar Diagnostic Steel-Toe Boot

Caterpillar’s Diagnostic Waterproof Steel-Toe Work Boot combines rugged durability with lots of padding and a contoured shock-absorbing insole to lessen the pain of plantar fasciitis. With a waterproof coating and a Thinsulate lining, this boot keeps your feet warm, dry and comfortable, even in winter weather. Nearly 80% of purchasers say that this boot fits as they expected it to do.

PROS

  • Anatomically correct footbed
  • Least expensive of the 3

CONS

  • No EH rating 
  • Imported 
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Red Wing Supersole 11” Pull-on Boot

Red Wing’s Supersole 11” Pull-on is a classic boot with a steel toe and a cowboy look. For extra comfort, the boot features a molded arch and a low-profile heel cup. This boot also has a defined 1” heel and comes in widths from B-EE. As long as you don’t require a fully-waterproof boot, this pull-on has what you need

PROS

  • Low-profile heel cups
  • Molded arch 
  • Made in USA

CONS

  • Most expensive of the 3 
  • Limited purchase outlets 
  • Water resistant, not waterproof
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Wolverine SR Direct-Attach Boot 

The Wolverine SR Direct-Attach 6” Work Boot marries a patented moisture-wicking lining with lots of padding in the insole and outsole to produce a comfortable work boot that gets some of the best customer satisfaction ratings. It’s not EH rated or fully waterproof, but is a rugged work boot that 90% of purchasers say fits as it should. 

PROS

  • Mesh lining that wicks foot moisture 
  • Heavily cushioned insole 
  • Shock absorbing pads in the outsole

CONS

  • Water resistant, but waterproof
  • Imported
  • No EH rating
Check Price and Reviews on Amazon

Customer Impression

Does being “made in USA” make a difference?

The Red Wing boot is made in America. The Wolverine boot was originally US-made, but is now made in China. Caterpillar footwear has traditionally been imported.

The Red Wing boot we like gets very high ratings. This is not necessarily because they are in made in the US. The comments are about the boot’s quality. The Caterpillar boot also gets generally very good reviews, The Wolverine boot also rates very high in customer satisfaction overall—but with one caveat. The customers who purchased Wolverine boots years ago—when they were made in the USA—consistently noted that the “old” boots were better quality. Some said the imported boots were very cheap quality, and not worthy of the Wolverine brand name.

What do customers like most about these boots?

By far the best aspect of these 3 pairs of boots for plantar fasciitis is that they are comfortable. Reviewers in fields as diverse as welding, electrical, heathcare, HVAC, commercial remodeling and farming all raved about the comfort of these boots. Multiple customers who purchased one of these boots said they were the most comfortable boots ever.

At least one purchaser of the Caterpillar Men’s Diagnostic Waterproof Steel-Toe Work Boot and the Wolverine Mens SR Direct-Attach 6″ Work Boot claimed that the boot actually relieved heel pain that had been plaguing them. Several customers mentioned the padded and contoured footpad. The boots provided good support and are worn comfortably even for long days on the job.

Customers also appreciate the durability of these work boots. The leather uppers on these boots wear very well. Several boot owners noted that the boots lasted for several years. Their appearance is still good, especially with regular cleaning and conditioning the leather. 

Several purchasers noted that 1) they simply re-soled the boots when the soles wore out rather than replacing the entire boot. Others purchased new boots through their work program because the soles were shot. The leather uppers were in great shape.

Steel toe boots for plantar fasciitis

Do the 3 work boots fit equally well?

All 3 boots have actual steel toes, but offer different features and different styling. These differences in styling account for some differences in fit among the 3 boots. The Red Wing slip on is generally roomier, especially around the ankle. 

More than 1 commenter indicated that this boot also runs large. The Wolverine boot earned the highest “fit as expected” rating at 90%. Most customers who commented, said the boot fit well. Recent feedback regarding size indicates that the Wolverine boot now runs a bit smaller than it used to.

The Caterpillar boot has a thicker sole, a rubber covering over the steel toe, and a more rugged appearance. Over ¾ of the reviewers said that the Caterpillar boot fit them as expected.

One person noted that the steel toe made for a more crowded fit in the toe area, but that the boot was still very comfortable. And, while most people praised this boot’s waterproof finish, a few said that the waterproofing didn’t last as expected.  

Overall, these steel toe boots for plantar fasciitis are comfortable and will support your painful feet.

Conclusion

People who suffer from plantar fasciitis need a work boot that emphasizes comfort and provides lots of cushioning and support. All 3 of our top boots provide comfort, cushioning and support. In my view, the Wolverine Men’s SR Direct-Attach 6″ Work Boot excels in all 3 critical areas and also meets the vast majority of its customers’ expectations regarding fit.

If you are willing to pay almost twice the price for American-made work boots for plantar fasciitis, the Red Wing Men’s Supersole 11” Pull on Boot is an excellent option. If you would like similar features and styling as the Red Wing Supersole, but at a lower price, Irish Settler’s Mens 8” Steel Toe Work Boot is worth considering. It is an imported boot, however. 

Are Red Wing work boots suitable for plantar fasciitis?

If you suffer from plantar fasciitis, you’ll find that Red Wing offer several men’s work boots for plantar fasciitis. The Heritage Men’s Classic Moc 6″ Boot is an “Amazon’s Choice” that features a slip resistant wedge sole, Norwegian welt construction and a waterproof leather upper.

The Classic Moc is stylish and available in several colors, including black. The 8” version of the Classic Moc Boot has similar styling, but offers a rubber sole. 

In the Red Wing Heritage Men’s Iron Ranger 6″ Vibram Boot, you find the same leather construction and comfortable insole, but in a square toe boot with a defined heel and a vibram sole. The Iron Ranger boot provides extra toe room and comes in a variety of colors. These Red Wing work boots for plantar fasciitis are suitable for long hours on your feet.

However, most people suffering from heel pain make sure to steer clear from barefoot type shoes or cowboy boots without removable insoles. Wellington boots are more comfortable than you think and are worth considering as long as you add your specialised insert.

What are some of the best work boots for heel pain?

Nearly every boot manufacturer has one or more work boots that provide cushioning, support and comfort to help you manage heel pain.

Here are some of the best boots from a variety of companies, featuring an array of features and styles, and in varying price points. Many of these companies also produce womens work boots and are clearly some of the best work boots for heel pain. What about Merrell? Well read all about Plantar Fasciitis and Merrell here.

  • Timberland PRO Men’s Gridworks Moc Soft Toe Waterproof Industrial Boot
  • Thorogood Men’s American Heritage 6″ Emperor Toe, MAXWear Wedge Composite Safety Toe Boot
  • Danner Men’s Bull Run Moc Toe Work Boot
  • Irish Setter Men’s 6″ 83605 Work Boot
  • ARIAT Men’s Groundbreaker Pull-on Steel Toe Work Boot
  • KEEN Utility – Men’s Braddock Mid (Steel Toe) Waterproof Leather Work Boot
  • Carolina® Men’s 8″ Steel Toe Loggers Boot
  • DH DieHard Men’s SureTrack 8″ Soft Toe Work Boot
  • Skechers Men’s Verdict Men’s Boot
  • Carhartt Men’s 6 Work Soft Toe NWP Work Boot
  • Nike Air Max Goadome Boot

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