Why This Podiatrist Loves Hoka Shoes for Foot Health
This doctor recommends these walking shoes to patients...but they're also her go-to, everyday shoes.
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Sometimes, you have to sacrifice fashion for function. If you’re in the market for a foot-healthy walking shoe recommended by a podiatrist, your options might not seem the most aesthetically pleasing—but gone are the days of accepting ugly footwear in the name of comfort. That’s thanks in part to one brand of shoes that has earned the adoration of consumers and foot doctors alike: Hoka.
Hoka walking shoes are so well-designed that even some podiatrists regularly wear the brand. “I am a huge fan of Hoka shoes,” says Dr. Wendy Stinson, a board-certified podiatrist who has been in practice for over 30 years and specializes in the medical and surgical management of foot and ankle disorders. “I have been wearing them myself and recommending them since I first learned about them in 2016.”
What are Hoka shoes?
According to the brand, Hoka “provides access to running, walking, fitness and the outdoors.” Its shoes feature enhanced cushioning combined with an oversized midsole—the goal is to help customers feel like they’re flying.
Dr. Stinson says the effect is easy to feel. “The one feature that helps the shoe stand out from competitors is definitely the weight,” she tells The Healthy @Reader’s Digest. “The line of shoes is very light and responsive compared to most brands. They don’t require numerous walks or runs to break in. You put them on and go!”
The other stand-out feature is the shoes’ appearance—instead of looking like they’re built strictly for comfort, they blend in seamlessly with other workout shoes. From trendy colors to modern design elements, Hoka shoes look just like other brands you know and love.
“My all-time favorite is the Hoka Bondi,” Dr. Stinson says. “It gives me the support, cushioning and width option that I need for my day-to-day life, which is being on my feet all day.”
Hoka Shoes Pros:
What we like about Hoka shoes
- 30-day refund or exchange policy
- Hand-washable (but don’t put them in the dryer!)
- Waterproof styles available
- Many styles to choose from, from everyday trainers and sandals to trail runners and spikes
- Wide sizes and vegan styles available
- Select styles have received the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) Seal of Acceptance
- Free shipping and returns
- Free True Fit size guide
Hoka Shoes Cons:
What to consider about Hoka shoes
- May not be ideal for anyone with balance issues, according to Dr. Stinson
- Some online complaints of soles wearing out with fewer wears than expected
Do podiatrists recommend Hoka shoes for walking?
Many podiatrists recommend Hoka shoes for walking, and, the American Podiatric Medical Association has even given some of the brand’s styles its Seal of Acceptance. This means the shoes have been found to be beneficial to foot health.
“Foot health, not only for myself but for patients, is a priority and my focus as a doctor,” says Dr. Stinson. “I am a big supporter of promoting and suggesting what I personally use and speak of highly. Patients put their trust in me day in and day out, so I want to be able to give them a pain-free life during sport or if they are just out for a walk.”
What’s so special about Hoka shoes?
Dr. Stinson explains that Hoka uses direct feedback from their athletes and designers to assist in the construction of the perfect shoe. “And like Hoka, direct feedback to a doctor like myself is key with my patient experience,” she says. “During my career, I have seen patients across the board—from professionals, middle of the pack and beginner athletes, to patients [who] are looking for just an everyday shoe—and with Hokas, there is a wide selection of style, design, and fit to choose from.”
According to Dr. Stinson, Hoka shoes check just about every requirement that’s important to podiatrists. “Not only do I look for a shoe that provides proper gait mechanics,” she says, “but I also look for a shoe that will comfortably accommodate a custom orthotic, if needed, and will not throw off the geometry of the sneaker.”
Who are Hoka sneakers good for?
In short, nearly everybody can benefit from lacing up a pair of Hoka shoes for walking—especially anyone suffering from common foot problems. “I think any type of foot pathology/pain/deformity would benefit from Hokas, because they simply provide that much comfort,” affirms Dr. Stinson. “I use them for my post-op patients because the shoes provide so much comfort, the patient can more easily push during the rehab phase, and this allows them to recover quicker.”
She says additional diagnoses would include plantar fasciitis (also known as heel spur syndrome), shin splints, iliotibial band syndrome, Achilles’ tendonitis, metatarsalgia, neuromas, bunions, hammertoes, flat feet, osteoarthritis, and arthritis or spurring in the great toe joint.
“Your feet are the foundation, so everything going on with your feet affects you up the closed kinetic chain—meaning your ankles, knees, hips and low back,” she continues. “And Hokas are great for all of this.”
And if you’re looking for an additional layer of cushioning and blister protection, consider pairing your Hoka shoes with The Healthy-approved Feetures socks.
- Dr. Wendy Stinson, board-certified podiatrist