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a man stops running with pain on top of the foot and checks out the best running shoes for pain on top of the foot

The 5 Best Running Shoes For Pain On Top Of The Foot

If you’re a runner and you’re looking for running shoes for pain on top of the foot you’re in luck.

**Updated April 2024**

As a podiatrist, I’ve had the pleasure of treating many clients with pain on the top of the foot. It’s a complex area with a lot of different things that can go wrong. But we’ll leave the specific diagnosis for the clinic.

With this list, I aim to help you find the best running shoes for pain on top of the foot to give you your best chance of running as far and as fast as you like.

Best Running Shoes For Pain On Top Of The Foot

The 5 best options according to our podiatrists are:

Hoka Clifton 9

Say it with me, the Clifton is plush!

What Hoka have done with this maximally cushioned running shoe is they’ve put plenty of soft foam underneath your feet. They don’t muck around trying to use dual-density materials or other tricks within the midsole that can lead to shoes deforming at a fast rate. They just give your feet cushioning with a decent forefoot rocker too.

While this shoe still has a mild drop (5mm) it’s not so steep that the top of your foot has to work harder decelerating you as your transition from heel contact to midstance. 

If you’re struggling with pain on top of your foot and you’re used to a full-thickness shoe then the Hoka Clifton is a great option to start. This also holds true for walkers as well as runners.

Saucony Kinvara Pro

Now the Kinvara Pro is much, much lighter than the Clifton. 

So why choose the heavier Clifton if you can get a shoe which is light with only a 4mm drop to help your pain on top of your foot?

The Kinvara is a F-A-S-T, fast shoe. It uses less material underfoot and around your arch so that you’re not carrying any excess bulk. But the payoff is you’re not going to get the same life span out of this shoe as you would the Hoka Clifton.

When you’re struggling with pain on top of the foot and you’re running quick times or shorter distances the Kinvara is the best option for you.

Saucony Endorphin Shift 3

Your friends at Saucony have a great direct competitor to the Hoka Clifton – the Saucony Endorphin Shift 3.

Now, shoe brands can get a little cute with how they name their shoes. Sure, plenty of us geek out on each model and update – but maybe you don’t feel you have the time, energy or inclination to dig down into the specifics of every niche brand and every niche shoe.

Well, here’s where you do need to be careful with your Saucony Endorphin Shift purchasing for your pain on top of the foot.

Saucony has multiple shoes called the Endorphin, but it’s the Endorphin Shift that you need for the pain on top of your foot. So when searching for them online or when you’re next in at your running shoe retailer make sure you’re checking out the Endorphin Shift.

Skechers Go Run Razor Excess 2

Skechers have a bad rap sheet with plenty of podiatrists.

They shot onto the scene with slick marketing, light, and super soft shoes that just slip onto your feet. These slipper-like shoes became the go-to shoe for plenty of people who then struggled with problems under their feet like plantar fasciitis. This doesn’t mean that the shoes were to blame. 

Forgive me a quick diversion we’ll come back to why the Go Run Razor Excess 2 is a good option for pain on top of the foot in just a moment.

So, Skechers ubiquitous Go Walk shoes were worn by tens of thousands of people who started getting out and about, moving, being active – and some – more so than before they had their new or first-ever soft and plush slip-on shoe. They replaced structured runners as well as walking shoes. And one of the features of these shoes that makes them great for pain on top of the foot – is also what makes them poor options for pain under the foot.

Skechers shoes are predominantly light, flexible and with a low drop.  This will comparatively speaking place more work-to-be-done under your heel and arch and reduce it from the dorsum of your foot.

So check out the Go Run Razor Excess if you’re a runner or walker with dorsal midfoot pain but steer clear if you’ve also had heel or arch pain recently.

Altra Torin 7

Hands up if you’ve heard of the running shoe brand Altra?

Not many hands… Especially if you’re reading this in Australia where finding a running shoe retailer who stocks Altra is like finding a needle in a haystack.

Altra is a running shoe brand that said, “what if all our shoes were made for people with pain on top of the foot?” The modus operandi at Altra headquarters is to make shoes with a 0mm drop where the heel and forefoot are on a level base.

This is great for your feet if you’re struggling with pain on top of the foot. Now, you just have to find a pair. Shopping online is where most clients have found their Altra shoes who have come to see us in our Melbourne podiatry clinics. 

Our advice is to check what size your current running shoe is in US and then go for that exact measurement in your chosen Altra shoe. If you have a wide foot then grab the Torin in the wide fitting. And when your shoes arrive, try them on in your own home with the socks you’ll be wearing (and your orthotics too).

If you don’t feel right make sure you’ve bought them from a retailer with a good returns policy and swap them over for a change in size or model.

What else can you do when you have pain on top of the foot?

Finally, let me finish up with a few words of encouragement.

When you’re struggling with pain on the top of your foot that is impacting your life it can feel like it will never get better. The day in day out battle to choose the right shoes, and try to work out what exercises to do. Avoiding things that aggravate your foot (but make you feel whole like social gym classes) can only get you so far.

So get your sore feet to your podiatrist and get an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. Wear your new shoes from this list to your podiatrist and they’ll be relieved that you’re already on the path to getting through this challenging period as there’s one less change they’ll have to make.

Good luck, and enjoy getting back to the things you love without pain getting in your way.

About the Author

tim mulholland podiatrist melbourne and pascoe vale

Tim Mulholland is your podiatrist and running shoe advocate who wants to make choosing the right shoe for you easy. When it comes to his podiatry practice you can find him consulting in our Podiatry clinics in Pascoe Vale or teaching at La Trobe University.

For his personal shoe preferences Tim likes to have lots of running shoes on the go to test, compare and enjoy the different fit and feel of all the great brands out there. While he’s not personally struggled with pain on the top of his foot (it’s actually his Achilles heel that is his Achilles heel) he’s seen many feet in clinic that he reccomends these options as the best running shoes for pain on top of the foot.