The Best Shoes for Extensor Tendonitis in 2023

The extensor tendons run along the top of your feet, when they become inflamed, it can be painful. Wearing the best shoes for extensor tendonitis can alleviate the symptoms and keep your feet comfortable

After trials on a number of different brands, we found the Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20 to be the best choice when it comes to choosing the perfect shoe to prevent pain. We looked at dozens of shoes to find the most comfortable, as well as the best shoes for every budget.

Let’s dive in and discuss what extensor tendonitis is exactly and why wearing the right shoes is so important for suffers. Plus, we will give you the lowdown on all of the top shoes for extensor tendonitis.

For those who like to skip ahead, here are our top picks:

  1. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20
  2. Brooks Ghost 12 Running Shoe
  3. Dansko Women’s Outdoor Sneaker
  4. Asics Gel-Nimbus 22 Running Shoes
  5. New Balance Fresh Foam Zante
  6. Asics Gel-Cumulus 20 Running Shoes
  7. Mizuno Wave Inspire 15 Running Shoe

What is Extensor Tendonitis?

Located along the top of our feet are tendons that connect the calf muscles and ankle to the toes. They enable us to flex our feet and toes upwards.

Extensor tendonitis, or tendinopathy, occurs when these tendons become inflamed. It manifests as pain along the top of the foot, which might be more pronounced when you flex your toes.

Causes of Extensor Tendonitis

Several factors can contribute to the risk of developing this painful condition, which includes:

  • Friction: Shoes that are laced too tightly, or are ill-fitting can rub the top of your foot.
  • Overuse: Spending long periods standing on your feet, or running and walking, especially up and down hills or uneven surfaces, can take a toll. The result could be pain along the top of your feet. 
  • Tight calf muscles: A more significant strain can be placed on the extensor tendons when your calf muscles are tight. This can lead to tendonitis developing in the foot.
  • Irregular foot arches: Flat feet or high arches affect the way your feet move. The former can increase pressure on the upper foot, while the latter can place more strain in the extensor tendons.
  • Injury: Damage to the extensor tendons can occur if you drop something on the top of your foot, or kick against something accidentally. 
  • Footwear or training routine changes: When you alter your fitness regime or the footwear you use, you could irritate the tendons across the instep. 

foot extensor

Symptoms of Extensor Tendonitis

The main symptom of extensor tendonitis is pain across the upper foot, sometimes accompanied by swelling. It might be more pronounced when you run up or down slopes due to the additional stress placed on the tendons. Flexing your toes up might also highlight the pain.

You might find that the top of your foot becomes sensitive to touch.

Treatment of Extensor Tendonitis

The following treatments might help relieve the symptoms of extensor tendonitis.

  • Rest: Putting your feet up and reducing activity can give the tendons time to heal. As a rule of thumb, if you feel pain at the top of your feet, stop what you are doing and take a break.
  • Ice: Placing a cold compress on the top of your foot helps reduce inflammation and alleviate pain. 
  • Anti-inflammatory medication: Over the counter NSAIDs like ibuprofen or naproxen may alleviate the pain and inflammation associated with this condition.
  • Change your shoes: Find footwear, like those we’ve reviewed, that takes the pressure away from the top of your feet.
  • Lace-up differently: Changing the way you lace your shoes prevents your extensor tendons from becoming irritated. 
  • Stretches: Strengthening exercises can help bolster the extensor tendons or relieve tight calves.
  • Wear the right shoes or orthotics: We mentioned flat feet and high arches—wearing the correct shoes or insoles can help take the pressure off the extensor tendons caused by these conditions. Check out our articles on the best tennis shoes for flat feet or the best work shoes for high arches.


Features of the Best Shoes for Extensor Tendonitis

There are certain things you should consider when choosing shoes that won’t aggravate or cause extensor tendonitis. These include:

  • Fit: Your shoes should fit without exerting undue pressure across the instep or toes. Look for features like mesh that will hug your feet, and are more likely to expand as you move. Also, take into account a sound lacing system that can be adjusted.
  • Support: Although you want sufficient cushioning, you also need support to protect your feet while they heal. Check out materials like EVA and patented foams that bolster your feet while remaining lightweight. 
  • Shock absorption: Reducing impact on your feet can relieve stress and disperse the force exerted as you run or walk. Gel cushioning in the midsoles, and other forms of impact resistance like EVA foams can help.
  • Roomy toe box: While the pain of extensor tendonitis is felt across the top of the foot, these tendons attach to the toes. Leaving sufficient room for your toes to wiggle and move can prevent exacerbating the pain.
  • Cushioning: Look for elements that will soften your steps, especially at the heels and toes, and also padding on the tongue and collars of the shoes.
  • Alignment: Many brands possess patented features that aim to correctly align your feet encouraging a natural movement. This can alleviate pressure on the feet when we don’t walk properly.
  • Insoles: If you have high or fallen arches, make sure the footbed of the shoes supports the type you have. Many shoes offer removable inserts so you can pop in your own custom orthotics. You can find out more about the best insoles for high arches in our ultimate guide.

The Best Shoes for Extensor Tendonitis Reviewed

Knowing which shoes will take the pressure off your instep can help you make a choice that will suit you best. Here are our top 7 picks of the best shoes for extensor tendonitis.

1. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 20

Our Rating


Brooks has been in business for over 100 years. The GTS (go-to-shoe) was designed with support, flexibility, and traction in mind for sports like walking and running. Launched originally in 1999, the GTS20 is the latest release of this shoe.

Available for men and women, the sizes range from 7 to 15 and 5 to 13, respectively. A good selection of colors or graphic prints are on offer; 22 for men and 27 for women. There is also a choice of widths from narrow up to extra-wide in both styles.

The engineered mesh uppers have proprietary 3D Fit Print, designed to improve the fit and provide structure. They encompass your feet from the forefoot to the heel.

DNA Loft, a mix of foam, air, and rubber, cushions every step and is enhanced by a biodegradable EVA midsole and BioMoGo DNA. These two features work in harmony for a soft underfoot feel without compromising durability or responsiveness. The adaptive midsole mimics your natural gait providing support and shock absorption just where it’s needed.

GuideRails built into the soles encourage your feet to align and help you walk naturally. The integrated Segmented Crash Pad allows a smooth transition from heel-strike to toe-off.

Some find the toe box in these shoes a little too roomy.

Brooks combine many patented features to cushion and support your feet. The mesh uppers hug your feet without adding pressure that can aggravate extensor tendonitis.




  • Brooks technology throughout for support and cushioning.
  • GuideRails assist motion control.
  • Wide color choice.
  • Breathable mesh uppers.


  • Toe box may feel too wide for some.


Our Rating


Brooks began manufacturing ballet and bathing shoes more than 100 years ago. They gradually evolved into the realms of baseball, basketball, football, and running.

Their Ghost 12 is on offer for women and men in sizes from 5 to 12, and 7 to 15, respectively. They accommodate broader feet in four width fittings for men, narrow, regular, wide and extra-wide, and three for women, narrow, regular and wide.

Fourteen colors for men and over thirty for women allows you to match your shoes with your outfit with ease.

The uppers boast Brooks 3D Fit Print crafted to place stretch and structure where your feet need it. It works together with breathable mesh to encompass your feet and keep them stable.

Patented BioMoGo DNA and DNA Loft add cushioning in the midsole. They work as one to give a soft landing underfoot with every step. It’s both lightweight and durable to take the stress off your lower limbs and feet.

An integrated system of shock absorbers in the form of a proprietary Segmented Crash Pad enables a smooth transition from heel to toe. Flex Grooves in the outsole provide traction while still letting your feet bend naturally.

These shoes seem to run narrow and small, so be prepared to move up a size.



  • Patented support in breathable mesh uppers.
  • Superior cushioning and shock absorption.
  • Broad range of widths, colors, and sizes.
  • Grippy, flexible outsole.
  • Sizes can run small.

3. Dansko Women's Outdoor Sneaker

Our Rating


Dansko is an employee-owned company located in Pennsylvania. Trading since 1990, they’re known for manufacturing quality shoes, many of which have the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) seal of approval. 

Sizes on offer range from 5.5 to 13 in half-size increments and two widths, regular and wide. There are 10 colors to choose from, including blacks, browns, and greys.

The uppers are formed from waterproof leather, and the laces reach right to the toes. This means you can easily adjust the shoes to take the pressure off the top of your feet. A 3M Scotchgard treatment is also applied to help stain resistance.

Inside the shoe, there’s a removable triple-density footbed with natural arch support and shock absorbency. If this doesn’t suit your feet, you can change it out for a custom orthotic.

The Vibram rubber outsole includes slip resistance and a built-in shank offering support and stability. Moisture management comes from DuPont Sorona fiber and odor control from CleansportNXT.

If you plan to operate anywhere in stealth mode, these shoes might not be for you. It seems they are prone to squeak as you walk.

These supportive shoes from Dansko lace right to the toes — adjusting them to take the pressure off your instep is a breeze. They have waterproof uppers and slip-resistant soles.




  • Lace right to the toes.
  • Leather uppers.
  • Supportive, removable insoles.
  • Moisture control and odor resistance built-in.


  • May make a squeaking noise.


4.  ASICS Gel-Nimbus 22 Running Shoes

Our Rating


steves top choice badge

Founded in Kobe, Japan, back in 1949, Asics produces sports shoes for baseball, running, tennis, soccer, rugby, and more. Ge cushioning is a feature in many of their styles.

The Gel-Nimbus 22 is available in models for men and women. The sizes on offer are 6 to 16 in regular, wide and extra-wide for men, and 5 to 13 in regular and wide for women. Color choices include 18 pastel and classic options for women and 15 for men.

Asics technology abounds in these shoes from the uppers right through to the outsole. Engineered multi-directional mesh is gentle on the feet providing stability and adaptability to your foot shape while allowing them to breathe.

In the midsole, Flytefoam Propel provides bounce, Spevafoam along the whole foot, and Gel Technology in the heels and forefoot—all offer cushioning and shock absorbency. A removable EVA insole further enhances this.

The patented Trusstic System is designed to be gender-specific, providing weight reduction, stability, and arch support. The Guidance Line Technology and Impact Guidance System enhance the natural movement of your feet.

The outsole sports Asics High Abrasion Rubber (AHAR) in high wear areas to extend the life of your shoes.

These shoes tend to run a little small, so you might need to move up a half size.




  • Adaptable multi-directional mesh uppers.
  • Patented cushioning throughout.
  • Lightweight materials.
  • Gender-specific support.
  • Might run small.

5. New Balance Fresh Foam Zante

Our Rating


New Balance brings over 100 years of expertise to produce shoes that combine function with fashion. They apply technological features in all styles for men and women. 

The Fresh Foam Zante comes in sizes 7 to 15 for men and 5 to 12 for women. Regular and wide widths are available in four colors for men and one for women.

Super supportive uppers are made from a breathable synthetic mesh with an integrated webbing system. This lets you lock down the midfoot and prevents your feet from sliding around in your shoes. The collar resembles that of a sock for a comfortable fit without an independent tongue to exert pressure on your instep.

Fresh foam in the midsole ensures a soft, cushioned ride, and encourages a natural motion. The solid rubber outsole has Omni-directional treads to prevent slipping.

Although advertised as a running shoe, some find they might not stand up to pounding the streets. They may be better suited for gym use.

Breathable mesh uppers with a sock-like fit, and integrated webbing to lock the foot down, keep your feet stable in these shoes. Shock absorbency and cushioning come from Fresh Foam midsoles.




  • Breathable mesh uppers.
  • Integrated webbing system to lock down the midfoot.
  • Sock-like fit.
  • Fresh Foam cushioning.
  • May be better suited to indoor exercise.


Our Rating


This is our second choice of shoes for extensor tendonitis from Asics. It’s the latest version of the Gel-Cumulus range.

Men can choose from sizes 7 to 14, with a broader width available in larger sizes and 10 colors. Women have 15 color choices in sizes 5 to 12, with wide options across the range on some.

Man-made mesh uppers are manufactured without seams, so there’s no stitching to irritate your feet. Discreet eyelets help spread tension from the laces, allowing you to customize the fit and enhance the comfort factor.

The package is completed with an Impact Guidance System and Guidance Line Midsole to encourage a natural gait and SpevaFoam for a softer platform for your feet. 

FlyteFoam Propel technology and a Fluidride midsole utilize a unique elastomer compound foam for cushioning and support. Gel is located in the heels and forefoot for comfort from heel-strike to toe-off. 

AHAR (Asics High Abrasion Rubber) is placed in strategic points on the outsole to enhance durability. There are also reflective areas on the shoes, so you can be seen in the dark or low light.

The fit of these shoes seems to run on the narrow side, so if you have broader feet, you might need to size up.

Seamless construction in the mesh uppers of these shoes reduces the chance of irritation from friction. Patented features throughout provide cushioning, support, and help encourage a natural way of moving. 



  • Seamless construction in the uppers.
  • Adjustable laces.
  • Cushioning and support throughout.
  • Patented features encourage a natural gait.
  • Fit may be on the narrow side.

7. Mizuno Wave Inspire 15 Running Shoe

Our Rating


Mizuno has been manufacturing sporting goods since the early 1900s but didn’t enter the sports shoe market until 1982. Their patented Wave technology to stabilize and guide feet made its debut in 2007. It’s incorporated into this 15th version of the Inspire running shoes.

With styles for ladies and men, sizes cover from 7 to 16 for men and 6 to 12 for women. There’s only a regular width in the gent’s shoes, but regular and wide in the female range. Six colors are available in each style.

Softer flexible mesh uppers in this model let air to your feet while providing support. A soft collar and padded tongue help cradle your feet, reducing the chance of irritation to the extensor tendons. 

Proprietary U4icX is a compound unique to Mizuno, which provides lightweight cushioning and impact resistance in the midsole.

On the downside, the durability and quality of these shoes might be questionable, with them wearing out quickly. 

Mizuno’s Wave technology stabilizes your feet in these shoes with a breathable mesh upper, padded collar, and tongue. Patented cushioning and shock absorption are built-in to the midsoles.



  • Flexible, breathable uppers.
  • Cushioned, supportive midsoles.
  • Shock absorbent.
  • Wave technology for stability.
  • Might wear out faster than anticipated.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do You Lace Your Shoes For Extensor Tendonitis?

One of the most common ways of lacing shoes is in a criss-cross pattern, but this might not be the best way if you have extensor tendonitis. It can place pressure on your instep and be inflexible. Lacing in a ladder fashion, or missing out eyelets over the area causing pain would be better. There are several ways you can adjust your laces to make your feet more comfortable, and some are shown in this video:

Should I Wrap My Feet for Extensor Tendonitis?

The consensus seems to be that wrapping the feet for extensor tendonitis isn’t necessary. The treatments tend to be using a cold compress to reduce swelling and inflammation, over the counter anti-inflammatories, rest, and wearing appropriate footwear. Stretching exercises to strengthen the muscles can also help.

Can Shoes Cause Extensor Tendonitis?

Yes, shoes can contribute to extensor tendonitis. If they’re laced too tightly, or don’t fit properly across the top of the foot, this can irritate these tendons causing pain. It could also be a change of shoes used for walking or running that aren’t suitable for your feet that bring it on.  All our feet are different, but we’ve highlighted a range of shoes that could help alleviate this painful condition.

Can I Walk With Extensor Tendonitis?

This depends on how much pain you feel when walking or running. If it’s mild and doesn’t cause you too much discomfort, then it should be fine.  You can try changing the lacing pattern on your shoes, or investing in a pair that we’ve featured. However, if it still hurts, then follow the regime of rest, ice, and anti-inflammatory medication for a few days and try again to see if it’s any better. If you are in any doubt, consult a medical professional, have your injury assessed, and follow their advice.

Checking Out

Wearing the best shoes for extensor tendonitis can help alleviate the symptoms of this painful condition, or prevent it from happening. As well as choosing one of the shoes we’ve featured, pay attention to how your shoes are laced, and don’t continue exercising if you feel pain. You should always consult a doctor if you are unsure of the cause of your upper foot pain or are concerned about it. We hope you enjoyed our insights and now know how to choose appropriate shoes for extensor tendonitis. Please leave us a comment with your experiences, and don’t forget to share.

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