Best Shoes for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis – Supportive Outsole, Firm Heel Counter, and Extra Depth!

Has your child been diagnosed with juvenile idiopathic arthritis? Children with JIA experience foot problems such as inflammation, limitation of motion, and abnormal alignment. Other common foot problems seen in children with JIA are excessive pronation and bunions. I am going to show you a list of the best shoes for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis based on my many years of shoe fitting experience.

The wrong shoe worn by a child with JIA can exacerbate existing problems and cause damage and complications to many joints beyond the feet, such as the hips and knees.

I want parents to know that some children with JIA grow out of it after they get treatment while others will need ongoing treatment as adults.

The Importance of Being Proactive and Not Taking the “Wait and See Approach”

I always recommend parents to be proactive and don’t take the “wait and see approach” when it comes to treating their children’s foot conditions, as waiting for the condition to resolve on its own might only lead to the condition getting worse.

Parents should start thinking of their kids’ shoes as a factor that helps minimize pain and maximize their ability to get out and do things.

Children with JIA also experience a large number of gait abnormalities. When joints swell, the soft tissues around the joints can stretch into poor positions – particularly in joints that take body weight such as the feet. These positions may not correct when the swelling resolves. For example, swelling around the rearfoot joints might take a normally arched foot into a flatfooted position. Once the feet are pronated, the knees and hips also become misaligned. This means the muscles that move those joints no longer work efficiently, and it will take more energy for your child to do the same work as other children who don’t have this condition.

What a Difference the Correct Pair of Shoes Can Make!

JIA can affect your child’s walking gait and overall posture but the good news is certain shoes can help treat JIA and improve your child’s foot posture and walking gait. Don’t take my word for it, let me prove it to you!

Let’s take a look at an image of a flat-footed child standing barefoot. Do you notice how the feet are collapsing and turning inwards? This is going to make your child’s feet, knees, legs, and hips become misaligned.

Now let’s take a look at what happens when we fit that same child in a pair of one of the supportive shoes I recommend. Do you notice how the shoes are preventing the feet from collapsing and turning inwards? This is going to allow your child to walk and run straighter, which is going to help improve your child’s overall posture.


Something so simple as providing your child with the correct type of shoes can help treat juvenile idiopathic arthritis.

What Makes the Shoes I Recommend Effective for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis?

The shoes I recommend provide 3 key features that most other sneakers don’t:

1️⃣ Extra Depth: This feature is going to accommodate your child’s foot swelling by allowing your child’s feet to fit deeply inside the shoes. This feature issuing to prevent your child’s instep from rubbing against the top part of the shoes. Below you can visualize the difference in depth between one of the shoes I recommend a different style:

2️⃣ Substantial Outsoles: The shoes I recommend provide a substantial outsole that is going to help prevent your child’s feet from collapsing and turning inwards. Shoes that provide substantial outsoles also help prevent the impact that the child’s feet take when they come in contact with the ground. Let me show you the difference in support between one of the shoes I recommend a different pair of sneakers:


3️⃣ Firm Heel Counters: Shoes with firm heel counters provide good ankle and heel support. The heel counter should be strong when squeezed in your hand and should not easily collapse. Let me show you the difference in heel support between one of the shoes I recommend and a different style:


There are not that many shoes that provide these 3 features and are capable of accommodating the unique shape of your child’s feet at the same time. Children’s feet come in all different shapes and sizes such as medium, wide, or extra wide.

The shoes I recommend are not orthopedic shoes, they are everyday sneakers that simply provide better support than the rest.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the best shoes for juvenile idiopathic arthritis. Disclosure: Some links in this post may be affiliate links and we may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) when you click our links and make purchases. 

The Best Shoes for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis

These shoes are available in medium (M), wide (W), and extra wide (XW) widths. Consider getting a wider shoe width than your child normally wears to accommodate your child’s foot swelling.

Get a Personalized Suggestion

If none of these shoes are available in your child’s shoe size or if you need the shoes to be made of a specific color don’t hesitate to email me at:

[email protected]

Instead of buying larger shoes to accommodate your child’s foot inflammation, I recommend that you buy them wider instead.

You won’t be able to order your child’s correct shoe size online if you don’t know your child’s exact foot size to begin with. This leads me to this next question: Are you 100% sure that you know your child’s foot size?

If you have a good-fitting children’s shoe store in your area I suggest that you take your child there to be properly fitted for shoes.  Not sure whether you have a good store in your area? Take a look at the resource I created below that describes the best fitting children’s shoe stores by state.

How to Retrieve Your Child’s Exact Foot Length and Shape

If after looking at that resource you still can’t seem to find a store in your area, let’s take a look at the simplest and most effective method to measure your foot size from home. In that article I help parents determine their child’s exact foot size and whether the child has narrow, medium, wide, or extra wide feet. I also help parents determine whether their child has a high instep or not.


To summarize, the shoes I recommend provide the following features:

  • Substantial outsole to prevent the feet from collapsing and turning inwards.
  • Strong heel counter to support the heels.
  • Room for the toes to lie flat.
  • Flexible sole to allow the foot to rock from heel-contact to toe-off.

The shoes also come with shoelaces instead of velcro closure as shoelaces provide better support and stability than any other type of shoe closure.

I noticed how some children with JIA have one leg that is shorter than the other. Usually, this is a minor issue and does not require any treatment. However, when the leg discrepancy is quite significant, a shoe or heel lift may be prescribed.

Proper footwear is key to supporting the joints and body. However, there are going to be certain cases in which children will have to wear an orthotic inside of their shoes for extra support.

Orthotics are extremely effective to improve the foot position and function by altering the position of the foot, heel and leg.

Orthotics for Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis 

Orthotics are used when a child is experiencing foot pain, when regular swelling occurs in the foot joints or the foot function is considered to likely cause long-term problems. 

I have seen several cases of children who wore orthotics with shock-absorbing capabilities that experienced significantly greater improvement in pain and function. The issue is that custom orthotics can range anywhere from $250 to $350, and you need to consider that your child might outgrow the orthotic every 6 months.

I have found one over-the-counter orthotic that is affordable and has been extremely effective in preventing foot pain and improving foot function. This orthotic has proven to be as beneficial as custom-made ones. The main reason why I recommend this orthotic is that it provides excellent arch and heel support, and at the same time is not as invasive as other orthotics. This means that this orthotic allows the child’s foot and leg muscles to develop on their own while supporting them.

Exercise and physical therapy help keep your child’s muscles flexible and strong.

Don’t hesitate to contact me if you are having trouble finding a different pair of shoes for your child with juvenile idiopathic arthritis. If you have a child with this condition please share your experience in the comments section below, so other families can benefit from your experiences.