Maximizing your recovery during the time that your feet aren’t pounding the pavement is one of the most important things you can do to become a better runner. The time between runs is quite literally when the magic happens, aka when your muscles repair, allowing you to hit your next track or tempo session stronger and faster. Sleeping well, eating whole foods, drinking electrolytes, foam rolling—they’re all part of the recovery cycle, but there are even smaller things you can do to reduce the physical stress on your body as you recover. Enter recovery sandals specifically designed for runners and our tired feet.
What is a recovery shoe?
Recovery footwear serves to protect your feet by supporting your arches and cushioning the soles of your feet. For the purposes of this article, we’ll be focusing on recovery sandals, like slides and flip flops, that are meant to be worn immediately after you’ve finished a long race, hanging around the house, or just anytime you aren’t exercising.
What to look for in a recovery sandal
The best recovery sandals are made of plush EVA foam that absorbs the shock impact of your heel hitting the ground. Think of the foam in recovery sandals like the dense foam found in a mattress—firm enough to support your foot but soft enough that your feet feel some relief. Aside from a foam sole, you should also look for a shoe that offers substantial arch support and has a wide footbed that gives your swollen post-run feet space to breathe and expand. Finally, consider small features like raised nodes that massage your feet as you walk or a contoured footbed.
Below, you’ll find the 5 best recovery sandals for runners that we recommend based on our own experience and our market research.
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The best recovery sandals for runners
They might not look it first glance, but the Hoka Ora Recovery Slides are a thing of beauty. Made with EVA foam and featuring Hoka signatures like Meta-Rocker geometry and a wide sole, they’re essentially the stripped-down version of a Hoka shoe. They have a roomy toe box, a plush footbed, and an almost-two-inch platform that’ll give you a nice height boost. Your feet will immediately feel relief when you slip these on after a long run.
People who wear Oofos recovery shoes swear by them. They’re made of a proprietary foam call “OOfoam” that the brand claims absorbs 27% more impact than the traditional foam footwear found in other recovery shoes like Crocs. Similar to the Hoka slides above, they feature a footbed that cradles the arches. Oofos sandals have two different upper styles to choose from: thong-style flip-flops and slides.
These slide sandals feature a patented “Acupoint” cushioned footbed that massages your feet as you walk. The raised parts of the sole are meant to trigger acupressure points by activating nerve endings with every step. Like the Ora slides above, they’re waterproof and breathable.
The jury is still out on if Crocs can be called sandals, but they do have an awful lot of holes in them to be just clogs. Though runner recovery isn’t the primary use case for Crocs, they are actually a great recovery sandal for runners who are looking for a closed-toe option. They have a ventilated and roomy toe box, a feature anyone with gnarly toenails will find welcome. They don’t have the bulky platform-style footbed of many recovery shoes—they’re way closer to the ground—but they do have raised rubber nodes that massage the soles of your feet.
These flip flops have a compression-molded EVA foam midsole with a contoured footbed, making them a few levels more comfortable than your average beach flip flop. They also have great arch support and a wide fit that allows your swollen feet to expand.