The Benefits Of Footwear With Rocker Bottom Soles
Posted on Feb 19, 2022

As an Orthopedic Surgeon sub-specializing in foot and ankle reconstruction, Dr. Meredith Warner is well versed in the mechanics of the foot and what the foot needs to reduce plantar fasciitis-based pain.

When building the foundational design of The Healing Sole’s patented footbed design and overall structure, Dr. Warner knew she needed to incorporate a rocker bottom sole into the design. Rocker bottoms are time-honored and hugely successful additions to footwear for the purposes of stress and strain reduction.

Today we are going to talk about the benefits of footwear with rocker bottom soles and why Dr. Warner wanted to include it as a feature in The Healing Sole.

Reduce Pressure During The Gait Cycle

Rocker bottom soles alter the biomechanics of your foot and ankle, and thus your gait, as you take a step. The gentle rocking motion imparted by the structural design of the shoe absorbs and reduces pressure along the foot as your foot progresses through the heel-to-toe motion.

A study by Schaff and Cavanagh done in 1991 found that rocker soles reduced pressure by 30%. For a rocker bottom to work properly, the shoe must be stiff enough to withstand the load applied (weight of the person). Therefore, as part of the structural concept, the material Dr. Warner chose is slightly stiffer than most running shoes. This also allows the foot to be utilized more naturally and allows for muscles to engage more often during wear. Each feature in this shoe builds upon the next and they together provide the method to reduce the stress on the fascia.

Rocker bottom soles can be designed to offload pressure from different areas of the foot depending on the degree and placement of the curvature. This particular rocker is quite gentle in terms of the curve and allows offloading of both the hindfoot and the forefoot. In addition, this design allows the wearer to stretch the heel cord on demand. This is a great component to any program designed to reduce foot pain.

Strengthening Foot Structures

It’s not uncommon to have some pain in the feet, ankles, legs, hip, and back as you are getting used to rocker bottom soles. Rocker bottom soles engage a wide range of muscles in those areas of the body you might not be used to engaging. Also, because they do allow for a gentle stretch of the Achilles there is usually a bit of calf soreness initially. About 90% of Americans have tight heel cords and part of any physician’s protocol is a recommendation to stretch the Achilles tendon. The rocker bottom of this shoe helps the wearer to do this on an ongoing basis.

There is some degree of instability associated with wearing rocker bottom soles (from front to back). When standing still while wearing many types of rocker bottom soles you may feel like you are falling backward or forwards.

This is because you are instinctually trying to balance yourself and having a hard time doing so. In The Healing Sole, the shoe should place the body weight over the middle of the shoe. Those who feel as though they are leaning slightly backwards usually have selected a size that is a bit too small.

The more often you wear properly fitting rocker bottom soles you will notice that this leaning or tipping sensation goes away. This means that your rocker bottom soles have successfully helped you build some strength in the often neglected muscles of the foot, ankle and calves. Again, if properly sized, this shoe should put your body weight evenly in the middle and allow reduced contact pressures on the sole.

Would A Rocker Bottom Sole Be Good For You?

Rocker bottom soles are often recommended to those with diabetic neuropathy. Rocker bottom soles can reduce the chances of developing pressure ulcers on the sole. They are also recommended to those with Achilles tendinopathy, plantar fasciitis, first metatarsophalangeal (MTP) joint osteoarthritis and a number of other conditions.

However, due to the small degree of instability intrinsic with the sole design, it is not recommended to those that have a history of balance or equilibrium problems as there would be a higher risk of falling. Generally, this shoe does not have any coronal plane (side-to-side) instability, but the forward and backward gentle slope of the rocker bottom is different from most shoes on the market. Discuss this with your physical therapist or chiropractor or even physician if you have a concern.