There’s a new shoe trend in town. Modeled after the ever-popular shower shoe but designed to cloak your feet in cushioned comfort, recovery sandals are an increasingly appealing footwear option.
As is the case with a lot of things, the COVID-19 pandemic is responsible (at least somewhat). More people started complaining about heel pain in the spring of 2020, according to the American Podiatric Medical Association. This past spring, The New York Times published a piece showing the myriad ways the pandemic lockdown was rough on our feet.
To see if I could solve my own feet woes, I spent a month testing the top recovery sandals. First, I wore myself out with a road run lasting between three and 10 miles. Then, I wore the sandals while prepping dinner, chasing after my toddler, tooling around the house, and walking outside.
The OOFOS Ooahh Recovery Slide Sandal ($59.95) are my personal faves. But Chaco, HOKA, Croc, and Birkenstock all offer similarly great options, depending on what you’re looking for in your recovery footwear.
Here’s how the best recovery sandals stack up (in no particular order):
- OOFOS Ooahh Recovery Slide Sandal (Best All-Purpose Use)
- Chaco Chillos Slide Sandal (Best for Active Recovery)
- HOKA Ora Recovery Slide Sandal (Best for Runners and Athletes)
- Crocs Classic Slide Sandal (Most Affordable)
- Birkenstock Arizona Essentials EVA Sandal (Best for Minimalists)
The Best Recovery Sandals
Best All-Purpose Use
OOFOS Ooahh Slide Sandal
- Material: Proprietary foam (the brand calls it “OOFoam™”)
- Size range: 5-16 (women’s), 3-14 (men’s)
- Cushioned footbed is both comfortable and supportive
- Rockered sole propels you forward without feeling wobbly
- 30-day customer satisfaction guarantee
- Machine washable
- Minimal traction for outdoor use
Recovery sandals should do two things: Feel great and support your feet, thereby reducing stress on your lower extremities. Some recovery sandals feel as cushy as bedroom slippers without doing much for your tootsies. Others offer plenty of support without being particularly comfy. The OOFOS Ooahh Slide Sandals do it all, with a fit that feels wonderful the moment you slide them on. With excellent arch support and a cushioned footbed, the experience is akin to walking on clouds.
Most recovery sandals are made from a type of springy foam that’s soft and flexible, while still being capable of holding its shape. EVA (or ethylene-vinyl acetate) is the most common foam material. OOFOS uses its closed-cell OOfoam™, which the company says absorbs 37% more impact than traditional footwear foam. While I can’t vouch for that number, specifically, what I can say is that the sandals compressed in a marshmallow-y way under the weight of my feet, without ever losing shape. The arches, which the brand says are modeled after real feet, offered good support and, while wearing the OOFOS, my calves and feet always felt more comfortable, even after a grueling seven-mile trail run. They also felt true to size on my size 7 feet.
The strap on the OOFOS fits securely, providing additional support. Rockered soles provide forward propulsion without being unwieldy. I made multiple trips up and down the wooden stairs of my townhouse without ever worrying about turning an ankle.
Other perks: The Ooahh Slides are machine washable—a nice touch when you wear the shoes as much as I’ve started to. The brand also offers a 30-day satisfaction guarantee and a six-month warranty that covers any premature wear and tear.
The outsoles on the Ooahh Slides feature some traction in the form of grooves that run along the entire outsole, and the shoes held up well to a leisurely walk around the block. Still, I wouldn’t suggest testing their mettle on a slick, dirt hillside or beside a pool. Beyond that, these are the ultimate lounging shoes.
Best for Active Recovery
Chaco Chillos Slide
- Material: EVA with polyester jacquard webbing
- Size range: 5–12 (women’s), 7-15 (men’s)
- Footbed is both comfortable and supportive
- Adjustable webbing upper allows you to secure the sandals to your feet
- Outsole traction makes the shoes equally well suited to wearing indoors and out
- Machine washable
- Lifetime warranty
- Less cushion than our top pick
If you plan to regularly wear your recovery footwear out and about, the Chaco Chillos Slide Sandal is the way to go. In addition to offering supreme comfort for hanging around the house, these shoes stood up well to neighborhood walks and trips to the local pool. (Fun fact: Chillos float in water.) They’d make great partners after a day spent camping or backpacking, too.
My arches felt wonderful the moment I slid into the Chillos, which feature the same anatomically friendly, podiatrist-accepted footbed that Chaco puts in all of its footwear. The footbeds cradled my feet in comfort without feeling overly corrective. That said, the midsole on the Chillos isn’t quite as springy as the OOFOS. This is a plus for a more active recovery shoe: In exchange for less cushioning, the Chillos offer ample “ground feel,” or a better ability to experience the way one’s feet make contact with the ground. This made me confident on long walks, some lasting two or three miles.
Another plus for long walks: Grippy outsoles with what the brand calls a “fin traction design.” In essence, the Chillos’ outsoles are covered with grippy grooves that make it easier to navigate rocks, pebbles, and uneven surfaces in addition to letting water flow underfoot. The result is that I felt these were the most stable of all the recovery sandals tested. I wouldn’t hesitate to wear them in a variety of settings and conditions.
The shoes felt true to size. The jacquard webbing strap on the Chillos was easy to cinch down to find a secure fit that didn’t rub or chafe, even when I started moving at a faster clip. I also love that the Chillos are machine washable and lightweight. Finally, the brand offers a lifetime warranty on all its footwear, a bonus to take into account when weighing the Chillos’ $50 price tag.
Best Recovery Sandals for Runners and Athletes
HOKA Ora Recovery Slide
- Material: EVA
- Size range: M3/W5-M14/W16 (all genders)
- Footbed is both comfortable and supportive
- Oversized midsole absorbs shock and relieves lower-extremity stress
- Rockered sole provides you with light forward propulsion
- 30-day customer satisfaction guarantee
- Maximalist style isn’t for everyone
The HOKA Ora Recovery Slide Sandals are ideal for runners and athletes who want a recovery shoe to relieve tired limbs after a taxing workout. They’re particularly attractive for folks who like shoes with a super absorbent, oversized midsole like many of the shoes HOKA is known for.
The first thing I noticed when I slid my feet into the Ora Recovery Slides was the spring in my step as I set about picking up the living room and prepping dinner following a road run. I observed this over and over again. No matter how tired I felt, the Ora had a way of giving my feet a second wind. This was true even after a challenging workout, when going barefoot would have been tough. The special sauce is in HOKA’s dual-layer EVA construction that pairs a soft top layer and a hefty midsole that offers shock-absorbing stability.
Many of HOKA’s running shoes feature its Meta-Rocker geometry. This is a fancy way of describing the shoes’ curved soles, which resemble the bottom of a rocking chair. The rockered sole helps propel you forward and keeps you from landing flat, ScienceDirect “Effect of rocker soles on plantar pressures” View Source . I particularly liked that the Meta-Rocker helped me walk more smoothly at the end of a long day when I might otherwise have been inclined to shuffle.
The shoes are easy to spot clean with soapy water and held up on easy-going walks. The treads on the bottom of the Oras somewhat resemble my HOKA Clifton road-running shoes, with patterned lugs that had no trouble navigating the gravel and pinecones I routinely encounter in my Seattle neighborhood.
A fit note: The Oras are a bit roomy. I recommend sizing down if you’re between sizes.
Crocs Classic Slide Sandal
- Material: Croslite™ foam
- Size range: 6–12 (women’s), 4-13 (men’s)
- Beaded footbed pattern feels great on tired feet
- Grooved outsole tread provides good traction
- Relatively affordable
- Machine washable
- Less arch support than other top picks
You might call Crocs the OG recovery shoe—and for good reason. The company launched in 2002 with its original clog, and since then has grown into a global footwear brand doing $2.3 billion in annual sales, all focused on comfort for your feet. The Crocs Classic Slide Sandal is a rendition on the classic clog, with an open-toe design and the same classic Crocs shape (and, yes, spots for Jibbitz™). The Classic Slide Sandal is a near-perfect pick for folks who want a more affordable indoor shoe, as well as those who may not opt to wear recovery sandals every day.
It’s the little things that bring the most comfort. My favorite detail on the Crocs Classic Slide Sandal is just that: a beaded pattern lines the entire length of the cushioned footbed. This may not look like much, but it feels amazing—kind of like a tiny massage for bare feet. This, paired with the Classic Slides’ super lightweight, supportive architecture, felt like a sigh of relief for my feet.
Other things to love about the Crocs Classic Slides: Shock absorbent soles and the brand’s patented Croslite™ foam construction that’s easy to spot clean or toss in the wash. The grooved outsole tread provided good traction, too, and I never worried about slipping and sliding, even at the pool.
The Classic Slide Sandals run large, so I recommend sizing down from your regular size. They also lack the marshmallow-y cushioning of some of our other top picks, including the OOFOS Ooahh and the HOKA Ora. But if you’re searching for a pair of easy-wearing recovery sandals that are easier on your wallet, the Crocs Classic Slide Sandals are a primo pick.
Best for Minimalists
Birkenstock Arizona Essentials EVA
- Material: EVA
- Size range: 4–12.5 (women’s), 6-13.5 (men’s)
- Anatomically shaped footbed cradles feet in comfort
- Lightweight construction is ideal for on-the-go adventures
- Two-strap construction is easy to adjust
- Not as much cushion as other picks
Essential, streamlined, pared down, simplified. If these words are music to your minimalist ears, or if you travel frequently and want a recovery shoe that adds mere ounces to your suitcase or pack, you’ll love the Birkenstock Arizona Essentials EVA Sandals.
It’s easy to see why EVA versions of the cult-classic Arizona Birkenstocks are so popular: Modeled after classic Birkenstocks at less than half the price, the EVA Arizona Sandals wrap feet in contoured comfort, while also being waterproof, extremely versatile, and very lightweight (a pair weighs just 3.8 ounces). They also fit true to size.
The anatomical footbed on the Birkenstock Arizona Essentials EVA Sandals is what sets these recovery shoes apart. Smart details like toe grips, longitudinal and transverse arch support, and a deep heel cup help keep feet in proper alignment and alleviate common pressure point pain. My feet loved sliding into these shoes at the end of a long run, and their minimalist design meant that I experienced similar ground feel and control as with the Chaco Chillos.
Birkenstock applied all its time-tested technology (the brand dates back to 1774) when designing the Arizona Essential EVA sandals, including a rugged, shock-absorbing outsole that offers good traction on a variety of surfaces. These recovery sandals would be perfect for sliding tired feet into after a day spent backpacking or exploring a new city. That said, I wouldn’t log long miles in the shoes themselves, due to their pared down nature.
I didn’t observe any wear and tear on our Arizona Essential EVAs, but several customer reviews note that these shoes break faster than the leather model. If you want shoes that stand the test of time in addition to being super comfy, you may want to check out the classic version. Just note that they weigh (and cost) more.
What Are Recovery Sandals?
With their cushioned soles and supportive footbeds, recovery sandals offer an easy alternative to going barefoot. They’re attractive to people who spend long hours on their feet (think teachers and medical professionals), professionals who work from home, and active types who want to wear something supportive after a workout. Their build and material can help them absorb shock and reduce tension on pressure points, making them ideal for sore, tired feet.
Are Recovery Sandals Worth It?
That depends. If you already own a pair of indoor shoes, you may not want or need to invest in a pair of recovery sandals. But if you spend a lot of time on your feet or or are often barefoot at home, recovery sandals can provide support and protection to keep your feet limber and healthy.
“I’m not a big fan of going barefoot,” says Dr. Pamela Hoffman, a New York-based podiatrist with nearly 40 years in the business. “Plantar fasciitis [inflammation around the foot arch, which causes pain] was like an epidemic during Covid because half the world was in their house for two years in their socks. We need to wear shoes!” Hoffman likes recovery sandals for the way they absorb impact and slightly elevate the heel, relieving tight calves.
Although recovery shoes are often marketed to outdoorsy types, you don’t need to be an athlete to wear them. This footwear also tends to be more supportive than flip-flops and other similar options. So, if you’re searching for a supportive sandal, recovery shoes may be for you.
“Recovery shoes help to cushion and support your feet, and they line you up better—they support biomechanics,” said Hoffman. “They tend to have a nice, wide toe box and good arch support.”
This type of shoe doesn’t guarantee that you won’t get injured. But think of supportive shoes as preventative medicine. If you take care of your feet (namely by stretching and wearing something supportive), you’re less likely to get injured.
How We Found The Best Recovery Sandals
Meet Your Guinea Pig
I’m a writer, editor, and content strategist with more than seven years of experience writing about and testing outdoor gear. My favorite free-time activity is running around my Seattle neighborhood—or else running after my two-year-old. Running is my “me time.” When I’m not running, I’m working from home, prepping dinner, playing with my kiddo—you get the picture. Recovery footwear is essential for me because I spend lots of time on my feet.
Our Testing Process
I spent more than a month with The Nessie’s editorial team researching the top recovery sandals currently available to consumers. When whittling down the testing list, I considered everything from comfortable slides designed for padding around your apartment to versatile shoes meant for outdoor use.
After considering dozens of products, I tested six of the most popular recovery sandals available on the market today. (Some brands, including HOKA, Chaco, and Gone for a Run, provided sandals to The Nessie for testing. We purchased the other shoes directly.) I used each pair of sandals for a minimum of two hours at home following a road run lasting anywhere from three to 10 miles in length. I also took each pair of sandals on a walk to see how their outsoles held up on the city sidewalks around our Seattle neighborhood. All told, I logged a total of twenty hours wearing the sandals. To see more about how we found the best recovery sandals, read the test notes.
A note on durability: Each pair of sandals held up well to testing, and didn’t show signs of wear and tear. More testing is needed to gauge the long-term durability of these shoes.
Recovery Sandals Buying Guide
Who Should Buy Recovery Sandals?
You might be interested in a pair of recovery sandals if you’re an active person, or someone who spends a lot of time on your feet. But you don’t have to be an athlete—or even super active!—to invest in a pair of recovery sandals. “Pretty much everyone can benefit from these types of shoes,” said Dr. Hoffman.
Recovery Sandal Features
There are a few considerations to keep in mind when shopping for a pair of recovery sandals, including support, cushion, traction, and price. Think about how you plan to use your sandals before you begin to shop. Some folks like to slide into a pair of recovery shoes the second they return home from a long shift at work, or directly following a gym session. They mostly wear their recovery sandals around the house. Others like to wear their recovery sandals on walks around the neighborhood, to the pool, and other adventures. You’ll want your recovery shoes to offer good traction if you plan to wear them outside.
- Support: A supportive shoe is one that keeps your feet in the proper position when you’re walking and going about your daily activities. When you slide into a shoe with good support, you should feel it in your entire foot, including the mid-area where your arch is located. You should also feel that the shoes cup your heels, so that you can walk with your regular gait. And you shouldn’t experience pressure points, or spots that cause pain—these can be a sign that your shoes don’t fit properly.
- Cushion: Cushioning refers to the thickness of the material under your feet, which can help prevent shock and promotes comfort. Some people like a lot of cushioning, while others prefer just a little. When it comes to walking long distances, some folks find ultra-cushioned shoes to be bulky or unstable. Consider your preferences and how you plan to use your sandals, and choose accordingly.
- Traction: Some recovery shoes feature treads or siping (think of the lines on the outside of a car tire). This is helpful if you’re going to wear the shoes outside, by the pool, or on slippery floors.
Durability: Whenever you invest in new shoes, you want them to last. All the sandals in this guide held up well to our action-packed month of gear testing. Still, durability is a factor you’ll want to consider if you plan to wear your recovery sandals out of the house, as any pair of shoes is more likely to break down faster once you step outside.
- Price: Do you plan to slide your sandals on every day, or only occasionally? The shoes in this guide range from $29.99 to $59.95 in price. If you do plan to wear your shoes regularly, you may be open to investing a little more. But if your recovery sandals are just one item in your rotating shoe wardrobe, then you may want to opt for something more affordable.
When Should You Replace Your Recovery Shoes?
As often as you replace your other footwear if you wear your recovery sandals every day. For most people, this is between four to six months. You should also replace your recovery sandals when you begin to see signs of degradation in the soles, or other areas of the shoe. “I put shoes on a counter, and I look at the back of the heel. If the heel is really tilted to the side, it’s time for [the shoes] go,” Hoffman said. You may not see other signs of wear and tear. But if your shoes are tilting, it means they’re no longer supporting your biomechanics as best they could, according to Hoffman.
Other Recovery Sandals to Consider
Another Recovery Sandal Option
Gone For A Run PR SOLES Largo Recovery Slides
- Material: ACUPOINT® foam
- Size range: 7–13 (women’s), 6-12 (men’s)
- Structured footbed and strap offers a secure fit
- Grooved outsole tread provides good traction
- Acupressure-inspired footbed isn’t for everyone
The Gone for a Run PR Soles Largo Recovery Slides are marketed to runners and athletes, but they’re worth a gander for anyone who enjoys acupressure. These shoes feature a cushioned footbed that’s dotted with impact-absorbing bumps designed to give the soles of your feet an active massage while you walk and stand.
Like the Crocs Classic Slides, the PR Soles Largo Recovery Slides provide the bottoms of your feet with a sensation that initially soothes weary feet. While I found that I could tool around for hours in the Crocs, I maxed out at one or two hours before needing to give my tired tootsies a break from the PR Soles Largo Recovery Slides. These shoes feel like they’re really good for your feet. The brand says the ACCUPOINT® bumps are designed to improve circulation and reduce swelling after a run—but the tradeoff for me was that I couldn’t wear them as long as other top picks.
The Gone for a RUN PR Soles Largo Recovery Slides are easy to clean with soap and water, and their lightweight design makes them easy to toss in a bag and take to the gym. In fact, I really liked slipping into them before the drive home after a workout, then wearing them for a short time once I returned home. And, it’s a small detail, but I really loved the straps on these recovery sandals. They feel true to size and offer a fit that’s snug but not constricting. I always felt stable when I was wearing these shoes. Ultimately, though, I just didn’t want to keep them on my feet as long as the others.
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