Walking is a great way to exercise on a low-impact scale. Walking is therapeutic and can be relaxing and invigorating. Before you hit the walking trails though, you need to equip your feet for the best comfort and support. It’s so important to invest in good walking shoes, and most of all, to find the best shoes for you.
There are many factors that can determine what makes the best walking shoe, and the overall best shoe may vary by person. Our feet vary so differently from person to person. What works best for me may not work for Mary Smith, who lives down the street. Let’s talk about the 3 main components you should consider: cushion, fit, and stability. Let’s break these down a little further.
Cushion in a shoe is more than just padding. Walking shoes need to have just the right amount of cushioning and firmness. Cushioning does not just mean extra padding in the heel area.
When you consider that cushion in a walking shoe is important, also consider that cushion might be necessary for multiple areas of the shoe. The amount of cushioning you need might also depend on your arch. High-arch feet typically need more cushion for ultimate comfort, while flat feet are a whole different story. Flat feet have much different consideration of what types of shoes might work best for them, so it’s important to find the walking shoes for flat feet.
Keep in mind your personal cushioning needs may require extra inserts or orthotics, but you can still seek out the right cushioning in the right places for your feet. Consider how much and what type of walking you primarily will be doing. Will you be doing a lot of extra standing still? Will you be walking on woody paths? Any of these factors can play a role in which type of cushioning you should look for.
One of the most important factors in choosing shoes is you need the shoes to fit properly. Do you have wide feet or narrow feet? What type of arch do you have, or are you flat-footed? Do you suffer from bunions, plantar fasciitis, or any other types of discomfort that might need to be considered?
It is highly recommended that when you are selecting walking shoes, you at least go into a store that can accurately size feet and you can try on shoe options to know how they will feel on your feet. While online shoe ordering is convenient, you never know sizing or fit style unless you’ve been in a store and know your personal sizing and fit needs.
Look for a shoe that has the appropriate shape differentials for your feet. Is there plenty of the room, do the heel and ankle provide the support and comfort you need, are the shoes flexible enough to make walking comfortable?
The right walking shoes will also offer the right amounts of stability. Stability is not interchangeable with the term stability here. Stability is referring to the proper support in the proper areas of the shoe. Your shoe needs a certain amount of flexibility – walking requires moving and bending of the foot and you want your shoe to bend and conform to those movements without sacrificing overall support and stability.
For the best stability for walking, look for shoes that do not have a significant sized heel, and the heel should not have any flare on the sides. Without the proper ratio of flexibility and support, you are likely to suffer shin splints during walking. The ankle area should be firmer, to offer stabilization and protect you from potentially injuring your ankle.
There are several other factors you can consider when you’re trying to choose the right walking shoe for you. Check out the toe box of the shoe and be sure there is plenty of room there. You don’t want the shoe to be too big, but you do need to be able to wiggle your toes and bend them easily. Look at the shoe’s traction.
The best walking shoes have grooves in the outsoles of the shoe to provide traction while you are walking. Consider shoes that gel, foam, or air in the midsole. This will offer the most comfort while you walk. The final thing you might consider is breathability. Walking could cause your feet to sweat and breathable shoes will be much more comfortable in that scenario.
Walking shoes and running shoes are not the same types of shoe. These shoes have distinct differences in the way they are made. Running shoes have padding and support in the midsole area, as runners tend to land on the mid-sole with each step.
The heels are built up to blend the comfort, and typically the soles flare out at the heel to stabilize each running step. Walking shoes are designed with a more padded heel and ankle stabilization because walking tends to land first on the heel and then transfer weight towards the toe. Walking shoes are flexible and durable in one product, while running shoes have flex in specific areas for comfortable foot movement.
Good walking shoes come in a variety of sizes, styles, and prices. Don’t get hung up on the type of shoe so much as looking for the shoe with the right features. You might find running shoes that best fit your needs and are suitable for walking; you might also find your perfect shoe in a performance trainer or basic tennis shoe. Look for the qualities you need in your search for walking shoes.
Style is really the least important aspect when choosing the right walking shoes. Start by finding the best shoe. Remember to look for flexibility, proper sizing, and the right support and cushioning while seeking out the best walking shoe for you. Understand that it may take some looking around and trying on multiple shoes and styles to find your perfect walking shoes.