The Importance of Proper Walking Shoes
Shoes that fit can make all the difference in how your feet feel and perform while walking. Ideal shoes should be light weight with enough cushioning and support.
Be sure to test the flexibility of your shoe by grasping its heel and pushing upward at its toe. As you push off with each stride, your shoe should bend naturally with your ball of foot as a response. A variety of Birkenstock shoes can provide these comfort features.
The Right Fit
Proper shoes fit are key to maintaining proper walking technique and preventing injuries, and poorly fitting ones may lead to pain in the feet and toes, blisters or even shin splints.
Shoe selection should fit comfortably around the heel and midfoot regions, with sufficient toe box space to facilitate natural push off while walking. A quality shoe should also provide support for arch-related conditions.
When purchasing walking shoes, always visit a shoe store and have a knowledgeable salesperson measure both feet. Since one foot may be larger than the other, then lace up and walk around in them to test how comfortable they feel right away – not after breaking them in. Remember that exercise will cause swelling of feet so go a size larger than you normally wear for optimal results.
The Right Material
Material selection in walking shoes is of great importance when it comes to comfort and performance. When looking for walking shoes, fabric should allow your feet to breath easily while remaining flexible; lightweight footwear with cushioned soles would also be desirable.
Cushioning in shoes can reduce the impact of walking, helping to ease any foot pain or fatigue that might result. Look for shoes with padding both in the heel and ball of your foot to reduce over-pronation – which is often an source of heel pain.
As well, when shopping for shoes with an ample toe box that allows your toes to wiggle comfortably, perform the “wiggle test.” Additionally, walk in them so you can see how they feel with movement.
The Right Traction
Walking is considered one of the safest forms of exercise; however, injuries may result from wearing shoes with too tight of laces, hard soles, or lacking sufficient cushioning. Slipping is usually caused by meeting an uneven or slippery surface with your shoe’s outer surface coming into contact.
For optimal walking shoes, look for flexible and breathable outer layers which help minimize sweat, an inner sole that offers good gripping material on the bottom, a low heel-to-toe drop to reduce stress on your feet, softness and comfort in their sole design, as well as low heel-to-toe drops that feel soft, smooth, and comfy against your foot.
Hoka is one of several walking shoe manufacturers who has pioneered a rocker-sole design to ease foot strain by rolling your feet as you walk. Look for shoes with this type of sole if you suffer from flat feet, arch pain or other foot conditions; foot experts suggest replacing sneakers after covering 300 to 400 miles.
The Right Support
Shoes should provide adequate support for walking. This includes providing adequate arch support, having thick flexible soles that cushion and absorb shock well and offering enough room in the toe box so your feet don’t rub against each other or against the shoe, according to Louw. Working with a foot doctor or reputable shoe store is key when finding shoes with adequate fitting and adequate support for you feet.
Good Housekeeping collaborated with experts to find walking shoes that will support both feet, knees, hips, and backs comfortably and pain-free on daily walks. Their selections below feature cushioned midsoles for added support while coming in various widths and sizes to meet different needs.