A blog by runners. For runners.

5 considerations for walking shoes

buying-walking-shoes

For walkers, choosing a good pair of walking shoes is just as important as runners choosing a solid pair of running shoes. Both have the power to help prevent blisters and other foot issue like calluses, along with providing a supportive, shock-absorbing fit. However, running and walking shoes certainly have some unique considerations, since the gait for walking and running are different.

Here are some things to think about before buying your next pair:

Foot shape
You’ll want to take a look at your foot before taking that colorful pair of sneakers to the checkout. Feet, like people, come in all different shapes and sizes. Here you want to determine if the width and length of your feet (for proper sizing), as well as your arch type (neutral, low, or high). A helpful trick if you don’t have a clue how your feet measure up is to check out your wet footprint in the sand, on the sidewalk, or even on a piece of paper. And if that fails, you can always ask someone at your local sports shop.

Heel and toe
You’ll want wiggle room for your toes to account for any swelling that might occur after a long walk. You’ll also want a snug fit around your heel to avoid slips and rub marks. And speaking of the heel, walkers tend to stride with a heel-to-toe motion (unlike runners, where the emphasis is more on the midfoot strike). So, steer clear from shoes with built-up or flared heels, which will discourage a more natural rolling motion.

Wear and tear
The way we walk is just as personal as our feet. Some of us pronate, while others have a neutral walking stride. How you wear your shoes on the daily will show up on the tread, so pick up your shoes and take a look. If the bottom is worn relatively evenly, you don’t need motion control or any fancy features in this regard. However, if you do see some uneven wear and tear, it’s a good idea to check out motion controlled shoes to help align your feet and ultimately avoid injury.

Flexibility
With walking form in mind, you’ll want to choose shoes that aren’t super rigid to allow your foot to perform natural motion. In fact, you should be able to “bend and twist” the shoes ideally. I remember years ago going to look for shoes with my mother and all the salesmen wanted to keep the foot stationary with a hard, firm sole. That’s just not the expert thinking anymore. You don’t need to walk completely barefoot, but you’ll allow the muscles in your feet to develop (and prevent injury) better this way.

Feel and fit 
You can choose a pair of walking shoes that theoretically work for your shape/size foot. But how do they feel? Take advantage of local athletic stores and go try things on. So much of our lives are internet-driven these days, but I have bought so many shoes without trying them on and have been sorry. Walk around — for a while. See how they feel. Are they rubbing anywhere? Do you feel like your heel is slipping? Anything that feels off will likely not get better with time. And if you do order online, don’t tread outdoors right away, wear your shoes in your living room for a test run and send ’em back if they don’t work.

Written by  Ashley Marcin.