Understanding Walking Shoes and How to Pick the Best
What are walking shoes? To put it simply, they are shoes you expect to use primarily for walking. They could be shoes that you just use when walking as a form of exercise, for causal walking, or they could be shoes that you use for more “serious” occasions when you expect to walk long distances.
What Are Walking Shoes’ Differences In Design From Other Types of Athletic Shoes?
Most other athletic shoes are built with runners in mind. Good runners tend to hit the ground with their mid-foot. However, for walking, the heel is typically the first to strike the ground, and then the rest of the foot rolls over to make contact with the ground.
Hence, a good walking shoe should have a relatively flat and slightly undercut heel, to better allow rolling forward, whereas a running shoe designed to provide more stability may have a built-up heel. When walking, the foot also hits the ground with less impact than when running, so less cushioning is required for walking shoes, resulting in a lighter shoe.
What Are Walking Shoes Worth Buying?
There is no single best shoe that fits everyone. Everyone’s feet and walking style is different. However, there are a few guidelines that you can use to select a good walking shoe.
Your walking shoes need to be flexible, as your foot will flex as you roll through a step. Getting one that is not flexible enough will cause your foot to fight it as you walk, which could cause shin splints. A good walking shoe is one that you can twist..
As walking requires you to push off from the ground with your toes, a walking shoe that flexes at the forefoot is ideal. Try bending your walking shoes and see whether they bend at the ball of the foot.
As mentioned previously, a good walking shoe should have a relatively flat and slightly undercut heel. Avoid getting shoes with a flared heel as these will impede your walking.
When you try on your walking shoes, your feet shouldn’t feel cramped, and you should have adequate room in the toe. Walk around to see how you feel in the shoes. Do not get shoes that you feel uncomfortable in thinking that you can break them in. It is also best if you wear a pair of socks that you’ll be wearing together with the shoes when you try them on, so you can get a feel of them with the same padding and thickness that you will be subjecting them to.
Depending on your walking style, there are other factors that you should also consider when getting walking shoes. For example, if you overpronate, consider getting shoes with less flexibility and extra medial support or motion control shoes.
What Are Walking Shoes’ Life Expectancy?
It is recommended that you replace your walking shoes after every 500 miles. If you are walking 30 minutes a day, this means replacing them every six months.
Alternatively, buy a new pair of walking shoes after 300 miles and alternate between wearing them and your old pair, so you can tell when the your old walking shoes have lost their cushioning and support and should be replaced. Consider different shoes for different surfaces, for example concrete walking is a different ball game altogether!
Top Things to Look For When Purchasing Walking Shoes
Eons ago, a person could walk into a shoe store and purchase a dress shoe, a sneaker, or a tennis shoe. That’s all there was to it. There was no big hurrah or stress filled meltdowns over purchasing the “right” shoe. Today there are running shoes, hiking shoes, walking shoes, even water shoes. How do you know which pair are right for you? Doing a little research can go a long way.
What type of walking shoes do you really need?
First consider your activity level. Amazing as it may sound, even walking shoes have different levels. There are shoes dedicated to walking marathons, casual fitness and race-walking. Everyday walking shoes can be used for not only “everyday” use but also for walking a marathon. If you plan on tackling race-walking then look for major flexibility and a low heel with a rounded edge.
Next, it’s time to check out the true size of your feet. Yes, everyone knows that your size hasn’t changed in the last 10 years. *cough cough* The rest of your body changes with age, and guess what? So do your feet. Find out the correct size and width of your foot by using the Brannock device. This little device is the flat metal thing you slip your foot onto while you are visiting your favorite shoe store. This handy device measures both the length and width of your foot.
Tips to keep in mind when trying on walking shoes
Make sure to wear the same type of socks that you would normally wear with your walking shoes. Using the little nylon sock that they give you at the store really won’t do.
Another thing to remember is the best time to try on shoes. At the end of the day your feet are swollen and tired, perfect. After lacing up the shoes, they should be comfortable. They should not be too loose or too tight. Is there plenty of room to wiggle your toes? There should be a finger’s width between your toes and the end of the shoe.
Take your walking shoes for a stroll. When walking around the store pay attention to how the shoes react. Is there appropriate flexibility when you walk? Shoes should bend at the ball of the foot. A good flexibility test is to stand on the balls of your feet and roll back to your heels. Try walking on different surfaces to determine the difference in traction.
Discover the importance of arch support. When walking or standing still your arch should touch the bottom of the shoe. Another test is to stand with your feet shoulder width apart. Is there a sway in your stance? Do your feet roll inwards? If one or both of these are true then the shoes do not have the proper arch support. Pretty nifty bit of information, huh!
Purchasing walking shoes should not be left to price. The health of your feet are an important aspect of your health as a whole. Using these tips will help you to make an educated decision. Say good-bye to tired, aching feet because of the wrong shoes.
Image credit https://www.flickr.com/photos/milass/