Unlike other forms of exercise, walking doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment, just a good walking pedometer and a pair of walking shoes. But what type of walking shoe is the best fit for you? There are several important factors to keep in mind while shopping for a new pair of walking shoes. Knowing what to look for can be the difference between getting a good pair and getting a great pair.
For many people it’s easy to confuse running shoes or cross trainers for walking shoes. That’s because these shoes share many similar characteristics such as athletic looks and breathable materials. However, running shoes are designed with more cushion in the heel, while walking shoes put more cushion under the balls of the feet. This is because runners put more pressure on their heels as they strike the ground, while walkers form pressure on the balls of their feet as they push off.
Consider the following before purchasing a pair of walking shoes to ensure a good fit:
Know your Arch
Everyone’s foot is different. The height of your arch determines the right style of shoe for you. People with a high arch need extra support to prevent strain, while people with low arches can feel pressure or discomfort with too much arch support. To find out if you have a high or low arch, step onto a wet surface and then step onto a dry piece of paper. If you have a high arch you will notice only a narrow band connecting your heel to your forefoot. If you have a lower arch this band will be wider, and for those with flat feet there will be little or no arch curve at all.
Length and width
It’s important to have a shoe that accommodates your foot length and width comfortably. A shoe that is too short or narrow will squeeze and cause pain, while a shoe that is too loose will shift around and cause blisters on friction points. Different brands of shoes have different toe box shapes, if you suffer from bunions or have a wide forefoot you should consider a brand with a wider toe box for extra comfort.
A good walking shoe should be flexible. Be wary of any walking shoe made from stiff materials that don’t move comfortable with the foot. Inflexible shoes are sure to cause blistering and callusing.