Walking is a recreational exercise that is enjoyed daily by millions of active folks all over the globe. Aside from dedication and smooth form, walking shoes are probably the single most important component to a successful walking routine. Folks sometimes get started in any old pair of kicks, but they often realize that they need shoes more specifically catered to their needs in order to keep up their walking regiment for the long run. Here are four simple ways to go about determining which walking shoe is right for you, plus a few suggestions to get you started on your journey.
Identify your Walking Ambitions
Walking seems like a universal activity on the surface, but the truth is that three are various levels and types of walking, and you’ll want to be sure about your plans before you plunk down any cash for new shoes. Distance, speed and terrain should all be taken into account when you are in search of a new pair of walking shoes.
If your walking routine is going to be your primary form of exercise and you hope to get a bevy of results out of your endeavors, then you will need a durable shoe that provides a lot of support and comfort. Determining whether you will typically be walking on pavement, grass or dirt will help you to select a shoe with a tread pattern that allows you to get the most traction for the least amount of effort. Simply put, the less stable the surface is, the more grip will be needed.
Make sure it fits your Foot
How the shoe feels on your foot should ultimately trump how it looks or its price, because that is essentially going to be the primary factor in your relationship with your new footwear. Understand and acknowledge any prior lower body injuries, and make sure you don’t buy a pair that places your foot in angles that will exacerbate prior injuries or muscle pulls.
Width of the shoe is often overlooked in light of the importance of finding the right size, but if your shoe is too wide or too narrow for your foot, it can create problems over the long run. Since there is no analogy for something fitting like a shoe, your task becomes to find a shoe that fits like a glove.
Make sure it fits your Style
While comfort is paramount, style is also important. Many folks put it at the very top of the list when looking for a new walking shoe, often identifying the color schemes that they like best up front and immediately narrowing the selection down from there. While you don’t necessarily need to go that far, buying a pair that you feel totally comfortable wearing in public is obviously imperative.
Toed shoes have become increasingly popular over the past few years and provide incredible natural support and a connection with the surface, but some folks simply cannot get over their unusual look. Imagine the foot being dipped into a gel that then dries into a fabric. Toed shoes hug the foot perfectly and include five precisely-sized slots for individual toes, each of which can wiggle independently. The basic idea is to return to the posture and form of barefoot walking. Toed shoes are lightweight, durable and come in an array of color schemes.
Ultimately, the best walking shoes for you are a pair that you will constantly look forward to putting on. If you wake up in the morning thinking about how good it’s going to feel to put your walking shoes on and get up on your feet, then you’ve essentially hit the bulls-eye.
Make a Connection with the Surface
How the foot feels at the moment of greatest impact is key to the overall comfort of a walking shoe. Soles vary drastically in thickness and design, and deciding on the best one for you is simply a matter of preference and ergonomics. Some walkers like to be a good inch or so off of the ground when they move along on pavement, and some prefer to be as close to our ancestor’s bare or animal skin-covered feet as possible. As long as your foot feels comfortable and in control of your body when you make your step, your walking shoe will satisfy you in the long run.
Best for Men
A few brands have emerged over the past few decades as the most popular walking shoes for men, and the group is headlined by Nike and Asics. Nike is a major player in every type of footwear, whereas Asics has focused almost all of their resources and innovation into making the perfect running and walking shoes. Vibram is a company that makes the aforementioned toed shoes, which house each toe individually and are essentially a wrapping for the foot, but men tend to be more conscious about their unusual appearance than their female walking counterparts.
Best for Women
Nike and New Balance are at the top of sales for women’s walking shoes as well, but a variety of small companies have released ultra-comfortable and supportive walking shoes for women in recent years. A few models are even designed for senior citizens, allowing them to walk with greater ease and giving them a motivation to get out of the house. Women flock to New Balance walking shoes because they come in many variations and feature a multitude of vivid color schemes, from vibrant to subtle.
Deena Walters is a writer for Uncomfortablefoot.com. If she’s not reviewing retail trends in comfortable walking shoes, she can probably be found driving her three teenage boys around to their school and sports activities.