What's the best shoe for a walker?
There are a limited number of sports “walking” shoes and an almost unlimited number of “running” shoes. Thus, your choice is dramatically reduced if you think you need a “walking shoe” even if you are a steadfast walker. Running shoes will work for walkers. Running shoes will work for runners. Walking shoes may not work for either.
Walking shoes tend to be correlated to sightseeing or city hiking with frequent stops and possibly being worn all day. There are special shops that sell walking shoes. If you are doing this type of walking then go to a shop that specializes in walking shoes. Get something that looks good, feels great, with good support. Buy with the thought that you could keep these shoes for years and wear them all over the world. Walking shoes should take you from one end of Rome to the other, with some level of fashion and function.
Walking for exercise, maybe daily for 30 – 60 minutes? Walking in the mall? Walking around a lake or a park? A good running shoe would make a good walking shoe.
You want something that is light, with heel padding, and some decent ankle support. You want a shoe that addresses your unique foot strike. Do you pronate? Do you supinate? If you don’t know what these words mean it is even more important that you check in with a reputable shoe store to get fitted to a decent shoe. Too many of us buy shoes online or on sale by the price and don’t bother to learn about the qualities of the shoe.
From my own experience, and from the hundreds of women I have coached, if you are in an inappropriate shoe you can do your feet and legs some major injustices. A good shoe, and the understanding of why it is right for your foot, is one of the most essential elements in a successful exercise program. As a walker, you need a shoe that will support a heel strike with each and every landing. We try to get runners to stay off of their heels or at least to land lightly on their heels but walkers, appropriately, start each and every step they take with a heel strike.
Would some padding in the heel help or are you a novice walker, used to wearing sandals? A 0 drop shoe will give your foot the best workout because it will be flexing fully with each step, from heel to toe. If you are used to walking in sandals, this type of shoe may be a good step up for increasing your distance. Padding in the heel, creating a shoe that has a “drop” from heel to toe, will help those walkers who have worn elevated heels (including high heels or merely padded sports shoes) to build up their calf muscles without overstraining the front or back of their feet and legs.
Additionally, a padded heel creates a softer landing since, as we discussed earlier, walkers land on their heels with every single step. What brand is right for you? This takes some practice. Some brands run wider or narrower, most shoes come in women’s and men’s lasts. I often buy men’s shoes because my feet are wide. The colors and styles of course, can vary for men’s and women’s shoes and nowadays some colors or style just might not appeal…Men’s shoes will also be made a bit heavier since men tend to weigh more than women.
My general advice is to buy a quality pair of the least expensive model that works for your foot (based on professional sales advice) until you have a brand that you love. Last year’s model will usually cost less than the newest color combination of the same construction underneath. Then try them out. Until you put in several hours with your shoes it can be difficult to judge if they are right or not.
Let’s hope that first attempt at buying a good pair of walking shoes works well for you. If the shoe feels good you should be able to wear it for 6 months or so with 30 - 45 minutes of walking 5 - 6 days a week. At some point the shoes just lose their “bounce” and this is a good time to have a new pair to move in to. Running shoes, for runners, have many similar features and a few differences which I will cover in a different article. Thanks for reading!