Buying your first pair of walking shoes can seem like a daunting task with all the choices available on the market. Luckily, a few simple tips can make the process of finding the perfect pair of walking shoes for your lifestyle a lot easier.
Contrary to popular belief, there is no “best” shoe on the market. Everything depends on what fits you best, and best suits your needs. Your own personal need for support, flexibility, cushioning and your walking style all combine to affect what could make up the best shoe for them.
Go Shoe Shopping At The End of the Day
One of the most important tips involves when you go shoe shopping. Going after a walk, or at the end of the day allows for a fit more like what you will be experiencing while walking, since your foot will be slightly swollen. It is also important to wear the same style of socks that you will be wearing during walks, as something that small can make a huge difference, especially when compounded over many hikes.
Often, your walking shoe size can differ greatly from your regular shoe size because of the swelling that occurs during walking. For a lot of people, the walking shoe size will range from being a half size to a size and half greater than their regular shoe size.
Know What Walking Shoes Means
Shoes for walking require different features than shoes for running or athletics. Walking shoes should be flexible. Test this by attempting to bend and twist the shoes. You’ll want the shoe to move with your feet as you flex them during steps instead of pushing back at you. The heel of the shoe should be flat. It should also bevel inward, instead of flaring out, to keep your walking stance correct. Heels that flare out prevent the natural rolling motion of your steps, which can cause potential injuries. Flared heels are typically designed to provide running stability, but can prevent the natural heel strike and roll necessary for walkers.
Looking for Proper Fit
The same as any other shoe, a proper fit is essential. A shoe that meets all your needs but fits poorly is useless, and can cause you harm, such as blisters. All shoes should have enough room in the toe area to allow for slight movement of the feet inside the shoes during the forward movement. Typically a, thumb’s width between your toes and the end of the shoe is what is recommended.
Wiggle your toes to see if they can move freely. If so, the shoe is likely the correct size. Also, there should be no pinching of the shoe anywhere. Common areas of possible pinching or rubbing include the back of the foot and heel, the arch and the ball of the foot. If any part of the shoe seems to rub your foot, trying on another shoe or a larger size is recommended, as this rubbing will cause blisters and calluses over time. It is also important that your arch is well supported, especially if you have high arches, which can potentially “fall.”
Similar to the process of trying on other shoes, allow yourself enough time to walk around in the store to truly get accustomed to the fit. For walking shoes, it is especially recommended that you walk around the store for a few minutes. After all, you will be solely walking in these shoes, and this is the best way to test the fit and the options of the shoe.
The right shoe should feel nice immediately – don’t think about buying shoes in hopes that after a few wears they’ll feel better! Walking around in the shoes for several minutes can also help to balance out the fact that your feet are going to be less swollen than usual, thanks to the cool temperatures of the store.
Know Your Walking Environment
Where are you going to be walking most often? Yes, the environment in which you will be walking can make a difference in what shoe will be best for you. Some people find that it can make so much of a difference that they have different walking shoes for different environments.
If you often walk on hard surfaces, walking in the store will give you a good idea how well the shoe will serve you. Walking on hard surfaces often requires a shoe with better cushioning and shock absorbent qualities. Outdoor walking, especially on uneven paths, requires that you find a shoe with good grips or treads to prevent any slips or falls.
With these tips, you can feel empowered to buy your first pair of walking shoes, knowing you can shop to best suit your needs – and your feet!