It likely comes as no surprise that walking shoes and running shoes are two different types of footwear. When you run, your feet pound the pavement with their midsoles first. When you walk, you use a gentler heel-toe motion that doesn’t require the same level of support. You still need stability, cushioning and, most of all, flexibility in your walking shoes. Here’s how to choose the right pair for you. Once you’ve purchased the pair, you love, try to keep them as clean as possible. Watch out for gums, and if it’s the case you have got one, you can learn how to get gum off shoes with some useful guidance on the internet.
1. Check Out the Heels
Walking shoes should have a relatively flat heel. Because it’s a low-impact exercise, anything greater than 1 inch is too much elevation for walking.
Look for a beveled edge on the outside of the heel, as well. This boosts your stability as you stride from your heel through your toe.
2. Twist Them Twice
Flexibility is crucial in a walking shoe. When you walk, your foot bends the most as you push off your toe and complete your roll-through.
Snag those New Balance athletic shoes you’ve had your eye on and twist them twice: First, the long way, to make sure the shoe bends at the ball of the footbed, not at the arch or anywhere else. Your twist should be met with a little bit of resistance, too. While you don’t want your shoe to be totally rigid, you don’t want to be met with a limp dishrag, either.
Next, wrench them sideways. Here, you’re looking for overall pliability. Many walking shoes have flexible grooves built in to accommodate the twists and turns of the average walk. Those that don’t should compensate with pliable outsoles. In short, if the shoe isn’t bendy, it’s not the right walker for you.
3. Poke the Toes Two Ways, Too
There’s more to jabbing a shoe’s toebox than checking the fit, but that’s a good place to start. Ideally, you should have a half-inch of breathing room between your big toe and the end of the shoe. This gives your toes adequate room to contract when your heel hits the ground and plenty of space to stretch out when you roll through. If your walking shoe’s toe is too tight, it can lead to cramping.
4. Take Them for a Test Drive
More than anything, it’s important that your walking shoes fit well. The best way to insure this is to go for three short walks. First, lace up those shiny new and simply walk around at a leisurely pace. Stop, start, turn: Hit all the basics and wear the socks you usually wear when you walk.
Next, hike up some stairs. Take them two at a time if you can, and pay attention to your heels. If you feel them raising up off the insoles, you have a bad fit.
Finally, walk down a small hill if you can. Take forceful steps and note your toe movement or lack thereof. Just like with your heels, if your toes are sliding around and slamming against the inside of the shoes, those aren’t the pair for you.
Regular walking is a simple yet effective way to optimize your health. Choose the pair of walking shoes that fits not only your feet but also your active lifestyle and personality.