Walking is not only a heart-friendly method of exercise, but it can also be a way to reconnect with the outdoors. As a form of recreational activity, walking does not require any specialized equipment other than a good pair of walking shoes. Selecting the right walking shoes is not only a matter of comfort, but also important for preventing foot and joint problems. Learn what to look for when comparing walking shoes to help you make an educated and informed decision.
Comparing the Right Fit
One of the most basic things to look for when comparing walking shoes is how well the respective shoes fit. An ill-fitting shoe not only feels uncomfortable, but can also increase the risk of ankle injury and blisters. Shoe fit is one of the areas that you cannot skimp on, though it may be tempting to buy a cheaper shoe even if it is one or two sizes too big or small. Pull on a pair of socks and try on the shoes. There should be a 1/2-inch space between the tip of the shoe and your longest toe. A trickier size is the shoe width. The shoe should feel snug without squeezing your feet. Many individuals have wider-than-average feet and need custom-width shoes. Numerous companies offer wide and extra-wide models, including New Balance (the NP 844 Walker and the NP 768 runner), Brooks Ariel's Etonic line and Roadrunner Sports.
Comparing Personal Foot Patterns
Walking shoes are designed to match or correct walking patterns. Look at the bottom of your current pair of walking shoes. A worn sole on the outside border of the shoe's heel toward the center is referred to as "normal pattern." Shoes in which the inside of the edge is worn away points toward "overpronation." Finally, "supination" can be noted if you notice excessive wearing away just on the outside edge of the sole. A walking shoe with stability is best for normal pattern walkers. Motion controlled shoes can help with overpronation, while shoes with a smaller midsole and extra internal cushioning can help with supination.
Comparing Shoe Prices
While department stores may have a wide variety of walking shoes, specialty shoe shops offer service personnel with increased experience as well as a wider price range. Walking shoes can cost anywhere from $30 to over $150. While price is not always a guiding factor due to regular sales and seasonal discounts, low-cost walking shoes are typically not as durable as more expensive shoes from manufacturers such as Nike or New Balance. Recognized walking shoe manufacturers often use higher-quality products in impact areas such as soles and cushioning, which results in a higher cost but longer shoe lifetime.
Article Written By Josh Duvauchelle
Josh Duvauchelle is an editor and journalist with more than 10 years' experience. His work has appeared in various magazines, including "Honolulu Magazine," which has more paid subscribers than any other magazine in Hawaii. He graduated with honors from Trinity Western University, holding a Bachelor of Arts in professional communications, and earned a certificate in applied leadership and public affairs from the Laurentian Leadership Centre.