The best walking shoes for your feet depend on your foot type. Do you have high arches? Or flat feet? Do you overpronate or underpronate?
Beware of any shoe list that recommends one style for every walker. Sneakers are not one size fits all.
Sneakers are made for different foot types. Specifically, they are made for different arch types and pronation types.
You may not know what type of arches you have or if your feet roll inward or outward (yet!) but you may know what pain feels like when your arches ache or your heels or toes hurt after a long walk.
Here is the good news…your feet never have to hurt! Really, it’s true. If your new shoes are causing your feet pain, it means they aren’t the right type for your feet.
You just have to find the pair of sneakers that provides the proper support and cushioning for your feet. It’s simple once you know what type of feet you have. And I am going to give you some quick, easy steps to find your foot type.
Athletic shoes are designed for different types of feet (high arches, flat feet, overpronation, supination) and wearing the wrong type can lead to injuries and pain in your feet, knees, shins and hips.There are three different types of sneakers – neutral, stability and motion control. Each type provides a different amount of cushioning and control of your pronation.
Changing your shoe type can change everything! I once bought a pair of neutral sneakers. I wore them for a few minutes and my arches were aching! Why? Because I overpronate and need a shoe with more stability to control that.
I exchanged those neutral sneakers for a stability sneaker and my arch pain was gone.Find the best walking shoes for your feet with the step-by-step guide I created below.
You can find out what type of shoe you need in two easy steps. You’ll need to know what kind of arch your feet have (normal, flat or high) and what level of pronation you have (normal, under or over). With this information, you can select a shoe that will provide maximum comfort and minimize or eliminate injury.
The best rated walking shoes by pros and walkers alike are Saucony, New Balance, Asics and Brooks. You'll find lists below that include all of these brands as well as how walkers rated them and how comfortable and durable they really are.
All you’ll need is a piece of colored paper, a brown paper bag or cardboard. Get one foot wet and stand on the paper. Take a look at the imprint your foot leaves.
Determine which category your foot falls into:
Normal – Your imprint will show most of your foot and you’ll
notice a large band on the outside of your foot imprint, connecting the
ball of your foot to your heel.
You have a normal size arch and the most common foot type. Also
known as a normal pronator, which means your foot collapses inward
slightly to help absorb shock.
You can wear almost any shoe, but one with some stability is recommended to give you some arch support.
Shoe recommendation: Stability shoe, moderate flexibility.
Flat – If you can see nearly the entire imprint of your foot,
it means you a low arch, or flat feet. This is common for those weighing
over 165 pounds. Also known as an overpronator, your feet roll
excessively inward when they land, which can cause pain in your knees
You’ll need a shoe that offers stability and support.
Stability or Motion Control shoes, depending on the severity of overpronation.
High Arched Feet – If your imprint shows a thin band on the
outside of your foot connecting your ball to your heel, you have high
arches, the least common foot type.
Most likely, you’re an underpronator or supinator, meaning your feet tend to roll outward as they land and you can develop problems with your knees if you don't wear the right shoes to help with this issue.
Shoe recommendation: Neutral-cushioned shoe, maximum flexibility
The Shoe Test
The wear pattern on your shoes can help you determine how much you pronate when walking. Pronation is how much your feet roll either inward or outward as they strike the ground.
Athletic shoes are made to support different types of pronation. For example, a neutral shoe is the most flexible, a stability shoe offers some degree of support for your feet and motion control offers maximum support.
Take a look at the shoes you’ve been walking in. Turn them over and examine the wear pattern.
It’s normal for the outside border of the heel to have some wear.
If the inside area of the heel is more worn than the outside of
the heel, you are an overpronator (your feet tend to roll inward too
much as you walk).
Shoe recommendation: Stability or Motion Control shoes, depending on the severity of overpronation.
If the outside of the heel is more worn than the inside, you are
an underpronator or supinator (your feel roll outward as you walk.)
Shoe recommendation: Neutral-cushioned shoe, maximum flexibility.
If the wear on the heel is about the same, you probably are a normal pronator.
Stability shoe, moderate flexibility.
You can find many great recommendations that I've given to fans of this site on the best walking shoe. Find recommendations for those with high arches, plantar fasciitis and more on my list of Best Walking Shoe FAQs here.