The best shoes for walking are made specifically for the sport of walking and will provide you with support and flexibility that a running sneaker cannot.
A walker needs a different type of athletic sneaker than a runner because our feet strike the ground differently. Therefore, we are going to have different needs in terms of flexibility, shock absorption and cushioning.
I’ll give you a list of the very best shoes for walking in just a few paragraphs, but first I’d like to tell you more about the features of a good walking shoe so that you know what to look for when you’re in the market for a new pair.
Take a moment to think about how you walk. First, your heel will strike the ground, and then your foot will roll from heel to toe. Finally, you push off with your toes to take the next step. The best shoes for walking will support your feet through each of these actions.
Heel – Running sneakers have thicker, squared off heels with extra cushioning in the heel area because a runner’s foot strikes the ground harder than a walker’s. All that extra cushioning just makes it harder for a walker to land on the heel.
According to Mark Fenton, author of The Complete Guide To Walking, the thick heel of a running sneaker causes a walker’s toes to slap down which can lead to shin discomfort and burning in the shins.
The best shoes for walking will have low, rounded heels that support the natural heel strike of a walker.
Flexibility – Allows your foot to smoothly roll from heel to toe. You’ll want to look for flexibility, especially in the ball of the foot. A flexible shoe will allow your toes to naturally push off as they take the next step.
The Bend Test: Take one of the sneakers and hold the heel in one hand. With your other hand, try bending up the toe area of the shoe. You should see the shoe bend exactly where your toes naturally bend. However, the shoe should not bend a lot in the arch during this test. That indicates a sneaker with very little arch support.
In addition to being designed for different sports, such as walking or running, athletic sneakers are also designed for different foot types. For example, some of us have high arches while others have normal arches or flat feet.
Shoes are designed with different amounts of flexibility to accommodate these different foot types. If you wear the wrong type, you’ll know! I once bought a pair of shoes designed for a different foot type than mine and I had terrible arch pain when I walked. I returned the shoes for the right type for my feet and they felt wonderful.
Don’t know what type of feet you have? Don’t worry! I’ve put together a step-by-step guide that will help you determine your foot type. You can find it here.
Remember, you should never need to “break in” a sneaker. If it hurts when you first try them on, return them and get a different pair.
And, find a store that will allow you to wear your new shoes and return them if they aren’t the right fit for you. It can be hard to tell whether they fit correctly in the store so you’ll need to try them out on one of your walks to see if they provide the support you need.
Now that you know the features of a good walking shoe, here are the top rated walking shoes:
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