Tips for Choosing the Perfect Walking Shoe

Walking ShoesDura­bil­i­ty, sta­bil­i­ty, and long-last­ing com­fort are all impor­tant con­sid­er­a­tions when it comes to select­ing a new pair of walk­ing shoes ― but how can you mea­sure the qual­i­ty of a shoe just by look­ing at it? This arti­cle includes sev­er­al tips for prospec­tive walk­ing shoe buyers.

Always go with laces
Dr. John M. Guiri­ni tells Boston Mag­a­zine that tie shoes should trump san­dals, slip-ons, or those with Vel­cro straps. “Tie shoes keep the foot from slid­ing around,” he explains. “The laces add sta­bil­i­ty and sup­port.” The excep­tion is wear­ers with back prob­lems or oth­er ail­ments who have a hard time bend­ing over to tie their laces.

Per­form a “tweak test”
Walk­ing shoes should be able to with­stand a good deal of wear-and-tear. First, pick up the shoe by its heel and bend the toe; where does the shoe bend? It should bend at the ball of the foot, rather than the arch. Then, twist the shoe from heel to toe. There should be some resis­tance, instead of a “wet noo­dle” effect.

Check for bonus com­fort features
The Mayo Clin­ic urges walk­ing shoe shop­pers to check out the fol­low­ing fea­tures on any pair of shoes they are considering:

  • Achilles notch: The rear edge of the foot open­ing; it lim­its the amount of stress placed on your Achilles tendon.

  • Ankle col­lar: The side edges of the foot open­ing; should cush­ion the ankle with­out chafing.

  • Sole: The under­side of the shoe; extra padding for the mid­sole (rear) cush­ions the heel and absorbs shock, while grooves or tread­ing for the onsole (front) help you retain trac­tion while you move. The insole, locat­ed in the cen­ter, should be par­tial­ly raised and cush­ioned to accom­mo­date your arch.

  • Upper: Top side of the shoe, includ­ing tongue and laces; uppers made from mesh mate­ri­als assist with ventilation.

  • Roll bar: Locat­ed between the heel and the insole; inward-rolling bars allow you to take more con­trolled steps.

  • Gel pad: Cush­ioned lay­er that sep­a­rates the foot from the sole; the wear­er’s foot and toes should fit per­fect­ly if the pad includes any spe­cial­ized grooves.

  • Toe box: The front edge of the shoe; space should feel secure, but also roomy enough to move your toes. This will help pre­vent calluses.

Know your size
“Feet can short­en or widen over time,” says Dr. Guiri­ni, adding that your feet also tend to be more swollen than usu­al in the after­noon and evening (par­tic­u­lar­ly if you don’t sit at a desk all day). If you haven’t pur­chased a new pair of shoes with­in the last two or three years, he rec­om­mends mea­sur­ing your feet to ensure they have retained the same size before mak­ing a new pur­chase. He also advis­es buy­ers to try on new pairs with socks they plan to wear while walking.

Final­ly, most experts agree that $50 to $100 is a rea­son­able price for a pair of high-qual­i­ty walk­ing shoes. Con­sumers should avoid buy­ing cheap shoes of less­er cal­iber; they aren’t near­ly as durable as their cost­lier coun­ter­parts. But by the same token, you should also watch out for over-priced kicks; most of them cost more due to brand recog­ni­tion, and inex­pen­sive mod­els that are just as effec­tive are usu­al­ly avail­able (in the same store, no less).

Tell us about your most recent walk­ing shoe-buy­ing expe­ri­ence. Any addi­tion­al tips for the rest of us?