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Walking Shoes

Monday, 28 April 2008 | Tags: , ,

The average person walks over 10,000 steps each day, and if you're into walking for physical fitness, it can be a lot more. A good pair of walking shoes may be the ticket to keeping your feet happy. Here's what to look for when buying walking shoes.

The Basics

  • A walking shoe isn’t as technical as a running shoe since the impact is far less, but they still need to fit right and offer support.

  • Sizing your feet properly is first thing to do to make sure you find a comfortable fit.

  • There should be a space (about the width of your thumb) between your longest toe and the end of your shoe to allow for movement.

  • Your feet swell throughout the day, so shoe shopping at the end of the day is the best way to find a good fit.

  • Remember to wear or bring the socks you’ll likely wear to do the majority of your walking.

  • Look for a shoe with a wide toe, a firm solid sole, and no seams in places that will result in pressure and discomfort on your foot.

  • Depending on the way you walk, you’ll want to look for different features in a shoe:

    • Pronators (those whose foot strikes the ground on the outside of the heel and then rolls inward) should wear shoes that have proper motion-control with straight or semi-curved lasts (the space between the in-sole and the mid-sole).

    • Supinators or underpronators (those whose high arches makes the body weight stay on the outside of the foot instead of rolling slightly inward to absorb the shock) require a cushioned shoe with curved lasts that encourage a proper inward roll.

    • People who neither pronate or supinate have a normal our neutral step and should look for stability-type shoes, which are more flexible than motion-control (for pronators), as well as some cushioning.

  • For serious walkers, shop at a smaller specialty store with knowledgeable staff to help you get the right shoes for your feet.

  • Make sure the store has a good return policy, and then take the shoes home and wear them around the house for a few days without getting them dirty. Your feet will soon tell you if the shoes are right. If they aren’t comfortable, try some different ones.

TEST CRITERIA

We walked 20 kms in a few different shoes with the help of some mail carriers and a walking group. We tested walking shoes and one pair of runners from:

  • Nike: $114.95
  • Rockport: $139.98
  • Mephisto: $389.98
  • New Balance (cross trainers): $99.98

Walking Test

  • The Mephistos blistered one tester’s feet badly, while another tester raved about them, saying they had superior comfort and no hot spots.

  • The Rockports didn’t seem to have enough support or cushioning for any of us. Our walking group liked the look of them but they complained about pressure points.

  • The New Balance cross trainers did fine. If you’re not planning on doing a lot of walking, a regular athletic shoe may do the job.

  • Nike got the most votes. The mesh overlay provided a really great fit as well as breathability; their cushioning gave a walking on a cloud feel.

OUR TOP PICK

Nike’s walking shoes had all of our testers walking on a cloud. They were our top pick in this test.

 

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