I love walking don’t you? Walking is both my exercise and my relaxation at either the end of the day, or first thing in the morning… As I get older, I am sure like many of you, I find my feet are changing… and my shoe needs aren’t the same as they were in my 20’s! As many of us are taking up walking for whatever reason, I thought I’d share my thoughts…
When you are looking for a nicely supportive walking shoe, there are many different factors to consider. For many of us, a shoe is essential for comfortable, safe walking. If you find your feet, calves, and/or legs aching halfway through your walk, there are most likely 2 reasons
1) You most likely don’t have a supportive enough walking shoe. Owning a good quality walking shoe will go a long way to preventing injuries and pain. Additionally, a well designed, good brand of shoe will allow you to walk miles in comfort – and what avid walker would say no to that I wonder…?
2) Over the years as your body is subjected to daily wear and tear, your feet, ankles and legs go out of alignment. Recently I started doing Park Run and my feet and legs began to hurt:( Park Run is where you meet up with other runners or walkers at 8 am in your city and do the 5 kms. The idea is to beat your time as you get fitter… This is a worldwide group so you’ll be sure to find a local group.
So, with all that, I have outlined some of the best types of walking shoes providing all different levels of support in different ways. Some shoes provide more support around your ankle, some to your arch, and others to your heel. Hopefully you may find the best option for your walking needs!
Gel Foot Bed Shoes
If you are an everyday kind of walker, you will want to find a pair of lightweight and flexible walking shoes that provide ample heel support. Looking for a walking shoe with a comfortable gel footbed is a great option. A gel foot bed will provide you with a level of cushioned comfort so you can continue walking day in and day out. The gel in the heel will also provide great support by protecting the part of your foot that many people tend to walk hardest on.
Additionally, making sure the shoe is a lighter weight will help your pace and keep your feet from getting too tired. Flexibility will also allow your foot to move more naturally within the shoe so it is not too constrictive, tight, and uncomfortable.
Another aspect to consider is, as people age, they lose the layer of fat padding from the bottom of their feet. Sounds horrible doesn’t it:(
ASICS GEL-tech Walker Neo 4 if you want a fantastic and comfortable walking shoe with a supportive gel footbed.
Arch Support – Motion Control Shoes
Oh my, have some of us suffered fallen arches? Lucky we are still angels:) Good arch support is imperative for regular walkers. If you don’t have a shoe with ample support in the arch, you can put a lot of unnecessary strain on your feet. Similarly, if your walking shoes don’t have enough support, it will lead you to overpronate. The right pair of shoes will correct this issue and stabilize your walking form.
I will say it can take some time to get used to a walking shoe with proper arch support if you are not used to wearing them. I suggest wearing them for short periods of time and build up to longer stretches. You may find your feet hurt initially as muscles have to readjust to the new position. It is important to find the comfiest option for your needs.
Motion Control Shoes
Motion control shoes are for those who have a high amount of overpronation. They are heavier, less flexible, and have a duel-density midsole. This means the material on the inside of the foot is much denser than a normal shoe. This is to correct over-pronation. This is a great option for people who are overweight, or who really struggle with overpronating and have tried all other options. However, the thickness and heaviness of the shoe is often unappealing to many walkers.
You might consider the Brooks Beast walking shoes if you are looking for a true to form, motion control shoe. This particular shoe is designed for walkers who have severe over-pronation issues. The sneaker is highly durable and can take the weight of heavier walkers. As far as style goes, these motion control walking shoes look a bit less clunky than traditional motion control does, making it a more stylish option.
Stability walking shoes are relatively flexible, which is good for foot comfort, they also offer you ample support and stability. They tend to have a thicker heel, but not as thick and clunky as a motion control shoe. A stability walking shoe is a good option for people who do not have walking issues or over pronate, but do require more stability as they walk.
You may like to consider the RYKA Revere Walking Shoe if you are looking for a lightweight, stylish shoe providing good foot support. They have great stability in the mid-foot area, without too much cushion or padding. For some people, too much cushioning and padding can feel uncomfortable, irritate the foot, or make the shoe feel too tight. All of which can cause walking issues and poor posture. If you find you fall into these categories, this may be the best walking shoe option for you.
Types of Walking Shoes to Avoid
Now, in my quest to find a good walking shoe, I learned a few things along the way… While there are good shoes for foot support, there are also bad shoes to foot support, and some are definitely worse than others.
Ultra-lightweight walking or running shoes are often popular choices because they don’t look heavy or clunky. However, for many people, these kinds of styles are not a good option. Much of the time they provide little or no support or sufficient protection. They can strain your arch, or put too much pressure on your heels or the balls of your feet.
Shoes with no arch support and walking shoes with flat footbeds may also cause issues for walkers. Many generic walking shoes and running shoes will have a foot bed with no arch support and a flat footbed. Although there may be benefits to this type of shoe style for some people, for many walkers this creates long term issues.
These types of shoes have the potential to create issues for people with flat feet because there is no added mid-foot support to make up for the lack of arch. Likewise, people with arched feet will need arch supports to stabilize the foot.
Final Thoughts On Buying The Best Walking Shoes..
I trust I have helped you. As you have read, there are a few different styles and types you can choose from. When looking for a walking shoe that offers plenty of support, think about your needs. What terrain you’ll be walking on, hard or soft surfaces, up or down hills etc… You may need more stability, more arch support, or just more overall comfort. Whatever your specific needs are, you can find the right walking shoe if you know what to look for.
I highly recommend visiting a specialty shop to find a properly, fitted shoe, tailored to your needs. Being measured and fitted correctly is a great resource when you are unsure what type of shoe to look for. Happy walking everyone!