Choosing the right walking shoes

Buying the right walking shoes for your workout

Just as the right training shoe is essentially for certain sports such as running or tennis, the same applies to walking, where it is an absolute must to get your choice of walking boot right. We've compiled some top tips to help you choose the right walking shoes.

A great thing about walking is that you can wear pretty much anything that is comfortable and allows you ease of movement. The only really important item is your footwear.

The ideal shoe will enhance shock absorption without hampering the natural movement of the foot. The heel of a walking shoe will be lower than that of say a running shoe, and won’t flare out at the back like a running shoe does (this aids stability, which isn’t necessary in walking). In fact, the heel may even be undercut at the back to allow for a smooth roll through from heel to toe. A roomy toe box allows the natural splaying of the toes as the forefoot flexes to push off — a tapered toe box is liable to cause blisters.

A cutaway section at the achilles tendon (at the back of the ankle) is also useful, so that the tendon does not get rubbed or inflamed. The midsole of the walking shoe will be lower than that of a running shoe and the forefoot needs to be more flexible, since in walking, the forefoot tends to strike the ground at a 45 degree angle, compared to running, where it is closer to 30 degrees. Try to buy your walking footwear from a specialist store where the staff can give you advice on some models to try. They will probably want to ask you a few questions to determine the right shoe to meet your needs, so think about the following points:

  • How often will you be walking?
  • How heavy are you?
  • Where will you be walking (over what sort of terrain and climate)?
  • Do you have any existing foot problems or biomechanical problems?
  • What socks will you be wearing?
  • Is walking your main or only form of exercise?

How to buy the right walking shoes ...

  • Choose shoes in the afternoon when feet are at their maximum size.
  • Lace them up standing up, not sitting (that’s how you’ll be walking in them).
  • Allow for a space as wide as your thumb in the toe box.
  • Get your feet measured — but don’t be too influenced by what size you think you are supposed to be. Comfort is paramount.
  • Don’t settle for ‘okay’. Gone are the days when you had to ‘break’ shoes in and suffer all the blisters and pain of doing so.
  • Try them on with the type of socks you will be wearing.
  • Walk around in them — don’t just stand there!

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