A good pair of walking shoes hinges on three key factors; comfort, stability and flexibility. For walking shoes to provide maximum protection for your feet they should have good balance, feel secure through a range of motion and leave some space for your toes.
The design of a walking shoe is crucial for the protection of your feet. They should also perform a function in relation to the terrain you are walking over.
Let’s take a deep dive to determine what to look for in a good pair of walking shoes.
What features to look for in a pair of walking shoes
If you do a lot of walking for work, you need a pair that will maintain their comfort through the day. Likewise, if you plan to go hiking, you need shoes that will protect your feet, knees and ankles.
Today’s manufacturers are very adept at designing a wide range of shoes that are purpose-built for specific types of walking. The variety of choice, however, increases the risk of purchasing a pair of walking shoes that do not serve the purpose you want them for.
Understanding the various parts of a shoe, and the dynamics they impact will help you find the right pair of walking shoes for you.
Before purchasing a pair of walking shoes, also consider the shape of your foot and whether you have a definitive gait, i.e. foot tilt.
Achilles Tendon Protector
Navigating hills and uneven surfaces can be problematic for your Achilles tendon. Shoes with a higher heel and a turned-up toe or rocker under the toe help reduce the load on the Achilles by locking the shoe around the heel.
The heel counter reinforces the heel cup and controls the foot’s pronation. Ideally, the heel counter should be no more than an inch higher than the sole under the ball of the foot.
The upper part of the shoe is essentially what keeps your shoes on your foot. Typically fabrics are leather, mesh or synthetic material.
Leather often has to be bedded in but once your foot is acclimatised to the shape, is the most comfortable and functional for long distant walking.
Mesh and synthetic materials are lighter. They are best suited for everyday wear during the summer months but get very soggy when wet.
The insole is one of the most important features of a walking shoe. Its purpose is to cushion your heel and the balls of your feet together with providing sufficient support for your foot arch.
Ideally, you want a walking shoe where the insole and the upper are seamlessly connected. This will prevent rub and reduce the risk of blisters.
A good midsole helps to cushion the arch of your foot and reduce impact when your foot strikes the ground. Midsoles should be made from gel, foam or air.
The outsole is the grip and treads that make contact with the ground and help to maintain traction. Rambling shoes should have a thick, sturdy grip that can help you navigate steep hills and rocky terrain safely.
For everyday walking shoes, the outsole should support your natural gait.
The toe box should provide sufficient space for the toes to prevent calluses. Shoes with a cramped toe box will run against your skin and can lead to blackened toenails.
Motion Control Shoes
People that have weak knee joints or overpronate – walk with a foot tilt either inwards or outwards towards the arch – should consider investing in a pair of motion control walking shoes.
This type of footwear is specially moulded to fit your gait and provide firmer support. They are typically heavier than conventional walking shoes but provide the balance you need.
Purchasing Good Walking Shoes
When you visit a store in search of a good pair of walking shoes, ask the sales assistant to measure the dimensions of your feet. Do this standing up so the base of your feet is expanded in a natural walking position.
It is also recommended to have your feet measured at the end of the day because feet tend to swell when you’ve been walking. Therefore, you should purchase a pair of shoes that do not feel tight after you have been walking. Never buy shoes that feel tight.
The Bottom Line
The feet and connecting joints make up 25% of the body’s bones. Many of the bones are small and fragile and can be very painful when damaged.
A good pair of walking shoes minimises the risk of damaging your feet, ankles and knee joints. This is vital if you do a lot of walking.
And don’t forget, if you do walk long distances throughout the week, why not take advantage of the Sweatcoin app and convert your steps into currency.