Walking is good exercise, but if you don’t have the right type of walking shoes, it can create problems with your back and legs. Buying a name-brand shoe, however, does not mean that it will be a good shoe for you. There are different factors to consider when picking walking shoes, such as the shape of your feet and how you walk. If you don’t have access to a store whose sales staff is trained in fitting athletic shoes, keep the following things in mind when picking walking shoes. Above all, take your time and try on several different shoes before making your selection.
Shop for shoes at the end of the day or after you have exercised. This is generally when your feet will be the most swollen. Take a pair of socks with you that you will be wearing when you walk.
Look for a shoe with a low heel that is supportive. Also look for a heel that is rounded or beveled rather than thick or flared. Walkers place their heel first and roll forward; a thick or flared heel will prevent this, increasing the chance for shin splints.
Lift the shoe; walking shoes need to be lightweight. Bend the sole; it should be flexible and able to be bent and twisted easily.
Try on both shoes; many people’s feet are different sizes. Make sure your feet have plenty of room in the toe area; there should be about ½ inch between your toe and the shoe. Wiggle your toes to make sure there is room for them on each side.
Walk around the store with the shoes on for several minutes. Notice whether the shoes fit securely on your heels or if they are tight anywhere on your foot. Take your time doing this and walk on different surfaces around the store.
Walk around your house in the shoes for several days before wearing them outside. This will keep the soles from being scuffed up in case you decide to exchange them.
Note how much you use the shoes. A pair of walking shoes should last from 300 to 600 miles, depending upon your weight and the surface you walk on during your exercises. If you save the shoes only for your exercises–or if you buy two pairs of shoes–they will last longer.