16 Tips for Buying the Best Walking Shoes

Walking Shoe and Footprint
Walking Shoe and Footprint. Jasmin Kämmerer / EyeEm /Getty Images

The best walking shoes are the ones that fit your feet best for your style of walking.

Here's How to Buy the Best Walking Shoes:

  1. Go to the Best Walking Shoe Store (Hint - It's the Serious Running Shoe Store): Find a local running shoe store that caters to serious runners and walkers and takes the time to fit people right. How to find a technical running shoe store
  2. Test Drive The Walking Shoes: Go out and walk your usual distance, to give your feet a chance to swell in your shoes as they will when walking.
  1. Socks: Wear a pair of the socks you will be wearing with the shoes, so that you are trying them with the same thickness, padding, etc.
  2. Bring Along Your Old Walking Shoes: Wear or bring along your present pair of walking shoes so the clerk can see how they have worn. Walking shoe wear patterns
  3. Give Vital Stats: Tell the clerk your usual distance, speed, and frequency of walking.
  4. The Right Size: Ask for shoes that are a size to a size and a half larger than your dress shoes. Why you need bigger shoes for fitness walking
  5. Twist The Shoes: Twist the shoe. It should be flexible rather than rigid.
  6. Bend the Shoes: Bend the toe towards the heel - the shoe should flex at the ball of the foot, not the middle of the foot.
  7. Rock the Shoes Place the shoe on a flat surface. When you poke the toe down, the heel should rise off the surface.
  8. Are the Shoes Flat?: The heel should not be much higher than the sole at the front of the foot. Ask about the heel-to-toe height drop -- the lower the better.
  1. No Flare: The heel should not be flared. Runners need flared heels because they land mid-foot, but walkers land on the heel and a flared heel just gets in the way.
  2. Lace Shoes for Fit: Have the clerk assist you in lacing it for the best fit and heel retention. How to lace your shoes to fit better
  3. Walk and Observe: Walk with the shoe at your regular walking pace. See how it feels, ask the clerk to observe for overpronation or other problems.
  1. How Does the Fit Feel?: Your foot should feel uncramped with adequate room in the toe and no irritating ridges.
  2. Don't Think You Will "Break Them In": Do not buy an uncomfortable shoe expecting it to get broken in.
  3. Check their Shoe Return Policy: If it's the right running shoe store, they will have a very generous policy for returning and exchanging your shoes if they aren't working well for you. But if it isn't, you might be limited to returning only shoes that haven't been worn outside. This is also true of buying shoes online. It's best to know all of the details before you buy your shoes.

Tips on Wearing Your Walking Shoes:

  1. Walking Shoe Life Expectancy: Replace your shoes every 500 miles.
  2. Rotate Your Walking Shoes: Buy a new pair of shoes after 300 miles and rotate it with your older shoe so you can recognize when the older pair has lost its cushioning and support.
  3. Mix it Up: Some walkers like to alternate brands and styles of shoes to keep your feet and muscles from adjusting to one style. But others believe in sticking with one that works.

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