What should I look for when buying walking shoes?

The fit and support of the shoes you wear is very important.  You should visit a store that will not only fit you according to your size, but will also watch how your foot strikes the ground when you walk.  They should be able to tell you if you overpronate (foot "caves in") and if you should be using special support inserts in your walking shoes.  The associates at speciality stores can also show you shoes that are designed especially for walking.  You want to be sure to get a shoe that offers the support, cushioning, and level of stability that you need.

Check and see if these stores have a chain in your area.


One of the biggest things to look for when buying shoes will be to buy something with good support and something that is comfortable. When you put on the shoes, practice some of the movements you will be completing. If you are going to be using them for strength training exercises then be sure they have the proper movement capabilities. The last thing you want is a pair of uncomfortable shoes. Also, ask for assistance when in the store, many individuals should know about the shoes that are being sold, if not, do not buy there.

Keep it personal. To determine the best shoe for you, a good salesperson will ask about your walking goals (how often, how far, on what surface) and observe your stride length. He or she will look for pronation (whether your foot rolls inward when you walk) and check out your arch type (high, low, flat).

The perfect match takes time. Even with expert help, you may need to try on lots of shoes to find the ideal pair. It's worth it. Wear the socks you plan to walk in when you try on shoes. Once you've narrowed it down to a couple of pairs, walk around the store in each one for several minutes (not a few steps). Repeat at home that night -- on carpeting, in case you have second thoughts about your choice or size.

Worry about the style last. You want to look good, yes, but feeling great during and after your 10,000 steps comes first. Choose the shoe that fits and feels the best.

Here are some features of a good walking shoe:

  • The toe should be wide enough that toes aren't pinched. This is extra important if you have any foot issues like bunions or Morton's neuroma (a pinched nerve between your third and fourth toe). The shoe should be long enough that your big toe doesn't touch the end. Many walkers buy walking shoes a size larger than regular ones.
  • The heel should be flat and relatively straight. You don't need that big, wide, flared heel that some running shoes have for stability, since walkers land with less force.
  • Flexibility is key because walking is a rolling motion, and your shoes need to work with you. That means they shouldn't be stiff. Bend the shoe in half and twist it a bit to test its flex. It should give easily.
  • The shape should be a natural curve to facilitate walking's heel-to-toe motion. If you push the shoe's toe down on a flat surface, the heel should rise slightly.
  • The cushioning depends on your foot type. More cushioning increases comfort for someone with a high arch, for instance. If you have any issues with your feet, go to a store that specializes in walking or athletic shoes, and have a fitting expert help you find shoes that will likely work best.
A walking shoe should be chosen just like a running shoe. Depending on the type of arches you have, you’ll select a cushioned, stabilization, or motion control shoe. If you plan on walking as a staple of your exercise routine, be sure to go to a local running shop and have your feet evaluated. Many stores have treadmills and allow you to walk in different sets of shoes to see which feels best. Select a shoe that is comfortable to you, and is suitable to your foot.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.