Finding the best walking shoes for your feet is much more than buying shoes that make a fashion statement. Your main concern should be about health: foot health, leg health and back health; all of those body parts can be impacted by the wrong shoe. Sure, it might look great that your feet are stylin’ like Michael Jordan or Paris Hilton, but without the proper fit and support, your feet will not be happy campers in the long run. Those dogs are gonna be sore, perhaps even misshapen, puppies.
Other problematic issues will be more enduring and could hinder your walking and the enjoyment of it quite dramatically, issues like:
- Blisters – Blisters may seem like innocent problems, but without proper care, they can become infected and require a serious medical remedy known as amputation.
- Bunions – Although cute-sounding, bunions are not related to bunnies in any way. They appear as a swelling at the base of your big toe or in other areas of the foot. Not a very attractive look by any means, they will easily detract from even the best pedicure, not to mention providing discomfort, pain and difficulty in walking properly.
- Heel Spurs – Not at all helpful in horseback riding, heel spurs are basically calcium build-ups in…well…the heel. They will be painful and also create walking discomfort.
- Plantar Fasciitis – This is an inflammation of the tissue connecting your heel to your toes. It is painful and debilitating to your walking to the fridge for a cold beer, much less to the trail for a long walk.
A good walking shoe will move with your foot, support it lovingly and properly engulf it in satisfying warmth and comfort. Your feet should be smiling. Your ankles, calves, thighs and back should be grooving along without any aching or tiredness. The only tiredness should be from the walk or exercise you did, not from the apparel you are wearing. In the end, with the proper shoes, your walking will not only be easier, it will be more effective.
When it Comes to Tread, Use Your Head
The terrain you will be walking on also has an impact on your tootsies. If you are going to walk over rough terrain with rocks, branches and other natural debris, you should use shoes that feature a tread designed for that purpose. Likewise, a smoother pavement requires a different shoe. You wouldn’t wear the same kind of gloves for driving or playing baseball that you would wear for chopping wood or digging a post hole. Your shoes need the same activity-specific consideration.
If you are wearing the wrong kind of shoe, your feet will let you know it soon enough. You will possibly experience blisters and/or soreness in a number of places from your feet all the way up to your neck. They each play their individual role in walking and all other upright activities. If one gets irritated, they soon let the other ones know it, and before you know it, you could have a mutiny on your hands, or rather on your feet. You know, it was no coincidence that so many pirates had peg legs…poor shoe selection.
Speaking of poor shoe selection, what’s with you ladies running errands in flip-flops? That’s definitely a no-no. Your feet recognize that the only way to keep your flip-flops from flopping off is by an unconscious flexing and bunching up of your toes. Doing that while walking is not cool. Your feet may be cool, but the effects will not be.
In the process, your hips, knees, back, back of your legs and the ever-prominent butt muscles all adjust their normal way of functioning to compensate. Your body gets a workout all right, just not the kind that is beneficial or healthy. Your stride in flip-flops is much shorter and less effective. The result is body fatigue and a tendency to edge into a car or taxi, short circuiting your wont for the walking exercise you should be getting. Besides that, all that toe-bunching and flexing could easily result in a scuffed buff on polished nails!
Step Up to a Better Shoe
The technology of foot care has advanced like the technology in all the other aspects of our lives. These days, there are some specialized foot apparel stores that will even video tape your feet while you walk on a treadmill. With that, they can better understand how your feet walk, the angles and pressure points they utilize as you walk, the all-important arch issue and all the particulars of your individual gait. The walking shoes you buy there will be infinitely more adapted to your feet than the $7.50 models you can get by walking into an All-Mart.
So, what are some of the more recommended shoes for walking, you ask? The keyword phrase is: “metatomically shaped EVA footbeds,” certainly more of a mouthful than “sneakers.” The world of high tech loves creating new terminology, and walking shoes are no exception. For those of us who like old-style English, adjustable straps or laces are better for your feet than the alternative.
Keen, the brand name, makes a slew of outdoor athletic style shoes that are pretty keen for men. In fact, on one site, there were 40 different styles. That’s a lot of keen options. They all feature adjustable laces or straps. Other high tech shoe brands are Teva and Ecco. Both create models specific to outdoor athletics.
The important elements are a proper fit and that they are designed for walking. Walking involves using different muscles than those utilized when playing basketball or tennis. When shopping around, be specific as to the activity you will be using them for. Most websites will break them down into different categories.
For women, Brooks makes several models that include features crucial to foot health and comfort. Propet also makes a variety of shoes appropriate for walking, as does New Balance. The brand name is not as important as the reliability of fit and comfort.
For extra credit, you are advised to check out online sources for information on the specifics that are relevant to your own walking style or environment. Short walks, long walks and mixed jogging/walking will demand performances by different muscles. In addition, wilderness walking will require a different shoe than pavement pounding. Do the research, buy what is best for your feet and walk on!