Your most important piece of equipment for walking is a pair a walking shoes. You need to take the time to select the right walking shoes for your feet, which means getting fit by an athletic shoe expert, not just buying what is cheapest or the most popular. You should also stray from the walking shoe aisle to the running shoe aisle, as the best features for walking are put into running shoes.
The Right Shoe For Your Stride
The type of shoe you need breaks down into a few major categories. Lightweight performance trainers are great all-around walking shoes for those who don't need motion control. If you walk very long distance, a cushioned shoe might be more comfortable. Stability shoes are for midweight people who do not have severe motion control problems, but who want a stable and durable shoe.
Motion Control for Overpronators
If you overpronate
, and especially if you are a heavy person who overpronates, you may need the correction and support these firm and heavy shoes provide. Overpronators can prevent injury by wearing these shoes. Have your gait analyzed at the best running shoe store in your area to determine whether you overpronate and need motion control shoes.
Walking Shoe Fit
You must locate the best athletic shoe store in your area, the place where the serious runners go to buy their shoes. That is where you will find the fit experts who will take the time to fit you into the right shoes. Don't trust your walking comfort to a salesman who doesn't know pronation
from prunes. Get fit right, and after that you can buy similar shoes online or from discounters.
Flat and No FlareWalking shoes should not have a high heel, the heel should be no more than an inch higher than the sole under the ball of the foot. Walkers strike first with the heel and roll through the step, while some running shoes have a built-up heel for the runners who strike mid-sole. Walkers also do not need flared soles. These give some runners stability but get in the way for heel-striking walkers.
FlexWalking shoes must be flexible or your foot will fight them as it rolls through each step, leading to shin splints. Twist them - they should twist. Bend them and they should bend at the ball of the foot, not in the middle of the arch. Set them down and poke the toe - it should rock as the toe should be slightly off the ground. If it passes these tests, it may be ok for walking.
PriceAn appropriate pair of running shoes will cost from $60-120 US suggested retail. If the usual price is less, you are buying the mass market knock-off shoes without the comfort features. If you pay more, you are paying for style. Shop for sales and close-outs on the good shoes.
For racewalking, you will want the most flexible and lightweight shoe possible. Some of the performance trainer shoes work well for racewalking, but others turn to even more specialized shoes or even to custom shoes.