Updated April 09, 2014
Walking shoes come in many varieties. We reviewed walking shoes by type of shoe and have top picks lists for walking shoes of each type. What kind is right for you? Check our walking shoe guide.
Fitness walkers with a neutral gait do well with a flat, flexible, lightweight shoe. These shoes should have just enough cushioning for comfort, but not so much as to make the shoes heavy. Very often, performance walking shoes are running designs that meet the needs of walkers.
If you overpronate, these firm and heavier shoes help correct your gait and reduce your risk of injuries that can result from overpronation. Heavier walkers who overpronate especially benefit from motion control shoes. If you see excessive wear on the inner side of the sole of your shoe, you may need motion control shoes.
Trail shoes give you the stability, traction and protection you need for rough uneven surfaces, slippery slopes and rock protection. Traditional boots can be very heavy and inflexible, but have their use for backpacking and extreme day hiking. But today's trail running shoes have good traction but are lighter in weight and flexible. These top picks have suggestions for each use of trail shoes.
Some walkers simply prefer sandals, even for longer walks or trail walks, and definitely for beach walks. But many sandals don't provide good support for protection for your feet, and flip flop designs don't let you walk with a proper heel-to-toe motion. We have picks for sandals that are better designed for various types of walking. Some sandals have orthotic footbeds while still being stylish. Trail sandals have toe guards and a sole rugged enough for natural surfaces.
Stability shoes provide good support and durability. Heavier walkers with a neutral gait are often steered into stability shoes as they will last longer than lightweight performance trainers. Stability shoes vary as to whether they provide motion control or not, and it is important for walkers to know whether they actually need motion control. Stability shoes tend to have thicker heels, which walkers don't need, so look for those that are less beefy.
Walkers need enough cushioning to prevent fatigue when walking long distances or standing for extended periods of time. Walkers generally have less need for cushioning than runners, since walkers put far less impact force on the foot with each step. Cushioned shoes usually do not have any motion control correction and have minimum support. Instead, they have lots of midsole cushioning for comfort.
Racewalkers need a very flexible and lightweight shoe as they roll through each step from heel to toe. Very often they turn to racing flats to get a shoe that is flat from heel to forefoot. But if they are racewalking longer distances, they still need a little cushioning. This is a balance that can be hard to find.
What shoes can you wear all day that are comfortable, provide the right support, and may help relieve your foot pain problem? Comfort shoes come in various designs to address different needs. Some are super cushioned and work well if you stand most of the day. Some have orthotic designs for better support for foot conditions. Some are minimalist designs that feel great to slip into. If you have foot pain, it is wise to consult a foot health expert to get a recommendation for your specific problem.
Toning shoes claim to increase your calories burned per mile and/or to tone more muscle groups as you walk or run. Different designs use rocker sole, instability pods, or minimalist designs. They either force the foot into a greater range of motion with each stride or are unstable so the body has to keep balancing constantly.
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