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How to Shop for the Perfect Walking Shoes

Medically Reviewed by Dr. William R. Adams II DPM, FACFAS | March 1, 2022

You can enjoy several benefits from walking, such as maintaining a healthy weight and improving cardiovascular fitness. But that’s difficult to do if you don’t have the right walking shoes. Instead of supporting your ankles and legs, ill-fitting shoes can cause pain severe enough to keep you off your feet.


So, shop carefully, and remember these tips.


Find the right size.


Don’t just keep buying the same size walking shoes you always have. Foot size can change over the years—or even throughout the day. So, never rely solely on the number printed on a shoebox. Instead, always try one on before you purchase it.


When you start browsing stores, remember to shop in the late afternoon or evening when your foot is at its largest. Also, bring whatever socks or inserts you plan to wear when walking.


Then, try on a shoe and walk around to make sure it’s comfortable. You should have at least a half-inch of space between your longest toe and the edge of the shoe, and you should be able to move all your toes freely. The sides of the product should also hug—but not squeeze—your feet, and the heel cup should never slide or pinch.


If you’re a little nervous about getting the right walking shoes, try shopping at an athletic store that employs professional fitters. They can help you find the perfect fit for your foot size, shape, and arch.


Think about your specific needs.


Find walking shoes that match both your needs and your lifestyle. For example, if you experience back, knee, or heel pain, opt for heel cushioning. Or, if you have bunions or toe pain, get softer, wider shoes.


Also, consider the weather you’ll encounter. If you live in a wet climate, buy waterproof walking shoes. Or find a sole with good traction if your area receives lots of snow.


Know when to replace your shoes.


Some shoe types will last years. Unfortunately, walking shoes aren’t one of them. Eventually, they get too worn out to provide proper support. Replace your shoes when the outsole looks worn or when you’ve walked 300 to 400 miles in them.

For more information about shoes and foot pain, contact the experts at the Orthopaedic Institute of Western Kentucky.