Whether just going for a walk around the block, or going on a five-mile hike, summer is the perfect time to be more active. However, how often do we actually think about the kinds of shoes we’re wearing? After all, we do a decent amount of walking nearly every single day; why should going on a brisk walk down the street or through a nearby trail be any different? But walking shoes play a vital role in our exercising—perhaps even more than we thought.
Good walking shoes serve as protection for our feet, which helps keep the rest of your body aligned. If there’s even a slight imbalance in your feet, it can completely throw off the rest of your body, leading to issues such as alignment problems. As a result of this, your body tends to compensate by redistributing the weight elsewhere.
A small imbalance in your feet may not feel like such a big problem now (and we are all guilty of thinking this way) but minor problems like this can build up over time, leading to bigger, unnecessary problems in the future, like poor posture or spine alignment, muscle strain, and back pain.
If possible, I highly recommend finding a store that will provide a service not often found in large chain retailers, where the employees will watch a customer’s walk to decide which shoe is the best fit for him or her.
A good shoe will help improve both posture and balance while walking and assist with the feet’s ability to roll slightly inward and outward (pronation and supination, respectively).
However, a lot of people have problems with pronation. In fact, many people’s feet will either under pronate (roll excessively outward) or over pronate (roll excessively inward), which can lead to balance problems. In over pronation:
In order to discourage under or over pronation, or other potential foot problems, you really need to pay attention to the kinds of walking shoes that you are purchasing.
When shopping for shoes, you really want to focus on three primary factors: stability (giving your foot a feeling of balance), flexibility (so that the shoes are not too lose but your feet are still comfortable moving and flexing), and comfort (containing padding in the right places, such as the heel and midfoot, to give your feet support while simultaneously leaving a decent amount of room at the front of the shoe).
Particularly, while you’re shoe shopping, pay attention to these parts of the shoe:
Prior to going shoe shopping, make sure to measure both of your feet. Your left foot very well could differ from the right, or vice versa. Also, make sure you measure your feet at the end of the day, because they could swell as the day goes on.
In addition, while trying on shoes, be sure to wear socks like the ones you’ll be wearing while you’re exercise walking.
Do not buy shoes that feel too tight. Despite the break-in period, any shoes that already feel tight are not going improve much and will only lead to further foot pain when you begin walking in them.
Sometimes walking shoes do not provide enough support and you may need orthotics, removable shoe inserts that provide you with better support, cushioning, shock absorption, and balance.
I hope this was able to help you in your next shoe shopping endeavors! However, if you’ve been noticing some consistent pain or discomfort that may be the result of improper walking shoes, please don’t hesitate to contact our Rochester Hills office. We would be more than happy to speak with you about the problem and ways that we can help!
Oliver Patalinghug is the trusted health expert and founder of the Metro Detroit's Leading Specialist Private Practice Physical Therapy for people in their 40's, 50's and 60's who want to keep healthy and active.