Guest Author - Elizabeth Brennan
Choosing walking footwear is not just a matter of going to the nearest shoe shop and choosing a nice pair. Before you buy you should know your feet so you can better discuss your requirements with the salesperson.
To analyze your feet and self diagnose what type of feet you have see this article
Knowing your feet
Go to a specialist sports shop where they will have trained personnel.
Ask the salesperson to measure your feet on a Branock Device. This will indicate the length, arch length and width of your feet. It is important to measure both feet as most people have one foot larger than the other. Fit on the shoes with the socks you intend wearing. Be prepared to buy shoes that are perhaps a size or size and a half larger than your dress shoes. Make sure there is sufficient toe-room and if the shoe is pinching or tight anywhere reject it as it will cause blisters later. The shoes must fit comfortably from the first moment.
There are many factors which will dictate your choice of footwear
• The distance you intend to walk
• The speed at which you walk
• Your walking style
• The surface you are walking on
• Your weight
• Your stride
• Weather and season of the year
Of course we cannot have a pair of shoes for every eventuality so you must decide what type of walking you normally undertake. The most basic requirement is that your shoes or boots are flat and flexible, that the soles are suited to the terrain on which you walk and the type of weather you are walking in.
No matter what type of footwear you choose you should consider four important criteria – support, flexibility, cushioning and whether or not the shoes or boots compensate for any foot problems or peculiarities you may have.
All walking shoes conform to three basic types:
• Motion Control Shoes. These are the most rigid shoes. They are built on a straight last and are meant to limit pronation – the natural roll inwards of the foot when striding. They are heavy and durable. They have dual density mid-soles with denser material on the inside to correct over – pronation – excessive rolling of the foot to the inside. They will also correct a tendency to over-supinate – excessive rolling to the outside of the shoe. Both of these tendencies will cause knee pain, muscle pain and fatigue if not corrected. If you are flat footed or are above average weight choose these shoes.
• Stability Shoes are more flexible. They give good support. They are constructed on a semi-curved last and are good for walkers who have a neutral gait that is neither rolling too far inwards or too far outwards when striding. If you have no severe motion control problems, have normal arches, are of neutral gait and average weight, this is the type shoe for you
• Cushioned Shoes are the most flexible, light and the least stable. They are constructed on a curved last and the insole material is less dense and softer giving a cushioned effect. They are intended for people of average to below average weight with high arches and neutral gait.
Do not be rushed into making a decision. Walking footwear is expensive and you will expect them to last.
Enjoy your new shoes and your walking!