It goes without saying that a good pair of comfortable walking shoes can make all the difference when you go out and get a little exercise. All too often, however, people find themselves in ill-fitting shoes that cause discomfort, taking the joy out of a morning hike or evening stroll.
Here at Optima Foot and Ankle, Drs. Laura Schweger, Evan M. Ross, and the rest of our podiatry team have seen our fair share of consequences when it comes to footwear. From foot pain to deformities like bunions and hammertoes, what you put on your feet matters — a lot.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at five tips that will serve you well when you buy your next pair of walking shoes.
1. Know your size
While it may seem obvious, knowing the size of your feet is important, especially since many of us are buying online. While you may have been a steady size 8 for most of your life, the size of your feet can change over time, becoming a little larger or wider, for example. Even if you buy your shoes online, it’s a good idea to get yourself properly measured at a shoe store every once in a while so that you can ensure that you’re purchasing the right size.
Bear in mind, too, that shoe sizes can vary between manufacturers, so if you buy a brand that isn’t your usual one, your size may be different.
2. A trial run
We highly recommend that you go to a shoe store to buy your shoes so that you can spend a little time walking around the store. Be sure to bring socks that you would normally wear with walking shoes, as well.
Another great trick is to go in the afternoon or evening, when your feet are potentially at their largest, especially if it’s warm out. If you purchase shoes in the morning, you may find that they become a little tight during an afternoon hike as your feet can swell.
If you need to buy your shoes online, many companies allow you to execute a “soft” trial run in the shoes, which means you can walk around indoors without damaging or scuffing the soles.
3. Give your toes room
One of the biggest problems we see are issues that develop because of shoes that don’t offer enough wiggle room for your toes (think bunions). A good rule of thumb is to have about ¼ to ½ inches of space between the end of your longest toe (your big toe or your second toe) and the front of the shoe when you’re standing.
4. Pay attention to traction
It’s also important that you pay close attention to the tread of the shoe and that you match it to your walking needs. For example, a good trail shoe has extra traction, which is great out in the woods, but not so ideal on sidewalks as these shoes can “catch,” causing you to trip. On the other end of the spectrum, if you head out into the woods with walking shoes that are designed for smooth surfaces, you run the risk of slipping and falling.
5. Finding the right width
When you first put on a walking shoe, you should have ample room for your toes, but the sides of your feet should feel snug inside the shoe and slip around. As well, walking shoes don’t stretch all that much, so avoid buying shoes that are too tight with the idea that you’ll be able to break them in. Good walking shoes should feel great on your feet right out of the gate.
If you have any questions about buying comfortable walking shoes, especially if you have a pre-existing condition like diabetes, please contact us at our office in Bend, Oregon.