Walking boomed during the pandemic, and it’s still one of the most popular outdoor fitness activities. The easy and accessible exercise has proven health benefits such as lowering stress, maintaining a healthy weight, improving your mood, among many others.
And to fully amplify these effects, proper shoes are needed — yet many are wearing the wrong size sneakers, for starters.
Here, running and comfort retailers sound off on the most common issues when shopping for walking shoes and their top recommendations to customers:
“One mistake customers make is getting [their shoes] too small. Your athletic shoe is going to be a half to a full size bigger than your dress shoe size. This allows for your foot to swell when you exercise and not be crowded inside your shoes. If your foot gets tingly when you work out or you tend to bruise your toenails, those are both indications that your shoes are too small. The goal is to find a shoe that is going to feel the best because that is the shoe that is going to get you out the door for your workout. And if you are walking daily, you want to consider getting two pairs of shoes. Your shoe needs time to rest just like your body does. Alternating your shoes each day will also help reduce the risk of injury by using smaller muscles in your foot and ankle differently.” — Jessica Ceiri, Store Lead, Charm City Run
“Sacrificing comfort for style and wanting shoes to look a certain way. Another thing is buying the wrong size. They come in here and say, ‘I’m a size 7 — I’ve always been a size 7.’ They stick with what they think they’ve always been. Then they come back in to exchange the shoe because it is hurting them. Those are the most common mistakes we see, along with picking a shoe without knowing what that shoe is for.” — Michael Wittenstein, GM, Karavel Shoes
“Not allowing themselves to get fitted, measured or analyzed. The biggest mistake is shoppers go somewhere and pick the shoe off the shelf and say, ‘I’ve always been that size.’ There is a lack of fit because they are used
to a lack of fit as opposed to getting measured and letting a professional put you in correct walking shoes for what your foot warrants.” — Shawn O’Neill, SVP, Comfort One Shoes
“Thinking they need walking shoes when a running shoe will likely work just fine. It’s the same basic considerations. It depends on the individual, but generally, I think running shoes do a great job of working for people who walk or are on their feet all day long, because running shoes have to stand up to the rigors of running a marathon, which means they have to be comfortable, they have to be durable, they have to have good protection and a good stable base for that.” — Steve DeMoss, GM, Big Peach Running Co.
“Sizing is the biggest mistake that people make when shopping for walking shoes. So many people get married to the idea that they are this one very specific size, but different shoes will fit differently. The best thing that they can do is get fit for them. Ignore which shoes work best for your friends or what looks the cutest and start instead with a fitting from a shoe shop that can guide you through all of the options to the ones that make the most sense for you. It makes a massive difference. There are different answers for someone with wide feet versus narrow feet, or super-tall arches versus pancake-flat feet. From there, get picky!” — Eric Fruth, Co-owner, Columbus Running Company