Let me tell you why my new balance walking shoes makes walking easier for me. Remember, walking may be the single best and easiest exercise you can do to improve your health. Throughout the years, I have tried various brands of walking shoes, some good and some bad. Wearing the best walking shoes that fit your feet and are comfortable can help to prevent injuries and make walking much more enjoyable.
Walking with improper fitting shoes or with running shoes instead of walking shoes can affect the way you feel and even your health. If walking is painful, you will not continue your walking program. Not only can the wrong shoes give you blisters, calluses, sore feet and sore legs, they can also lead to shin splints and even back aches.
Walking Shoes vs Running Shoes
To make your walking exercise effective, you will need to invest some time and money to find the right pair of walking shoes. For most of my life I have owned what I called tennis shoes. As it turns out, my tennis shoes have really been running shoes. I guess that I figured that it really didn’t matter. I always went to the shoe stores that were offering the old BOGO (buy one, get one ½ price). I would find and buy a pair of tennis shoes that looked good not considering if they were running or walking shoes. Well, it does matter.
Walking shoes provide the mechanical support and basic protection for the foundation structures of your body which are the feet. This keeps your body properly balanced and aligned. Your body must be properly balanced and aligned so you are not putting unnecessary strain on muscles and back. The correct walking shoe will foster excellent balance and posture while walking. Incorrect walking shoes will keep you just a little off balance and can cause pain or make you more susceptibility to injury.
There are three main reasons why walking shoes are different than running shoes. And they are;
- Your foot strikes the ground with a force of only one to one and a half times your body weight when you are walking. When you are running, it strikes with a force of three to four times your body weight. Running shoes will need a great deal more cushioning than walking shoes.
- While walking, your foot strikes the ground farther back on the heel with your toe higher up than when running. Your foot also rolls from heel to toe more gradually when walking than when running. Thus a walking shoe should have a more rounded heel than a running shoe. For running, you need an extra thick, more cushioned heel to cushion the higher impact running steps. This however, causes the runners foot to more quickly lever the toes down. For a walker, a thick, squared off heel can lead to shin problems because as the toes slap down, the foot pulls on the shin muscles.
- A walker rolls farther off the toes at the end of each stride than a runner. So a walking shoe must be more flexible through the ball of the foot than a running shoe. Many running shoes trade flexibility for more padding in the front of the foot.
Four Tests for Your Walking Shoes Before You Buy
Poke That Heel – A walking shoe should have a fairly low, beveled or rounded heel. This eases the transition when the heel first hits the ground. It allows the foot to roll from heel to toe smoothly and gradually.
With the shoe sitting flat on a hard surface, use a pencil to push down at the very back of the shoe, inside the cup that surrounds the heel. The heel is rounded sufficiently if the toe will lift off of the ground.
Poke That Toe – The end of a smooth heel-to-toe roll is aided by a noticeable bend upward at the toe of the shoe, called toe spring. With the shoe sitting flat, push down on the end of the toe. The higher the heel lifts off the surface, the more toe spring it has. You will appreciate lots of toe spring.
Bend That Shoe – At the end of each stride, your foot bends through the ball of your foot just before your toe lifts off. Grab the heel of the shoe firmly and push upward at the toes to make sure it bends where your foot naturally does, not under the arch. If it bends through the arch, stay away from this shoe.
Twist That Shoe – As your foot accepts your weight, you imperceptibly load the outside of your foot first and then shift your weight inward toward the big toe. This slither from little to big toe happens very quickly and can be aided by a shoe with a bit of torsion flexibility. Grab the heel and toe of the firmly and give it a twist to see if it has some modest flexibility.
How to be Sure Your Walking Shoes Fit
Here are some tips to consider when buying your walking shoes;
- When buying walking shoes, wear the same socks that you will wear during your walking exercises.
- Buy later in the day or walk a lot before you go into the shoe store. This will assure that your feet have swollen to full size.
- Always try on both shoes. One foot is always bigger than the other.
- Walk on a hard surface when trying on shoes, not just their carpeted area. Also, walk at the pace you intend to walk while exercising. This will check for any rubbing or irritation.
- Be sure to get the right width shoe for your feet.
- The new shoe should feel right in the store when you are trying it on. Don’t let the sales person convince you that it will “break in” after you have worn it for a while. If it doesn’t feel right in the store, then it will not feel right while you are exercising.
- Don’t settle for a shoe that is not quite right.
- If you are buying a hiking boot or shoe, simply jam your feet hard on a carpeted surface to make sure your toes don’t slam into the end of the boot or shoe when you are walking downhill.
New Balance has some of the best walking shoes for men and the best walking shoes for women that I have found. I have tried many different brands and have just recently discovered New Balance. They combine both style and comfort into their walking shoes and well as their running shoes.
New Balance offers walking shoes in a wide range of prices and I am sure you will find some within your budget. Their best will cost you into the three digits, however, my budget made me search for a pair that I could afford and still met my walking requirements. I decided on the MW646, which are shown at right.
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Some of the features that make New Balance walking shoes the best shoes for walking are:
- They pass all four of my walking shoe tests.
- They are water resistant.
- The shoe upper is lightweight and breathable.
- They are biomechanically designed for the walking motion.
- Excellent midsole cushioning and support.
- Stability Web arch support is both rigid and lightweight preventing midfoot flex.
- They are engineered for superb balance as you walk.
Before I started wearing my New Balance walking shoes, I was having minor lower back pain and sometimes a little soreness in my legs. My old walking shoes was not allowing proper heel to toe movement as I walked and also keeping me just a little off balance.
After walking in the New Balance Shoes, the minor back and leg pain went away. Walking became less of an effort and more enjoyable. I could immediately tell the difference from the moment I tried them on in the store.
These Shoes are Made For Walking (wasn’t that a song?)
There are many web sites that tell you their opinion of what are the best walking shoes for men and what are the best walking shoes for women, and all I can say is that New Balance is always on their list. There are many brands to choose from and many of them are very good. Shop around. Find the best walking shoe for you and your budget. Do try New Balance walking shoes. I know you will like them.
With that said, use your Omron Hj-112 pedometer to monitor your steps and have fun walking yourself to health in your New Balance walking shoes.