How to choose the right walking shoes

May 23, 2012, 8:15 a.m.

Comfortable Walking Shoes Help Eliminate the Blister Effect of the Charleston MS Walk

The weekend of March 3, 2012 marked the completion of the 3 days, 50-mile Charleston MS Challenge Walk. Last year, Pat limped over the finish line on swollen, bruised and blistered feet. This year she still gained a few blisters, had to walk in the rain, and dealt with early morning risings, but the journey was easier due to more efficient planning on her part. This year, Pat had on comfortable walking shoes.

When it comes to best walking shoes, materials, flexibility and design distinguish the difference between comfortable walking shoes versus brogans that turn a 50-mile walk into a battle with monster-sized blisters.

Four Styles of Walking

Some folks walk for relaxation. Others walk for fitness. Some hike, some race and some go on marathons. The following tips identify the best walking shoes for a given purpose.

Casual Walking: This is low-range travel involving less than five miles at a time. Front porch penny-loafers are usually sufficient for casual walking. Lightweight running shoes also provide a cheap solution. If cash is plentiful, go for some real racewalking shoes. Anything that avoids blisters will work.

Racewalking: This identifies the competitive walker. It exceeds the definition of "fast walking" and demands some serious foot activity. Look for shoes with flexibility and low heels. Seek shoes that prevent excessive rolling of the feet from heel to toe. Check out trainer-racers, real racewalking shoes or racing flats.

Marathon Walking: This type of walking nearly always ensures some blisters. Lightweight running shoes may be appropriate for this style of fitness walking, but fit and comfort are critical to success. Pat's first MS Challenge Walk resulted in black toenails, a multitude of blisters, and weeks of recovery time. Above all else, choose shoes that fit your feet, your stride and your shape.

Hiking: Avoid thinking of hiking as just another walkabout. Look for treaded, high-grip outsoles. Go for high-cut boots. Save the sandals for a day on the beach. Aside from comfort, hiking shoes must provide sure footing, disaster avoidance and weather protection.

Focus on Comfortable Walking Shoes That Fit the Task

Think fit, plus purpose, plus comfort. The best walking shoes are the ones that help keep you walking.

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