Walking is great exercise and many people need to cover long distances whether on vacation or on their daily commute. Discomfort should not be a barrier and these tips can help you find the right shoes:
Get the Right Shoe and the Right Fit: Yes, it’s obvious that shoes have to fit right but finding the right fit is difficult for many people. There should be about a ½ inch of space between the end of your longest toe and the end of the shoe, or roughly your thumb width sideways. You should be able to squeeze a ripple in the shoes between the first and fifth toes if there is adequate toe space. Shoes should be wide enough so that your toes can move around freely and you should be able to wiggle your toes upwards. Your heel should not slip, and the shoe should not pinch or bind, especially across your arch or the ball of your foot. Also check the inside of the shoe for exposed seams or anything that can rub against your foot and cause problems. Twist the shoe along its length to check for excessive flexibility, and squeeze the heel counter to check for firmness to prevent slippage at the heel. Try shoes on at the end of the day when your feet are likely to be more swollen so you get the best fit.
Your feet are as individual as you are so find the brands and styles that work best with your foot type. There are some inexpensive brands that are truly comfortable but some of the best walking shoes are pricey. Once you know your best brands and sizes you may want to try for bargains through ebay and consignment shops where you may find new or nearly new shoes. Remember, your feet like everything else change over time: they get fatter and longer and flatter, and the feet and ankles become stiffer.
Protect Your Shoes With Proper Care: After you find the right shoes, you can extend their life through proper care. Midsoles have a memory of about 24 to 36 hours, so let shoes spring back by wearing a different pair of shoes on alternate days. Remember, new shoes will break down over time, usually a year or two, if they are not worn. Also avoid machine washing and drying your sneakers which is actually very hard on them. Instead, you can clean them as necessary with dishwashing liquid and then let them air dry. You may want to save your most comfortable shoes by wearing them for your longest treks only or wearing them during your commute only rather than throughout the workday. And don’t take your shoes off by scraping the heel of one shoe against the other.