The 13 Best Walking Shoes for Healthy Feet from Podiatrists

The 13 Best Walking Shoes for Healthy Feet from Podiatrists

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, walking is the most common form of exercise, with more than 145 million Americans including walks in their daily routine (CDC).

Not only may frequent walking help you maintain a healthy weight, but it can also help you address or prevent heart disease and high blood pressure, help you control your blood sugar, build your bones and muscles, and enhance your general mood. (Read Is walking a healthy kind of exercise? Fitness Experts Explain Why This Workout Is Ideal)

Part of what makes walking so popular is its accessibility: all you need is a pair of shoes (plus maybe a pal, your pup, and a good podcast or playlist will make it even more pleasurable). Note, however, that the shoes you choose can influence the effect your walking has on your long-term health. Christopher Varacallo, DO, CAQSM, FAAFP, a sports medicine physician in DuBois, Pennsylvania and former NCAA Division I women's basketball team physician, asserts, "Starting with a supportive shoe is vital for a long-lasting, injury-free workout regimen." Varacallo adds: "If your feet suffer, then everything will hurt.
I encounter numerous people with lower back, hip, knee, and foot issues that may be readily remedied by purchasing decent footwear."

And, this doctor continues, "Everyone's foot care needs are unique." We consulted podiatrists on how to select the best walking shoes for your foot type and degree of activity. Here are the recommendations of these foot specialists for anyone wishing to put some miles on their shoes.

6 points to consider for the best walking shoe

Due to the fact that each person's foot and body are unique, a shoe that works for you may not work for someone else. Consider the following factors when selecting a nice pair of walking shoes:

You must feel balanced while walking in your shoes. Robert Fridman, DPM, president of Division IX American College of Foot & Ankle Surgeons and a podiatrist at Foot Associates in New York City, notes, "A strong heel counter with a straight or hybrid last will aid with the stability of the shoe."
Arch Support
Unique to each individual, your arches must feel supported, especially as your distance increases. According to Dawn Figlo, DPM, a member of the American Board of Podiatric Surgery and the founder of The Organic Foot, a podiatric surgeon in New York City, arch support increases the mobility of the great toe joint and promotes appropriate alignment.
Do not purchase the shoe if it does not fit. This may sound obvious, but many people will force their foot into a shoe that is too small, either because they enjoy the shoe (and can't find the correct size) or because they believe the shoe will stretch with wear. Miguel Cunha, DPM, founder of Gotham Footcare and New York City's preeminent podiatrist, foot and ankle surgeon, recommends having your foot measured with a Brannock Device for both length and width, as shoe sizes might vary between brands.
Another expert hint? "I recommend purchasing shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are swollen the greatest," explains Cunha. "If they feel at ease at the end of the day, they will likely feel at ease during the day."
If a shoe does not allow for adequate airflow, your foot is prone to sweat and become unpleasant. "Look for footwear with a breathable upper fabric. This will also aid with moisture and odor control "Dr. Fridman explains.
Some shoe retailers may allow you to try on the shoes for a period of time before choosing whether or not they are suitable. Ensure you inquire about this so you can test the breathability.
Wide toebox
Comfort is subjective, particularly in regards to the width and form of your foot. If you have wide toes, a shoe with a narrow fit will likely not work for you. "A broader toe box will minimize overcrowding and reduce the risk of bunions, hammertoes, and neuromas," explains Dr. Figlo.
Flex point
The flex point of a walking shoe is where it bends during walking. "For maximum comfort, the flex point of the shoe should correspond to the flex point of your foot," explains Dr. Cunha. "When it is not properly aligned with the foot, it might lead to problems such as arch pain and plantar fasciitis. You may determine a shoe's flex point by holding it by the heel and pressing the toe into the ground.
The point at which a shoe bends and folds is known as the flex point."

In light of this, we asked our experts to recommend their preferred walking shoes. Here are the walking shoes recommended by podiatrists for optimal foot health. 

1. New Balance 1165v1 Fresh Foam

You will enjoy the feel of the foam cushioning in this walking shoe, as well as its light weight. The New Balance 1165v1 Fresh Foam is one of the market's lightest walking shoes. Dr. Cunha explains, "In addition to being lightweight, the shoe is composed of synthetic material, making it long-lasting."

This New Balance walking shoe's insoles are replaceable, allowing you to replace them with your own. 

Buy: New Balance 1165v1 Fresh Foam

2. HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7

These sneakers have a tremendous amount of underfoot cushioning that can survive countless miles of walking. A built-in Meta-Rocker facilitates a seamless transition from the heel to the toe with each step. In addition to the HOKA One One Bondi 7 being a favorite among some of our executives, Dr. Fridman has the following to say about it: "It is my favorite shoe on the market, and I recommend it frequently to clients with foot problems who wish to continue their workout regimens.
Also surprisingly lightweight."

Dr. Fridman says that this is especially advantageous for elderly.

Buy: HOKA ONE ONE Bondi 7

3. Asics Gel Contend Walker

If walking is a regular part of your routine, you should consider purchasing this pair. "Their AmpliFoam midsole gives a considerable level of foot stabilization and cushioning," explains Dr. Figlo. Not only is the interior fabric breathable, but the shoe also features an Ortholite sockliner that offers support, comfort, and moisture management. 

Buy: Asics Gel Contend Walker

4. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

This shoe's "GTS" abbreviation refers for "go-to shoe," as it is one of the brand's most popular models. It is constructed with BioMoGo DNA technology that is designed to adapt to your foot and movement patterns in order to accommodate your individual foot and stride. Dr. Cunha recommends them for individuals with neutral or low arches due to their superior stability and additional cushioning for shock absorption. These shoes are little more expensive than others, but they are a worthy investment.

Buy: Brooks Adrenaline GTS 22

5. Vionic Classic Walker

Brave the elements in this pair thanks to the water-resistant membrane—and when it's hot and sunny, the moisture-wicking mesh liner will help keep your feet cool and dry. "I like that this shoe has a biomechanical orthotic that also has an antibacterial top cover," says Dr. Figlo.

Translation: Your shoes are more likely to stay smelling fresh, even after lots of wear.

Buy: Vionic Classic Walker

6. New Balance 608v5

If you prefer the classic appearance of a walking sneaker, this pair from New Balance is the most iconic. This 70-year-old sneaker's reputation has remained untarnished, and it still provides a reasonable level of cushioning, stability, and support for the foot. Dr. Fridman states that this shoe is robust, well-cushioned, and has a breathable top. "It also has a subdued appearance," he says, which is "ideal for folks who don't want 'loud' shoes."

Buy: New Balance 608v5

7. Asics Women's Gel-Venture 8

Calling all those with unsteady gait: This shoe's back gel cushioning is designed to absorb and minimize shock caused by the foot for a more comfortable run. Dr. Cunha explains, "These shoes are heavier than others, but they are quite robust and can be worn for longer durations." The benefit of these shoes is that they accommodate various arch types. 

Buy: Asics Women's Gel-Venture 8

8. Orthofeet Women's Sneaker

This shoe was designed as a remedy for people with plantar fasciitis, heel discomfort, or other foot issues. Moreover, this shoe combines comfort and style to appear as good as it performs. According to Dr. Figlo, this shoe features air cushioning and a protected lining. They accommodate orthotics, offer deep and wide toe boxes, adequate arch support, and cushioned heels as well.

You have sixty days to decide if this shoe is suitable for you (and if not, the brand pledges a full refund).

Buy: Orthofeet Women's Sneaker

9. ALTRA Torin 4

ALTRA has earned its reputation on its "zero-drop" philosophy, which means that regardless of the amount of cushioning, all of their shoes, including this one, have balanced cushioning so that the heel and forefoot are at the same distance from the ground. This enables for proper alignment of the foot. "If you're used to shoes with a higher heel drop, you may develop Achilles tendinitis if you don't break these in gradually," says Dr. Fridman, a shoe enthusiast. Because of the broad toebox, this shoe is ideal for those with average heel width but require a wider forefoot owing to bunions or neuromas.

Buy: ALTRA Torin 4

10. New Balance 928v3 Women's Walking Shoe

If you prefer a walking shoe with a low heel, look no further. But don't be fooled by this shoe's simple appearance; it is everything but.

The midsole is lined with compression-molded EVA, an elastic, rubber-like substance, to cushion and support your foot, while the outsole is designed to withstand wear and tear. Due to the bigger toe box, this model can fit the majority of pedal abnormalities, according to Dr. Figlo. The arch support and stability allow for increased comfort and reduced chance of injury. It also has a detachable footbed.

Buy: New Balance 928v3 Women's Walking Shoe

11. Ryka Devotion Plus 2 Walking Shoe

If you suffer from hammertoes, bunions, gout, or arthritis in your toes, it is imperative that you purchase a walking shoe with an extra-wide toe box in order to avoid aggravating your condition and experiencing pain, according to Sophia Solomon, DPM, a podiatrist and foot and ankle surgeon at Manhattan Specialty Care in New York City. These Ryka Devotion Plus 2 walking shoes are designed with a roomier toe box than other women's shoes and receive good grades for comfort and cushioning.

Buy: Ryka Devotion Plus 2 Walking Shoe

12. Skechers Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe

According to Dr. Solomon, the ideal walking shoe is the one you wear most often. These Skechers are comfortable, durable, affordable, and well-fitting.

She notes that the slip-on form can be beneficial for individuals with disabilities that make it difficult to bend down or tie laces. In addition, their casual appearance does not scream "exercise shoe," so you may wear them even when you are not wearing activewear.

Buy: Skechers Go Walk Joy Walking Shoe

13. Powerstep Insoles

Cannot locate the ideal walking shoe? Make it yourself! Dr. Solomon suggests customizing your favorite shoe with an insert for healthy feet. And, she advises, you don't need expensive custom orthotic inserts; modern technology enables a custom fit with mass-produced items.

Her favorites? Powerstep flexible insoles (According to her, New Balance insoles are another winner.)

Buy: Powerstep Insoles

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