The best walking shoes pair style, comfort and support.
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Feet can take a beating during a long workday, particularly in occupations requiring a lot of standing and walking. A good pair of walking shoes can provide comfort, support and stability at work and while exercising. Many fitness-oriented walking shoes combine fitness features with comfort and style and are available in neutral colors, making them ideal for work. Some classic work shoes also have many of the features one might expect to find in a walking shoe. These include cushioning, control, durability and good traction that provide comfort and make walking enjoyable while on the job.
Finding Your Fit
The American Council on Exercise recommends buying shoes that match your foot type when investing in any type of athletic shoe, whether the shoes are for walking, running, tennis or other specific activities. Some sneakers have more shock absorption to improve comfort for walkers with higher arches or for workers who must stand for long parts of the day. People with lower arches or flat feet may need less cushioning but more support in the middle of the foot. A competent sales person can help review the different types of walking shoes available and help you select the best fit based on the structure of your foot.
The American Orthopaedic Foot & Ankle Society (AOFAS) recommends a lightweight walking shoe with extra shock absorption provided in the heel and around the metatarsal, or ball of the foot. This cushioning helps prevent pain from developing in the feet or reduces pain from conditions including plantar fasciitis. Extra shock absorption also helps reduce burning and tenderness along the ball of the foot. Choose a shoe that is immediately comfortable when you try it on for the best results. There should be no need for a "break-in" period.
The AOFAS suggests investing in walking shoes with a sole that is rounded slightly or models with a rocker bottom to facilitate the natural rolling motion of the foot while walking. Rounded and rocker bottom walking shoes allow your body's weight to shift more easily from heel to toe while walking and minimize the forces exerted on your feet. A study commissioned by the American Council on Exercise found that this type of shoe also may reduce knee pain from osteoarthritis, which can encourage people to walk more while at work and thereby improve their fitness level.
A stable shoe is important when walking at work. The American Council on Exercise recommends grabbing the shoe at the front and heel and bending it from front to back to test for stability. Check to see whether the shoe bends near the front, or ball of the foot, where your foot would naturally flex. A stable shoe also should twist only slightly when held at each end and twisted. Too much flexibility in a walking shoe is a sign that the shoe will not provide sufficient support.