Women's Health Walking Workouts
Find Your Best Shoes
If you’re taking your walks in thin-soled tennis shoes, high-tops or athletic-looking footwear designed for fashion, not function, you could be making a huge mistake. Wearing the wrong shoe – even a running shoe – can be a quick route back to the couch or the doctor’s office. Unfortunately, 72 percent of shoes bought for walking are not walking shoes, according to research out of the US.
Walking shoes aren’t just a marketing gimmick. They’re specifically designed for how you walk, which is very different from how you run. While runners land flat-footed, walkers land on their heels. So the heels of walking shoes are often slanted to increase stability. That stability is important when you roll forwards and push off with your toes, as you do when you walk. And you’ll be less likely to trip because the soles of walking shoes are smoother than those of running shoes. These walking-specific features can help keep you injury free, so it’s worth the time (and money) to get the right footwear. Start by identifying the type of foot you have – there’s more to it than just size – whether neutral, rigid or flexible. These terms describe what your foot does every time you take a step. Shoes that best support your foot type will feel better and last longer because you’ll put less stress on both foot and shoe, says running coach Paul Carrozza. Determine your foot type with The Wet Test below. Before your prints fade, match them to one of the three prints that follow. If your outlines are somewhere between neutral and rigid, choose rigid. If yours fall between neutral and flexible, choose flexible. If each of your footprints is a different pattern, aim to fit the more flexible one (for example, if you have one neutral foot and one flexible foot, buy a flexible pair).
FOOT TYPE: NEUTRAL
WITH THIS FOOT TYPE YOU’LL SEE ABOUT A 2.5CM STRIP OF WETNESS IN THE ARCH AREA. How you tread: Your feet are well balanced and roll, or pronate, almost perfectly. They lengthen and spread out about a half shoe size when you stand and they absorb shock well and have good stability. But put these nearly perfect puppies in poorly fitted shoes and you could be hobbled with blisters or other foot problems. How to fit: Yours are the easiest feet to fit because many styles are designed for your type. Make sure any shoe you buy feels good in the store – there shouldn’t be any rubbing or pinching.
FOOT TYPE: RIGID
YOUR ARCHES ARE HIGH, SO YOU’LL SEE LITTLE, IF ANY, IMPRINT IN THE ARCH AREA ON THE PAPER. How you tread: Your feet tend to roll inwards only slightly as you step, so you underpronate, meaning you walk more on the outsides of your feet. They’re stable, but they don’t absorb shock as well as neutral feet because they’re so stiff. And when you stand, your feet tend not to lengthen or spread out as much as neutral or flexible feet. How to fit: If your feet are rigid, you need walking shoes that are well cushioned so they can absorb the shock, but flexible enough to allow your feet to roll more as you step. Look for a pair that has a roomy upper, which will accommodate your high arch. Choose the walking shoe with the
Salomon Women’s Speedcross 4, R1 999 K-Way Women’s City Grid Shoe, R899 adidas CloudFoam QT Racer, R999
highest heel if you have tight calves, which is common in this foot type. Your feet are also likely to curve inward at the ball (you can check this out by tracing your feet), so look for a shoe that does likewise by matching the tracings of your feet to the soles of the shoes you’re considering.
FOOT TYPE: FLEXIBLE
YOUR FEET ARE FLAT AND HAVE LOW ARCHES, SO YOU WILL SEE A FULL IMPRINT, WITH MUCH OF THE ARCH AREA IN CONTACT WITH THE PAPER.
How you tread: Your flexible feet roll inwards quite a bit when you take each step; this is called overpronating. They provide an unstable base, but they will absorb shock well because they spread out as your soles hit the ground. In fact, this foot type can increase an entire shoe size when you’re just standing still. How to fit: Because your feet tend to flatten out with every step you take, you need a shoe that has less space between the laces and the sole. (To judge how much space you have, move your feet up and down inside the front of the shoes while you’re wearing them.) You don’t need a lot of cushioning, but you do need good arch support so your feet don’t completely flatten out when you step. With this foot type, it’s also wise to choose a shoe with a low heel because it will help keep your feet more stable while you’re walking.