How To Choose Shoes: The Fit You Need, The Features To Look For

Sales of walking shoes nave slowed, possibly because consumers ere choosing cross-trainers and comfort shoes instead. To get walking shoes back in the running, manufacturers have been looking for new designs and technologies. Changes include bolder styling and cushioning and support specific to a walker’s needs.

Although the sports-shoe police won’t nab you for power-walking in cross-trainers or even tennie, walking shoes have traits that suit them to the activity. They need to cushion feet let them flex, yet keep them from roiling too much side to side. You can get a fine pair for about $70, and they may De fairly fancy: Technology tends to trickle down from top-of-the-line shoes to lower-priced ones.

Two high-rated shoes from earlier tests are still sold: The men’s Payless Double Strap Walker, $20, was a CR Best Buy in 2016, and the women’s Easy Spirit Jumper, $70, had excellent flexibility and fit.

Guide To A Good Fit

* If possible, shop late In the afternoon, feet tend to swell as the day wears on.

* Wear the kind of socks you’ll wear when walking. (Look for synthetic fiber that wicks moisture away from the feet.)

* Shop at stores where salesman measure the length and width of your feet and where they’re able to answer questions. An athletic-shoe store, rather than a department store, may be your best bet.

* Feel around the inside of the shoe for seams, bumps, and rough spots.

* Walk for several minutes on different surfaces. Walking shoes should not require breaking In; they should fit comfortably right out of the box.

Guide To Features

ANKLE COLLAR: Padding here adds comfort.

TONGUE: Should be kept centered with side gussets or have a loop through which you can thread the lace. Often padded.

REFLECTOR: Good if you walk at dusk or dawn. Bigger is better.

UPPER: Newer shoes use more mesh than they do leather or synthetic leather. Mesh ventilates and makes the shoe lighter.

INSOLE: Adds cushioning aria arch support. Should De removable for cleaning and, when it loses springiness, replacement. In previous tests, we found that replacement insoles including the Spenco Polysorb insole Walker/Runner. about $19 at shoe stores and the Dr. Scholl’s, $11 at drugstores, were effective. Both tend to be more substantial than insoles that come with most walking shoes.

TOE BOX: Should be wide enough to let toes spread as you walk and at least a thumbnail’s length beyond the longest toe. Make sure toes have wiggle room top to bottom, too.

SPEED LACING: Involves metal D-rings or loops that let you hook up aces and adjust fit quickly. An alternative: Velcro straps, which create as snug a fit as laces.

MIDSOLE: This is where most of a shoe’s cushioning resides. Typically, cushioning comes from foams such as ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) in various degrees of stiffness and thickness. Nee and forefoot cushioning may include pockets filled with gel or air.

HEEL: Should cup your heel. As you walk, your heel should not slide Up and Down.

ACHILLES’ NOTCH: Relieves pressure on the tendon.

OUTSOLE: Flexibility is essential, primarily at the ball of the foot, to permit walking with your normal gait. Some shoes gain flexibility with grooved outsoles; some use beveled heels to help the foot roll from heel to toe.

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