How to Pick the Best Running and Walking Shoes

Authored by: Dr. Yash Mehta

Spring is here. The weather is getting nice across the country and that has many grabbing their walking and running shoes and heading outside for some exercise.

But how much thought are you giving to your running shoes? I hope the answer is — a lot. The goal of a good running or walking shoe, or any shoe really, is to provide support as well as comfort for arguably two of the most important body parts, your feet. Your feet are not only vital for getting from point A to B, but they also support the weight of your whole body. It is therefore VITAL to ensure you are outfitting them with the right support.

Slip on the wrong pair or one that’s too old with worn down heels or soles and you’ll see what a big deal it can be. I’m not talking just about blisters and calluses but far more serious issues of misalignment that can cause foot, ankle, knee, hip and/or back pain. It could even change your gait.

I am frequently asked what shoes I think best promote good biomechanics and support so I’m sharing my thoughts here. This isn’t an ad. I have no incentives to recommend one brand over another. These are simply my thoughts and suggestions based on my own research and experience.

First and foremost — get to know your feet

Our feet are just as individualized as we are and if you’re an avid walker or runner, it’s important to know if you have flat feet, a high arch or pronate. So touch base with a professional to find out.

Other individual factors that come into play involve your gait, whether you’re running outside or inside on a treadmill, your speed, distance, inclines and so much more.

What should one look for when searching for walking shoes?

I use the abbreviation F.C.S. Fit, Cushioning, Stability. You want to make sure you have a proper fit. Too much space and your feet are moving around in there and not properly supported. Too little and your feet are too snug, leading to perhaps bending your toes in the front or calluses. You also want good cushioning for your heels and arches. Lastly, you want good stability on both the inner and outer portions of the ankle. Too much give may change your walking mechanics and can also lead to ankle sprains.

Some of my favorite brands

You have a ton of options in running and walking shoes and while I can’t fit you for the best shoes in an article like this, I can share a few brands that have been tried and tested by myself, family, and my patients. The obvious caveat is that I am not affiliated with any particular one financially. As someone with many feet issues myself, as well as a family and patient population with various ailments, these are the recommendations I can give. Brands are listed in no particular order.

Best brands for walking/running shoes overall: Adidas, Allbirds, Asics, Brooks, Hoka, OnCloud, Orthofeet

Best walking/running shoes for women with knee pain or shin splints: Nike, HOKA

Best walking shoes with a wide toe box: HOKA, Orthofeet

Best walking shoes within a good budget: ASICS

Best walking shoes for someone who’s on their feet all day: HOKA

Best non-slip walking shoes for someone who walks on slippery areas: VESSI, Gelert

Best walking shoes for tough terrain: KEEN

Best walking shoes for pregnant women: HOKA and Orthofeet

Best walking shoes for plus sized women: HOKA and Orthofeet

Best walking shoes that double up with running: Asics, Nike, OnClouds

Best walking shoes for someone with narrow feet:Adidas

Best walking shoes for someone with wide feet: HOKA, New Balance

Best walking shoes for someone with sensitive skin or flat feet: HOKA; however, the most important thing with flat feet is to make sure to have arch support. Many times off the shelf orthotics that you can slip into your shoes will do just fine. But I recommend evaluation by a trained physical therapist or orthotist and purchasing custom orthotic inserts.

Best for high arches: DANSKO, Asics

Best walking shoes for someone with plantar fasciitis: Adidas Ultraboost, Vionic Tokyo Slipper: Good support and cushioning in heel area

Most durable walking shoes: Durability depends on how one is using their shoes. However, the usual recommendation is to change shoes every 300 miles for best overall support and comfort, as that is how long it takes, on average, for the shoes to wear down.

Best walking shoes for travel: Adidas, Allbirds, OnClouds

Best walking shoes for city walking and city commuting (subway stairs, elevators, pavement, etc): Adidas, Allbirds, OnClouds

Best for Treadmill: Brooks

Best for bunions: HOKA

Best Slip-on: Sketchers

Best light weight: Allbirds

Best walking sandals: TEVA

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