Selecting a Walking Shoe with Potomac River Running

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Mary Dallao is the Program Manager for WalkArlington. She loves being outdoors and can often be found walking or running on one of Arlington’s beautiful trails.

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Phillip Le of Potomac River Running answers some common questions about how to select a great walking shoe that will help make your walks comfortable and more enjoyable.

During WalkArlington’s fall edition of the 8-Week Walking Challenge, participants sometimes discussed walking concerns with each other in the private Facebook group. One frequent topic was walking shoes. People wanted to know what others wore for walking and what type of shoe helped address a specific issue, such as knee or back pain. Their interest in this topic prompted WalkArlington to seek out Phillip Le, manager of Potomac River Running in Arlington and avid runner, to get his advice on how to select a good walking shoe. See what he has to say below.

Selecting a Good Walking Shoe

WalkArlington: What’s the most important thing to consider when shopping for walking shoes?

Phillip Le: Getting the right fit is the most important factor in selecting a good walking shoe. Always get measured before choosing a shoe. Most people wear different sizes in dress, casual, and athletic shoes. Your feet can swell when you exercise, so you want the size you buy to accommodate swelling. There can be size variations across and even within a brand. It’s not unusual for the fit of a particular shoe to change if the design gets updated.

WalkArington: If a person experiences pain when walking, what kind of shoes should he or she select? Do certain types of shoes help with specific problems?

Phillip Le:Sometimes pain from walking is related to overuse—particularly if you have significantly increased your walking levels recently. Try to ease into any new exercise program to see if that helps alleviate pain from walking. Orthotics can help with issues like plantar fasciitis and heel spurs, although they will add volume to a shoe and may affect fit. If you do want to use orthotics, try on your shoes with the orthotics you plan on wearing.

WalkArlington: What about socks? Are there special socks to wear when walking?

Phillip Le: Your socks for walking should be moisture-wicking and comfortable. Whether you wear thick or thin socks is a matter of preference, but you should opt for a good athletic sock. They won’t have seams to irritate your feet, and they have a tab that comes up in the back so your ankle won’t rub against your shoe. They should help hold your foot in place.

WalkArlington: How do you know when it’s time to get new shoes?

Phillip Le: A couple of factors affect when you should replace a pair of shoes, including how often you wear them and how many miles you put on them. If the treads are visibly worn down, it can be time to replace. The midsole of a shoe is the most important part to examine in determining wear and tear. Check it periodically. If it’s not functioning properly, your body will be absorbing more of the impact when you walk. If you’re walking the same distances as you had in the past but feeling sore afterwards, it may be time to replace your shoes.

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