There are three essential factors that should be taken into consideration before purchasing a new pair of walking shoes.
- Stability - the shoes should have a balanced and secure feel throughout range of motion.
- Flexibility - the shoes should allow for a good degree of give at the base of the toes, providing smooth motion.
- Comfort - walking shoes should comprise contours and padding conformed closely to the feet, providing a snug fit at the heel and midfoot, with ample room in the forefoot.
When trying on shoes for exercise walking, it is advisable to examine the following four particular areas of walking shoes:
- Heelcounter - the area of the shoe that holds the back of the heel, just underneath the Achilles tendon. This area should be snug but not tight, comfortably cupping the back of the heel. A good heel counter will help prevent the feet from over pronation or supination.
- Midsole - the area between the tread and the cloth upper of the shoe. This is the most important component of any footwear. Midsoles are made of a variety of materials that give the shoe greater or lesser degrees of cushioning, support, and flexibility.
- Insole - the area inside the shoe, on the bottom, where the sole of the foot is in contact with the shoe. It should contour comfortably to the foot. It is designed to reduce shear forces between the foot and the shoe and provide some shock absorption.
- Toe box - the entire area that surrounds the toes. The toe box should provide adequate room for the toes to move freely. Wiggling and bending the toes at the knuckles should be unrestricted. Conversely, too much space will cause shifting and discomfort. There should be approximately one half to a full thumb's width between the end of the longest toe to the end of the toe box