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Likeand , walking shoes can bring you a lot of joy or a lot of pain. Anyone with particularly achy feet or a condition like plantar fasciitis knows this: Choosing the correct fit is key for comfort. If you don’t, you may end up with blisters and in your arches — ouch.
If you’re planning on gifting someone a new pair of walking shoes for the holidays this year, go for one of these pairs. They’re top-rated online and recommended by podiatrists, so you know you’re gifting kicks anyone would want to wear every day.
Low arches or flat feet often encourage pronation of the foot, meaning your foot turns downward. Put your foot flat on the floor and try to press your arch into the ground to visualize pronation.
If you have pronated feet, “Walking shoes should have rigid outsoles which prevent the shoes from bending or flexing,” says Dr. Velimir Petkov, owner of Premier Podiatry in Clifton, New Jersey. “This allows your shoes to hold your feet in a mostly neutral position without allowing them to overpronate.”
That’s where the Brooks Addiction Walker comes in. This shoe features a stiff outsole with a medium arch — just enough to keep feet from overpronating, but not so much arch support that it pushes your feet into supination.
And, they apparently last a really long time.
In contrast to low arches, high arches often lead to supination of the foot, which means the arch of your foot turns upward, and the outer edge of your foot presses into the ground. Supination can lead to ankle instability and even knee pain if it isn’t corrected, so it’s important to get shoes that support you.
The Asics Gel-Nimbus, previously recommended to CNET by Dr. Zohreh Mancil, a podiatrist at Slidell Memorial Hospital in Louisiana, has phenomenal arch support and can relieve some of the pain associated with foot supination.
Whether you have high arches or low arches, it’s worth investing in custom orthotics, Dr. Petkov says. These “support your arches regardless of the foot structure [and] can be inserted into most shoes and sneakers to stabilize your foot and ankle joints and prevent future pathology.”
Shopping for shoes with plantar fasciitis can be really tough, to say the least. But, once you find a pair that properly supports your feet, everything changes. Look for shoes that have added arch support, Dr. Petkov says, as this helps support the plantar fascia and relieve the pressure from it.
“A lot of times, patients suffer from plantar fasciitis because they have underlying flat feet deformities,” he says. “Therefore, in order to prevent plantar fasciitis, it’s best to wear shoes that have arch support in order to prevent the arches from collapsing.”
The Vionic Classic Walker, which Dr. Mancil previously recommended to CNET, encompasses everything a walking shoe should have for plantar fasciitis.
For instance, the rigid heel counter and removable orthotics make for a seamless heel-to-toe strike. Ample arch support prevents feet from overpronating, which can help keep pressure off the plantar fascia.
Walking shoes for wide feet should have a wider toe box to accommodate the shape and structure of the feet, Dr. Petkov says. This is especially true for feet that became wide due to bunions or other deformities, he says. Wide shoes can also prevent ingrown toenails, and no one wants one of those.
The Skechers Vigor Serpentine 2.0, which are part of the Skechers Men’s Wide Fit collection, have all the characteristics you’d look for in a high-quality walking shoe — stable heel counter, rigid outsole, plenty of cushioning — and also feature a 2E/3E-sized toe box.
Reviewers on Skechers and Amazon love these walking shoes for their durability and stability, as well as the memory foam insole and cushioned tongue that make the shoes great for long days on your feet.
If you like to walk off-road, sturdy shoes with shock absorption are a must, Dr. Petkov says.
Certain foam materials such as ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) used in the midsole of the shoe can allow for additional shock absorption, he says, which helps to relieve pressure on the forefoot, ankle joints and tendons that work to balance the feet during walking on rough terrains.
That’s why the Salomon Pathfinder is perfect for walking on trails, gravel and other dicey terrain. Salomon is best known for its hiking boots and trail running shoes, but the brand manufactures tons of great walking shoes, too, like the Pathfinder.
Several Amazon buyers reported that these walking shoes run a bit tight, so you might want to size up. Other than that, the reviews are largely positive.
How I chose these walking shoes
I used Dr. Petkov’s professional opinion to guide my research for this article. After putting together a list of more than 30 types of walking shoes, I narrowed it down based on online reviews, looking for highly rated shoes. I ultimately chose walking shoes that were top-rated for comfort, stability and durability.
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The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.