We've finally entered the warmer season. After months spent indoors, unable to really get out and get moving because of below-zero temps, it's only natural to want to get in some serious steps, whether that's on your morning commute to work or from a casual stroll through the park. But before you head out, you'll want to make one thing sure: That you're wearing a good pair of walking shoes because if you're not sporting the right footwear, there could be serious repercussions in the future.
How does one know whether or not a style is a good walking shoe—i.e., one that you can stand to march in for miles on end without causing serious foot pain? Well, to answer this and many more of our burning footwear questions, we tapped podiatrist Jacqueline Sutera, DPM, a Vionic Innovation Lab Member, for her expert know-how.
First up, what does one look for in the shoe design? According to Sutera, you'll want to find a style with shock absorption (rubber or cork-like sneakers are always a safe bet).
"Traditional running sneakers, fashion sneakers, and walking shoes are all good options," she says. "Ideally, the sole should have a little more height than the back. This is called a 'heel drop.' Arch support is also super important. Look for walking shoes with arch support built-in."
Read on for more of her tips on how to find the best walking shoes for women, plus shop podiatrist-recommended shoes.
1. Skip flat shoes.
"If the shoe is too flat or if the shoe's insole is too thin, it shouldn't be used for long periods of standing or walking," Sutera explains. "Also avoid shoes with hard soles, high heels, and ones that are too flexible (can be folded in half). All of these should not be used for walking."
2. Style and comfort aren't mutually exclusive.
"The biggest misconception is that style needs to be sacrificed for comfort. You don't have to choose one for the other anymore," she says. "Foot-friendly brands like Vionic have not only put state of the art technology into their shoes and are great for overall body biomechanics, but there is also a great emphasis on style. Look for embellishments, animal prints, fun colors, etc., to feel fashion-forward!"
3. Sneakers are best when you're putting in serious miles.
"For a lot of walking, like sightseeing all day in a new city, it's recommended to wear a traditional sneaker like running or walking shoe. These will provide the max shock absorption, cushioning, and arch support. For lighter walking like errands, shopping, or as a commuter shoe, look for fashion sneakers."