Feet come in many shapes and sizes. To avoid pain and injury, consider the shape and size of your feet when buying a pair of walking shoes. Shoes that are too narrow or too wide can lead to painful blisters and calluses.
Another important consideration is the arch of your foot. Your arches are made up of bones, muscles, ligaments and tendons. As you walk, these springy, flexible arches help distribute your body weight evenly across your feet.
There are three arch-types that apply to most feet:
- Neutral-arched feet – Your feet aren't overly arched, nor are they overly flat. Look for shoes with firm midsoles and moderate rear-foot stability.
- Low-arched or flat feet – Low arches or flat feet may cause muscle stress and joint problems in your feet and knees because your feet don't support your body as well. Look for a walking shoe with motion control to help stabilize your feet.
- High-arched feet – High arches can result in excessive strain on joints and muscles, as your feet may not absorb shock as well. Look for cushioning to compensate for your lack of natural shock absorption.
Not sure about your foot type? Dip your foot in water and step on a piece of cardboard. Examine your footprint. If you can see most of your foot, you probably have low arches. If you see very little of your foot, you likely have high arches. You also can look at your old shoes for clues to the shape of your foot. Bring your old walking shoes with you when you shop for a new pair—most shoe professionals can make suggestions by looking at the wear on your old shoes.