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What are Walking Shoes?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 23, 2024
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Walking shoes are shoes that are built to support the foot during walking for exercise, walking long distances, or simply casual walking as determined by occasion. Sometimes people more loosely define walking shoes as merely comfortable shoes designed for regular wear. Usually there is greater distinction between comfy shoes and walking shoes, and shoes of the athletic type are more suited to increased activity.

Athletic type shoes, which many simply call tennis shoes, often come in three basic forms designed for cross-training, running and walking. While any of these shoes may provide comfortable fit and adequate support, walking shoes may have special features that best support the foot during walking for exercise. These features can vary but tend to include the following:

  • Lace up front
  • Notched back where the heel meets the shoe
  • Cushioning or pads in the inside of the shoe
  • Arch support
  • Rubberized outsole

A few walking shoes have additional features that you may want to look for. Some have what is called a roll bar toward the back of the shoe. This feature can’t be seen from the outside but promotes greater stability when your foot strikes the ground. If you have weaker ankles or have a habit of twisting your ankles when you walk, a roll bar may help avoid painful ankle twists. Another common addition in the modern walking shoe is gel pads, which provide extra cushioning to the feet as you walk.

There are important considerations to make when you choose walking shoes. It’s recommended that you take some time to do this and get fitted at a good athletic shoe store. These may not always be the stores that you find in the mall that have athletic sounding names. Instead, mom and pop stores may do a better job providing you with appropriate fit. Look for stores that advertise stocking a wide variety of lengths and widths, as employees may be more sensitive to fitting shoes properly on the foot.

When you’re using a shoe for daily walking, it is important to make sure fit is excellent and there are some other things you should consider. A wider and taller toe box may help avoid problems with the toes. You may need shoes built for carrying heavier weight, or that can protect your feet when you walk on different surfaces like concrete. The arch of your foot also matters when you choose walking shoes, since some will have higher arches than are comfortable. This is a good thing to discuss at the shoe store of if you’ve had foot problems of any kind in the past, you might discuss appropriate shoe brands with your podiatrist or doctor.

You can expect to pay about $60-150 US Dollars (USD) for a good quality pair of walking shoes. Once you’ve established the size you need and the style, you may be able to save a little money on future pairs by purchasing them online. Cost of these shoes is hefty but may be worth it, since many of them better support the feet and help to reduce number of foot injuries and foot problems associated with extensive walking.

Sports n' Hobbies is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Sports n' Hobbies contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By Heavanet — On Aug 27, 2014

@ocelot60- I have several pairs of walking shoes with gel cushioning in the insoles, and I love them. They are comfortable when walking, and also provide the extra support that it takes for a shoe to ease or prevent foot pain.

You should be able to find a variety of casual walking shoes with this unique comfort feature. I even have a pair of flip flops with gel cushioning and an athletic sole, which are great for taking long, athletic walks on warm days.

By Ocelot60 — On Aug 26, 2014

I have been thinking about getting a pair of walking shoes with gel cushioning because they seem like they would be very comfortable for people with foot pain. Does anyone have experience wearing these types of shoes, and if so, are they comfortable and effective in preventing foot pain?

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a Sports n' Hobbies contributor, Tricia...
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