Walking is the Best Medicine
You've probably heard of the health benefits of walking. The American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine (AAPSM) argues that walking can drastically improve your health and well-being. Walking has been shown to reduce stress, increase cardiovascular health, and boost immunity. It's no wonder that the "Father of Western Medicine" Hippocrates stated that "walking is the best medicine."
Whether you're racking up the miles every morning before heading to work, strolling in the evening with your dog, or walking around town with your family, continued and consistent walking habits can do wonders for your life.
Because walking is a lower-impact activity, many of us don't pay as much attention to the footwear we use when hitting the pavement. Despite walking's lower risk for injuries than high-impact sports like running or basketball, you should remember that walking still puts weight and some impact on your feet and legs. Picking the right shoes – and enhancing them with the best insoles for walking – is crucial to preventing injury and ensuring comfort.
Why Do you Need Insoles in your Walking Shoes?
Walking shoes tend to have thinner soles and less cushioning than other sports-specific shoes. While this may seem like an appropriate trait for lower-impact shoes, your feet still need the same level of arch support, cushion, and shock absorption when walking as when engaging in other activities. In fact, walking can cause many of the same injuries as running, including plantar fasciitis, runner's knee, and Achilles tendinitis.
Remember, the factory insoles in walking shoes are generic. They're made to the lowest common denominator of arch contour. This way, they can fit the majority of people who need that type of shoe. While walking may be lower impact, the weight you put on your feet and legs mean you still need good arch support to prevent injuries. The best insole for walking will have strong arch supports that control for excessive pronation. But before you pick out an after-market insert for your walking shoes, you should make sure you are getting the best shoe for your foot.
Tread Labs' Guide to Walking Shoes
Like with any shoe, you need to choose a walking shoe that fits your specific foot structure. Take Tread Labs' Footprint Arch Height Test to figure out what height arch you have.
Do you have lower arches and tend to overpronate? Your excessive inward rolling motion can lead to plantar fasciitis. What about extremely high arches and the tendency to supinate (or underpronate)? This means your arches don't have optimal shock-absorbing capacity when running or walking, which can lead to sore feet and knees. You need to know your feet before buying a pair of shoes.
Once you've figured out your foot's shape, you will want to take into account the specific motions inherent to walking. When we walk, our foot's natural motion is a gradual roll from the heel to the toe, with a bend at the ball of the foot during each step. This two-part motion means that your walking shoes need to have enough flexibility in the correct places. To make sure your walking shoes will accommodate this motion, try these steps:
- Pick the shoe up and bend it at the ball of the shoe. A solid walking shoe should flex at the ball, and remain firm through the arch area. It should mimic the flex of your foot, bendable at the ball but not the arch.
- Put the shoe on a flat surface and push down on the toe. The heel should rise up off of the surface. This means the shoe has the necessary curvature and will conform to your walking movements.
- Check the width of the heel. It should be low to the ground and not super wide. This lower heel (also called "undercut") will ensure better landing and stability for the heel-striking motion common to walking.
Tread Labs recommends trying on your next pair of walking shoes at a brick-and-mortar store. Only then can you see if the shoe fits correctly and assess its comfort and structural support. Remember these tips when trying on walking shoes:
- Bring the socks you plan on wearing during walking.
- Make sure you take out the generic insoles that come inside the shoe and slip in your own insoles to ensure correct fit. Remember, the best insole for walking will enhance the fit of your shoe.
- Try on your shoes at the end of the day, when your feet are slightly swollen. This will ensure that you don't buy shoes that are too small.
- Make sure the shoe has a wide toe box. You don't want cramped toes, blisters, or corns or calluses.
- There should be about 1/2 inch between your toes and the end of the shoe.
- Walk around on different surfaces. Shoes have varying levels of cushion and support. What feels good on carpet might not be the best choice for concrete.
The Best Insoles For Walking – Structured Comfort and Support
The key to comfort and support when walking is maintaining proper biomechanics. The best insole for walking will provide the necessary arch support, no matter your arch height. From flat feet to high arches, your insoles need to provide structured support. Arch support ensures your feet are moving in optimal ways, preventing injury. Tread Labs Stride comes in four different arch heights to insure a great fit for your foot's specific structure. The deep heel cup will concentrate your heel's natural cushioning qualities and reduce at the rear of the shoe.
With arch supports that are guaranteed forever, easily-replaceable top-covers, and a 30-day fit guarantee, Tread Labs Stride insoles will prevent injury and improve comfort. On your next walk, hit the road less traveled - in comfort.