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Walking Shoes & Foot Pain

by
author image Pam Murphy
Pam Murphy is a writer specializing in fitness, childcare and business-related topics. She is a member of the National Association for Family Child Care and contributes to various websites. Murphy is a licensed childcare professional and holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from the University of West Georgia.
Walking Shoes & Foot Pain
A man's feet as he is walking down a street. Photo Credit mantinov/iStock/Getty Images

Correcting foot pain associated with walking could be as simple as investing in a new pair of shoes. Foot pain during walking is not a sign that your shoes need to be broken in. The right pair of walking shoes should be comfortable from the start, according to outdoor outfitter REI.com.

Proper Walking Shoes

Walking is a low-impact, effective exercise option that requires minimal investment. Wearing improper shoes during walking, however, can lead to injury and discomfort. According to the Big Peach Running Co., "The three most common causes of injury in runners and walkers are doing too much too soon, not stretching enough and improper footwear." Selecting walking shoes that are right for your gait is your first defense against foot pain and injury. A visit to a specialty shoe store can help you identify whether your foot collapses to the inside, outside or falls in a neutral position when walking. This pronation determines the type of shoes you need, the Big Peach Running Co. says.

Fit

According to REI.com, "72 percent of Americans wear shoes that don't fit properly," and "up to 40 percent of these people get foot problems as a result." Even if you've been fitted for shoes before, factors including age, pregnancy, changes in weight and an increase in athletic activity can lead to a change in foot size. To get the right fit, wear the same style sock you plan to walk in, try on both shoes and walk around the store. If possible, walk outside. The shoes should fit comfortably without shifting on your heel.

Injury

A common cause of heel pain for walkers is plantar fascitiis, an inflammation of the plantar fascia that runs along the foot's sole, according to John Hopkins Medicine. The onset of plantar fasciitis is associated with an increase in walking, or, in some cases, aging. Recovery time might be as long as six to 12 weeks, according to John Hopkins Medicine, and treatments require cutting back on walking distance or switching to activities such as swimming or cycling that reduce stress on the feet.

Other possible sources of pain in the feet include, but are not limited to, bone spurs, black toe and fallen arches. If pain in your feet continues after you switch to the right style of walking shoe, visit a physician.

Shoe Life

Walking shoes are designed to last 400 to 500 miles. Signs of excessive wear include stretched heels and worn outsoles. According to REI.com, "pain in your feet, legs, hips or back" after walking could signify that it's time for a new pair of shoes. REI.com advises that to extend the life of your walking shoes, you should use them only during exercise and unlace your shoes each time you remove them.

Considerations

Even though walking is a low-impact form of exercise, you still need to increase your mileage gradually. Walking long distances without a proper investment of time and training could lead to injury. Add a few minutes to your walk each day until you reach your distance or time goal.

Invest in socks made from breathable, moisture-wicking fabric, and wear them every time you walk to avoid blisters. Replace socks that are thinning or that are beginning to develop holes.

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