Although they're trendy and may feel comfortable for a few steps here and there, your favorite slip-on sneakers just don't cut it when it comes to ankle support.
Keeping your ankles safe during walking workouts is key if you want to stay free of injury. (And who doesn't, right?) But what exactly is an ankle support shoe? And how do you even go about finding the best one?
Here, experts share five of the best walking shoes for ankle support. Bonus: exactly how to find the best fit for you.
Manufacturers typically market shoes according to gender, so we have listed both women's and men's picks below. However, the main difference between most men's and women's shoes lies in the shoe width and size. In some cases, men's shoes are built to support greater weights. So people with bigger bodies may want to opt for men's versions, and people with smaller bodies may prefer women's versions.
1. Nike React Infinity Run Flyknit 2
- Lightweight cushion
- Breathable and durable flyknit upper
- Ankle and foot stabilization
- Have a narrower fit
If you look around your local trail, you'll probably see a lot of people wearing Nike's React shoes. And considering their innovative technology, it's no surprise.
React's cushioning system responds to your feet while providing a lightweight, plush feel, according to Washington-based physical therapist Melissa Garcia, DPT, CSCS. Still, they are durable and can withstand even your longest walks.
These are a pair of motion-control shoes, meaning they're designed to reduce how much your feet and ankles wiggle around while you walk, she says. They're all about max support.
2. Asics GT-2000
- Built with added ankle support
- Cushioned, stable heel
- Shock-absorbing mid-foot cushion
- Ideal for people with overpronation (ankles collapse in)
Prepping for a marathon or heading to the grocery store? The Asics GT-2000 is a supportive shoe to consider on your hunt for the best ankle support shoes for your feet.
"These shoes feature a good amount of responsive cushioning, combining additional support for [ankle collapse]," Garcia says.
The GT-2000 is made with a cushioned heel, which is great for stabilizing your heel with each step, she says. Plus, the mid-foot's cushioning absorbs shock as you walk.
3. Brooks Adrenaline GTS 21
- GuideRails keep your ankles in place
- Breathable mesh upper
- Smooth heel to toe transition
- Made for medium to high arches
The Brooks Adrenaline is made with support and stability in mind. It has inner GuideRails, which limit unwanted movement in your ankles and heels, according to Garcia.
The uppers (tops of the shoes) are built with a breathable mesh that gives you a little stretch while keeping your foot securely in place without being too tight.
4. New Balance 1540
- Double foam support
- Motion control for extra stability
- Durable midsole
- Rigid upper
An excellent walking or running shoe, the New Balance 1540 is built with two layers of sturdy and comfortable foam that will give a structured feel. But this foam is also responsive, so your feet won't feel clunky or heavy as you walk around in this pair.
"This shoe is a breathable yet highly durable option with good arch support," Garcia says. Plus, the shoe's durable midsole will keep your sneakers in good condition mile after mile.
5. Saucony Omni 19
- Springy cushion
- Roomy fit
- Personalized, flexible upper
- Wide fit
In some cases, shoes for weak ankles can feel overly stiff or rigid. But Saucony's stable ankle support shoes don't sacrifice the springy feel everyone wants in a good pair of walking sneakers.
"This shoe advertises springy cushioning while combining significant stability throughout the medial arch," Garcia says. "With more energy return, the wearer will feel more efficient with every step, potentially improving their ability to walk longer distances."
The Omni is also built with a wider base, giving a more generous, roomy fit. The breathable upper is also built with Saucony's FORMFIT fabric, flexing and fitting to your unique foot.
How to Find the Best Ankle Support Shoes for Walking Workouts
1. Seek Motion Control
When you're shopping for the best walking shoes for support, search for a pair that's label mentions "control" or "stability."
"These shoes are more structured through the heel cup and more supportive through the sides," Garcia says. "This decreases the amount of excessive movement through the foot and ankle."
Depending on your level of needed support, you may even want to arm your shoes with personalized insole. Podiatrists can help recommend or design them for you.
2. Prioritize Comfort
Stability shoes can also feel a little too firm, depending on the pair you're trying, she says. That's why you want a pair of shoes that fits your personal feet as comfortably as possible. The last thing you want is to feel clunky or heavy while you're walking.
3. Look for a Secure Heel
Whether your ankle tends to collapse in or out as you walk, buying a pair of shoes with a loose-fitting heel cup will only exacerbate the issue. This can allow your ankle to move more while you're walking and increase your risk of ankle injury.
"[Supportive shoes] have a stiff heel cup to provide stability through the ankle joint," according to Garcia.
You can also look at the width of your feet to help determine whether the heel will stay in place. If shoes are built with a wider base but your feet are more narrow, your heels have a higher chance of slipping out with each step.
4. Take It for Some Test Walks
When you find the perfect shoe, take it on some long walks to see if it really holds up. Not only will this guarantee a good fit, but safe and snug ankles, too.
If it doesn't pass the test, don't just settle. Send it back. "Breaking in" walking shoes should not be necessary. They're either comfortable or they aren't.