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When Comfort Counts: Choosing a Walking Shoe

  • Bring innerwear. Try on shoes with socks or any special inserts you normally would wear.
  • Allow a 3/8-inch to half-inch space from the tip of your longest toe to the tip of your shoes. The longest toe is usually either the great toe or the second toe. If you can push the tip of your index finger between the tip of your longest toe and the end of the shoes, the shoe length is adequate.
  • Make sure the widest part of your feet fit comfortably in the wide part of the shoes when you're standing. One trick is to stand and have a friend draw the shape of your feet on a piece of paper. Take the paper with you when you buy your shoes and make sure the shoes you're considering completely cover the drawing.
  • Don't expect shoes to "stretch out." If the shoes feel too tight, don't buy them. With time, your feet may push or stretch shoes to fit, but this can cause foot pain and damage and should be avoided.
  • Avoid slipping. Make sure your heels aren't slipping around in the shoes.
  • Take a walk. Before you buy them, put both shoes on and walk around the store. Make sure they fit and feel good.

A Word about Socks

The kind of socks you wear are a matter of personal taste. For instance, while some people like thick socks, others find them uncomfortable. The rule on socks is that "the sock and shoe should combine to fit the foot like a glove," says Travers. "You have to choose your sock based on personal comfort and protection."

But when it comes to fabric, choose socks made of a combination of acrylic, nylon, and spandex, which help keep your feet dry and provide extra padding for comfort, advises Glickman You can find them at athletic stores for about $10.

Take your time choosing and buying walking shoes and socks. And don't be afraid to spend a little more money for added comfort. Having the right fit is worth it.


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