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Elder Friendly Guide to Walking Shoes

The design for walking shoes is generally the same for men and women, with comfort, durability and stability being the keys.

What to Look For in an Walking Shoes:

I. Lightweight

It’s no secret that extra weight can have an impact on us. That impact can be fatigue or feelings of heaviness or over exertion because you have to compensate for those extra ounces and pounds.

Lightweight shoes can give you a spring in your step, which is just what a lot of us seniors need! Look for walking shoes that weigh less than a pound, which means that you’ll only be carrying an extra pound and change when you’re all laced up.

New Balance Women’s WW759 Walking Shoe

Even with cushioning and compressions this shoe only weighs 10.3 ounces.

II. Shock Absorbing Midsole

Many experts believe that the midsole is the walking shoe’s most important feature because this area affects the foot’s cushioning, comfort and shock absorption. Without proper pad distribution the joints can ache from absorbing the shock of a hard floor themselves. This can be especially painful for arthritis sufferers, or for anyone who has a long walk on a hard surface.

There have been great technological advances made in shock absorbency. Most absorbent midsoles today are made with ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) and Polyurethane (PU).

Springboost Women’s B-Walk Walking Shoe

These midsoles are made of 100% EVA and PU beans, which, according to Springboost’s manufacturers, allow the wearer to go farther with less energy.

III. Easy-Grip Padded Tongue

Shoes can be as comfortable as pillows, but they do us no good if we can’t achieve that comfort because we can’t pull the tongue up to relieve pressure. An easy-grip tongue is key to any shoe’s comfort, so be sure that you can easily grip and tug on the tongue while you’re still in the shoe store. If you can’t – no matter how much you like the style or price of the shoe – you must move on.

The best tongues are larger because they have lots of padding. This makes them easier to see and grip.

Propet Women’s Tidewater Walker Walking Shoes

When many people think of padded tongues they think of the large high-top sneakers that were popular in the ‘80s. This is not so today. There are plenty of shoes, like these Propets, that have a discreet but large padded tongue. Anyone with eyesight problems, limited strength or poor hand-eye coordination will appreciate all the new, stylish models with easy-to-grip tongues.

IV. Lateral Beveled Heel

Beveled, or angled, heels support the natural walking gait, which is a rolling motion that begins at the heels and extends until the toes softly touch down. Shoes without a beveled heel can cause toes to abruptly hit the floor. This can result in shin, ankle or muscle soreness. Not exactly the best motivations for walking, right?

A beveled heel should be no more than three-quarters (3/4”) of an inch, and should provide the most support to the lateral, or outer, part of your foot. This prevents your foot and ankle from turning inward when you walk, which can throw you off balance.

Reebok Women’s RW Flex

The added 3/4” can be seen by looking at the back, outer portion of the shoe where the pink insert appears. This elevated heel should help you maintain your balance wherever you’re off to.

V. Flexible Outsole Forefoot

With their slower pace, walkers tend to lead with their toes, pushing away from the concrete as they step. This is opposed to runners who place most of their weight on their midsole when pushing off. Therefore, a walker needs a shoe with a flexible forefoot. Nerves in the forefront of your foot can be damaged by walking wear and tear.

If you find that most shoes are too stiff for you, causing pain, stiffness and soreness, then you need a more flexible forefoot. To test a shoe’s flexibility, place the forefoot on a hard service and push down. The shoe’s upper and middle sections should bend nicely, indicating that they’re flexible.

You can also determine a shoe’s flexibility by checking the outsole forefoot’s material. Carbon and blown rubber are the most common materials. Sometimes they’re combined, sometimes not. Carbon is the harder of the two, which means that an outsole forefoot made entirely of blown rubber is the most flexible.

Saucony Womens Grid Instep RT Walking Shoe

The forefoot of this outsole is blown rubber, so you know it’ll have a good degree of flexibility. Don’t believe me? Try the push test.

VI. Removable Insole

If you need extra support you’re going to want to put gel inserts in your walking shoes. This requires the removal of the default inner soles that your shoes came with. Thus, you need to be sure these soles are removable and not stitched in.

Aetrex Women’s 821 Athletic Walking Shoes

The Aetrex comes with not one, but two removable insoles per shoe. This allows you to control your level of comfort even more, whether you need a lot of extra support or just a little.

VII. No-Lace Slip-Ons

If you have trouble lacing your shoes because you can’t see the laces or have poor finger dexterity consider slip-on shoes. Lacing shoes incorrectly or tying the wrong knot can cause more than just embarrassment. They can cause slips and falls. Be honest with yourself. If you know it will be too difficult for you to tightly and effectively tie your shoes everyday then switch to a slip-on model.

While Velcro straps are the traditional replacements for lace-ups, shoes with elastic straps can look stylish and state of the art. If you never want to adjust your walking shoe’s settings again, then go with elastic straps. If you want some control over how tight the shoe fits, opt for Velcro.

Propet Women’s Sacha Walking Shoe

Like comfort? Like style? Like suede? Then this is the no-fuss walking shoe for you. Those who need a little help getting their feet in them can use a shoe horn, while others can simply slip them on and hit the pavement.

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