Selecting the Right Footwear for You: ​How to Choose the Proper Shoes for Your Walking Style by 30Seconds Mom

Family Health
3 years ago

Selecting the Right Footwear for You: ​How to Choose the Proper Shoes for Your Walking Style

Like the rest of your body, your feet need care and attention to perform optimally. Without them, you would be unable to walk or function without assistance, yet people everywhere downplay the importance of footwear.

A study by the American Podiatric Medical Association (APMA) found that 77 percent of adult Americans say they have experienced foot pain, yet less than a third do anything about it. To give your feet the attention they deserve, you need to know the various walking styles. From there, you should be able to determine which walking style resembles your gait and choose the right shoe for you.

How to Determine Your Walking Style

Before you start reading about the type of shoe best suited to your walking style, you'll need to do a test. Don’t worry, it’s simple!

  • Grab your favorite pair of shoes, whether they are for work or everyday life. You’re looking for the shoe wear pattern, so they should be a pair you’ve worn a lot.
  • Look at the soles of the shoes. From there, you'll be able to determine which gait you adopt.
  • Check the heels by placing your shoes on a table, bottoms toward you. The tilt of the heel is your determiner here.

Where do you see the most signs of wear and tear on your shoes? Is it near the toes or the heel or is it along the outer edge? Maybe you see wear and tear on the inner portion or even just in general throughout the whole shoe. 

You also can get your walk measured at a foot and ankle doctor's office or at a high-quality running shoe store. Read on to see which condition you're walking with, and what shoe will help you stabilize your gait. 

1. Pronation

When determining your gait, your pronation is the natural side-to-side movement of the foot as you walk. In an ideal walk, your foot would roll slightly inward with each step. However, each person varies, and some see substantial internal or external rolling.

If you overpronate, your ankle rotates excessively far downward and inward. Overpronators, or those who suffer from supination, put stress on the outer edge of the foot because their big toe does not pronate enough. 

Finding Your Fit: If you suffer from over- or under-pronation, or your feet are shaped in a way that differs from most other people’s feet, then you’ve got a greater challenge ahead of you than if your feet had been average. People with wide feet tend to have more trouble finding a good fit. People with narrow feet even more so. But even with narrow feet, finding the right footwear does not necessarily have to be complicated as long as you know where to look. Depending on your case, what makes an ideal shoe for you can vary from person to person.

Overpronators should seek out stable footwear. You'll see labels like motion control and extra arch support. The shoes classified in this way help to distribute the impact of your gait evenly. Under-pronators, on the other hand, should look for neutral shoes with cushioning. You need flexible shoes here rather than stable ones, to allow you a better range of walking motion.

2. Pigeon Toed

If you walk pigeon toed, your toes turn inward as you stride. While the pigeon toe is common in children and 95 percent of kids do outgrow it, the condition can stay with some through adulthood. In most cases, the in toeing is subtle and does not require any additional support or help. However, if it is causing you discomfort or pain, it's time to get supported shoes.

Finding Your Fit: If you are pigeon toed, you want to focus your shoe hunt on arch support and toe stability. Try to find footwear with a structure that helps distribute the impact of your gait.

3. Flat Feet

You might be surprised that you have flat feet, but don't worry. The flat footed condition is nothing unique in society about 60 million Americans have flat feet. When you are flat footed, you do not have an arch. The implication here means that your feet completely touch the ground when you are standing.

If you have flat feet, you join thousands of others suffering to find supportive shoes. But, because you are not alone, there are shoes and support made specifically for those with flat feet.

Finding Your Fit: When buying shoes, whether for going to the office or for a run, focus on the arches. Footwear tailored to flat feet has durable arch and heel areas. Look for products that have cushioning, control over-pronation (a side effect of flat feet) and reduce your shoe-to-foot friction. Also, purchasing a reliable pair of arch supports can help stabilize your foot further.

Maintaining a proper gait can help you run toward your goals, or couch, faster and without pain. Remember to choose the shoe based on the size of your feet as well. Some need narrow shoes, while others need more spacious products. Enjoy your new and improved walk.

The information on is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information provided through this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider.

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Elisa Schmitz
This is so interesting! I always look for shoes with good arch support, but didn't realize everything else I should be considering. Thank you so much for these helpful insights!
Great idea to figure out your walking style and then buy shoes accordingly. I wish I had done this a long time ago.
Feet are important and definitely don’t get enough love. Thanks for this.
Gwen Johnson
My brother has flat feet. His feet hurt him a lot.
Donna John
My brother has flat feet and has always had issues. Will suggest he look into the "right" shoes.

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