How to Get Walking Shoes Fitted Right

Shopping for Athletic Shoes
webphotographeer/E+/Getty Images

The key to finding the best shoe is to get fit for them by an expert who will look at your gait, stride, type of walking, weight and other factors. They will use those observations to put you in the right shoe.

Find the Best Shoes for Walking at a Running Shoe Store

Most general-purpose sporting goods stores do not hire staff for their shoe department who are experts on shoe fitting. To get this service, it is best to go to a specialty running and walking shoe store. For trail shoes or boots, go to an outdoor store such as Eastern Mountain Sports or REI.

The staff will take you out to the parking lot and watch you walk, or have you walk on a treadmill or indoor track. They will have you try on several different shoes. Some stores even perform video gait analysis while you walk on a treadmill to determine which shoe is best.

Your salesperson will use a range of clues in determining what kind of shoes will be best for your walking style.

Pro Tip

Take your old shoes to the store with you. Your worn out shoes will tell the salesperson a lot about how you walk. They can see where you put the most wear into the heel and sole of the shoe, and whether it is equal for both feet.

What Good Shoes Cost

The shoes you end up with will be in the $60 — $120 range. Invest in the right shoes to prevent injury and keep you walking in comfort. But don't waste your money on stylish shoes that won't perform well walking. For boots, you will pay over $100, especially if looking for features such as waterproofing. Expect to invest more in good, well-constructed boots.

Shoe Try-on Tips

  • Bring the socks with you that you generally wear walking to use while trying on the shoes. That way you will be trying them on with the right thickness of socks, although the salesperson may recommend better walking socks.
  • The right size for fitness walking shoes will be a size to a size and a half larger than your dress shoes because your feet swell while walking.
  • Try on shoes later in the day or right after walking so your feet will have swollen to the larger size they grow to during a walk.
  • Shoes should feel great when you put them on. Don't buy shoes thinking you will "wear them in." If they don't feel good right out of the box, they aren't the right shoes
  • If you have wide or narrow feet, look for a brand that has widths. Often the store will need to order them and it may take a week or more for them to arrive, but it is best to wait until they have the correct width for you to try.
  • If any part of your foot feels it is rubbing against a rough spot in the shoe or boot, try another pair or style. You are sure to get blisters otherwise.
  • If you have problem feet, you may need to look further for a store that can recommend custom inserts and modifications. 

By Wendy Bumgardner
Wendy Bumgardner is a freelance writer covering walking and other health and fitness topics and has competed in more than 1,000 walking events.