With the New Year comes the hope of new, healthier habits and resolutions. One of the most convenient is walking. You don’t need a gym, a bulky machine cluttering your bedroom or contraptions of any kind if you take a walk daily.
There are two things you do need before putting your walking resolution into action: the right socks and the right walking shoes. These two basics can ensure that your foot has the proper level of support and comfort. After all, you won’t get a good work out when you’re wincing from blisters or limping from an injury.
The two main things to consider when searching for socks are moisture prevention and thickness. First, look for synthetic material, such as acrylic, polyester or spandex. Natural materials, such as cotton or wool, tend to retain moisture, encouraging blisters, odors and infections. Instead, you want a material that can pull water away from your foot. This is known as “wicking” away moisture.
The thickness of a sock helps to prevent blisters. Thicker socks provide a better barrier between the foot and the shoe, reducing friction. Your socks should be thicker than cotton shoe liners and thinner than bulky wool socks. When you’ve found a good pair, be sure to wear them when trying on new walking shoes.
2. Walking Shoes
Walking shoes and running shoes are not the same. Runners land on the middle or ball of foot while walkers often step on their heel and follow through to the toe. This difference means running shoes and walking shoes have support and padding in different places.
To minimize injuries and discomfort, look for shoes that are lightweight, have a flexible outsole and the right amount of support for your type of foot. Consider the height of your arches, width of your feet and any pathology or deformity that you have. Your shoes need to be adapted to your anatomy. Not enough support can result in painful ailments such as plantar fasciitis.
The correct level of cushioning can ease pain from conditions such as metatarsalgia, which is pain in the ball of the foot. The correct shoe width can prevent blisters and is especially important for those with bunions or hammertoes. Along with a good shoe, your doctor may also recommend an orthotic that can offer more specialized support and cushioning.
Once you find the right walking shoe for you, you can start the healthy habit of walking daily. Remember, shoes aren’t meant to last forever. They should be replaced every three to six months or every 500 miles.
Mayo Clinic: “Walking shoes: Features and fit that keep you moving”
Prevention: “The Great Shoe Debate: Should Walkers Wear Walking or Runner’s Shoes?”
Prevention: “Tips for Buying Walking Shoes”
Fitness Walking for Dummies: “Socks and Other Walking Gear”