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#WalkingClub101: Finding the right shoe

Finding the right shoe
Posted at 5:11 AM, Feb 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 15:51:11-05

Sarah Phinney has been showing you parks and trails across the Tampa Bay region since July through her #WalkingClub series. Now, she's getting frequently asked questions in the Walking Club Facebook group answered.

Shoes can make or break your walk! The right pair will have you going the extra mile, but the wrong pair will make you want to cut your walk short!

Sarah is taking your questions about finding the perfect pair to the experts at Feet First in Tampa. The locally owned and operated shoe store has been serving the running and walking community in the bay area for more than 30 years.

What is the best way to choose a pair of shoes?

Nicki Brownell, Feet First store manager, says companies make shoes based on your gait. Although there are ways to check online, she advises visiting a store to have someone watch you walk. That way, it’s easy to tell if you pronate (when your foot rolls in) or supinate (when your foot rolls out).

“It’s best to go to a professional and have a fitting,” she said.

Brownell often hears from customers who are having foot, knee, ankle or back pain. She says that is usually the result of wearing shoes too short. Crunching your toes can create alignment issues.

“A shoe should feel really natural, almost like you don’t have a shoe on,” she said. “It should reduce shock absorption, aid with your alignment and improve your overall gait.”

What’s the difference between hiking and walking shoes?

Brownell says hiking shoes have thicker lugs for better traction and are stiffer to provide better protection from uneven terrain.

“The hiking shoe is really gonna come into play when you get more aggressive terrain, a lot of up and down,” said Brownell. “But, as long as you’re on a packed surface and you’re not being too aggressive, a walking or running shoe should be perfect for you.”

Can I wear running shoes for walking?

Brownell says running shoes are lighter, more flexible and have better technology than walking shoes.

Typically, she says, walking shoes are heavier and stiffer.

“We put most walkers in a running shoe,” she said.

Should I use inserts?

Brownell says walkers who have pronation or supination issues, may want to consider inserts to improve alignment.

“The shoe should feel good and the orthotic should just improve that fit, fill that space, and improve the alignment,” she said.

How can I tell when I need new shoes?

Brownell says shoes usually last about 350 to 400 miles.

Check the tread of your shoe. If it’s gone and you’re through the outer layer of the shoe, it’s time to head to the store.

Also, test to see if you can push in the upper center of the bottom of your shoe. If you can, it’s a good idea to start looking for a new pair.

What kind of socks should I wear?

Brownell says good socks are moisture-wicking, antimicrobial and typically seamless.

“They should pull the moisture away from your foot and keep a dry layer next to your skin. That’s gonna prevent blisters and hot spots,” she said.

How can I prevent blisters?

According to Brownell, blisters often come from friction. That could be due to an improperly fit shoe or a sock that’s bunching in the heel or forefoot.

“Those moisture-wicking socks are going to stay in place and hug your foot so that’s definitely gonna cut down on those blisters and hot spots,” said Brownell.

Interested in checking out Feet First?

The address for Feet First in Tampa is:

3401 W Bay to Bay Blvd
Tampa, FL 33629

The address for Feet First in St. Pete is:

4949 4th St N
St. Petersburg, FL 33703

Click here to see the Feet First Facebok page.

Get involved in Walking Club!

Post photos of your adventures, ask questions and learn about upcoming #WalkingClub stories in Sarah’s Walking Club group on Facebook!

You can also keep up with Sarah on Instagram and Twitter.