The Right Shoe for The Right Job: Walking, Running and Hiking?

Choosing the right pair of shoes to wear for different activities plays a major role in avoiding injury and ensuring the long-term health of your feet, as well as your entire body. Not only do ill-fitting shoes make you uncomfortable all day, but they can also cause foot pain or aggravate pre-existing conditions. Using the right shoe for activities such as walking, running or hiking can help reduce discomfort and injury.

Sandals are a popular choice of footwear this time of year, but most sandals and flip-flops are flat, providing little to no foot support. When people walk long distances in this type of footwear, it can lead to severe foot pain and even tendonitis. Instead, try to find a pair of sandals with good arch support.

Several components factor into picking the proper shoe such as activity level, history of injury, and body and motion mechanics. In general, wear a shoe for what it was made for; if you’re going hiking use a hiking shoe, if you’ll be running wear a running shoe, etc. Besides that, there are a few other tips that will help you know you’re choosing the right shoe:

  • Hiking shoes – should be stiffer with a high ankle.
  • Running shoes – should be flexible and made of breathable materials.
  • Walking shoes – should have good arch support and be more flexible than a hiking shoe but stiffer than a running shoe. They tend to have a thicker sole as well and are a good average shoe for everyday activities.
  • Try shoes on in the afternoon – Your feet swell slightly throughout the day, so trying shoes on in the afternoon when they are bigger will help you find a more accurate size.

Most importantly, don’t worry about breaking shoes in. If a shoe isn’t comfortable when you try it on, it’s often not going to get more comfortable with time.

Wearing shoes that do not fit or that support the feet improperly increases your risk for injuries. If you are experiencing any pain in the feet, it is important to get them checked out and properly treated by a podiatrist.  Our community is fortunate, as Cone Health has an exceptional network of podiatrists and related healthcare providers dedicated to educating individuals about proper footwear, and caring for patients with foot problems or conditions.

Spokesperson Background:

Dr. Matthew Wagoner is a podiatrist at Triad Foot Center and a member of the Cone Health Medical Group.  Dr. Wagoner received a Bachelor of Science in biology in 2007 and his Doctor of Podiatric Medicine from Temple University School of Podiatric Medicine in 2011. His residency training was completed at Temple University Health System in 2015.