The Importance of Wearing a Walking Shoe

Walk the walk.

From fitness walking, to casual walking, to every-day-getting-around walking – we're always walking. And while walking has its fair share of benefits, it also has its demands. That's why New Balance is committed to providing an array of walking products to help keep walkers moving.

Walking: An Activity All Its Own

Although walking may seem to some like a slowed-down version of running, it is actually a movement all its own. The New Balance Sports Research Lab and Engineering Department have studied it, and can tell you that there are important differences between the two that drastically affect the way we make our walking shoes.

Walking differentiates itself from running in many ways. For starters, the nature of the motion is smoother and more pendulum-like. Plus, walking involves constant ground contact and less pronation – the rolling from the outside of the foot to the inside. This means less impact and stress on the body and the foot.

So what does this all mean? Basically, walking is something completely unique, and you need to provide your customers with the right tools for the job.

The New Balance Approach to Walking Shoes

New Balance has spent decades growing our expertise in walking. By utilizing smart new technologies, testing, and research, New Balance understands the importance of creating walking-specific products for our customers.

We've carefully considered the walking motion, paying special attention to how the foot makes contact with the ground, particularly in three areas: the landing (or heel strike); full ground contact; and the push-off (toe-off). Each of these movements requires its own shoe feature.

1. The landing

As you stride, your heel makes contact with the ground before the rest of your foot. However, where in the heel you hit can vary depending on your speed. That's why the heel crash pad in New Balance walking shoes is strategically placed, as different styles and speeds of walking have different requirements.

For example, for fast-paced walkers their shoes need a crash pad placed near the outside of the foot and more forward than other walking shoes. This ensures that the shock absorption materials in the shoe are in all the right places. Plus, we tailor the shape of the heel depending on the speed and level of walking to ensure proper mechanics and motion.

For more moderately-paced fitness walkers, the heel crash pad is shifted towards the rear of the shoe, where the heel first makes contact with the ground. This shift continues to progress towards the rear as walking speed is reduced.

2. Full ground contact

As your foot rolls from heel to toes, there's a moment when it will be making full contact with the ground. At this point in your stride, mid-foot support, stability, and comfort are key – and New Balance walking shoes provide all three:

  • • Optimal mid-foot support is provided by soles designed for full ground contact, specific to the walking gait
  • • In some shoes, ROLLBAR® technology and medial posts apply stability as you walk
  • • Anatomically designed footbeds evenly disperse the pressure put on the foot while providing arch support

3. The push-off

As your footstrike reaches the ball of your foot and you push off through your toes, forefoot flexibility and cushioning, as well as the construction of the shoe's upper are all vital aspects we consider as we engineer our line of walking shoes.

  • • Forefoot flexibility allows your toes to flex in order to minimize the force you need to continue your stride. Flex grooves are strategically located, typically in three distinct sections, of the outsole based on where your foot flexes
  • • Forefoot cushioning offers comfort during push off where large forces propel your body forward
  • • Ultimate comfort is also provided by intelligent designs and strategic use of materials and patterns – which can be equally as important as key technologies in the sole.

Find Your Perfect Pair

So with the knowledge of what makes walking different, how walking shoes are specifically designed for the activity, and the different elements of a walking shoe to consider, you can follow the below steps to find the best pair for you:

  • • Find shoes that closely match your activity or walking level
  • • Filter by item type depending if you are looking for attributes such as Stability, Motion Control, or extra Comfort
  • • Filter by Fit Type, which can vary from Standard, to a Narrow Heel, to a Wide Toe Box
  • • Choose your size and width

Get out there and walk

Walking is a truly unique activity, and you need footwear that can keep up, and keep you moving. At New Balance, it's our job to be as knowledgeable about walking as we can, so your experiences are as excellent as possible. Now get out there and walk!

Keep an eye out for more Walking content from New Balance, including proper form and additional fitness tips to add to your walk through our Good Form Walking program launching in Spring of 2013!

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