5 Best Walking Shoes for 2022

By Yumi Wilson, SMU News

When the pandemic shut down gyms and fitness studios, many people started walking more to stay fit and connect with friends and family, which was great—until their feet started hurting, says physician Najwa Javed, DPM ’08.

“During COVID, we saw a huge spike in people’s foot pain,” says Najwa, now the managing partner at Silicon Valley Podiatry Group and Founder of E’Mar Italy. “Patients were asking, ‘Why do my feet hurt? Or ‘Why does my back hurt?’ What we learned is that while almost any shoe is fine for a quick grocery run, you need a much more structured shoe when you’re putting in the miles.”

And while there are plenty of great shoes for long-distance walking, Najwa reminds us that there isn’t really a “one-shoe-fits-all” solution.

“Our feet are not identical across the masses. We have very different shapes, sizes, and structures of feet,” she explains. “It’s like when we buy face moisturizer or shampoo, we need to know about our skin or hair. It’s the same with our feet. We really have to find the best shoe for our foot type.”

With that in mind, here are Najwa's Top 5 Best Walking Shoe recommendations for 2022:

  • HOKA Bondi – $160
    If you're a newbie to walking and just trying to walk without fatiguing your feet, you should check out the HOKA line. And one of the best in that line is the HOKA Bondi. It’s constructed to be ultra-light, but it also has a lot of rear to forefoot control so you can propel forward. So, it’s easy to go from walking to running. The only caveat is that the HOKA might not be the best for uneven terrain. It’s much better for pavement or structured trails and pathways.
  • Asics GT-2000 – $140
    Asics is another really versatile line. It was developed for people with a neutral foot type, which most people have. So, if you don’t need extreme support, Asicswould be a good line. If you're a walker with heel pain, you might want the Asics GT 2000.  It’s great because it has an excellent heel shock absorption pad built into it, and it has a lot of rear foot control. So, it’s a great shoe for people who have heel pain. If you have pain in the ball of the foot, the Asics Gel-Kayano (also $160) is a great choice. 
  • Brooks Ariel for Women and Brooks Beast for Men – $160
    Say you can’t wear the HOKA Bondi because your feet are too flat. Try the Brooks Ariel for Women and Brooks Beast for men. Brooks has built the most intrinsic support into the shoe for adults and kids with flat feet. 

  • New Balance 990 Series  – $185
    If you have a wide foot and need a little more room, the best shoe is the New Balance 990 series. They come in multiple widths and sizes and can accommodate almost anyone.

  • Altra  – $150–$160
    If you want something more versatile, with a lot of different styles and sizes, a really good brand is Altra. They have a unique design and anybody can wear them and they’re very supportive.  They also have an anatomically shaped shoe bed, so most people love this shoe. If you have to pick one shoe in this line, you should go for the Torin, which offers a “balanced cushioning” platform, which can offer support during long walks or even runs.

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