Stability walking shoes are meant for people with a mild to moderate overpronation. Pronation is a natural inward shift of the foot which occurs between the heel strike and the toe-off. During this shift, the foot arch slightly rolls inwards, creating propulsion to provide a smooth heel-to-toe transition. If the foot rolls past the healthy degree of pronation, it is referred to as overpronation. This is where special supportive footwear comes to rescue.
What are stability walking shoes like
From the outside, stability shoes may appear exactly the same as neutral walking shoes. Even though their platform is a bit firmer, it is still quite flexible and cushiony. You will only notice a slightly different sensation under the foot arch and, sometimes, in the heel. As you start walking, you will see how something in these areas gently supports your foot and helps it stay steady throughout the gait cycle.
Here are some of the technologies that manufacturers use to create this kind of support:
Some brands design their stability footwear with a midsole that has two types of foam, a firmer one and a softer one. The softer and more pliable compound usually takes up the forefoot section and the upper layer of the midsole. The denser foam is typically added in the midfoot section, usually on the medial (inner) side of the shoe. It can also be found in the lower layer of the midsole and under the heel. In the image below, the white portion of the midsole is soft, and the blue one is dense. Model: Ryka Felicity
Some shoes embed a shank or a similar supporting structure under the arch of the foot in the midfoot section. It is typically made of thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU) which is a sturdy and highly durable yet lightweight material. It helps in preventing the foot from overpronation without compromising the flexibility or increasing the weight of the footwear. Model: Saucony Grid Omni Walker.
Things to consider
Your pronation type
Sometimes, it is quite difficult to determine whether you have overpronation without the help of a professional. That’s why it is recommended to visit a podiatrist who will be able to analyze your pronation type and will provide recommendations for the kind of footwear that you need. In the case of mild overpronation, you may still feel comfortable in a pair of neutral walkers. With moderate overpronation, stability shoes are recommended for those who cover several miles a day or simply look for support and comfort as they run errands. There is also a chance that you may need a pair of more rigid and supportive motion control walking shoes when you are on the edge of a more extreme overpronation.
Fit and sizing
It is very common for those brands that care about different pronation types to also consider various foot dimensions. The good news is that stability walking shoes are offered in a wide range of full and half sizes as well as in a variety of width options, both narrow and wide. Some large online retailers, like Amazon and Zappos, offer free shipping which allows you to order several pairs in different sizes and widths, choose the best fitting one, and send the remaining pairs back.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you try on a pair of stability walking shoes:
- Put on the same type of socks which you are planning to wear with your future walkers;
- Pay particular attention to the distance between the heel and the ball of the foot: the heel-to-ball length of the shoe should be in line with the one of your foot; it ensures that the stability components are aligned with your foot arch and provide support in the right place;
- The heel and the midfoot sections should always fit snug, while the toe box should have sufficient space for your toes to separate comfortably;
- If a shoe fits large or small, take a moment to figure out if it is the length or the width that doesn’t feel right; if it is the length, try another size (i.e. US 8/8 ½ etc.); if the width feels wrong, try another width profile (i.e. for men: B - Narrow, 2E - Wide, 4E - Extra Wide etc.).
It may not always be the most accurate source of information because people’s feet are unique and one shoe can feel like heaven for one person and cause pain to another. However, it is worth considering the common tendencies in the feedback provided by other wearers. At Runrepeat.com, we consolidate all the available user and expert reviews in a simple “Good/Bad/Bottom line” form. We also rate each shoe based on our CoreScore system which takes a variety of factors into account.
Price and discounts
The price tag of stability walking shoes varies greatly depending on the popularity of the brand. But, typically, you can get a new pair for about $60 - $90. During the sales, however, the prices can drop significantly. We scan deals from a vast database of more than 200 online retailers to present you the best ones. Be sure to choose your gender and size to find the best offers for you.
Frequently asked questions
How long do these shoes last?
There is no simple answer to this question because a lot of it depends on how often you wear the shoes and what kind of conditions you put them through. Typically, a pair of walking shoes is designed to last for about 300 - 500 miles or 3 - 6 months. But if you hit 10,000 steps on a daily basis, which is almost 5 miles, you may need a replacement every 2 -3 months. Also, running and working out in walking shoes may cause them to deter sooner than they are expected to. You have to be particularly attentive with stability shoes and replace them as soon as you notice that they no longer support your arch during the pronation stage of the gait cycle.
Can I use stability walking shoes for running or working out?
Like it was mentioned in the previous answer, using walking shoes for activities other than their intended purpose will considerably shorten their lifespan. Besides, not all walking shoes are ready for the repetitive pounding of running. Neither are they designed for lateral movements, jumps, and weightlifting involved in gym workouts. Using them for these activities may result in undesirable discomfort and even foot injuries.
Did you know…
...that the benchmark of making 10,000 steps a day is randomly chosen. While it is great if you can hit that mark daily, this magic number is not exactly science-backed. It first appeared with the rise of Japanese pedometers in the 1960s. The device was called “manpo-kei” which is translated as “a ten thousand step meter.”