Shoes for Walking & Running

Archived Q&A and Reviews


Good Place to Buy Hiking Shoes?

May 2012

Haven't bought new hiking boots/shoes in eons and really need new ones. I'd like to go somewhere with a good sales staff who can help me navigate the wide variety of hiking boots/shoes that are available. A place where sales people spend time with customers while they try on the shoes to help narrow down the search and choose the best fit. I went to REI and the salesperson just plunked down 8 shoe boxes in front of me and left. I tried them on, none were great and I couldn't find the salesperson again to discuss alternatives. Not a great experience. Reva

REI in Corte Madera when it is not crowded (so not during a sale weekend). Happy Hiker

You could try Any Mountain. I haven't bought hiking shoes there, but I did buy ski boots, and they were much more thorough in fitting them to my feet than REI. WC Mom

Mom shoes

March 2011

I'm a stay-at-home mom to 3 kids, and I'm at the playground/park almost daily. I'm tired of wearing trainers every day. Can anyone recommend a brand of shoe that is somewhat stylish, but still practical for chasing toddlers through the sand? Something slip-on is ideal! Thanks.

Tired of trainers

I'd start at any of the shops that specialize in comfortable walking shoes - e.g. although I know there are many others in the area (one off Shattuck in Berkeley, one in Walnut Creek). They can be somewhat pricier, but really, your feet are worth it. Lots of stylish yet practical yet comfortable styles to choose from. And once you find one you like, buy it in another color! Ellen ------------------------------------------- I had this same concern. I took a chance on Danskos (they seem hard and uncomfortable when you try them on, but you will soon realize they are great for your back). I stand all day at work on them and feel fine. Plus they have some mary jane and slip on styles that are pretty cute and last forever. dani

Good running shoes

Nov 2005

Its been seven months since my last kid was born and I'm slowly getting back into running. I have some lightly used sneakers but they are several years old (leftover from when I used to run regularly) and I think the rubber gets hard after awhile. The other thing is I got shin splints doing track in highschool - running on old yucky shoes. I'm still a bit prone to them so I need a really good pair of running shoes. Any recommendations? don't want to make the same mistake twice

You are right in that you should not be running in shoes that are 2 years old. Since you are just getting back into running after having a child (even at 7 months postpartum) you are susceptible to injury. And if you've dealt with shin splints before, you don't want to reaggrevate an old condition. I would highly recommend any shoe by Asics. See Jane Run (Oakland) or Forward Motion (Walnut Creek) can fit you with a pair of shoes that will work well for you. They can watch your stride and tell you what sort of stability you need. Most of the ladies at my classes wear Asics. I'd never run in anything else. Anna

I won't recommend specific running shoes; there are too many. But I will say, to help avoid shin splints, there is a simple exercise to do after every run, that helps by strengthening the muscles at the front of the lower leg: Stand a few to several inches away from a wall (or tree or whatever) with your back toward it. Lean back against the wall and brace with your hands. Lift your TOES, not your heels, and come back down (gently, of course; no bouncing). Start with 20 or so reps, and work up to 50 or so. Also start very near the wall and work up to having your heels several inches away (depending on your height)- only to what's comfortable. I stopped having shin splints after I started doing this religiously after every run. -Nils

I swear by the ''Saucony'' brand running shoe. I like them, particularly, because there is a lot of room at the toe -- and this means they're nice and comfortable on long runs as one's feet tend to swell. Also, the heel is very stable and since I over-pronate, this is important to me because I don't want to twist an ankle (or abuse my shins due to a faulty gait!) I've been wearing Saucony exclusively for about 15 years now, and I've never had shin splints during that time. Everyone's feet and gait are different though, so I advise you to go to a really good retail shop that specializes in running shoes. If you bring in your old pair, they should be able to look at the pattern of wear on the sole and tell you what shoe is best for you. Otherwise, I find the ''Road Runner Sports'' catalog to be a great source on information on what to look for in a running shoe. Good luck. Antoinette

A good running shoe depends on your foot and your anatomy. Try going to a good running store, like LaFoot in Berkeley or Transport in Oakland. If you get a good sales rep who is knowledgeable, they can watch you walk/run and make some recommendations in terms of stability, cushioning, etc. You might want to try multiple stores to see if you get the same advice. My favorite brand (not looks-wise but comfort-wise) is new balance but for other people, lets say with wider feet, Adidas might work well. I've also run in Asics and like the lightweight feel. Happy Trails Karen

I'm in the same boat as you and had a great experience at See Jane Run, a shop that specializes in running gear for women. They'll watch you walk and run so that they can fit you in the right shoes. They even let me exchange a pair I'd been running in for over a month when I developed an achilles strain and got me into a slightly more cushioned shoe. They have shops in Rockridge, Noe Valley, and Mill Valley. Running Mom

New Balance is a very good brand. They have varying widths, which most brands don't. A good running shoe is one of the most important things for running. I used to be a certified fitness trainer, and I currently run 3x a week, about 3 miles a day. I have gone through shin splints, joint pain, plantar faschiatis and learned from each. Another thing I recommend are custom orthotics. I recommend them to anyone age 35-40+, even if they don't have any complaints. The padding of your feet just wear out over time, your arches, too. If you have no joint pain (either foot, ankle, knee, hip or back) your insurance will not pay. You can buy good ones retail for $20. adaking

Go to See Jane Run on College Avenue! I got a pair of running shoes there after my son was born and couldn't be happier with the service. They analyze your stride for you and recommend the right kind of shoe based on that. I tried on several pairs before I fell in love with pair of Brooks. I think the best compliment about these shoes is that I don't notice my feet at all when I run! Brooks Fan

I need a wide toe box so I have to wear a wider shoe. I tend to like Sauconys because they have good cushioning, but your feet may need a different fit. I would go ta a store that specializes in running shoes the first time- find a brand that you like and find your size in that brand -then buy on line for low prices. I went to Hoys in the Haight the first time, they were great and they even let you try on a pair of shoes, then run around the block before buying them! I also buy a lot of running shoes at if you know what you are looking for you can get $40-50 off. running girl

There are several different types of running shoes, and the most appropriate type for you depends on your biomechanics, particularly the degree to which your foot pronates. I recommend going to Transports or See Jane Run, both in Rockridge on College Ave. and have them find a pair of shoes for you. Also, there is some good info on the Runners World web site - - just click on ''shoes and gear''. This site explains the different types of shoes that are available and which types are appropriate for different kinds of pronation. I also highly recommend another running web site - which focuses on good running form and technique in order to eliminate injury. Kara

If you are a woman, try Ryka shoes. Rykas are the only brand of athletic shoes that are built on a women's last, or pattern. All other brands use a men's last and are in effect unisex. Women's feet are proportionally very different than men's. Once you try Rykas, you'll never go back. They can be a little difficult to find in stores, Lady Footlocker used to carry them. I buy them online off their web site. FYI, I don't get a kick back from the company for promoting them. Helene

Where to Get Comfortable Walking Shoes

August 2001

Can anyone recommend supportive and comfortable shoes for walking and general use? I'm not the person who wrote for advice about painful postpartum feet but I could be. The arch pain that I thought would end after my baby was born persists a year later, and I do a lot of walking, often with him in the pack. I don't see anything relevant on the website. My doctor suggests I try buying good walking shoes before we try further action. Any brands or sources to recommend? My Birkenstocks don't really do the trick. I'd prefer something that doesn't look like a tennis shoe, but... I bought Superfeet insoles for my hiking boots and they are working pretty well, but I can't wear hiking boots every day. Charis

Try La Foot in Oakland on College Ave in the Elmwood area. They have really knowledgable staff (including a physical therapist) and take time to determine what you need. They mostly have athletic shoes, but I remember some regular leather walking shoes too. Good luck. Anne-Marie

You'll probably hear this more than once, but The Walk Shop on Vine (near shattuck) is absolutely fabulous. They have the best shoes for your feet and really knowledgeable people to help you. I have a neuroma on my foot and the last salesperson there spent a lot of time with me making sure the shoes I picked really worked for me. I have bought a number of pairs of shoes there and have never regretted any of them. JV

I'd recommend that you try going to a shop called LaFoot located on College Ave. near Ashby. Their sales people are trained to fit you with a shoe that answers your needs and special problems. When I went, the person who helped me spent about 1/2 hour - watching me walk and fitting me with a shoe until we found what seemed to be a great fit. Two weeks later I returned, since the shoe didn't fit as well as I thought and I was still experiencing discomfort, which I only realized after really walking. They immediately went through the process once more and exchanged my shoes for a better a cheaper price. Great service! Jody

You may want to take a look at: go to Expert Shoe Help, then Shoe Dog. While it's aimed towards runners, it does include an foot type and injury section and make recommendations based upon your input. I've heard good things about it. I do not have a particular problem, but I find that New Balance and Dansko are good. In particular the Podiatric Medical Ass'n has given Dansko a seal of approval. Have you seen a Podriatrist and asked for specific recommendations. Michele

Superfeet also makes insoles for other uses, and there are other brands of insoles designed for running shoes. You can wear them inside normal-looking shoes. A running shoe store with knowledgeable salespeople should be able to get you set up with an insole that provides enough support. Sorry I can't recommend anything closer than Arch Rival (in the Bon Air shopping center in Greenbrae), but other people may know of closer stores. Beyond that, though, neither of your postings say whether the pain is plantar fasciitis. If it is, there's a specific set of recommendations you can get from your doctor or a podiatrist (good arch support *whenever your feet touch the ground,* ice, and ibuprofen are the basics). Jennifer

Go to the Walk Shop in N. Berkeley and try on a few pairs and see if you see something you like. I walk to work - a 30-minute commute on foot each way - and do lots of other walking besides. I go to the Walk Shop to buy shoes because the shoes I get there hold up to all my walking and they are very comfortable. They can be expensive - expect to pay $100 and up for a pair of nice-looking leather shoes or sandals. But good quality shoes should last a long time even if they get a lot of mileage. The brands I like best for my wide feet are Echo (Danish I think) and Rieker (German). But the Walk Shop carries many other brands including American brands. Avenue Shoes on College in the Elmwood also has Echo, Rieker, and similar brands. For around the house I can recommend rubber-soled felt clogs - I get mine from Lands End for about $20. These are the most comfy shoes ever, easy to get on and off, very nice and padded on the bottoms, and they are washable. I keep them right by the bed and slip my feet in before they touch the floor, because when I wake up in the morning, the bottoms of my feet hurt for about the first 20 minutes, I think due to advancing age :-(, and when I wear the clogs, the feet don't hurt. Ginger