The Best Shoes to Pack — No Matter Your Vacation
Health and Well Being
March 27, 2024
The Best Shoes to Pack — No Matter Your Vacation

If you have travel plans this summer, chances are you may be spending a lot of time on your feet. While your first inclination may be to prioritize fashion over function, you might be cursing that decision when you have to keep stopping or cutting your days short because your feet are killing you. But if you think you have to sacrifice fashion for a comfortable shoe, think again, says Norin Ukani, a certified family nurse practitioner at Texas Center for Joint Replacement, a Texas Health Physicians Group practice.

“Technology has come a long way in recent years and we’re seeing shoes that are not only good looking but good for your feet as well,” she says, noting that half of her practice dons the popular shoe brand Hoka, which coincidentally also has a line of shoes predominantly created for those in the medical profession for both men and women.

But what exactly should you be on the lookout for when it comes to picking a good shoe, especially if you know you’re going to be doing a lot of walking, hiking or hitting the beach on your trip? Let’s break it down.

Why Good Shoes Are So Important

When it comes to walking and selecting a good pair of walking shoes, your primary concern may be avoiding sore feet at the end of the day. However, the impact of proper footwear extends far beyond just your feet.

Walking puts pressure on various joints in the body, which can have both positive and negative effects depending on your health and fitness level. If you don’t have enough support, cushion or stability in your shoes, your weight and pressure gets spread unevenly, setting you up for discomfort, soreness, and even conditions like plantar fasciitis.

Walking in unsupportive shoes can result in increased stress on the joints, tendons, and ligaments due to inadequate shock absorption and stability, Ukani explains.

“In the U.S., we do tend to have a very sedentary lifestyle. So when we go on vacation, many of us find ourselves doing a lot more walking or experiencing a lot more physical activity than we’re used to,” she says. “This not only asks a lot of our bodies but puts a lot of pressure on our feet, ankles, knees, hips and back.”

Speaking of your back, wearing shoes that lack proper support can contribute to back pain as they affect the alignment of the body and posture.

“Sometimes if you’re injured or you’re finding pain in one foot or the other, you’ll start putting more weight over on the other side,” Ukani explains. “That’s not good either because now you’re putting a lot of pressure on those joints and making them work harder to compensate and you’re creating a lot of imbalance throughout the body. Anything that affects your walk, affects your joints, and causes them to wear down faster.”

This imbalance can increase stress on the back muscles, in addition to muscles in your legs and feet.

Walking long distances in unsupportive shoes can cause muscle fatigue and discomfort as the muscles work harder to compensate for the lack of support from the footwear. This can lead to tiredness and potential overuse injuries, such as ankle sprains, shin splints, and stress fractures due to inadequate protection and stability provided by the footwear.

What to Look for in a Supportive Shoe

So, all that being said, investing in a good pair of shoes, can not only make your trip more enjoyable but also save you from discomfort, pain or injury now or down the road. But what exactly should you be looking for in order to discern if a shoe is going to be supportive enough or not?

  • Comfort: Prioritizing comfort in walking shoes is crucial for preventing discomfort during long walks. Look for shoes with ample cushioning and support to reduce fatigue and ensure a pleasant walking experience.
  • Fit: Ensuring a proper fit is essential for walking shoes, especially if you suffer from bunions, hammer toes, or other foot conditions. Choose shoes that fit well with enough room for your toes to move comfortably without being too loose. A snug yet comfortable fit can prevent blisters and discomfort.
  • Durability: Selecting durable shoes made from high-quality materials is important, especially for travel. Choose shoes that can withstand different terrains and weather conditions to ensure longevity and reliable performance throughout your trip.
  • Support: Opt for shoes with good arch support and stability features to protect your feet during extended periods of walking, especially if you have high arches or flat feet. Proper support can help prevent injuries and provide comfort, especially on uneven surfaces.

To determine the right level of support for walking shoes, you can follow a simple three-part check called the “Bend-Twist-Squeeze” test.

Here's how you can assess the support of walking shoes:

  • Bend: Bend the sole of the shoe upward, pushing up on the forefoot area. The sole should not be too flexible and should only bend at the toes, not at the arch in the center of the shoe.
  • Twist: Twist the shoe as though you're wringing out a towel, ensuring it doesn't twist excessively. While some twist is acceptable, it shouldn't spiral in on itself completely.
  • Squeeze: Squeeze the heel cup with a pinching grip to check for adequate support in the back of the shoe. A firm heel that prevents your foot from sliding out is ideal.

Additionally, consider factors like arch support based on your foot anatomy. If you tend to pronate or have high arches, you may need specific types of support to prevent overpronation or underpronation.

If your trip includes a lot of time at the beach or you have hiking included in your plans, look for shoes that have good traction to ensure grip and stability on sandy, potentially slippery or uneven terrain, reducing the risk of slips and falls.

Prioritize Quality Over Quantity

Chances are, if you’ve taken a quick look at some of the more popular supportive shoe brands, you may be taken aback by the price. Ukani says cost is something she commonly hears from patients when it comes to not purchasing supportive shoes.

“But I tell them, how expensive is it really in the long run when you’re having to replace less expensive shoes more often than one good pair of more expensive shoes,” she says. “On top of it, a lot of these higher-end brands offer very good money-back guarantees, so it’s less risky. If you buy them, and you realize they’re not comfortable for you, or you feel like they’re not worth what you paid, send them back. But I can guarantee a pricier pair of shoes is less expensive than doctor’s visits and medical treatments for injuries you sustain from less supportive shoes. And they’re definitely less expensive than surgery!”

Investing in the right pair of shoes for your vacation can significantly impact your comfort, enjoyment, and even long-term health. While it's tempting to prioritize style over function, the reality is that supportive footwear can enhance your experience and prevent discomfort, pain, or injury.

Whether you're exploring a new city, hiking trails, or lounging on the beach, choosing shoes with proper support, cushioning, and durability is essential. Remember to prioritize comfort, fit, durability, and support when selecting your footwear, and consider factors like traction if you'll be navigating varied terrain.

While quality shoes may come with a higher price tag, they offer a worthwhile investment in your well-being, potentially saving you from costly medical bills and future health issues. So, before you embark on your next adventure, make sure to pack the best shoes for the journey ahead. Your feet will thank you.

We use cookies and similar technologies to enhance your experience on our website and help us
understand how our site is used as described in our Privacy Statement and Terms of Use. By
using this website, you are agreeing to our Terms of Use.
Accept and Close