Category Archives: Walking

Does The Walking Boot Or Shoe Fit?

As a Podiatrist, I regularly talk to my patients about shoes and footwear fitting and every new patient that I see has their feet measured, so I am acutely aware that a large number of people, across all genders and age groups, are in incorrectly sized and poorly fitting shoes. A review of the evidence on shoe sizing and fitting published in 2018 in the Journal of Foot & Ankle Research confirmed that, ‘a large proportion of the population (between 63-72%) are wearing inappropriately sized footwear based on length and width measurements’. The evidence also demonstrates that, ‘incorrect footwear fitting is specifically associated with foot pain, poorer overall foot health, painful hard skin and even ulceration in older people with Diabetes’. There are also differences in the fitting issues between men and women, which I regularly see in clinic. Women are statistically more likely to suffer foot pain compared to men and whereas more women wear shoes that are too narrow (50% of women compared to 34% of men), men wear shoes that are too long (31% of men in comparison to 13% of women).

There are lots of reasons for being in an incorrectly sized shoe. Sometimes this is because of a lack of facilities to measure and fit shoes properly (such as a Covid-19 pandemic!), but it is also the case that footwear manufacturers often don’t offer enough range of sizes, especially half sizes in length and width fittings at the forefoot. This often means that it is necessary to go up in length to get more width or down in length to get a narrower shoe. However, this is hurting our feet and contributing to problems such as bunions, toe deformities, thickening of nerves between the bones of the forefoot, blisters and hard skin, some of which might not be correctable, therefore, knowing the true size of your feet and then getting a shoe correctly fitted around it is vital, especially for more active pursuits such as hiking and running.

Another aspect of shoe fitting is the function of the shoe. If your foot is sitting in the incorrect position in the shoe, the technology in the sole that is designed to stabilise, cushion, flex (or not flex) during a certain part of the step is not interacting with the correct part of your foot and, subsequently, the rest of your skeleton. The upper of the shoe or boot will also be interacting with the foot in the incorrect places meaning that more rigid or too flexible parts of the upper may either irritate prominent parts of the foot or allow the foot to move around in the shoe too much.

Therefore, here are my top tips for finding out your true foot size and getting into the correct shoe!

  • Have your feet measured! The team at the Tallington Lakes Pro Shop have all the tools to do this and Podiatrists like myself will often measure feet as part of our practice. The Society of Shoe Fitters also has a register of qualified shoe fitters such as myself.
  • Buy your shoes from a shop and not online if possible (especially for new models or types of shoes) – walking boots / shoes and trail shoes / running shoes should always be tried on. Only order online if buying exactly the same pair as what you have already
  • For active shoes like walking boots and trainers, make sure there is a maximum of 15mm and a minimum of 10mm from the end of your longest toe to the end of the shoe. For less active shoes, this can be a maximum of 10mm and a minimum of 5mm
  • Try to make sure the widest parts of your forefoot (the width from your big toe joint to your little toe joint) are not painfully compressed or spreading and falling over the sole of the shoe as this means the shoe is too narrow and you may need to get a specific width fitting
  • Make sure your foot is not moving around in the shoe – when your foot moves, your shoe should move with your foot and not within it. If it does then the shoe is too big (either too long, too wide or too deep)

There are countless ways that I use shoe technology and fittings in clinic every day to treat pain and improve function, but the tips above are a great starting point and may prevent or relieve your foot pain!

Nicola Blower
Walkrite Ltd
BSc(Hons), MChS, MFPM RCPS(Glasg), MSSF
MSK-Specialist Podiatrist

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Goodbye blisters – buying the right walking footwear

With more and more people enjoying the great outdoors we’ve answered some of your questions on buying the right walking footwear.

Q: I haven’t done a lot of walking at all in the past but during lockdown I started to explore the local countryside a bit more. Could you recommend a walking or trail shoe for footpaths in the local area in inclement weather? I don’t think my trainers are going to last much longer.

A: One of the most important features to look out for in a walking shoe is the GORE-TEX liner (or equivalent). This enables your foot to breathe freely, allowing moisture to escape while at the same time ensuring moisture doesn’t get in. A good sole with plenty of grip, for example a Vibram or Michelin, means you can feel confident stepping out in all weather: ice, rain or mud, you will have a stable base. 

A mid high boot is a great compromise between a boot and a shoe, for example the Salomon X Ultra 3, the Scarpa Terra or the Altberg Malham if you’re after a traditional looking boot. These boots provide more support around the ankle joint without the high cut protection needed for more adventurous hikes. They also offer better cover from the great British weather than a walking trainer would.

Q: I do quite a lot of dog walking but prefer not to wear a walking boot or welly if possible because I find them cumbersome. Could you tell me what to look for in a year-round walking shoe?

A: A good quality walking shoe will protect your feet throughout the year. During the summer months a breathable shoe is important to ensure your feet don’t sweat too much, which can lead to a soggy sock and blisters. Through the winter you will want a waterproof shoe, especially if you’re walking through wet grassy areas. A GORE-TEX liner (or equivalent) again is a must. Lastly you will need a good quality sole that will be suitable for tarmac footpaths as well as fields. You need a suitable grip when it’s wet or icy and a Vibram or Michelin sole is perfect for this.

If you wanted a shoe that will offer the support of a walking boot but without the bulk then the ON Cloudrock is perfect as it is so lightweight and allows you to roll through your foot with ease. They really are like walking on clouds and definitely worth a try.

Q: I like to walk a lot (including weekends in the Peak District, Yorkshire etc) and I would like to buy a new pair of proper walking boots. Could you please advise me on the most important elements to look for in my new purchase and how much I should realistically be looking to spend?

A: As an experienced walker, and walking in what can sometimes be uncertain terrain we would certainly recommend you invest in a high ankle walking boot. This ensures more protection is given around your ankle joint reducing the risk of twisting or rolling over as you walk. Due to the uncertain terrain where you are walking, especially with the renowned British weather, ensuring the boot has a good sole, such as Michelin or Vibram, will mean you have great grip on hard pack, loose, wet or icy terrain. You will want a boot that offers great waterproofing and breathability, again GORE-TEX (or equivalent) is the perfect membrane for this. 

We’d recommend a Superfeet Trailblazer comfort insole as this will support the arch of your foot to stop any pronation, supination or collapsing of your arch. This will mean your foot will tire less keeping you going for longer. Finally when it comes to socks, a good quality pair of walking socks will help with comfort and moisture management. 

Within our range our synthetic boots start at £150 while our leather, more traditional boots (some are handmade) are up to £240. The price shouldn’t be your focus point, however, because it is more important to get the right fit so you are less likely to experience pain or blisters.

Q: Our two daughters (10 and 12 years old) really love walking with us but I don’t want to keep spending a lot of money on new walking footwear as their feet keep growing. Will they be OK in their trainers for the moment or are there some low budget alternatives?

A: Obviously it depends upon the terrain you are walking on and the length of the walk, but even so because your children’s feet are still growing, they are still changing and forming. So although it may be tempting to save money on walking boots and buy trainers instead they don’t offer the support and protection that a pair of walking boots will. Ultimately this can lead to damage which can last a lifetime. You’ll be pleasantly surprised that some brands have affordable children’s boots like the Scarpa Terra Kids at £80. Would you buy a low budget pair for yourself? If not, why wouldn’t you treat your children’s feet the same?

Q: Can you recommend a particular type of sock to best avoid blisters? Everybody talks about merino wool but I have also heard bamboo socks are good?

It’s not necessarily what the sock is made of that makes the difference – it’s how they fit. A poor fitting sock, whatever it is made of, will give you blisters. Look for ones specifically made for your left and right feet and with a heel cup. Some socks also come with an arch support. 

At Tallington Lakes we recommend Falke and Stance socks. They are tried and tested and we feel they offer great cushioning and support where it’s needed, ensuring a great snug fit. Merino wool is great to have in a sock because depending on the ‘weight’ of the yarn they will keep your feet warm while wicking away moisture. Bamboo yarn is similar to cotton yarn in its properties so it can hold the moisture, which can rub but, if mixed with other yarns it can work in socks. We have found merino or synthetic fibres work the best to give good temperature regulation and comfort. 

Q: How should I care for my leather walking boots to get the best out of them for many years?

After each use, especially when it is wet and muddy, you should give them a rinse in fresh water to get all the mud and dirt off before leaving them to dry. DO NOT let them dry near a fire or radiator. Instead stuff them with old newspaper and allow them to dry slowly. Drying too quickly will ruin the leather. Over time you will need to add waterproofing wax to the leather. We recommend NIKWAX waterproofing wax for leather. This ensures your feet stay dry and your boots stay breathable.

Written in conjunction with Active Magazine and first appeared in September’s issue.

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ALT BERG: British Brand Since 1989

Tallington Lakes Pro Shop welcomes the addition of an exceptional brand who, since 1989, have been hand-crafting specialist footwear here in the UK. After the closure of the Richmond Shoe Factory, Mike Sheehan felt as if it was the end of an era for traditional English boot making. Not wanting to see his and many others way of life disappear, he created AltBerg. Today you’ll find AltBerg, the last remaining British-based boot maker, in independent stores across the UK. They are specialists in crafting hand-made technical boots for a range of purposes; from hiking to leisure, to motorcycle or military boots.

AltBerg pride themselves on keeping the quality and production of their boots at an all-time high. Making around 150 pairs of boots a day, this helps to keep the traditional methodology and knowledge passed down by Sheehan alive. Their boots are tried and tested for durability and longevity through the specific leathers used; even keeping your feet warmer in cold, wet conditions than some lighter weight synthetic-made boots would. The leather, through proper care from oils and wax, can also last longer and maintain the waterproofing abilities better than synthetic materials.

AltBerg deliver a classic English style of boot that suits anyone, whilst also offering an array of widths and fittings. This allows for total comfort and support of your feet and ankles from the get-go. They provide unique sizing’s for their footwear, as they have both half sizes and different volumes, all to guarantee the best fit of boot. One thing to note is that AltBerg boots are typically unisex, so the smaller sizes (up to the 7.5UK) have a lower cut at the ankle of the boot, making them potentially fit a female foot and ankle more comfortably.

This made-to-measure approach makes AltBerg’s boots ideal for those that have struggled to find a perfect fit or style of boot; so it’s best to come in store and let us help you find the best boot for you!

Please note the Pro Shop will re-open on 15th June 2020 in accordance with governmental guidelines surrounding COVID-19; please adhere to these guidelines.

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Salomon Quest 4D 3 Gore-Tex Walking Boots – Review

Walking – hiking – is an extremely popular activity to #getoutside and a good, well fitting pair of walking boots or shoes is a must if you want to enjoy the experience!

I’ve been using the Salomon Quest 4D 3 Gore-Tex walking boots for nearly a year now. I’ve worn them over a variety of terrain, in different seasons and weather, and I have to say I’m impressed.

I chose a walking boot because I wanted to protect against the likelihood of an ankle injury, particularly on uneven terrain when carrying a heavy pack, which you do not get from a walking shoe. The Quest were both supportive and comfortable whatever the terrain. They’re relatively light-weight too, so all-in-all I was happy I had boots that were made for walking!

On the warm sunny days the Gore-Tex breathable membrane worked well with my foot-to-boot interface, commonly known as a sock, to keep my feet comfortable. Yes my feet got warm but not too sweaty and hot as the socks wicked the moisture away from my foot and through the breathable membrane of the boot.

In contrast on wet autumnal and spring days, and the occasional river crossing, the membrane and gusseted tongue kept the water out. Obviously if the puddle, stream or area of water is deeper than the height of your boot you will get a wet foot, but anything else your foot was dry!

These boots were made for walking!

So what were they like to walk in? I found the fit nice and snug, with great heel hold. The lace locker eyelets ensure you can get the foot secure before finally tying up around the ankle. They are also set back from the other eyelets to help secure your heel into the back of the boot. At first, having been use to walking shoes, this felt a bit restrictive but once underway the support was very comfortable and reassuring.

Traction was good thanks to Salomon’s Contragrip sole and lug (tread) pattern whether footpath, rocky terrain, or muddy woodland. They even performed well in the snow!

The boots come with OrthoLite insoles, however I did replace these with Superfeet’s Trailblazer Comfort insoles to tailor the fit more specifically to my feet – making them even more comfortable and my feet less tired.

Why not check out our range of walking boots and shoes, and take advantage of our boot fitting service.

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