How to tell if a shoe is supportive enough

LLooking for the best walking shoes for your feet? Before you default to a certain brand or style that looks great, Trent Brookshire, DPM, a podiatric surgeon in San Diego, California, has a three-step test to make sure your shoes are supportive and healthy.

“I’ve created a simple, three-part check to make sure your shoes keep your feet and posture healthy and pain-free,” says Dr. Brookshire. “It’s called the bend-twist-squeeze, and it can help you avoid common injuries.”

First, try on the shoe and make sure it fits properly – this test is pointless if it doesn’t fit your feet! Dr. Brookshire emphasizes that it should have good arch support (no flat shoes like Converse Allstars!) and plenty of cushion if you’re walking long distances (hello, hot girl walks).

And, while he discourages defaulting to a particular brand because of its cool-factor, he notes that there are a few shoe companies that consistently produce models that pass his tests: Brooks, New Balance, Asics, Hoka and Gravity Defy. But again, “it comes down to your body, your feet and your movement,” he says. “There is no one-size-fits-all solution for proper walking shoes.”

With that in mind, every shoe, regardless of style, cushion, arch size, etc., should meet these three criteria, he says.


This manipulation, or flex, of the sole of the shoe is meant to assess how stable the sole will be as you move forward. Bend the sole of the shoe upwards, pushing it into the forefoot. It shouldn’t be too flexible, and it should only bend toward the toes, says Dr. Brookshear: “You do no It wants to bend at the arch in the middle of the shoe.” If your forefoot has some flex and it doesn’t bend at the arch, you’ve passed the first step of the test.

the twist

Next, the “towel” part of the test. Dr. Brookshear says, in technical terms, this is the “torsional rigidity test”. Twist the shoe as if you were trying to roll out a towel—toe and heel in opposite directions—but make sure no Out like a towel. It’s okay to have a little bit of a twist, but it shouldn’t completely spiral in on itself.


To make sure the back of the shoe has enough support, squeeze the heel cup with a pair of pliers. We are looking for a firm heel that prevents your foot from slipping off the back of the shoe. Whether your fingers are at the bottom or top of the heel, you shouldn’t feel it move inward as you pinch.

Note: If you take this test and the shoes pass, but your feet hurt, see a podiatrist, says Dr. Brookshear. They will be able to help you from scratch with whatever you may need to find relief.

Also: a word about arch support

As for arch support, this is a point of personalization depending on your anatomy. “Every patient is different,” says Dr. Brookshear. “If you tend to pronate, you may need more arch support to make sure you don’t overpronate (this means your foot rolls inward when you walk).” Some people have naturally higher arches — pes cavus is the technical term, he says — and others have flatter feet, so finding the right shoes for your particular feet is crucial.

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