Walking shoes have come a long way since their earlier iterations. They're lighter, offer more support, and have more bells and whistles than ever before. One of the greatest features to join walking shoes is the rocker sole. "Rocker shoes are shoes that have a curvature on the outer sole," says Mark Mendeszoon, DPM, a board-certified podiatrist. "Unlike traditional shoes which have a flat surface, rocker shoes allow the foot to rock the foot forward from heel strike to toe off," making them great for not only running but propelling your steps for walks, too (hot girl walks, we're ready for ya).
- Mark Mendenszoon, DPM, multi-board certified podiatrist
What to look for in rocker shoes for walking
As with any walking shoe, it's important that it fits lengthwise and widthwise. This rule holds especially true for rocker shoes. Dr. Mendeszoon says that there shouldn't be any excessive pressure or tightness at the forefront of the shoe as this tightness can cause numbness, blisters, or problems with the toenails. This means no pinched toes or irritated bunions, if you have one.
Another feature you'll want to keep your eyes peeled for is the stack height of the shoe. "The higher the stack or the bigger the contour of the rocker bottom shoe, the more instability it may provide," adds Dr. Mendeszoon. "Therefore, patients with neuropathy or balance issues may not be a good candidate for these types of shoes." Lastly, Dr. Mendeszoon recommends watching for the Achilles notch, a U- or V-shaped indentation at the collar of the shoe. He says that many of shoes have them, so it's important that this part is comfortable and does not irritate your Achilles tendon.
We tapped a podiatrist for their foot-friendly recommendations. From Hoka to New Balance, check out these podiatrist-approved rocker shoes that will make each step a "walk" in the park.
Sizes available: 5-12, in half sizes
Hoka, the podiatrist-approved and editor-loved brand, is constantly taking its shoes to new heights, and the newest iteration of the Cliftons, ahem… the Clifton 9s (read our full review here), will put more pep in each step. The rocker bottom propels each stride forward, and they’re lighter and more cushioned than ever before with its 3mm stack height and responsive foam midsole. The heel is plusher compared to previous versions to not upset your Achilles heel during long walks. Another notable feature is the knit upper, which is a big exhale for your feet during sweaty days. APMA-approved, comfy, and stylish—Hoka’s Clifton 9s come up on top.
- Available in a variety of colors
- Has foam midsole
- May rub against bunions
Originally $145, now $110
Gravity Defyer’s Mighty Walk Shoes come recommended by Dr. Mendeszoon. These shoes are an “advanced scientific shoe that has the most rocker bottom and support, even with a spring element that can help with the mechanics of the foot,” he says. The shoe features a foam insole that has been treated in an antimicrobial cover (bye, germs and funky odors) and a breathable mesh, offering ventilation and flexibility. Wiggling your toe will be no issue thanks to the roomy toe box for extra comfort. Plus, enjoy removable insoles in case you need to swap it for additional support. Throw these puppies on, and you’ll be ready to pound the pavement.
Sizes available: 6-11, in half sizes and three widths
- Has an antimicrobial cover
- Roomy toe box
- Not as stylish
Sizes available: 5-13, in half sizes and two widths
New Balance’s Fresh Foam rocker shoes are another great option for walking. The rocker bottom offers smooth transitions from heel to toe, and the cushioning has been updated with more foam to increase flexibility during walking. Engineered with an a knit upper, these shoes are lightweight and feel just like second-skin (you won’t even notice you have them on). Available in 13 colors, from classic white to fun colors like grapefruit pink, you’ll be stepping in style.
- Feels like second skin
- Foam midsole
Sizes available: 5-12, in half sizes
These no-frills, slip-on shoes from Oofos are ideal if you’re heading out of the house in a hurry. They feature a rocker bottom that’s made of closed cell-foam. This means these shoes are cushy while minimizing odors that may arise from everyday wear. The foam base is not only comfy, but these kicks also absorb shock upon impact, and according to the brand, 37 percent more impact absorbed than other brands. This shoe is like walking on pillows, and if you’re down for the test, take advantage of the 30-day trial risk-free. Wearing these kicks are a win-win for you and your feet.
- Slip-on design
- Absorbs impact
- Comfortable to wear
- Toe box may be too tight for some
Sizes available: 6-10.5, in half sizes
Admittedly, these aren’t the most stylish pair of kicks on the market, but their looks have been excused because they’re so darn comfy. Receiving the thumbs up from Dr. Mendeszoon, these rocker shoes marry craftsmanship and orthopedic support (hence the heftier price tag), and are ideal for walks in the park, a day out in the city, or running errands. The boat-like bottom flings each foot in motion, so walks, no matter short or long, are a breeze.
- Made from quality materials
- Offers orthopedic support
- Has boat-like bottom
- Not as stylish
Sizes available: 6-12, in half sizes
Another Dr. Mendeszoon recommendation, the MBT 2000 is a performance shoe that walks the walk. Without sacrificing style or durability, these Dad-like sneaks have a rocker sole that provides ample cushioning for walks and a EVA foam midsole for shock absorption. What’s more, it boasts a rubber outsole to grip on all types of surfaces, and it’s APMA-certified. A seal of acceptance means the shoe been approved for promoting good foot health.
- Constructed with foam insole
- Offers arch support
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