Walking This Way Will Make Less Noise (And Your Downstairs Neighbors Happier)

Allie Flinn

Photo: Getty/Peter Cade
Complaining to your annoying neighbor because you hear them stomping around in the unit above you is an excellent way to bond with other people. (Other topics: the finer points of practicing the flute at odd hours of the night and their tendency to let their friends use your parking spot without asking.) But plot twist—what if the annoying tenant turns out to be you? If you’re worried that your neighbors have less-than-fuzzy feelings toward you because you sound like the entire herd of wildebeest that took out Mufasa when you walk around your space, just know that there are ways to make footsteps lighter. Dr. Najwa Javed, board certified podiatrist and founder of E’MAR, shares how here. 

First off, take a look at your gait. “Most people don’t realize that their stride can be described as a stomp,” Dr. Javed says. Heavy footfalls generally happen because you’re a “heel striker,” she explains, meaning you land with the back of your sole followed by the rest of it. The key to treading lightly is switching up your stride so that the ball of your foot makes initial contact instead, according to Dr. Javed “It’s almost like walking like a ballerina,” she says and also recommends stretching your hamstrings and calves, as this can help reduce heel striking.  

But with what can best be described as all the things happening daily, you would be forgiven for forgetting to switch up your stride every time you go from your couch desk to your kitchen to forage for snack cheese and other delights. Even under normal circumstances, there is a learning period while you’re trying to alter the way you walk, Dr. Javed says. “Actively changing your gait can take anywhere from 3-4 months according to many biomechanical studies,” she explains, adding that most physical therapists suggest 12 weeks of retraining treatment for a person with abnormal gait patterns. 

A quicker fix? Get some house shoes—Dr. Javed likes sandals from Oofos, like the Ooahh Luxe Slide Sandals ($65), and the Ora Recovery Flip ($50) from Hoka One One. “These lightweight alternatives feel like walking on a cloud and have great shock absorption,” she says. If you are on team “no shoes in the house,” pull on some socks instead. Dr. Javed recommends Bombas All Purpose Ankle Socks ($16), but adds that any sock with sticky traction will help reduce the amount of noise you make while you walk. “Grips socks help to not only muffle sounds and create shock absorption, but also reduce slippage,” Dr. Javed says. Essentially, they help you use less force to stay balanced and stable, because they increase the friction between your foot and the ground. Don a pair and you’ll be treading lighter in no time.

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