Sneakers are a life-long wardrobe staple. From the time we’re stumbling around as a tot, to the years where we opt for a slower stroll in a nearby park, a sneaker is always there to take us where we need to go.
As we enter our 40s and 50s, our sneaker choices need to evolve with us. In conversations with our podiatrists, it's clear that we need to prioritize footwear that offers ample support for whatever our needs are, at whatever age—but once we reach our 40s and 50s, new issues can arise that we should pay attention to. Podiatrist and surgeon Bruce Pinker, DPM, tells Well+Good, “As one ages into their 40s and 50s, various foot concerns can occur, such as plantar fasciitis, metatarsalgia, arthritis/degenerative joint disease, hallux limitus/hallux rigidus, tendinitis, ingrown toenails, and swelling of the foot and ankle.” And thus, it's important to find a shoe that fits those needs.
What sneakers to look for in your 40s and 50s, according to a podiatrist
Dr. Pinker notes that when looking for a sneaker specifically for working out, someone in their 40s and 50s should select a sneaker that has “proper support for the type of activity in which they are engaging,” as well as a shoe that properly supports their foot type. This could mean choosing a shoe with medial arch support, or ample shock absorption for their heel strike.
For workouts that require lateral movement like tennis, pickleball, or basketball, Dr. Pinker says that someone in their 40s and 50s should look for shoes with medial and lateral arch support. If you prefer HIIT workouts, Pinker recommends looking for shoes that indicate that they're built to support the foot during that specific type of workout—Nike’s Air Zoom SuperRep 3 ($120) notes that it’s specifically built to provide support for the feet during a HIIT class, for instance. Lastly, Dr. Pinker adds, “long-distance runners should have added cushioning and shock absorption, often found in many running shoes.”
Now, before you open your browser to hunt for the perfect pair of kicks for your feet’s unique needs, keep scrolling to see recommendations by the aforementioned podiatrists as well as The Ness (bounce fitness) co-founder Colette Dong, NASM-CPT, and sneaker aficionado Rachel MacPherson, ACE-CPT.
The best sneakers for people over 40
Available sizes: 5-13 (plus narrow, standard, wide, x-wide fit)
The self-described “timeless design” of the New Balance 990 sneaker is what has made the style ever popular among shoe-wearers of all ages and podiatrists alike. “Often, I recommend New Balance sneakers since they are very well-constructed and offer many different widths. Specifically, the 900 series for the New Balance brand, designed for runners, usually provides appropriate support for runners, as well as for walkers, due to its cushioning, support, and quality construction,” Dr. Pinker says.
Available sizes: 5-11
The simply sleek Allbirds Tree Dasher 2 features a no-slip heel at the ankle, and a cushion “crash pad” at the heel strike to give a smooth walking (or running) experience. Dong also notes that the shoe “also has a soft one-piece seamless upper which will be good for those with bunions.”
Available sizes: 5-12
Podiatrist Timothy Oldani, DPM, recommends this sneaker because of its “rocker-shaped design that limits pressure through the great toe.” The sneaker is also a favorite of Dong’s due to its stable and lightweight sole. Best of all, the brand has plenty of colors to choose from—21 in the women’s version to be exact.
Sizes available: 5-11
Chunky soles have made a resurgence in popularity and this Sorel Kinetic Breakthrough sneaker delivers. Along with a fashionable sole, the double pull loop makes this stylish shoe easy to slip on and off. As fashion-forward as it is, “this is a great walking or running sneaker,” according to Dong. “It also has high traction rubber without sacrificing style or looking like a hiking sneaker.”
Available sizes: 6-11 (wide fit also available)
Not into a colorful sneaker? Then the Klaw 528 Gamma shoe might be for you. Co-design by podiatrist Dr. Nelya Lobkova, the white sneaker offers arch support, a deep heel cup, and rainproof upper. MacPherson tells Well+Good, “I recommend them to my older clients in both men’s and women’s versions because of their support.”
Available sizes: 5-13 (standard, wide, x-wide fit)
The visibly thick sole of New Balance’s Fresh Foam x More v4 appears to be a walking enthusiast’s dream. The curved sole allows the shoe’s wearer to feel supported from heel to toe as they stroll around the neighborhood. Dong suggests wearing this shoe on long walks or on a trip that will get you well over your 10,000 steps a day.
Available sizes: 5-11
The extended sole of Floatride Energy 4 provides trail run-ready traction and toe protection while the lightweight cushioning won’t weigh you down as you’re making strides. MacPhearson adds that the propelling sneaker is “wide enough for those with wider-than-average soles, which is a common need as you get older.”
Available sizes: 5-11
Built for daily walking and running, Lululemon’s Chargefeel Mid sneaker conforms to your foot every step of the way. Equipped with an ankle hugging upper, Dong notes that the extra support around the ankle is great for someone who’s in their 40s or 50s. She says, “it also has pressure-mapped outsoles that deliver traction and flexibility.”
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