Shoes to try
The New Balance 840 is built for neutral runners seeking maximum cushioning and flexibility. It features a wider toe box to accommodate a variety of foot shapes. New Balance shoes are assembled in U.S. factories. The shoe, for men and women, sells for $119 at J&S Shoes on Signal Mountain.
The Keen Newport, for men and women, is the foundation of the Keen footwear line. Designed to perform in the adverse conditions of a marine environment, the sole provides excellent traction on land and slick surfaces like boat decks or river rocks. The shoes sell for $99 at J&S Shoes on Signal Mountain.
Riverbend Footwear Tips
• Flip-flops aren't made for walking long distances.
• If wearing sandals, choose a style with adjustable heel straps.
• Look for shoes that offer a wide toe and contoured footbed.
Source: Jeff Price, J&S Shoes.
Area residents Jill Whaley, Lynn Chapman and Julie Jones are wearing flip-flops to Riverbend this year.
Jeff Price, owner of J&S Shoes on Signal Mountain, would have them reconsider. Flip-flops, he said, aren't a good choice when walking any distance.
"They're OK if you're dropped off in one spot and don't move," he said.
He explained that because flip-flops have no back and many styles have little padding, the toes grip the front of the shoe at every step.
"When walking from Point A to Point B, the foot and legs become fatigued," said the retailer, who takes referrals from area podiatrists.
Some brands, such as Chaco, Keen, Teva, Merrell and Birkenstock, have a foot bed that provides more support to the foot. Still, Price recommends styles that have an adjustable heel strap.
Running shoes provide the most support for running and walking, Price said, but the style of shoe one should wear can differ from person to person.
"Different people need different shoes," he said.
Because people are "all shapes and all sizes," he said, "all feet are different, too. What works for you may not work for me."
Price said he has seen "some pretty messed up feet" during his 18 years in the shoe business.
"A lot of these people do it themselves," he said. "A couple of generations ago, people didn't have the choice of shoes that we have today. There is no reason why you shouldn't wear comfortable shoes that are good for your feet."
Price recommends the New Balance 840 running shoe as an all-around good shoe for running and walking.
"This particular shoe is especially ideal for people with any orthotics issues," he said. "It's got a wide toe box and good depth and support."
For people who insist on a sandal-type shoe for walking, Price suggests the Keen Newport.
"Girls and guys love this sandal," he said. "It's as close to a running shoe as you can get. It offers great support with a closed toe and (on newer styles) an adjustable back closure. It also can be worn in water and dries quickly."
Massage therapist Chip Phillips said some of his work involves trying to correct foot problems.
"When you wear the wrong shoes ... your body has to compensate all the way to the top of your head," he said.
Still, Whaley, an investigator, stands by her choice of flip-flops.
"Nike makes a good pair," she said. "I don't go for comfort. If someone spills beer on my shoes, it will not ruin them. Also, I'm there about two to three hours, so not too much walking."
Jeff Wormsley, a programming manager, chooses Tevas and other sandals.
"They breathe, and I can hose them down if necessary," he said.
Lisa Fugatt Dake, who works in human resources at a local company, said she recently found a pair of Crocs that look like sandals.
"I actually wore them on vacation last month," she said. "They are the best walking shoe for me."
Regardless of the brand, Price said to look for a shoe that offers a wide toe, contoured footbed and, with sandals, an adjustable heel strap.
Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...