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Like so many American stories, the brand’s history begins with an immigrant. Hailing from Ireland, William J. Riley moved to Boston, Massachusetts and founded New Balance in 1906 (the company remains headquartered in Boston to this today). Legend has it that Riley was inspired to tweak standard footwear construction when he observed his chickens strutting in the backyard with their nimble, three-pronged feet.
Riley approached footwear with the idea of offering support across different areas of the foot, hence the company’s original name, New Balance Arch Support Company. The company focused on orthotics, primarily for workers who stand on their feet all day.
Over the years, New Balance ownership passed to Riley’s salesman-turned-partner Arthur Hall, then his daughter Eleanor and her husband Paul Kidd in 1956. The Kidds ushered in a new era for New Balance when they launched the brand’s first sneaker in 1961, the Trackster, which had a signature ripped sole for traction. The style gained cult status among college and high school runners around the country.
Current New Balance chairman Jim Davis purchased the company in 1972, taking it from a small mom-and-pop business to the global brand it is today. Davis capitalized on the running trend that was hitting America and centered right in Boston. He also kept what was working for New Balance — shoes offered in multiple widths so runners could find their perfect fit — but expanded its selection with more sneaker styles.
In 1976, the New Balance 320 runner’s shoe debuted. The nylon and suede style was the first to showcase the simple “N” logo. As the years went by, New Balance added walking shoes to the mix, like the 574 in the 1980s, which was designed for running but also loved by regular shoppers for its street style.
In 2001, the 991 was released, and became a favorite of Steve Jobs as part of his regular uniform. Still beloved among Silicon Valley tech executives, New Balance is now considered the pinnacle of “ugly” or “dad” fashion, a trend that’s remained hugely popular since 2018. The brand’s understated, retro appeal gives it a timeless quality that can simultaneously feel contemporary and nostalgic.
How to find the best women’s New Balance walking shoes for your needs
New Balance continues to innovate its sneaker styles to provide support for a range of conditions that lead to pain when walking, including ankle sprains. (These injuries can be a result of loose ligaments, which are typically a genetic condition, or athletic injury when muscles aren’t warm and flexible enough.) For daily walking, board-certified foot and ankle surgeon and advisor for Kane Footwear Dr. Dan Geller touts the benefits of high-top shoes for ankle support. “They’re great for additional structure and support to prevent ankle injury,” he says.
New Balance also has lots of options to support low arches, also known as flat feet, which can lead to overpronation and bunions. Flat feet require wide shoes to avoid chafing, making New Balance’s styles offered in a variety of widths ideal for these foot types. For bunions, wide fits will help accommodate the bone, while models with extra arch support can help correct the foot’s biomechanics.
And if you suffer from plantar fasciitis (a condition in which the tendon that attaches the heel bone to the front of foot becomes inflamed), New Balance has you covered with some footwear options. Dr. Brad Schaeffer, owner of Sole Podiatry N.Y.C, explains that since plantar fasciitis often occurs from a lack of support or stability in a shoe, the best walking shoes for plantar fasciitis offer the right mix of arch support and flexibility so the tendon doesn’t become too tight.
Ahead, we compiled the eight best New Balance walking shoes for women to kickstart your search. Our list features styles that are highly rated by customers and backed by a pedorthist (aka a foot care professional) to boot.
New Balance 1540 V3 Running Shoes
Best Women’s New Balance Walking Shoes for Flat Feet
“Wider-lasted shoes are the best option for flat feet, which means they shouldn’t have an hourglass shape on the bottom,” says pedorthist Michael Fishkin of Northern Illinois Foot & Ankle Specialists. “Instead, they should have a straight-across design underfoot.” Podiatrists and pedorthists look to New Balance styles like the women’s 1540 V3 running shoe for proper orthopedic support. “Rollbar” stability controls rear foot movement, while the cushioned midsole provides all-day comfort. These are available in an impressive five widths, fitting virtually every foot.
New Balance 411 V1 Training Shoes
Best Women’s New Balance Walking Shoes for Plantar Fasciitis
The New Balance 411 V1 has a plush insole with anatomical arch support to combat aches and pains, including those stemming from plantar fasciitis. These nurse-approved kicks earn rave reviews for their all-day comfort. The rubber outsole is durable even in tough environments.
New Balance 847 V4 Walking Shoes
Best for Bunions
The New Balance 847 V4 walking shoes feature a giving mesh outer and come in a wide variety of sizes to accommodate bunions and avoid chafing. Arch support holds feet in proper alignment to discourage bunions and prevent them from worsening while providing the underfoot support you need it. These offer rear foot control but also plenty of soft cushioning for comfort.
New Balance FuelCore Nergize V1 Sneakers
Best Women’s New Balance Walking Shoes for Standing All Day
New Balance’s FuelCore Nergize V1 offers support in the heel, mid-foot and forefoot, which is ideal since “your foot is less apt to fatigue quicker when body weight is distributed evenly,” Fishkin says. The sneakers’ Amazon reviews can’t be beat, with over 40,000 comments and an average 4.5-star rating. Plus, its all-day wear memory foam insert is ultra-responsive.
New Balance Fresh Foam Roav V1 Running Shoes
Best Women’s New Balance Walking Shoes for Ankle Support
The New Balance Fresh Foam Roav V1 running shoe has a bootie-type upper similar to a high-top for excellent ankle support. Like lots of high-tops, these marry fashion and function. With an average 4.5-star rating and nearly 20,000 Amazon reviews, shoppers love the supportive heel and comfortable, cloud-like midsole. Nab them in a range of cool colors.
New Balance Fresh Foam 515 Sport V2 Sneakers
Best New Balance Walking Shoes for High Arches
With a sporty, fashion-forward look, New Balance’s Fresh Foam 515 Sport V2 is perfect for a day of brunching and running errands in style. The supportive footbed with arch support means that high arches can settle at the proper neutral position. These have support and durability to promote a healthy range of foot motion. They also boast lots of cushioning for total comfort.
New Balance Made in US 990 V5 Sneakers
Best Women’s New Balance Walking Shoes for Overpronation
The New Balance Made in US 990 V5 is an iconic style updated with modern technology for the utmost comfort. Dual-density collar foam provides support at the ankle, while a lightweight foam midsole and durable polyurethane rim will keep the foot in proper position to prevent overpronation. The classic running silhouette is perfect for a day of running around the city. The Ortholite inner means feet will still feel fresh by the time you’re headed home.
New Balance 626 V2 Industrial Shoes
Best Women’s New Balance Walking Shoes With Slip-Resistance
For chefs and restaurant workers, doctors and nurses or retail workers and hair stylists, investing in the right shoe for hours of standing can help assuage and avoid physical ailments stemming from foot pain — like sore knees, hips, and backs, not to mention plantar fasciitis and bunions. New Balance’s 626 V2 industrial shoe has a compression molded midsole providing correct anatomical positioning. The rubber sole is slip-resistant to hold up even in industrial environments, while the leather outsole is also super hardy to protect against wear and tear.