Want to enjoy a lifetime of exercise? Make sure you wear the shoes that best suit your feet. Shoes are made for all types of feet and actions, and knowing your foot type can aid you in selecting shoes that will help prevent injury.
Determining Your Foot Type
the right type of shoe for you depends on two things: your foot type (size of your arches) and what your foot does when it touches the ground. I recommend the “wet test” to find your foot type. Walk across a flat surface with wet feet so you can see your footprint and see the kind of arches you have.
Normal arch. If you see about half of your arch on the paper, you have a normal (medium) arch. You are considered a normal pronator. (When you run or walk, you land on the outside edge of your foot and roll inward. This entirely normal inward rolling is called pronation.) Normal pronation absorbs shock and optimally distributes the forces of impact when the arch collapses inward.
Low arch. If you see almost your entire footprint, you have a flat foot (low arch), which means you’re probably an overpronator. That is, a microsecond after footstrike, your arch collapses inward too much, resulting in excessive foot motion. This means the foot and ankle have problems stabilizing the body, and shock isn’t absorbed as efficiently.
High arch. If you see just your heel, the ball of your foot and a thin line on the outside of your foot, you have a high arch. This means you’re likely an underpronator (also called a supinator), which can result in too much shock traveling up your legs, since your arch doesn’t collapse enough to absorb it. Forces of impact are concentrated on a smaller area of the foot (the outside part) and are not distributed as efficiently.
When trying on shoes, mention which type of foot you have. A knowledgeable salesperson should be able to help you find shoes suited to your type.
Walking shoes are stiffer; running shoes are more flexible, with extra cushioning to handle greater impact. If you do both activities, get a pair for each one. For other fitness activities cross-trainers are fine. If you play a specific sport basketball, football, track, tennis, etc. make sure you buy a shoe that is specific to your sport. Including an insole that favors your foot type is also recommended.
When testing shoes, wear workout socks and get fitted in the evening, when your feet are largest. There should be half an inch between the longest toe and the toe box. Look for stores that allow you to return the shoes within a certain time period if they aren’t working for you.
Barefoot “shoes” have gotten a lot of press. These “slip-ons” are not exactly shoes, nor are they socks; in some cases they are more like thick rubber foot gloves. Their purpose is to mimic barefoot movement while avoiding some of the risks (e.g., sharp objects, extreme heat).
Are they for you? To explore this subject, work with a running expert or certified personal trainer who specializes in running. Other body parts impact the feet, and it is important to understand how the whole body impacts your running biomechanics.
Now time to get suited and booted!