Healthy & Happy Feet

Avoid Injury, Proper Footwear Selectionfeet-8

Running and walking are two of the most pure forms of exercise around. But choosing the wrong athletic shoe can have you end up lying on the couch nursing an injury. While most sporting good stores have knowledgeable sales people to guide you, you’ll be a few steps ahead of the game if you’re armed with some basic knowledge about your feet and their specific needs.

Know your foot. Feet come in a variety of shapes, knowing the type of foot you have will help you to make the right shoe selection. A way to determine this is to do the “Wet Test”. Wet your foot and step on a piece of brown paper and trace your footprint. If your footprint shows the entire sole of your foot with little to no curve on the inside, you have low arches or flat feet and will tend to over pronate, feet rolling to far inward. You’ll want a shoe with a motion control feature and maximum support.

If the footprint shows only a portion of your forefoot and heel with a narrow or no connection between the two, you have high arches and will tend to underpronate or “supinate”, meaning your feet roll outward. Look for a shoe with a soft midsole. You have a neutral arch if your footprint has a distinct curve along the inside and your shoes wear out uniformly. Look for a stability shoe which has a good mix of cushioning and support.

Choosing the Right Shoe. You need to choose the right shoe for the kind of workout you’ll be doing. A shoe made for running is very different from a shoe made for basketball or tennis. Running shoes have no lateral stability, they are made to go straight. Court shoes are made for lateral movement which is a huge requirement of sports such as basketball and tennis. Even walking shoes are different than running shoes. Running has a heavier impact than walking, and walking shoes should be stiffer than running shoes. A cross trainer can work, which has some lateral support, but you perform a certain type of exercise (Court vs. Running) 3 times a week or more than you should choose a corresponding shoe designed for that sport.

Benefits of a Proper Shoe. Choosing the proper shoe can help to protect you against common injuries associated with your type of workout. Good shoes can lessen the impact of your step and cushion the foot from heavy landings. In addition, sport specific shoes can improve your performance, enabling for example, quick direction changes.

Improper workout footwear can cause a number of injuries. Besides the more obvious injuries, including ankle sprains, fractures, bunions, some lesser know injuries such as Metatarsalgia. This is a condition that presents as pain in the foot which can be worsened by poorly fitting footwear.

Replacing Your Shoes. Worn out athletic shoes do not provide your feet with adequate protection during your workout. Running shoes should be replaced every 350-500 miles. Look more at the midsole to determine the condition of your shoe vs. the bottoms. Midsoles wear out faster and provide most of the shock absorption; poor midsoles can cause injury and decrease performance. Remember new shoes can be much cheaper than a trip to the doctor.

Andrew Vertson