By Aimee Hodges, CI-CPT
May I begin with a confession? I am secretly judging your shoes. I notice all types of shoes, from high heels to running shoes. Spotting the latest trends in stilettos or tall wedges, the only thought running through my mind is, “How is she walking?” I also, unintentionally, observe foot strike patterns. If I see someone giving it their best, while pronating or supinating, I fight the feeling to approach and offer advice about proper shoe selections. The struggle is real!
My knowledge comes from an active girl’s struggle, born with genetically inept and uncooperative feet. Not to mention, I have invested a small fortune trying to find shoes will alleviate this pain or that.
It sounds simple but there really is a science to it. If you spend a little time educating yourself on proper shoe choices, you could easily be on your way to checking that marathon off your bucket list!
To begin the proper shoe selection process, determine the type of activity you will be performing the most. If you prefer to hit the track for a brisk walk, then you need to be on the lookout for a proper walking shoe. They tend to be more stiff for support than a running shoe or cross trainer. If you prefer hiking or trail walking then a trail shoe is what you need. If hitting the pavement to log a few miles of running is your focus, a running shoe is what you need.
Forget the preconceived notion that brand is what matters, let’s look at structure of the foot bed. Supporting your feet requires sport specific shoes. Injuries can begin from the ground up so the importance of selecting the right shoe with the right fit is imperative.
Next, trace your foot with the wet test method. Wet the bottom of your foot and place it on a piece of brown paper or cardboard, tracing the outline of your footprint. This will show your foot’s natural strike tendency. There are three factors to consider when fitting someone with the proper shoe: pronation, supination and neutral. Putting it simply, if you overpronate your footprint should be full. Your arches are flat and you weight bear towards the inside of your foot. This will also be evident in the wear pattern of your old shoes, worn on the inside of the shoe and outside of your heel. Some of this motion is natural but if there is significant wear patterns, you should lean towards choosing a design described as a stability shoe. These shoes tend to have internal wedges that act as arch support, preventing arch collapse during activity.
If you underpronate, or supinate, your footprint on the brown paper should with little to no contact along the outside edge and you mainly notice the ball of your foot and heel print. Your old shoes will be worn along the outside, as well as the outside of the heel. You should look for shoes labeled as cushioned with little to no arch support.
If you see half of your arch region in the brown paper print, you have the most common foot type – neutral. Your shoe choices are vast! I would recommend looking for shoes described as neutral. These have very little motion control or stability as to not overcorrect the foot.
The wet test is only an estimate so I highly recommend trying on any shoe before purchasing. Before committing, stand in the shoe. Make sure you have about a half inch clearance between your longest toe and the end of the shoe. Don’t forget to wiggle your toes to make sure there is enough room for shifting forward as you walk or run. Walk around in the shoe to determine if you have a nice snug fit on the heel and no slipping or rubbing occurs. Another helpful tip is to wear the same type of socks you will wear while working out. It is a good idea to try on shoes in the afternoon or at the end of the day as when your foot is at its fullest. Remember to measure both of your feet as they can measure different sizes and select your size off of the largest foot. Do this each year as your shoe size can change due to collapsed arches and widening.
Be bold and do not hesitate to ask a lot of questions. Try on multiple options to determine the best fit and don’t worry about appearance. Some may feel it’s important to make a fashion statement but it’s even more important to protect your machine!
Get moving and if you need someone to help or have questions, Aimee can be reached at Fit-N-Wise in Decatur (940-627-2708) or at Opposite Way Training in Bowie (940-389-1229).