Proper footwear is critical for runners and walkers, and in order to help you determine which shoe is best for you, it may help to know the “anatomy” of a shoe.
- Rearfoot: The heel and rounded back, called the counter.
- Forefoot: The rocker shaped front, which is the last part of the shoe to be on the ground when you leave the foot.
- Midfoot: The arch region between the heel and forefoot.
Ideally, shoes will strike a good balance between support and cushioning. The rearfoot needs a firm heel counter to hold the heel straight as you impact the ground. The midfoot needs to guide and control your body’s weight as you transfer toward the front of the shoe. Therefore, the midfoot ought to resist twisting. You can test tis by holding the sole of the shoe at the rearfoot and forefoot and try to twist the midfoot section. The forefoot needs to be the right length, depth and width for your toes, and needs to bend were your toes bend. You can test this by grasping the midfoot and toe of the shoe and flex the forefoot.
When it comes to stability, there are generally 3 shoe types:
A motion control shoe is very firm and restricts pronation (foot flattening during weight bearing) to feet that tend to be flexible, have flat arches or pronate excessively.
A well cushioned shoe allows more foot flattening. This tends to be a good match for those who have rigid feet and higher arches. These can also very good for those with joint problems in the knees, hips or back.
A neutral shoe provides a great balance between control and stability for those with a neutral foot type.
Your Shoe’s “Last”
All shoes have a basic shape for its sole called a last. There are 3 types: straight, semi-curved, and curved. It is likely that one of these types will match your foot better than the other two.
Each shoe has a unique volume. They may come in a variety of widths, but even among the same size shoe, there will be differences in fit. Proper fit is important to prevent slipping and skin problems such as blisters, calluses and other abrasions, as well as ensuring proper support. Each shoe and foot is unique, so finding a good fit may take a little trial and error.
How do you find the right shoe?
Your physical therapist can help you identify your foot type and recommend a shoe that will work for your needs. Through physical inspection and video gait analysis, we can determine your needs. We can help you find a local specialty shoe store will highly-trained personnel who can match your foot type to shoes that will meet your needs. Don’t suffer with poorly fitting shoes…your physical therapist can help!