A common question we get asked is ‘what is the best running shoe?’. Looking for a running shoe can be difficult if you don't know what to look for. There are a huge variety of running shoe shapes, sizes and brands each with different types of technology. Each of these shoes is built for different foot types. The best running shoe is the shoe that feels the most comfortable on your foot and fits your foot the best. Simple, right? But how do I know what fits my foot best?
Does the shoe fit?
To know what fits your foot best you first need to know your foot shape and gait ‘type’. A simple way to work out your foot shape is the ‘wet test’. To do this wet both your feet and stand on a paper bag for about 10 seconds. Then observe the shape of the imprint you have made.
There is a distinct curve along the inside of your foot with a band a little less than half the width of your foot connecting the heel and toe.
Low arch (flat footed)
The imprint shows most of your foot and there is not much of a curve along the inside of your foot.
There is a very noticeable curve along the inside of your foot and a very thin band connecting your heel and toe. If you have a really high arch, you may not even see anything connecting the heel and toe.
Once you have worked out your foot shape, it is important to work out your gait type. Your gait type can outline specific muscles that may be underperforming or over-performing. This is more complicated and often requires more complex technology such as a gait scanner or observation by a qualified health professional.
The three main types of gait are pronator, normal and supinator – all of which exist in varying degrees.
This is when the outside of the heel strikes first and the foot then rolls inward to absorb the weight-bearing forces. This is typically someone with a low arch (although arch height does not always correspond to if someone is a pronator) and they should choose a stability shoe.
If you have a neutral gait, the middle/slightly outward part of the heel strikes first and the foot rolls inward slightly to absorb the weight-bearing forces. Someone with a neutral gait normally has a medium arched foot. The best shoe choice for a neutral runner is a neutral cushioning shoe.
Someone who supinates, strikes the ground with the outside of their heel first and instead of rolling inward, stays on the outside of their foot through the entire foot strike. This reduces the foot's ability to absorb the impact of the foot strike. This is typically someone with a higher arched foot and should choose a neutral cushioning shoe as well.
And what about the types of shoes?
Motion control shoes
These shoes are built on a straight last. Turn the shoe over and look at the bottom. If it has a wide, straight shape it is a motion control shoe. If you have a flat foot and overpronate, this shoe is more appropriate for you. This type of shoe will prevent you from rolling in too far. It will give your foot maximum support and offers the most control.
Stability shoes will have a semi-curved shape to them. If you have a normal arch, and pronate only slightly, choose a stability shoe. Stability shoes offer a good balance of cushioning and support.
Neutral cushioning shoes
Neutral cushioning shoes will have the most curved shape to them. If you have a high arched foot and supinate, you should choose a neutral cushion shoe. Cushioned shoes absorb the impact that your foot does not naturally absorb.
Why do my feet STILL hurt?
The perfect footwear tailored specifically to you may still not provide relief from musculoskeletal pain related to running or exercise of any form. Biomechanical variations arising from muscle strength deficits related to past or present injuries will have a greater influence than any equipment on pain and function. Next week we will discuss in greater detail the biomechanics of running and what you can do to improve your technique.
If you would like to have a foot and gait assessment, develop a running program or have your painful feet assessed by a qualified physiotherapist, book in to see a Physiotherapist or Exercise Physiologist at Back in Motion Aspendale Gardens by calling 9580 1985 or online.
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