FIRST THINGS FIRST
Before buying a new pair of sneakers, Braver recommends doing two things: A “wet test” [see sidebar] to see what type of arches you have, and studying the wear patterns of previous shoes.
To learn your wear pattern, first put your shoe on a flat surface and study it.
“A normal wear pattern should start at the outside edge of the shoe sole and extend to the middle of the forefoot,” he says.
If there is too much wear under the big toe, then the runner is hyperpronating (the arch is collapsing too much at the foot’s push-off), which can lead to arch strain, shin splints and knee pain. If there is unequal wear on the shoe soles, then often there is a difference in the length of the runner’s legs, which can lead to back pain and especially sciatica symptoms.
“Many of these problems can be corrected with orthotic inserts,” Braver says. “You can’t treat every foot problem with the right shoes, but it’s a good start.”