WHEN THE SHOE FITS
It can be overwhelming when you buy running shoes for the first time, especially when the sales assistant bombards you with all sorts of technical jargon.
So is it any wonder that we walk out of the store with the shoe that was recommended to us and not necessarily the right shoe for the job?
Equip yourself with the right information before you even walk into that store.
Remember that your feet swell slightly when running so try running shoes on toward the end of the day when your feet are a little swollen, as this will prevent you from buying shoes that are too small.
ALL ABOUT THE ARCH
It is important to determine what type of arch you have, to ensure that you buy shoes that meet your biomechanical needs. The Wet Test is a simple and effective way of determining this. First, put your bare foot in water and stand on any flat surface that will leave a footprint. You could also stand on wet sand. Now compare the shape of your footprint to these three main arch types:
THE NORMAL OR NEUTRAL FOOT
Characterised by a wide band connecting the forefoot and the heel, the biomechanics of a normal foot starts with a heel strike on the outside of the heel. It then moves through the heel and slightly inward to the midfoot (this allows the foot to absorb whatever shock is experienced), levelling outward slightly as it reaches the toes to spring off from the ground forming your next stride. The foot does not over- or underpronate and has an arch support that is active or working. The wear pattern is centralised. The best shoe for a neutral runner is a stability shoe on a semicurved last.
THE HIGH ARCH
Characterised by a very narrow band or no band at all between the forefoot and the heel, this foot tends to supinate and is quite rigid with a limited ability to absorb shock due to the inflexibility of the joints of the foot. As a result, this type of foot sets the stage for other joints to absorb shock such as your knees, hips and spine, and often results in a high risk of injury. It is marked by wear and tear along the lateral or outer edge of the shoe. The best shoe for a supinator is a cushioned shoe that offers good flexibility on a curved last.
THE FLAT FOOT
Characterised by an imprint showing the entire sole of the foot, this type of foot has a very low arch. It also tends toward overpronating as the joints of the foot are hypermobile (too flexible). The foot strikes on the outer edge of the heel, rolling inward excessively toward the arch and ends toward your big toe. An indicator of wear on the inside of the shoe edge shows a typical pronating foot type. The best shoe for an overpronator is a motion control shoe which goes a long way in reducing the degree of pronation. The best last is a straight or semi-curved one. Another way of successfully determining what type of foot arch you might have is to look at your existing pair of running shoes for wear and tear patterns.