By Julia Di Lorenzo, Podiatrist, Sprout Health Studio, 6th March 2017. Topic: Podiatry
When we make the commitment to get fit, we place great importance on ensuring our active wear is on point, but what about our shoes? How do we filter through the sea of colourful shoes and fluorescent laces displayed in most retail sports stores and find the best shoe for our feet?
As a podiatrist, I am often asked whether I recommend a specific brand or style of sports shoe and the answer is – no. Every person is different and has unique footwear needs. Below are a few tips that may be helpful when trying to find the best shoe for you.
Seek a professional opinion:
Pounding the pavement can take its toll on your joints and certain types of footwear can influence forces through the feet both positively and negatively. If you have a history of injury or are battling some little niggles it’s best that you seek advice from a podiatrist regarding footwear. Your podiatrist will assess your foot posture and your walking/running biomechanics and will couple this with your past/present injury history to prescribe the features you need in an athletic shoe.
Understand how a shoe should move:
A very basic way of assessing a good sports shoe is the “press, twist, flex” test. Press the back of the shoe (heel counter) – it should be firm to provide good heel support. Twist the shoe lengthways – a minimal amount of torsion is acceptable, but excessive twist will affect foot support. Flex the ball of the foot – this is the area of the foot that naturally bends and our shoes should facilitate that action.
Know your “shoe terms”:
When walking through a shoe store, you may see the words “neutral” and “stability” being used. These are two of the more common terms used in relation to athletic footwear, and relate to the presence of additional support within a shoe. Wearing a stability (or posted) shoe will have an effect on the mechanics of foot and knee so it’s important to seek advice if you’re unsure.
Consider what types of activity you will be doing and what surfaces you are training on:
Sports shoes are not designed to be multi-purpose. Running shoes have very different properties to walking shoes, which can be slightly heavier and less flexible. Also consider the types of surfaces you will be performing your training on – if you are running or walking on surfaces with quite uneven terrain you will require different shoe features than someone training on flat surfaces or on a treadmill.
Ensure you are comfortable!
Training for an event is not going to be enjoyable if your athletic shoes don’t fit you properly. Forget online shopping and take the time to seek advice and get fitted professionally at a shop that specialises in athletic footwear or running. Aim to go shoe shopping at the end of the day to account for any swelling that occurs throughout the day. Take some time to do a few laps of walking in the shop – if you’re shoes aren’t comfortable from the outset it’s unlikely you’ll be able to tick over those kilometres without issues!