Many patients know that I am an avid runner and it leads to a common question in the office - "What kind of running shoe should I buy?"
Most of us go to the store, find a pair of running shoes that look great, and bring them home. What many people don't know is that there are different structural designs of shoes that are meant for certain foot types. When you purchase a shoe that doesn't match your foot type, you could get injured!
First, you need to know what kind of foot you have. The three basic foot types are:
These are the people with the C-shaped heel cords and flat feet. Often a callus pattern is found under the first toe and they have sore arches or heels.
2. Neutral Foot Type
This is a foot that maintains the arch when going from sitting to standing and the heel cord remains parallel when standing. Often there is minimal callusing with this foot type.
This foot type is fairly rare but is when the person walks on the outside of the foot and the callus patterns are found under the fifth toe area. This is often associated with being bow-legged.
Other than looking at the heal cord, another great way to determine your foot type is to do the "wet test". Get your feet wet and place them on a paper towel or dry tile floor and look at the print left on the surface. Below depicts what the mark on the floor looks like with your type of foot.
Matching Your Shoes to Your Feet
There are three basic shoe types that are made to help support your type of foot:
1. Motion Control Shoe
Motion control footwear emphasizes medial support by having dual density midsoles, roll bars or foot bridges. This medial (inside) support slows the rate of over pronation. Often you will see an outer reinforced arch area with these shoes. This is a great choice for a major over-pronator.
2. Stability Shoe
Stability footwear combines cushioning features and support features into its design. These are great shoes for heavy runners and people who have slight pronation. This shoe type also works well with someone who is a supinator.
3. Neutral Cushioning
Neutral cushioned footwear emphasizes enhanced shock dispersion in its midsole and/or outsole design. Many shoe companies add materials to the heel and forefoot areas to enhance the cushioning properties of the shoe - i.e. air, gel, hydro flow etc. This type of shoe works well for people who have a neutral foot type or for people wearing orthotics.
Many people have pain that stops them from running. This is the time to see your health care professional and get things fixed. Then look to your foot type and see if it matches your running shoe type. A great first resource is to talk to a qualified shoe sales person at your local retail shoe store or go to a specialty running store. Also, each major shoe brand explains the type of shoe on their web pages. Get out and buy that awesome looking pair of runners, but make sure they match your foot type!
Activity Fact: The outside arch of the foot has a ligament called the "spring ligament" and can easily absorb three times our body weight when running or jumping!