We hear this question all the time, “what is the best shoe available?” If the answer was really that simple, we would have everyone happy on their feet all the time in shoes they love. Unfortunately, there is no “one shoe fits all” answer when it comes to selecting the right shoe, so the question really becomes, “what is the best shoe FOR ME”.
How to Find the Correct Shoe for You
Finding the right shoe to keep you running safely comes down to looking at certain factors such as:
- foot type
- lower limb mechanics
- injury history
All of these factors come into play when selecting the right footwear option. Knowing these factors when selecting a shoe will provide some valuable information to not only make running safer, but also allow you to run with greater ease and comfort. We commonly advise beginner level runners or those with extensive injuries in the past to seek advice from a professional prior to starting any running regimen. They can provide valuable information in regard to footwear selection and help address any biomechanical issues that may be present.
Matching your Foot Type to the Right Shoe
Although evidence in the research varies, matching your foot type to the appropriate shoe may help reduce the risk of injury by avoiding shoes that act opposite to your individual biomechanics. If you have a higher arched foot, you may need a shoe with more volume in the midfoot and curve lasted to accommodate the shape at your foot. If you have a lower arched foot, you may need a shoe that is more supportive on the inside or perhaps straight lasted rather than curved, to provide a better overall fit.
Is Foot Shape Important When Selecting a Shoe?
Yes, selecting the right category of quality footwear is important, but even more important is the correct fit. Shoes that fit too wide, too narrow, too short, or too long can all negatively affect your running, and increase the risk of foot pain or injury.
At home test: The Wet Foot Test
- Spread out a paper bag or lay newspaper on the floor.
- Tape the paper to the floor.
- Remove your shoes and socks and lightly wet the bottoms of your feet.
- Walk across the paper and leave a wet footprint.
If you compare the outline to the ones in the diagram below, you can see if you have a high, medium, or low arch.
The Categories of Footwear
When selecting a shoe, there are 4 categories of footwear:
- Lots of cushion, mild support/structure
- Appropriate for a “normal” gait pattern or when extra cushioning/ shock absorption is required
- Recommended for a high to normal arch type
Stable neutral shoe
- Moderate cushioning and moderate support
- Shoe will commonly have a wider base of support and midfoot to accommodate for your foot type
- Appropriate for someone who may supinate or pronate during gait
- Recommended for a normal to lower arch type. May provide more structure to the midfoot due to a better overall fit
- Moderate cushion and increased support. Commonly they will be 10-15% stiffer on the inside of the shoe to help control how much your foot rolls towards inside (your midline)
- Appropriate for an individual that has a mild to moderate over-pronation during gait
Motion Control shoe
- Minimal cushioning and extreme/firm support on the inside and outside of the shoe
- This category of footwear is rarely needed for runners due to the fact that they can provide so much support that it may actually be too firm for running
- It is recommended that you talk to a foot specialist (i.e., Pedorthist or Podiatrist) if you think you need this footwear category
Quality Footwear from SoleScience
Knowing what arch type you have is important but may not give you the full picture. Because this is a static (not moving) test, it does not tell you how your feet may move dynamically with and without footwear. The type of arch you have matters so you can prevent buying the wrong type of shoes. For example, if you have a high arch and walk/run on the outside of your foot, buying an anti-pronation (stability) shoe that is designed to push you towards the outside of the foot can overcorrect and exaggerate your mechanics and possibly lead to injury. In general, you want a shoe that will complement the movement of your foot while you run.
Still Have Some Questions?
Visit the experts at SoleScience for a professional footwear fitting and get all the information you will need in order to find the right shoe for you!