Strangely enough, most people never put themselves “in their own shoes”. They buy their pair according to the latest fashion or the cheapest sale price without realizing that running shoes are, first and foremost, somewhat like corrective glasses; they should compensate for the feet’s natural imperfections to effectively support the body weight. There are no good or bad running shoes. There are only the wrong and the right ones, and the right ones are those that will guarantee that you’ll never walk with discomfort, pain, or injury in the long... well, run.
Know how you walk
As you walk, your feet rolls from the heel, ball and toe to distribute your body weight. This movement is called pronation. However, people develop different shapes of feet that will, in turn, influence their gait. People with a normal arch type of foot have neutral pronation where the pressure is evenly spread throughout the feet’s surface. High arch foot types are underpronators or supinators and they put more weight on the outside of the foot. Finally, a low arch foot tend to overpronate putting more pressure on the inside of the foot. Here are simple and easy ways to determine your walking gait and foot type:
The shoe test
Just looking at your old shoes will tell you half of the story. One side can be more worn than the others. More wear on the lateral (outside) side of the shoes, means you’re an underpronator while having more wear on the inside or medial side means you’re an overpronator. If the deterioration is evenly distributed, you have a neutral pronation.
The wet test
After the shoe test, you can confirm your findings with the wet test. To perform this, you’ll need a highly porous type of paper like a paper bag. Then, slightly wet your feet and stand on the paper for about a minute. After that, observe the shape of your footprint.
If you see a distinct curve on the medial side that doesn’t reach half of the width of your foot, you have a normal arch making you a neutral pronator. If the imprint’s curve does reach halfway or is overpronounced, your foot has a high arch which makes you an underpronator. You have a flat or low arch type of foot if your footprint doesn’t show a distinct curve and this makes you an underpronator.
Get the right shoe
After determining your foot and gait type, it’s time to hit the stores. You may want to go to a place that really specializes in running shoes as they can really help you find the right pair.
The motion control type is the best choice for overpronators or flat-footed people because it focuses more of its support on the medial side of the foot to prevent injuries.
Stability running shoes are the most common type you’ll find in the market simply because it caters to the most prevalent type of pronators--- the neutral or normal type. It’s soles are designed to offer a balance between cushioning and control and provides even support on the medial and lateral side of the foot.
Cushioned running shoes, on the other hand, are best to counteract supination as they have adequate shock absorption on the lateral side of the shoes.
It is true that the best time to buy shoes is late in the afternoon or in the evening. This is because our feet expands a few centimeters after carrying all of the weight and pressure from the entire day’s activities. Be sure to base your shoe size on the dominant foot as it tends to be a little larger than the other one. And don’t forget to bring your running socks or orthotics for the fitting as well.
See if the shoes offer enough space on top of your toes. The room should be at least a thumb away from the tip of your longest toe to the tip of the shoe. You would also know if it’s the right fit if your foot doesn’t slide off or doesn’t feel too crammed inside the shoe. If you finally find a pair that feels just right, walk and jog within the premises and see if the feeling’s the same.
Note that a high-quality pair of running shoes may not come cheap. But just like in any type of shoes, you should treat it like an investment. If you choose the right pair, you will not only save money from having to replace your shoes every year, but also from costly medications for injuries as well.