Walking should not be a stressful activity especially for your feet. The key equipment that can make sure you are comfortable throughout the walk is the much debated walking shoe. We use the phrase ‘much debated’ because there are a lot of opinions out there when it comes to choosing the right shoes. A good pair of shoe should not only prevent common injuries such as blisters and calluses but also at the same time be lightweight and provide ample cushioning. This article aims to reveal the scientific approaches of selecting a walking shoe. It will also destroy all the myths and give you clear idea about how to choose the perfect shoe every time.
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Conduct A Wet Foot Test
This is probably the most effective test out there to determine the shape of your feet. Once you figure out your foot type you can make an informed decision when selecting running or walking shoes. The test itself is really simple. All you need to do is pour water into a shallow rectangular pan and then step into it to wet the soles of your feet. Immediately afterwards step into a blank piece of paper and then step off. The impression on the paper should help you determine the shape of your feet. Let’s take a look at the types of feet.
This is one of the most common foot type and hence its called the normal arch. The arch from the ball of the feet to the heel is pretty significant but there is also a clear impression of the mid section of the feet. If you have a normal arch feet type then you probably experience a slight inward movement when landing your feet. This inward movement is called the normal pronation. Normal pronation is a very efficient movement as it helps to dissipate the landing shock and prevents knee injuries.
Being the most common there are a lot of shoes available in the market that matches the normal arch foot type. Ideally a heavy weight person should look for a stability and cushioning shoe which will help them keep their joints safe during rigorous walking or running while a light weight person should go for shoes that are neutral.
Minimal arch as almost of the feet appears in the wet impression. If the impression is broad with very little visible arch then you have a flat feet. People with flat foot often suffer from excessive inward movement otherwise known as over pronation. This is a natural stride for most people with flat feet but is not as effective as normal pronation in terms of shock dissipation. This is why athletes with flat feet are often plagued with ankle and knee injuries.
Stability or motion control shoes can help them keep the excessive inward movement in control and in turn prevent injuries.
If the impression on the paper shows the ball and the heel of the feet connected by a thin line, then you have a high arch feet. This is a very uncommon foot type and people with high arched feet suffer from an awkward outward movement which does not absorb the shock during landing. People with high arches have a tendency to under pronate which results in the shock traveling up the legs and putting a lot of stress on the joints and knees.
To counter the awkward movement and to absorb the shock more effectively, people with high arched feet should wear neutral shoes with enough cushioning. Thick cushions will help absorb the shock and prevent it from travelling up the leg and thus save the knees and ankles from injuries.
Choosing a shoe according to the Feet’s Side Way Motion
As mentioned before, depending on the type of feet, we experience different levels of sideway motions. However, sideway motion is not just limited to the three types discussed earlier. Different types of walking shoes are recommended to people with different levels of inward and outward sways. Let’s take a look at all the different types of side way motions and the shoes that are suited for them.
The foot rolls inward just after landing. This type of inward sway is noticed in many athletes and runners as the inward roll helps reduce the impact on the knees.
Recommended Shoe Type: Stability shoes that helps control the inward movement and provides decent midsole cushioning.
As the name suggest over-pronators suffer from excessive inward roll. Due to the excessive side way movement many athletes suffer from severe knee injuries and pain. This is why they need shoes that limit the side way movement.
Recommended Shoe Type: Motion control shoes with stiffer heels will help counter the effects of over-pronation and reduce the risk of injury.
Although rare, this type of stride marks an inward roll that’s more than normal over pronators. People with severe over-pronation are always at high risk of suffering from tendon or joint related injury.
Recommended Shoe Type: There are special motion control shoes made for severe over pronators that help correct the inward movement. A severe over-pronator should only look at high grade motion control shoes.
Opposite to pronations, supination is the outward roll of the foot after landing. The outward roll fails to absorb the shock effective and often leads to knee and joint injuries.
Recommended Shoe Type: A cushioned shoe will help supinators by absorbing the shock more effectively and reduce the stress induced to joints due to the awkward outward bend.
Checking Wear Patterns To Recognizing Your Stride
There is no point in talking about the different strides if you don’t know how to recognize your natural movement. Figuring out your foot type by conducting a wet foot test is a great start but to be certain you might need to dig a bit deeper. Checking out the wear patterns on the soles of your old shoes might give you a definite clue.
Inside Worn Pattern: If your shoe soles are worn more on the insides then its a clear indicator that you are a over-pronator.
Centrally Worn Pattern: Shoe soles that are centrally worn indicate that the person wearing them is a normal pronator.
Outside Worn Pattern: If your old shoe soles are worn on the outside then your foot rolls outward during landing and you are a supinator.