Are you an avid runner or do you just want to start walking for exercise? If so, finding the right shoe is important in order to prevent problems such as tendonitis, plantar fasciitis, foot/ankle pain, stress fractures, and knee/hip/low back pain. Many people can end up developing overuse injuries simply by wearing the wrong type of shoe.
Running and walking shoes are divided into 3 categories: stability (neutral), cushioned, and motion-control. The shape of your foot and the amount of mobility it has will determine which type you need. You can determine your foot type by checking your arch height. An easy way to do this is to wet the bottom of your feet and stand normally on a paper bag. After a minute or so, step off and observe the imprint that your foot made.
If you have a normal arch, a stability (neutral) shoe is best suited for you. These shoes provide a combination of cushioning and motion control. This is the most common foot type, so most people should be fitted with this type of shoe.
If you have a high arched (supinated) foot, then a cushioned shoe is the best choice for you.
If you have a flat (pronated) foot, then you should chose a motion-control shoe. People with low arches need extra support to prevent excessive foot motion during walking or running.
There is no one particular brand of shoe that is best. So, in order to ensure that you find the right type of shoe, you should visit a specialty running store. The people who work in these stores are trained to identify your foot type and will help guide you to the appropriate type of shoe.
Once you start your running or walking program, if you begin experiencing aches or pains, ask your doctor for a referral for physical therapy. A physical therapist will evaluate your gait, treat any injuries you have, and make recommendations about proper footwear and/or orthotics.
Article written by: Erin Kethley, MPT