Why you should care!
We spend the majority of our day wearing shoes! Some of us wear only one pair of shoes throughout the day, others wear several different pairs. Some of us wear tennis shoes, some work boots, some dress shoes, or even high heels. No matter how many shoes, or what type of shoe we wear, there is one thing they should all have in common – they should all have a good fit!
Purpose of the shoe
The shoe has several purposes. First, they transfer body weight to the floor when walking/standing. Second, they protect the feet. Third, they minimize stress on the feet. Lastly, they should provide appropriate support and shock absorption for the feet. Most shoes meet at least one, maybe two, some even three of these purposes. But, how many of us wear shoes that do all four on a regular basis? And, with all of the choices out there for shoes, how are we suppose to determine what shoe we should buy? Let’s get some help on that topic!
Things to consider when buying shoes
There are several factors to consider when buying a shoe. One of the most important is whether you want a shoe that promotes stability or mobility? How do you know which you need? Hint: Look at the wear pattern on your current shoes! If your shoes are worn mostly on the medial part (inside of foot), then you may be an over-pronator. Meaning your foot flattens to the ground more than it should. If this is the case, a shoe with a firm arch support and a straight last, would be best. What’s a straight last? Don’t worry we will get there. If your shoes are worn more on the lateral part (outside of foot), then you may be an over-supinator. Meaning you foot does not flatten enough to the ground, putting more pressure the outside of your foot. If this is the case, a cushioned shoe would be best for shock absorption. What if your shoe has even wear across the bottom? Then you have a neutral foot type, and would benefit from a stability shoe that maintains your current mechanics. Meaning your feet are doing just fine on their own!
Other things to consider when buying new shoes are what type of terrain you will be navigating? Having a shoe with the proper grip or tread can help prevent pain or injury. Have you had a previous injury? If so, then a shoe that supports the area of previous injury, or more cushion to allow for greater shock absorption might be best. Also, individual foot anatomy should be considered. Do you have bunions, hammer toes, or neuromas? Then, a shoe with a wide toe box could help prevent excessive rubbing and pain. What’s a toe box? Promise, we are almost there.
Let’s talk about the anatomy of a shoe.
Sole – surface of contact for your foot
Last – the foot shape of the shoe
Tread – bottom of the shoe, surface that contacts the ground
Outsole – area between sole and tread, ensures a secure fit
Lace – tightens around the mid part of foot, allows for more secure fit and stability
Tongue – allows for cinching, promoting more secure fit
Heel – variable in size, allow more or less movement based on size
Toe box – front of shoe, where toes rest, size determines movement allowed by toes
In general, any shoe you wear, should be a good fit! If your feet ache or are painful after only short periods of time, look into a different shoe. Always wear shoes that are appropriate for the terrain and activity you are going to be doing.
If you are unsure of what type of shoe you would benefit from, or have significant pain in your feet or legs, a physical therapy examination might be your answer. We are trained to evaluate biomechanics of the body and determine if deficits exist. In turn, allowing us to recommend the best options to prevent further issues. The physical therapists at Functional Performance Center are happy to assist you in this area! Give us a call at (480)968-2020, to set up an appointment!