Health Topic Archives

How to Select Athletic Shoes

Too many people choose fashion over function when purchasing athletic shoes, not realizing that poor-fitting shoes can lead to pain throughout the body. Because footwear plays such an important role in the function of bones and joints—especially for runners and other athletes—choosing the right shoe can help prevent pain in your back, hips, knees, and feet.

Unfortunately, there is no such thing as the very best athletic shoe—every pair of feet is different, every shoe has different features, and overall comfort is a very personal decision. For this reason, it is recommended that you first determine your foot type: normal, flat, or high-arched.

The Normal Foot

Normal feet have a normal-sized arch and will leave a wet footprint that has a flare, but shows the forefoot and heel connected by a broad band. A normal foot lands on the outside of the heel and rolls slightly inward to absorb shock.

Best shoes: Stability shoes with a slightly curved shape.

The Flat Foot

This type of foot has a low arch and leaves a print that looks like the whole sole of the foot. It usually indicates an over-pronated foot—one that strikes on the outside of the heel and rolls excessively inward (pronates). Over time, this can cause overuse injuries.

Best shoes: Motion-control shoes or high-stability shoes with firm midsoles. These shoes should be fairly resistant to twisting or bending. Stay away from highly cushioned, highly curved shoes, which lack stability features.

The High-Arched Foot

The high-arched foot leaves a print showing a very narrow band—or no band at all—between the forefoot and the heel. A curved, highly arched foot is generally supinated or under-pronated. Because the foot doesn’t pronate enough, usually it’s not an effective shock absorber.

Best shoes: Cushioned shoes with plenty of flexibility to encourage foot motion. Stay away from motion-control or stability shoes, which reduce foot mobility.

When determining your foot type, consult with your doctor of chiropractic. He or she can help determine your specific foot type, assess your gait, and then suggest the best shoe match.

Shoe Purchasing Tips

Consider the following tips before you purchase your next pair of athletic shoes:

How Long Do Shoes Last?

Once you have purchased a pair of athletic shoes, don’t run them into the ground. While estimates vary as to when the best time to replace old shoes is, most experts agree that between 300 and 500 miles is optimal. In fact, most shoes should be replaced even before they begin to show signs of moderate wear. Once shoes show wear, especially in the cushioning layer called the midsole, they also begin to lose their shock absorption. Failure to replace worn shoes is a common cause of injuries like shin splints, heel spurs, and plantar fasciitis.

© 2015 Copyright American Chiropractic Association.

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