Hey Ya'll! Let's talk SHOES!!
What is it about wearing a killer pair of kicks that makes us feel more motivated to exercise???
My love for non-competitive (slow) jogging began in high school when I would log the miles on the country roads that surrounded our house to stay in shape between sports seasons. That's when I fell in love with Nike shoes. Unfortunately, it was a relationship based solely on looks.
There was something magical about lacing up a brand new pair of Nike's that just made me feel like I could go a little bit further and a little bit faster. This was fashion psychology at it's best! I decided that Nike shoes were the best because they looked the best. If they looked the best than that must have meant that they were the best! Right?
Actually, THE ANSWER IS NO, and here is why:
Whether you are running, walking, cross training or doing any aerobic type of exercise to get in shape, it is VERY important that you choose the right shoe for your feet.
Many people love the cushion feel of running shoes, so that will be my primary area of focus for this article. HOWEVER, knowing which shoe is right for your foot is important, no matter what your athletic venture!
Wearing the right shoe for your feet will:
1. Prevent foot, leg and back injury.
2. Reduce fatigue during exercise.
3. Reduce soreness after working out.
(This is true even for young athletes, so if you have kids who run track or cross country keep this in mind!)
If you go into ANY store that sells athletic apparel, and the individual who is assisting you offers any of the following advice regarding a particular shoe...
"These are my new faves."
"We just got these in, don't they look amazing?"
"We sell a lot of these. They look great on everyone."
...do yourself a huge favor and find someone who knows what they are talking about. Before you hit the mall or major sporting goods retailer, I suggest you
DO A LITTLE PREP WORK FIRST.
1. Get to know the shape of your foot. Begin first by doing a simple "wet test," (below) which is simply an impression of the bottom of your foot. If you want some serious help, grab the phone book and seek out a specialty store, such as Gary Gribbles Running, which will help you find the right shoe for your foot and stride.
2. Learn the lingo (more about this below). Shoe types and foot types have particular names based on the shape of your foot and your stride (gait), and it helps to know these before discussing shoe options with a salesman.
3. Get over your fashion/brand name loyalty. After realizing that Asics makes the best shoe for my foot, I had to bid farewell to my beloved Nikes. Thankfully, Asics has stepped up their game in the style department, and they make amazing shoes!
LET'S TAKE A PEEK AT YOUR FEET!
Do you know what type of an arch you have? If not, here's a simple method of finding out, called a "wet test." Go outside and get your feet wet. Then, walk across a sidewalk and take a look at the print that is made. By viewing the wet impression of your feet, you will be able to see that you either have a flat foot, a normal arch or a high arch.
Now that you know what shape your foot is, let's talk about it in terms of pronation. Pro-what??
A BRIEF EXPLANATION OF PRONATION:
Simply stated, pronation is the action of the foot when you take a step/stride from the heel to the toe.
NORMAL/NEUTRAL PRONATION: Occurs when you take a step and the outside of the heel hits the ground and naturally rolls up to the ball of the foot, hitting evenly across the front.
UNDERPRONATION: Occurs when the outside of the foot receives almost all of the impact and does not finish in the neutral position.
OVERPRONATION: Occurs when the foot rolls too much to the inner and upper part of the foot.
If you're not sure which one best describes your stride, take a look at the bottom of your shoe. You should be able to tell from the way the shoe is worn on the sole.
Now that you now a little bit more about your arch-type and pronation type, you will be able to more aptly determine which type of shoe is right for your foot.
The three main types of running shoes are Motion Control, Cushioned and Stability
(Read more about running shoe types here.)
Motion Control Shoes help the flat-footed runner by providing a wider sole which helps prevent the runner's foot from excessively rotating inward.
Cushioned Shoes are great for runners with moderate to high arches who underpronate (run on the outside of the foot, also called supination), and need extra cushion to support the foot.
Stability Shoes are great for those who have a normal arch and a neutral pronation, and for those who are looking for added support in a running shoe.
Now that you have the tools needed to find the perfect shoe for your foot, it's time to go shopping! Things to consider before you go:
1. Try to go in the afternoon when your feet are more likely to be slightly swollen.
2. Take a pair of athletic shoes with you that you are currently wearing so that you can show them to the sales assistant (for looking at wear on the sole).
3. Don't be afraid to ask to try on a variety of brands to find the shoe that is right for you.
Two of my favorite websites chocked full of information on running shoes are:
If you live way out in the boonies like I do, online shopping is a great option. I like: