What do you do when it is time to buy new sneakers or walking shoes? Do you pick the shoe because of its color, style, or comfort? What should you be looking for exactly? What kind of feet do you have?
Feet are very complicated structures. When the normal foot hits the ground, it has to control motion and transfer the weight of the body, adapting to the surface under the foot. This means that the foot works differently on a hard versus a soft giving surface and different still when walking on a treadmill. In addition, each joint in the leg has a job to do in gait and if one joint is not working properly the others have to compensate.
Normally in a shoe or sneaker, when the foot first hits the ground, the neuromuscular system of the body works at heel strike to control the foot in a stable position. The muscle that isometrically controls the strike then works to decelerate the foot and allow the transfer of the body weight from the back of the foot to the mid foot (arch area). Ultimately weight then moves forward through forefoot where pushoff occurs and the foot leaves the ground. Sandals do not allow you to even use this normal gait pattern, especially is they are of the open back type so the transfer of weight in a sandal cannot depend upon a stable heel position.
The position of the heel, the arch and the control through the midfoot and the forefoot together work to control, decelerate, and accelerate to propel you to your very next step. Depending upon the structures of your foot, it is harder for some to perform stepping in an energy efficient manner more than others. The ideal would be a medium arch with good supporting structures for each part of the foot so that the transfer of
weight occurs naturally and without the midfoot overcompensating by the arch area dropping e x c e s s i v e l y. Though some of us started out this way, over the years of wearing of unsupported shoes and not working all of the muscles of the foot on varied terrain, we have lost some of our support. Perhaps your shoe size may have even increased over the years. This could be because the arch is dropped into what we call a pronated position.
There are varying degrees of this and if not supported, the knee or hip may have to compensate.
Choosing the right shoe for you is pertinent. Many people that do not have any foot pain don’t even think about the choices. The choice tends to be more about fashion but it is time to be smart and become educated on the type of foot that you have.
It is best to keep your feet protected and supported and avoid developing foot issues. Abnormal pressures create callous formation on the toes, back of the heel, and different areas on the bottom of the foot. If you already have foot problems then you definitely should treat your feet kindly to avoid the problems from getting worse. Wear proper support versus sandals when walking or exercising.
In choosing a shoe, you need to find out what your normal arch is and how that arch adapts in walking and/or running. Then you decide if you need a sneaker to support you as 1) an overpronator or 2) a supinator or if you tend to have a medium arch that adapts quite normally to what is expected as you transfer your weight. There are shoes to help provide the control that you need and some brands have even more control than others.
If you wear an orthotic, then consider wearing a neutral stability shoe. You would then slide your orthotic into the shoe to give the shoe your correctional needs. If you walk or run outside and on a treadmill, you should consider having a different shoe for each. Shoes wear differently. Take care of your feet by choosing the right shoe type for the right activity.
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