How to Choose the Right Athletic Shoe

It’s tempting to go for style over substance when choosing sneakers and other athletic shoes. People often pick what looks good over what feels good. It’s important to pick the right shoe, however, as what we wear on our feet, especially when exercising or playing sports, can have a huge impact on our joints and all-around chiropractic health. This is particularly true for runners and other athletes.

Everyone’s feet are different, so if a shoe feels right to one person, it won’t necessarily be good for someone else. It’s crucial to pick the right shoe for you in order to prevent pain and strain to the feet, legs, hips and back.

The first step is to figure out your foot type. Are your feet normal, flat or high-arched?
Once you make this determination, you’ll be able to choose a shoe with qualities that are best for you.

Normal foot: A normal foot has a typical arch. A slight flare and obvious heel are evident in its footprint. The normal foot turns slightly inward while walking in order to absorb shock as it comes down on the outer part of the heel. The right shoe for the normal foot is one with a somewhat curved shape that emphasizes stability.

Flat foot: Flat feet have a lower arch, and the entire bottom of the foot touches the ground as they walk. Flat feet usually have something called over-pronation, which means that they roll heavily inward with each step. Flat footed people are apt to experience ongoing pain in the arch of the foot. The right shoe for those with flat feet is one that features high stability and little cushioning, mostly in the middle of the foot. The shoe should be structured so that it is unlikely to bend or twist, therefore helping to keep the foot steady as it walks.

High-arched foot: The footprint of the high-arched foot shows very little or no connection at all between the toes of the foot and the heel. High-arched feet usually have under-pronation, meaning they do not absorb shock while walking and hit the ground quite heavily with each step as there is little inward roll. The ideal shoe for those with high-arched feet is one that promotes movement with a lot of cushioning and flexibility.

If you need help figuring out your foot type, your chiropractor can analyze your walk and suggest the appropriate athletic shoe for you.

While shopping for the perfect athletic shoe, make sure you’re buying a shoe appropriate for the type of activity you’re partaking in. For example, if you’re a runner, you need a shoe with extra shock absorbers in the heel. If you play tennis, look for a shoe that emphasizes stability while moving side-to-side. If it’s a regular walking shoe you want, look for a shoe with extra cushioning so the foot can roll naturally as you walk.

It’s s good idea to shop for athletic shoes after a day’s work or an exercise session, as feet are usually at their largest at these times. It is also recommended to duplicate the conditions your feet will be in when actually wearing the shoes during athletic activity. Wear the same type of socks and/or any orthotic devices you wear for postural assistance when trying on shoes. The size you need could change depending on these seemingly small, but crucial factors. Keep the shoes on long enough to make sure they are completely comfortable before buying them.

Additionally, ask the salesperson for shoes that are right for your foot type, especially if that type is high-arched or flat-footed. Special shoes exist for those with these issues. It’s also important to go by the size you are at the moment, not the size you have been in the past. Each time you buy new shoes, you should have a measurement taken of your foot while standing as this position flattens and elongates the foot, helping to get a truer measurement. Feet change over time, and the length and width can vary depending on age and weight. It’s also common for one foot to be slightly longer than the other.

Replacing worn out sneakers promptly is important. When the mid-sole cushioning begins to deteriorate, the shoe no longer absorbs shock. Continuing to wear athletic shoes that are old and worn can lead to a variety of chiropractic and podiatric issues like plantar fasciitis, heel spurs and shin splints.