Resolving to get back in shape? Know which shoe is a good fit.

By Steven J. Lancaster, MD

Resolving to get back in shape? Know which shoe is a good fit.

Know which shoe is a good fit

Know which shoe is a good fit

Is your New Year’s resolution to start working out and running this year? With running shoes in a multitude of different sizes and styles, it is very difficult to know which shoe is best for you, since everyone’s feet are different and we all walk differently.

In order to find the best and most comfortable shoe, you need to choose one that best fits your gait, the way you walk.

Some people are “supinators” – when walking, the outside part of their feet strikes the ground first. These individuals have a tendency to walk on the outside of their feet. So, if you look at the bottom of the shoe you are wearing and it appears worn on the outside, then you are a “supinator.”

Other people are “pronators” – their ankles roll inward when they walk. These people may have calluses on their big toes or the balls of their feet. A pronator’s shoes will appear worn on the inside.

A large number of people will not notice any unusual wear on their shoes, which means they have a fairly neutral foot.

Shoes vary in their shape, construction and midsole material. The shape of a shoes can be seen by looking at the bottom and noticing whether there is a curve to the shoes (curve-last) or if it is relatively straight (straight-last). Supinators will find that a curve-last shoe is more comfortable for them.

The construction of the shoe also determines how rigid the sole is. If you remove the padding from the shoe, you will see that the material or fabric is sewn together (slip-last) or contains cardboard (board-last). It can be a combination of the two with board material at the heel only. Supinators need more flexibility and will be better fitted with a slip-last shoe. The board-last shoe is stiffer and would be better for the pronators. Individuals with neutral feet seem to do best with a combination of the two.

The midsole is the cushioning at the base of the shoe that provides shock absorption. A heavy or dense material gives more rigidity and stability and is better for the pronator. Some shoes are duel-density and can have different colors on their heels. The darker color is usually the denser material. These shoes have more stability and are better for the pronators. Better cushioning is found on the single-density shoes, and these have been found to be better for the supinator. All good running shoes should have a heel counter, the part of the shoe that cups around the heel, is dense, firm and has a shape that is difficult to deform.

So, the trick to the best running shoe is figuring out which type of foot you have, and then applying the above principles. Get yourself a good pair of running shoes and get out there and exercise. A good midsole shoulder last about 600 miles before it starts to lose its effectiveness. That is plenty of mileage for some good workouts this year.


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