Glenn Ocker, D.P.M., a podiatrist board certified in surgery and orthopedics, is the medical director for Langer Biomechanics Group West and has a private practice in Upland, California.
For smart athletic shoe shopping (see guide to ensure if the shoe fits):
- Get to know your feet. Wet your foot and step on the floor. The outline formed indicates what type of foot you have.
- Neutral feet: As you step, your foot flattens slightly. This is called “pronation.” A neutral foot pronates moderately. You have a neutral foot if about one-third of the sole touches the ground. You don’t have special needs for shoes. High-tech shoes have high prices. You can get by with a moderately priced shoe.
- Pronating feet: Your foot flattens excessively as you step. Approximately half your sole touches the ground. This rolling motion can be really tough on shoes because it breaks down the upper and flattens outersoles. You need a shoe with stabilizing characteristics, such as external stabilizing straps, an extended external stabilizing bar, a molded foot cradle and a hard plastic heel cup.
- Supinating feet: You have a rigid foot with a high arch, so very little of your sole touches the ground. You wear down shoes on the outer edge, especially the heel. If you run or walk, look for shoes with tough rubber outersoles, such as “Indy 500” or carbon rubber. You need a shoe with plenty of shock absorbency and stability. Look for a dual-density midsole with additional shock-absorbing materials encapsulated in it (air, coils. tubes. etc), and external stabilizing straps, a firm heel counter and a molded foot cradle, A high, arched foot is often more comfortable in variable-width lacing with O-rings, because this allows more room across the midshoe.
- Shop at the end of the day. Your feet swell during the day and are biggest in the evening.
- When you try on the shoes, wear the socks you wear while exercising.
- When trying on a shoe, do some of the movements you do when exercising. See if the shoe feels comfortable ·as you move. Don’t expect the shoes to feel as comfortable as your old shoes. (If they do, the leather is probably so soft you’ll destroy them in a few weeks!) As you move, make sure your toes have enough room, your heel stays in place, and that there’s enough room in the instep.
- A few companies make extra narrow and wide shoes. If your foot isn’t the standard B width, ask if the shoe comes in other widths.
- If your arch feels squeezed in the store, you’re bound to feel pain down the road. Your foot should fit comfortably and snugly in the foot bed. Make sure the insole is contoured to your foot. Be sensitive to bumps or ridges that may cause blisters.
- If you wear an orthotic or use special insoles, take them to the store with you. Try on shoes with removable sockliners. Remove the sockliner, put in the orthotic or insole, then check the fit.
*Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. The Barn disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.