Stepping into a running shoe store can be overwhelming: a myriad of shapes, colours, styles, and functions. Choice abounds!
Take comfort in the fact that there is a purpose to all of these options and choices.
Running shoe design has evolved over the years with an emphasis towards function, and rightfully so. We ask a lot from our feet. The human foot is a highly developed, biomechanically complex structure that serves to bear the weight of the body as well as forces many times the weight of the human body. Countless hours of standing and walking, jogging or running take their toll. As such, we need to protect our feet from the wear and tear of everyday life. The right running shoes, chosen with an eye towards design, function, and fit, can do this important job.
In a previous blog (Running Shoes: Motion Control, Cushion Trainers and Stability Shoes….Oh My!) we explored the importance of choosing the appropriate shoe for your foot type and movement needs. When selecting shoes, it is also critical to determine whether the shoe provides the necessary support in the proper areas. A good running shoe should be built with light-weight material and must provide
adequate shock absorption and motion control while retaining its flexibility to accommodate the foot as it propels the body through motion. When shopping for the proper shoe, one must consider the benefits of the shoes’ arch support. Some shoes have adequate arch support while others will need the extra help provided by orthotics. However, a shoe is also more than just its arch, there are additional components of the shoe that also provide necessary support and stability to your foot when walking or running.
To test how your shoe measures up, try the following shoe tests:
- The Dishrag Test – Place one of your hands at the front and the other at the rear of the shoe and then twist each end in the opposite direction. It is normal for the shoe to have capability to twist slightly but, if you can wring it out like a dishrag, it will not have adequate motion control.
- The Pinch Test – Grasp the shoe just above the mid-sole using your index finger and thumb at the area of the heel counter. You should not be able to collapse this area. Also place your thumb on the top of the back of the heel counter (where the tab is usually), and try to push it in. Again, you should not be able to do this. Ideally, a rigid heel counter is what you are looking for as this stabilizes the heel or rear-foot, which in
turn ensures forefoot stability.
- The Fold Test – This test involves attempting to bend the shoe so that it folds in half. If it indeed folds in half, it will not provide stability through the mid-foot. Your shoe must have flexibility in the forefoot so you can generate power to propel you forward when walking. Ideally, you want the shoe to fold at the ball of the foot (metatarsal heads) at an angle of 30 degrees. If the shoe is too stiff, more force is required to bend the shoe and this can result in fatigued muscles and shin splints.
- The Shelf Test – This one is easy and only requires observation. Place the shoes on a shelf so that you can get a good look at them from behind. Notice if they are slanting inwards or outwards. If they are slanted, this puts your feet at a disadvantage from the start. The back of the heel should fall within the midline of the midsole and both shoes should be symmetrical.
So, the question remains…How do your shoes measure up? If you have any questions or concerns about proper footwear, please do not hesitate to contact us for an appointment – 519-258-8544