Novice runners and walkers often times purchase exercise related foot wear for the wrong reasons such as style or price point. With hundreds of shoes to choose from at the local sporting goods store, how are you supposed to know which shoe is right for you? The answer depends on your body mass and your foot type.
If you have ever gone shopping for running shoes, chances are you have compared the weights of several different models. Racing flats can weigh as little as 6-7 ounces compared to a heavily cushioned trainer that can weigh close to a pound. Light weight training and racing shoes are best suited for the runner/walker with a very low body mass. Heavier and more cushioned trainers can be used by anyone but they are especially recommended for athletes over 180 lbs.
Do you know your foot type? The height of your arch during the walking/running cycle also helps to determine the type of shoe you should be wearing. During the gait cycle, the arch will start in an elevated position and roll to a more flat position during weight bearing. This flattening is commonly called pronation, and everyone’s foot type will fall into three basic categories.
- Underpronation occurs when the arch remains high during the gait cycle. People that underpronate tend to bear more weight on the outside of their feet and typically get poor shock absorption from their feet. For this reason a training shoe with more cushioning and less arch support is recommended. This type of shoe is called a Cushioned Trainer.
- Neutral Pronantion occurs when the arch rolls into a normally flattened position during the gait cycle. This allows for ideal shock absorption from the foot, so less cushioning is required from the ideal shoes. A small amount of arch support usually makes shoes for neutral pronators very comfortable. This type of shoe is called a Neutral Trainer.
- Overpronation occurs when the arch of the foot flattens too much causing excessive pressure on the inner side of the foot, and over stretching of the muscles/tendons that help to stabilize the foot/ankle complex. This can also overstress the knee, hip and back as well. Runners/walkers that overpronate need more stabilizing elements in their shoes that give support to the arch. This type of shoe is called a Stability Trainer.
If you are new to running/walking, have an expert at your local specialty running store look at your feet and recommend some options for your type and body mass. Wearing the proper shoes can go a long way to keeping you injury free and comfortable during your workouts.
By: Steve Bernstein