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Simply Fit, by Cindy Haskin-Popp, will help you make physical activity a part of everyday life. The health benefits of regular exercise and overall daily physical activity will be discussed. Fun, practical and easy-to-follow tips on an exercise program will be shared, as will the most current research. Fitness tips for families and seniors, on fitness centers and on buying proper and affordable equipment will be regularly given. 

Friday, August 7, 2009

Fit Feet - A Guide for Buying Running Shoes

Aetrex's iStep Digital Foot Analysis system at the Running Fit store in Novi, Michigan. Employees at the store use this tool to help them identify your foot type and pressure points. This information is then used to help determine the right running shoe for you.



Rachel Ingle, store manager at the Running Fit store, Novi location, explains my results from the Aetrex iStep Digital Foot Analysis system.


The red zones on the monitor of the Aetrex iStep Digital Foot Analysis system indicate the pressure points on the feet.

Buying a pair of running shoes can seem like a daunting task in light of all of the different possible brands and models available on the market from which to choose. Your training needs, foot type, and strike pattern play a role in determining which shoe is best for you. To get the best fit, you should visit a store that specializes in selling running shoes. Here you will find individuals with experience in analyzing your gait and foot type and who have the knowledge of what the various shoe brands have to offer to meet your specific needs. Some stores will even have computer analysis systems like the one pictured above to aid in the shoe fitting process.

While at the store, be prepared to try on several different pairs of running shoes from various shoe manufacturers. Rachel Ingle, store manager of the Running Fit store in Novi, Michigan, recommends that you try on at least 4 different pairs of shoes to ensure you get a proper fit. She also states that you should keep an open mind about shoe brand. Your past favorite running shoe may have been updated and redesigned by the manufacturer; therefore, it may no longer be the best fit for you. Before you head out to the store, review the following key points on foot type and shoe construction and write down any questions you may have so that you are ready to discuss your needs with the shoe sales associate.

Foot Type - Your foot type effects your running pattern.
  • Flat Feet - If you have flat feet, you have no, or a very low, arch.
  • High-Arched Feet - The opposite of flat feet, high-arched feet have an unmistakable arch between the heel and the ball of the foot.
  • Neutral/"Normal" Feet - If you have neutral/"normal" feet you tend to have a medium arch (neither flat-footed nor high-arched).
Use the "Wet Test" to Determine your Foot Type
  • Wet your foot with water.
  • Step onto a solid, flat surface such as a cement driveway.
  • You have flat feet if your foot leaves a complete or near complete impression.
  • You have high-arched feet if your foot leaves an imprint with a very narrow band connecting the heel to the ball of your foot.
  • You have neutral/"normal" feet if your foot leaves an imprint that shows a wide band connecting the heel to the ball of your foot.
Strike/Running Pattern
  • Neutral/Normal - Occurs when your foot strikes the ground on the outside of your heel and then slightly rolls inward.
  • Overpronate - Occurs when your foot strikes the ground on the outside of your heel and then excessively rolls inward. People with flat feet have a tendency to overpronate.
  • Oversupinate - Occurs when your foot strikes the ground on the outside of your heel but doesn't roll inward enough. Individuals with high arches have a tendency to oversupinate.
Shoe Type
  • Motion Control - These shoes are made for individuals who have flat feet. They have a control-oriented design. They tend to be more rigid than other running shoe types. Ingle describes these shoes to have a flat, straight bottom that is wider through the arch. These shoes have a denser/firmer material at the inner side of the arch (called the medial post) to provide stability and to prevent overpronating.
  • Stability - These shoes are designed for individuals who have a medium arch and tend to be neutral in their stride pattern. Stability shoes offer a good combination of cushioning and support. Ingle describes these shoes as being less firm than motion control shoes. She also notes that they have a smaller medial post and are narrower through the arch. When you look at the bottom of the shoe it will have a slight curve to it.
  • Neutral - These shoes are similar in construction to stability shoes in that, upon looking at the bottom, you will notice a slight curve to the shoe. However, these shoes do not have the dense material on the inner side of the arch. Ingle states that these shoes tend to be more comfortable for individuals with a higher arch.
How Should the Shoe Fit on your Foot?
Expect that your running shoe will be about a 1/2 size larger than your street shoes. According to Ingle, there are 4 points of fit that you and the salesperson should consider.
  • Your foot should sit all the way back into the heel counter (the back part of the shoe that cups around your heel). You should not feel your heel slip when you walk.
  • Through the lacing it should be snug, but not tight. Your foot shouldn't slip back and forth and you shouldn't feel the edge of the shoe along your foot.
  • The toe box (the area between your big and little toe joints) should be loose enough that you are able to grab a little bit of material on the top when you stand.
  • At the very front of the shoe, there should be a thumb's width between your toe and the tip of the shoe.
When to Buy New Shoes
  • Ingle recommends that your running shoes be replaced every 300-500 miles. "That would be about every 6-8 months if you run 3-5 miles, 3-5 days/week," she states.

Other Points to Consider
  • To care for your shoes, do not put them in the washing machine or dryer. This tends to warp the shoes, according to Ingle. If your shoes get wet, she recommends that you take out the insoles and stuff the shoes with newspaper while they air dry.
  • Before you run in your new shoes outdoors, Ingle recommends that you do a test run of 3-5 miles on the treadmill. She says this is a good way to tell if the shoes will cause problems with your feet. If you experience problems during this test run, it is likely that the shoes aren't a good fit and that they will continue to cause problems. If this happens during your trial run, then you should take your shoes back to the store and get a different pair (make sure you do not wear them outdoors first, you will not be able to return them if a problem arises).
Keep in mind that the time and money that you invest into getting a well-fitting pair of running shoes is an investment in your health. By wearing old, worn shoes or shoes that fit improperly, you increase your risk for injury. Properly fitted shoes will help to make your journey toward better health more comfortable, increasing the likelihood that it will become a lifelong commitment.

Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.

Resources
Rachel Ingle, store manager at Running Fit in Novi, Michigan; 43280 11 Mile Road, Novi, MI 48375; (248) 347-4949; www.runningfit.net

University of Michigan Health System, Sports Medicine Advisor 2009. 1: "Running Shoes: Finding the Right Fit."




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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life had interrupted my attention to Simply Fit, but I'm catching up today. This entry will be very useful since I do have high arches and never even thought about being fitted for shoes. I also have neuropathy in my feet, and it would be wonderful if I could get some suggestions about how to protect pressure points.

You do a wonderful job of researching your pieces. I always look forward to reading them, and I especially enjoy those that have photos or movies attached.

August 13, 2009 at 2:24 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Anonymous,

The istep machine described in this article used to evaluate arch type will also read pressure points on your feet. From that reading, the employees will be able to recommend some over the counter inserts used to relieve pressure. Those inserts are called Aetrex Lynco inserts and cost around 60 dollars.

August 14, 2009 at 3:48 PM 

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