Finding a good-functioning shoe among the many choices at local stores isn’t always easy. Many people buy shoes for fashion instead of function. People spend a lot of time picking out phones and cars, but they do not do their homework on shoes that they may be in for a majority of every day! We see many people who have foot and ankle problems in our clinic (e.g. plantar fasciitis, shin splints, Achilles tendonitis, ankle sprains, etc.). Many of these problems can be helped and potentially prevented with proper shoe wear.
"When you buy, think feel and fit, not fashion.”—Bryan Mahon, Philadelphia Runner.
When taking a look at the qualities of a good shoe, our clinicians look at several features:
1. You should have good heel control within the shoe. You should not feel outside heel give. You want the heel counter for your shoe to hug your heel and give it good alignment and support. This starts aligning your foot and ankle properly for impact. Too much heel slippage makes for altered foot mechanics and can lead to injury.
2. Shoes should bend in the toe box, not in the middle of the shoe. You should have good wiggle room for your toes. If your shoe bends right in the middle, it places a lot of extra stress on the middle of your foot.
3. Heel height should be symmetrical. Several shoes try to post shoes to tip feet in or out to accommodate for the foot's form. Shoes designed to “fix” someone’s form often times are ineffective and even counter-productive. The shoe should be neutrally situated. Within that neutral position, a shoe may offer more support or more cushion, depending on what the individual might need, but it should not force a foot into a set position. Shoes should offer good and immediate sensory input.
"Your shoe should literally feel like a part of your foot, working in concert with your natural foot shape and biomechanics." Robert Smith, owner of Robert’s Running and Walking Shop in Huntington, W.Va.
Here is a great video from Lori Thomsen at the Hruska Clinic talking about these shoe qualities.
In summary, you should put some time and effort into selecting shoes. Think of shoes as a medical investment. You should know pretty quickly, based on comfort and support, if the shoe is good for you. If you still have questions regarding proper shoe selection, schedule an appointment with one of our physical therapists to evaluate your walking form and analyze your movement.