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If the shoe fits

By Jenny Whalley

Lots of people lately have noticed that with an increase in regular activity and the return of outdoor fitness, that perhaps their footwear is not what it could be to get the best return from their workout.

Everybody is different and therefore no one shoe fits all, but, do you know what it is you should be looking for when buying a pair of decent trainers?

Firstly is important to know how you run/walk.

Get your favourite pair of shoes (the older the better)

Set them on a flat surface and look at them as if trying to look past them – horizontally

If they are flat with no major wear on either side of each shoe just evenly worn across the sole – then you are what the industry calls ‘neutral’. While it is still important to find shoes that fit well and suit your feet (we will get to that later) you are less limited when selecting shoes that will benefit your activity.

The foot and ankle are aligned with the person’s weight, evenly distributed between the heel and toe

Steps Fall Evenly across the base of the foot from the heel to the ball

Shoe wear and tear occurs across the width of the ball and the heel

If your shoes have rolled inwards and there is uneven wear on the inside of your shoes, the industry would brand you ‘over pronator’. This means you are likely to be putting extra pressure on the muscles and ligaments in your legs from your ankles right up to your hips. Fortunately for you sports brands have started to cotton on to this fairly common gait and are developing good footwear with built in support or stability that will strive to hold your foot in the ‘neutral’ position when you are wearing them. It is important to note that sometimes this will feel odd and even uncomfortable initially but that persistence is key to wearing them in while you build your muscles to respond differently to what they are accustomed to.

Feet tend to roll inward with each step

Steps fall across the inner heel and inner ball of the foot

Shoe wear and tear occurs across the inner ball area (below the big toe) and inner heel

If, more unusually, your shoes are worn unevenly on the outside of the footwear. The industry calls this ‘supernation’ currently there are no specific workout shoes that would correct for this gait (way that you walk/run) it is therefore recommended that supernators opt for a ‘neutral’ shoe but with a wider base to relieve the stress that you are likely to be putting on your calves, and reduce the risk of rolling. It is often also recommended to go for extra comfort (cushioning – squishiness) as your foot will sit more snuggly inside the shoe and take out some of the impact that you are putting on your legs with that running style.